March events include hikes, strolls, bike rides and classes on desert basics
The San Tan Mountain Regional Park, 6533 W. Phillips Road, in Queen Creek, hosts events throughout the month. Entrance to the park is $6 a car. Events are included with the cost of admission. For more information, call the park office at 480-655-5554 or visit its website at http://www.maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/san-tan-mountain-regional-park/.
•San Tan Hikers: Join the in-house hiking group for a morning of exercise, learning and conversation. Hikers will follow the San Tan, Moonlight and Goldmine trails for a 3.6-mile loop and keep an eye out for blossoms, birds, lizards and maybe even snakes. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat, sunscreen and snacks. Meet at the main entrance trailhead.
•Afternoon Stroll: 2 p.m. Ease into the weekend and get acquainted with the park on a 2-mile guided San Tan Stroll. Did people mine for gold on Goldmine Mountain? Which flowers are blooming? What lives in all those holes along the trails? This ranger-led walk will shed light on those questions and more as walkers explore the basics of the plants, animals, geology and history around them. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, hat, sunscreen and water. Meet at the flag pole.
•Trailwork Volunteer Day: 8 a.m. Trail volunteers provide a much-needed source of labor to assist Park Staff with trail repair and enhancements. This, in turn, helps provide for visitor safety and natural/cultural resource protection. Park officials are looking for a few good volunteers to lend a hand. Potential projects include helping with pruning, erosion control, post installation and trail improvements. By the end of the day, each volunteer will know the basics of trail maintenance and have an insider’s view of the park. Participants will start at 8 a.m. and be on the trails for three to four hours. Meet in the picnic area near the Nature Center. Dress appropriately for the weather. Bring water, gloves and any tools one might have (The park officials will provide tools for workers if needed.). Suitable for ages 12 and up. RSVP by contacting Ranger Nikki at: email@example.com.
•Beginner Bike Ride: 9 a.m. Riding on mountain trails can seem intimidating. Let local experts help you understand a bike’s features and learn the ins and outs of safe riding. This 5.5-mile ride is open to all ages and skill levels. Helmets are required. Bikers younger than age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Essentials: water, helmet, extra tube, tools to change a flat tire. Meet at the San Tan Trail sign at the main trailhead.
•Sonoran Desert Basics: 9 a.m. Whether one is a new desert dweller or a longtime resident he or she will enjoy this introduction to the area’s fascinating Sonoran landscape. How do plants survive in a place that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year? This 2-mile ranger walk will explore some of nature’s efficient survival strategies that allow them to do so. This month, participants search for wildflowers and cactus blooms so be sure to have a camera ready. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes and water. Binoculars recommended. Meet at the flag pole.
•Desert Edibles: 1 p.m. Edible plants are common here in the Sonoran Desert and many of them have traditionally been gathered and used by area Native Americans. With more than 500 plants to pick and choose from, wouldn’t it be nice to know about some of the plants and how to prepare them? Jean Groen returns to teach participants everything they ever wanted to know about the desert grocery store. Bring a pen and paper and meet inside the Nature Center.
•Beginner Bike Ride: 9 a.m. Riding on mountain trails can seem intimidating. Local experts can help biker-owners understand his or her bike’s features and learn the ins and outs of safe riding. This 5.5-mile ride is open to all ages and skill levels. Helmets are required. Under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Essentials: water, helmet, extra tube, tools to change a flat tire. Meet at the San Tan Trail sign at the main trailhead.
•Make a Wildflower Seed Ball: 9-10:30 a.m. Join the San Tan Valley Master Gardeners and make two wildflower seed balls. One will be dispersed on the park’s Interpretive Trail and the other can be taken home and put out in the participant’s own yard. The park seed balls will be made using wildflower seeds harvested on various trails within the park so the seed remains pure. The wildflower seeds for each participant’s seed ball will be those that are appropriate for low desert gardens but not necessarily ones from the park. Park officials hope to see area residents for this extra-special event that can bring added beauty to the park trails and one’s own home landscape. This activity is included with park admission.
•Find the Ranger: 2 p.m. Ranger Nikki will be along Goldmine Trail between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Can you find her? Be sure to say hello and dazzle her with one’s desert knowledge. Be ready for a history or plant quiz and maybe win a prize. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, water, hat and sunscreen.
•Stargazing for Everyone: 7:30 p.m. Come watch the sky at the park. Look through massive telescopes (set up for the public’s viewing pleasure) and enjoy a slide presentation under the stars. Learn the names of stars, see the constellations and listen to stories of the night sky. When visible, view the craters of the moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn. Information about the Challenger Learning Center of Arizona will be provided. This is a fun night out. Come alone or take the entire family or group out for a night under the stars. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for comfort. Meet at the main trailhead.
•Wildflower Hike: 9 a.m. Springtime in the desert is a sight to see. Join in a 2-mile casual hike where hikers search for wildflowers and cactus blooms. Be sure to bring a camera because the group will stop for photos along the way. Hikers will try to identify what is found so feel free to bring a guidebook. What to bring: Closed-toe shoes, hat, sunscreen and water. Meet at the main trailhead.
•Homeschool – Rocks and Minerals: 9 a.m. Without rocks and minerals, there would be no cars, televisions, cell phones or toothpaste. Join in a classroom discussion to learn about the rock cycle and how minerals are formed. Participants also get up close and personal with some cool mineral samples, some that shine and even one that stinks. What to bring: Notebook and a pencil. Meet inside the Nature Center.