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Backpacker Magazine – May 2013

Trail Mix — Central

Enjoy the wildlife of Mississippi, search for Morels in Minnesota, view the nesting turtles on Texas' Padre Island, and more.

by: Sarah L. Stewart

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Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. (Photo by NPS Photo)
Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. (Photo by NPS Photo)
InstaWinner Kintigh
InstaWinner Kintigh

See This Now
Nesting sea turtles, Padre Island National Seashore, TX

After a 30-year hiatus, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are nesting on Texas’s Padre Island National Seashore. Park staff and volunteers patrol 70 miles of coastline, incubating eggs in a lab and releasing hatchlings under protected conditions. Your chances of seeing a nesting turtle are best from late April to mid-July. Hike south from the park entrance along primitive coastline, which alternates between packed, wet sand and deep, soft drifts. Explore on a dayhike (pack all drinking water), or camp anywhere. Endangered ridleys nest during the day: Look for olive green, 2-foot-long turtles nestled in front of dunes, crawl tracks that look like someone paddled a kayak up the beach, or sand flying from a female digging a nest. Don’t approach a turtle until it’s laying, and, of course, don’t touch. Contact (361) 949-8068; nps.gov/pais



Perfect Days

Des Moines, IA
North Skunk River
Wind through dense hardwoods and a wildlife-rich bog alongside a Mississippi River tributary on this 5-mile out-and-back. On your way home, tour the 14-acre gardens and tropical butterfly enclosure on Iowa State University’s Ames campus ($8; reimangardens.iastate.edu). Trip ID 23349

Minneapolis, MN
Afton State Park
Trace 150-foot bluffs along the St. Croix River to a sandy beach and a 19th-century pine plantation on this 3.5-miler. Then kick back under the stars at Lake Elmo’s drive-in theater (valihi.com). Trip ID 255920

Omaha, NE
Hidden Lake
Loop past marshy lakes and an 1820s-era fur trading post site on this 3.4-mile circuit. Then marvel at Lauritzen Botanical Gardens’ LEGO sculpture exhibit (until May 19), featuring an 8-foot-tall hummingbird ($7; lauritzengardens.org). Trip ID 5685


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