Trail Mix — Central

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

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 ID23349

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 ID255920

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 ID5685

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Oregon, grabbed this shot from the North Country Trail in Michigan’s UP near Miners Castle. While May can mean dicey weather in Pictured Rocks, a late-spring dayhike through the park can lead you to picturesque icy Miner Falls, Kintigh says. For a chance to be featured here, tag your hiking photo #BPmag on Instagram. Trip ID614547

Bring a Mesh Bag
Hunt Morels in Whitewater SP, MN

Harvest Minnesota’s rich-flavored state mushroom in Whitewater State Park, just 2.5 hours from the Twin Cities. From late April to mid-May, rainy, warm weather renders the park a mushroom hunter’s paradise. Link the Coyote Point, Dakota, and Meadow Trails into a 1.5-mile loop through morel territory, looking near ravines and in cow pastures. Bring both a mesh sack to hold your treasure (and spread spores) and a GPS to mark your lucky spots (morels often grow in the same place several years in a row). Collect responsibly: Use a stick to gently lift foliage, and cut sponge-topped morels at the base of the stem to preserve root systems. Contact (507) 932-3007; bit.ly/whitewaterSP

Hunt Morels Like a Pro “Look beneath an elm tree that’s two or three years dead with shedding bark—but if all bark is missing, it’s too far gone,” says Tom Nauman, founder of the website Morel Mania (morelmania.com).