Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Summer recreation programs begin next week in the Summit and Mi-Wok ranger districts of the Stanislaus National Forest.

Here is the schedule. Most are free, though some have a fee.

Regular Weekly Programs


"Pinecrest Junior Rangers," 10 to 11 a.m., June 24 to Aug. 5. Hands-on activities will introduce children age 4 to 12 to the world we live in and how to care for the outdoors. Meet at the Pinecrest Amphitheater.

"Hit the Heights!" 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., June 24 to Aug. 5. Learn about geology and history of Sonora Pass on a leisurely two-part hike. Start at Columns of the Giants and end at Donnells Vista. Meet at the Summit Ranger Station at 11:30 a.m. or Brightman Station at 12:15 p.m.


"Tall Tales and Silly Songs," 10 to 11 a.m., June 25 to Aug. 6, $1 donation. Meet at Pinecrest Amphitheater for an hour of interactive songs with Bill Roberson and his alternating cadre of storytellers, Cynthia Restivo, B.Z. Smith or Jennifer Aguirre.

"Critters, Conifers and Clay," 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., June 25 to Aug. 6, $10 materials fee. Learn about the plants and animals of the forest by creating clay projects. Children under 7 must be assisted by an adult. Space is limited.

"Journaling Through Nature," 2 to 4 p.m., June 25 to Aug. 6. Create a nature journal while on a short hike with interpretive staff. For ages 8 to adult. Meet at the Summit Ranger Station.


"What's Buggin' You?" 10 to 11:30 a.m., June 26 to Aug. 7, $5 materials fee. Discover life within the aquatic ecosystem. Print a T-shirt with stamps depicting creatures of the water world. Meet at Pinecrest Chalet, about one mile up Dodge Ridge Road on the right (look for the wooden bear).

"Fishing For Small Fry," 2 to 3 p.m., June 26 to Aug. 7. Children learn how to bait a hook, cast and reel in a fish, then try to catch one. Meet interpretive staff at the Pinecrest Lake ADA concrete fishing platform.


"Weaving Life Stories Into Baskets," 10 a.m. to noon, July 11, 25, Aug. 8, $10 materials fee. Arvada Fisher will help you start a pine needle basket while telling stories of her Me-Wuk heritage. Meet at the Summit Ranger Station and bring a chair.

"Me-Wuk Lifeways," 10 to 11 a.m., June 27 to Aug. 8. Carlos Geisdorf of the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians will tell stories from his cultural heritage. Meet at Summit Ranger Station.

"Where Am I?" Compass orienteering, 2 to 3 p.m., June 27 to Aug. 8. Receive a compass, then learn how to use it while finding your way through the woods. Meet interpretive staff at Trail of the Survivors. For ages 7 to adults.


"Trees and Trails," 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 28 to Aug. 9. Discover the wisdom of nature on these hikes that last two to four hours depending on the destination. Gas up your car, bring lunch, water and sturdy walking shoes. Meet at Summit Ranger Station. Call 965-3434 for the destinations.

"Pinecrest Junior Rangers," 2 to 3 p.m., June 28 to Aug. 9. Hands-on activities will introduce children age 4 to 12 to the world we live in and how to care for the outdoors. Meet at the Pinecrest Amphitheater.


"Rise and Shine Pinecrest Lake Hike," 9 a.m. to noon, June 29, July 13, 27, Aug. 10 Meet at the Pinecrest Amphitheater for this hike around the lake.

"Rise and Shine Trail of the Gargoyles Hike," 9 a.m. to noon, July 6, 20, Aug. 3. Meet at the Summit Ranger Station to car caravan.

"Nature Detective," 2 to 3 p.m. Look for clues in the forest and become a nature detective with interpretive staff. Meet at Pinecrest Amphitheater.


"Birding Hikes," 8 to 10:30 a.m.. June 30 to Aug. 11. Explore the beauty of birds in the Stanislaus National Forest. Meet at Summit Ranger Station to carpool. Bincoculars are available. Call Summit Ranger Station at 965-3434 for information.

"Picture Me and Woodsy," 2 to 3:30 p.m. , June 30 to Aug. 11. Cameras! Action! Each week meet interpretive staff at the Summit Ranger Station for a trip to a scenic location. Learn photography tips and take photos filled with memories. Post your photos on the Woodsy Owl website.

Special Evening Programs

Mondays, 8 to 9 p.m., Pinecrest Amphitheater

"Water Wonderland Beyond Pinecrest," June 24. Waterfalls, lakes and rivers are crystal gems that lie beyond Pinecrest Lake. Come see their beauty, then learn how to visit the water wonderland of Stanislaus National Forest! Irene Patton.

"Snakes Alive!" July 1, $1 donation, special start time 7 p.m. Mike Sutton returns with a living showcase of different reptiles to view and touch.

"Green Gold," July 8. Learn about the trees in the area, why they are valuable and the history of logging camps in the area, with Christine Meyers.

"Wild About Wildflowers," July 15. The Sierra Nevada are covered with colorful jewels - wildflowers! Learn about the different types and where to find them, with Marie Malo.

"Dreams, Hopes - Then Came the Sierra Nevada," July 22. Imagine all the adventures that awaited pioneers who traveled over the Sierra Nevada while pursuing their dreams, with Shawn Estes.

"Fire! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," July 29. Learn about the benefits and the dangers of forest fires. Meet Kevin Robinson and Smokey Bear.

"Things That Go Bump in the Night,"Aug. 5. Have you ever wondered what that sound was outside your tent in the middle of the night? Join Marie Malo for a presentation about life at night in the Stanislaus National Forest.

Wednesdays, 7 to 8 p.m., Pinecrest Amphitheater

"Tales of the Mother Lode," June 26, $1 donation. Hardluck Lin spins yarns of the Gold Rush much like the early California Argonauts who sat about campfires warming hands, drying britches, and sharing tales.

"Wild Things," July 3, $1 donation. Discover wildlife up close in this program featuring an assortment of rescued California birds and mammals. Learn about these creatures and how to let wildlife be wild.

"Friendly Fire: A 49er's Life with the Me-Wuk People," July 10, $1 donation. Thomas Maguire stars in this Duende drama about a gold miner in 1851, his new appreciation of the Me-Wuk world and his struggle to deflect catastrophe.

"Green Fire," July 17, $1 donation. See the acclaimed movie about Aldo Leopold and his life as a forerunner in conservation.

"Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Singers and Dancers," July 24, $1 donation. Through song and dance, members of the Me-Wuk tribe will share their cultural traditions.

"Fire History in the Forest Service," July 31, $1 donation. Enjoy an evening of songs and stories about the history of the U.S. Forest Service and its tradition of fire protection.

"Batty About Our Insect-Eating Friends," Aug. 7, $1 donation, special start time 8 p.m. Live bats of California native species are presented for viewing and discussion by NorCal Bats. Learn the importance of bats in our environment and the myths that surround them.


"Star Parties," 9 to 10 p.m., June 28, July 5, 12, 19, 26; 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., Aug. 2, 9, $1 donation. Tour the heavens from a star-studded location with astronomers. Meet at Bald Mountain Helibase on Highway 108 across from Little Sweden. Program may be canceled due to fire activity or weather. Call the Summit (965-3434) or Mi-Wok ranger station (586-3234) to confirm. Bring chair or blanket. Smoking, glass containers and dogs are prohibited.