Students from Morongo Unified School District's Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Kaleidoscope program worked with park rangers this summer to design a trail especially for kids. An orientation, held at Copper Mountain College, provided the students with an introduction to the National Park Service and training on various aspects of trail creation in national parks,including: resource protection and safety considerations. The students also learned how to use a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit to capture waypoints to mark a trail route and for placement of trail signs.
Next the students visited the park to hike the Skull Rock area on both the north and south sides of Park Boulevard. Dubbed the "trailblazers," they made notes of things they wanted to know more about and observations about their experiences. They took pictures of features they enjoyed exploring and captured GPS waypoints of trail routes they enjoyed hiking.
On June 29, the trailblazers presented their ideas for this "4 kids by kids trail" to park staff. Their fresh approach and novel insights were well received and will be very helpful in the creation of a trail that will appeal to a variety of age and interest groups and that will encourage kids of all ages to explore Joshua Tree National Park.