cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


273 Junior Rangers 2010-08-27

Riley the Junior Ranger

Riley, the Junior Ranger

While hiking this summer in Colorado I met a young man, his female friend, and probably her mother on the trail. The mother was having difficulty walking up the trail and was receiving aid from her daughter. The boy (well, man, he was probably in his low 20s) ran up the slope and shortcut the switchback instead of staying on the trail. I originally thought he took the shortcut to help the woman up the trail. No. He stood at the top of the switchback and declared how much easier it was to shortcut the trail as he watched the mom struggle up the switchback.

Well, when he started bragging, I thought it was a good time for him to have a conversation with me. He was not a hiker. He was a city boy walking on a trail. He had never heard of Leave No Trace, he started the day hiking without looking at the trailhead kiosk, he knew nothing of backcountry ethics, and he could not comprehend why I was concerned.

The boy was not trying to do wrong, he was just not an outdoors person. Hopefully, at some point in his life, he will acquire a better understanding of backcountry ethics.

An increasing number of visitors in the Parks are venturing into the backcountry. With a five dollar rain poncho, a plastic water bottle, and a cell phone, they walk the trails. The Parks are faced with trying to educate these adventurers on safety and the environment.

One great educational program in some State and National Parks is the Junior Ranger Program. The Rocky Mountain Program is family oriented. The would-be Junior Rangers must complete a list of activities in the Park and some tasks are not that easy.

A friend of ours daughter completed her fourth Junior Ranger Program this summer. She probably knows more about conservation, ecology, and plant and animal identification than most adults, including myself!

After completing the booklet the Junior Ranger has to then take an oath...

As a Junior Ranger, I promise to help protect Rocky Mountain National Park, my neighborhood parks and all other natural areas by taking care of the environment.

• I will help keep wildlife wild by not feeding animals.

• I will help protect plants by not picking them.

• I will help keep parks beautiful by placing trash in recycling bins or trash cans.

• I will enjoy nature safely and be a good example to others.

Maybe, we should all take the oath.

In Tennessee Great Smoky Mountain Nation Park has a Junior Ranger Program. Several of the State Parks including Cumberland Mountain also have a program. In Nashville the Warner Parks also have a similar program.

The Junior Ranger Program helps to educate the Park users. More Junior Rangers means less ill informed users - such as my shortcut friend.

Happy Junior Ranger trails.


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: