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Tamera Manzanares

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Spots available for hikers

Last summer, students in the Hayden Valley Elementary School Outdoor Adventure Club hiked popular trails throughout the Yampa Valley.

Their good behavior and enthusiasm caught more than a few hikers’ attention.

“I tell you, everywhere we went last year, people wanted to know where we were from,” said teacher Robin Bush, who led the hikes.

The program, which “far exceeded” Bush’s expectations last year, is up and running for a second summer, and spots are available on most hikes.

Bush, who will be leading the hikes with teacher Christine Epp, planned the program on hikes she enjoyed as a child growing up in Steamboat Springs. The hikes are aimed at elementary or middle school students, depending on distance and terrain.

The program, which is funded by a Legacy Education Foundation mini grant, will include hikes up Hahn’s Peak, Buffalo Pass, Fish Creek Falls and up to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.

Students also will have the opportunity to explore a rock tunnel near Meeker and camp on the Devil’s Causeway East Fork trail. Swimming will be possible on some of the hikes.

The cost for each hike is between $26 and $31. The overnight trip is $40.

In addition to increasing students’ physical fitness, the program aims to encourage their appreciation of nature by identifying plants, animals and habitats. The students also will read maps and learn basic outdoor survival skills and first aid.

“We’ve tried to make it a little academic without taking the spontaneity out of it,” Bush said.

Students will make the connection between technology and environment by using global positioning system technology to track their hikes and pinpoint areas of interest.

The Routt County Extension Office will provide the GPS units and, in exchange, students will note noxious weeds along trails.

A mandatory meeting for all hikers will be from 3 to 5 p.m. June 29 at the elementary school cafeteria. The cost is $8. The first hike is July 6.