Hiking Scavenger Hunt – Palmer Park

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We love to hike! What better way to get out and enjoy Colorado Springs than on one of the many hiking trails around our beautiful city? However, as it turns out, we are still in the “kid hike” phase of life. I realized this last week when my office hosted a hike where “families were welcome.” I thought, “Great! We love to hike, I’ll bring the kids!” We’ll do a hiking scavenger hunt! 

As it turns out, we are still operating in a bubble where we wander and wonder our way through nature. We certainly don’t march.

No Straight Path

We set out with my coworkers at the front of the pack. That lasted all of about 800 yards… Have you ever seen the wayward path of the kids in the comic “Family Circus?” The author clearly had real kids. There is no such thing as a straight path when hiking with kids.

Before I knew it, we were getting lapped and my youngest was asking to be carried. In our world, when one person stops, we all stop. In the adult hiking world when someone stops, they get passed. So in short order, we were bringing up the rear. Unfortunately, my oldest, now 10, has turned into a short adult with way more endurance than his mother with a 36 lb, 4-year-old on her shoulders. Keeping up and keeping an eye on him was proving too much.

Exploring Nature Slowly

I am grateful for the opportunity to bring my kids along with my coworkers, but I think we will just enjoy our method of experiencing nature slowly and methodically for now while this season lasts. They’ll be big in no time so for now we’ll park close to the trail and enjoy the meander. If you are also in our stage of hiking and are looking for a way to keep things interesting while still at a preschool pace, you can try our favorite way to hike, scavenger hiking!

Below is a list of all the things we found during a scavenger hunt hike at Palmer Park. See how many you can find and when you do, fill your little people in on all the fun facts about these nature finds that you can, my kids love it, yours might too! Don’t forget to come prepared. We pack (in a bag mom carries) sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, snacks, hand sanitizer, Band-Aids, Neosporin, zip lock bags and trash bags.

It’s a Scavenger Hunt! Can You Find:

Plants

  • Cactus- Be careful, cacti are prickly, don’t touch!
  • Pinecones- Can you see the pattern on the bottom?
  • Moss- Does it grow on a particular side of a tree? Maybe the north side?
  • Lichen- Careful, don’t step on it, it takes decades to grow.

  • Yucca- This one is also pokey, don’t back into it!
  • Scrub Oak- Do you know what colors it turns in the fall? (red, yellow and orange).
  • Ponderosa Pine- Can you find a Ponderosa Pine? It has orangish bark and long needles.

Rock

  • Sandstone- At Palmer Park sandstone is everywhere, it is yellow, white and orange. Look close, can you see the little particles of sand all smashed together?
  • Quartz- How about quartz? Can you find that? It is a whitish opaque color that looks like a crystal. You can find it in the walking path.
  • Granite- Do you know how to identify granite? It is usually multi-colored, pink, white, black, with speckles and stripes. It is hard and unlike sandstone doesn’t look like tiny particles of sand but larger crystal like structures.
  • Hoodoos- Have you ever heard of a Hoodoo? It is a rock formation. It looks like a rock tower with a little hat.
  • Cave- How about a cave? Can you find any rock caves at Palmer Park? Be careful, stay with a parent, they can be spooky…
  • Arch- Do you know what a rock arch is? It is like a bridge made of stone.


Animals

What animals, or signs of animals can you find? How about:

  • Feathers- Can you find any feathers? What kind of birds do you think they come from? Do you see or hear any birds? What kind? How about a magpie?
  • Bugs- Do bugs make you squirm? What bugs can you find? Ants, spiders? caterpillars
  • Animals- What kind of animals are at Palmer Park? Deer, dogs, squirrels, bear, bobcats, horses? If you don’t see them while you are out, How would you know they have been there?
  • Tracks- Can you find their footprints in the mud? What do horse tracks look like? What about dog tracks? How about people? Are people animals? What do their tracks look like?

  • Scat- What is another name for scat? Poop! Do you know the difference between horse poop and bear poop?
  • People- What else do people leave behind? Trash! Sometimes people leave trash behind. When we go for hikes we always bring a trash bag and we pick up trash we pass on our walk. We know that we are helping the environment and that makes us feel good. And we get to check off our “Show Kindness to the Environment” box on our Summer of Kindness checklist!

    We hope you enjoy your next walk through Palmer Park. Make it a little scavenger hunt and tell us what you find!
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Rachel is a native Coloradoan, though originally from the Western Slope. She followed her husband Chris to his hometown of Colorado Springs after having met in engineering school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Together they have four beautiful children, Tommy (2011), Tazzy (2014), Zach (2015) and Zinny (2018). Having a young and active family keeps Rachel on her toes trying to find ways to keep the ship sailing while still meeting all the demands of motherhood. Though Rachel loves her most important role as Mommy most, she also works full time outside the home as a Water Resources Engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. This role helps keep her life centered, bouncing from detailed and complex discussions relating to Colorado Water Law with her husband ( a mechanical engineer) to daycare and preschool drop off and pick up schedules, while being constantly interrupted by the equally complex musings of her 4 year.

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