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Monday, November 30, 2015

McPolin Farm - Park City, Utah

Welcome back to Monday everyone!  
Mondays after long weekends are always a little tough.  SO....May your coffee be strong today, and your Thanksgiving leftovers finally gone.  

It was a cold snowy weekend here in Utah, which meant a lot of time spent inside watching the snow fall  Netflix with warm food and dessert.  Lets start off the week with the beautiful McPolin Farm.  



McPolin Farm
3000 Hwy. 224, Park City, UT 84060
The McPolin Farm is a well photographed area in Park City, Utah.  Located off Highway 224, this is a popular spot for engagements photos and family Christmas Cards, and is known to many who travel through the area.  The farm is a Utah Historic Site with the National Register, and was purchased and owned by Park City, Utah.  This area is a public open space and will be protected and conserved for all to enjoy.  There are trails throughout the property as well as educational signage.  Some of the buildings date back as far as 1921.  


"The Farm was purchased by the Citizens of Park City in 1990 to protect and enhance the entry corridor and maintain open space. The original 160-acre farm was homesteaded in 1886 by the Harrison McLane family and acquired by Isabelle and Dan McPolin around 1900. In 1908 the McPolins erected the barn of recycled timber salvaged from an old tailings mill. The barn was built by fitting timbers together without the use of nails. The barn is 7,468 square feet including the loft, and the milking parlor, added in the 1950's, is 1,500 square feet. Windows have been installed in the barn for public viewing.



The McPolin house is a somewhat smaller replica of the original structure, which was moved to this location in two pieces in the early 1920's, the farm house is 400 square feet. Prior to its relocation it served as a mine office. The reconstructed house is similar in outward appearance to the original Pyramid Cottage type house, which reflects early 20th century Park City architecture. The reconstructed equipment shed houses restrooms and meeting space.


Patrick and Grace McPolin inherited the farm in 1923 and operated it as a dairy farm until they sold it to D. A. Osguthorpe, a Salt Lake veterinarian, in 1948. He increased the herd to 100 and built the milking parlor. The old house burned shortly after Osguthorpe purchased the farm. A concrete block house was built across the highway where members of the family lived until Park City purchased the farm in 1990.


The Farm has been extensively refurbished, including stabilizing the barn, to maintain it as the most significant visual feature of the valley and an entry corridor landmark. The bucolic setting provides a haven from today's fast-paced life and welcomes residents and visitors to Park City. A hiking/skiing/biking trail is located along the upper edge of the property."  --www.parkcity.org


The barn is not available for private events.  The city will host community events at the barn in the summer.  The area is open year round for walking and photographing.  A gorgeous spot in iconic and historic Park City, Utah.  














Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Grove Creek Canyon - Pleasant Grove, Utah


Best way to beat a case of the Mondays is to schedule a hike with a friend. As I have mentioned in previous posts, finding a hike this time of year can be a little more challenging.  You have to find a hike at lower elevation that will not be too snowy and icey at the top.

  Amanda suggested a hike by her house in Pleasant Grove, Utah, a part of Utah County about an hour south of downtown.  The Grove Creek Trail climbs up the canyon along Grove Creek and we made our end point the waterfall with beautiful views down the canyon.  

Deseret News marked the trail as difficult, but I would definitely call it moderate.  Yes, there are some steep sections in the beginning, and then some cliffy areas where you will need to watch your step.  But older children would be find on this hike, and the views and the terrain up here are spectacular and worth the effort. 

Trail Information from Deseret News
Directions: You can plug Grove Creek Drive into your GPS and the trailhead is at the end of the drive.  Or, for the old fashioned way:  from I-15 in Utah County, take the American Fork Canyon exit, Highway 92. Just before the canyon, take Highway 146 south to Pleasant Grove. At 500 North, turn east, and the road turns into Grove Creek Drive. You arrive at the trailhead. This was about 50 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. 


Trail:  The trail will start up a wide dirt road, and then head left up a steep section.  You will start to make your way through a few switchbacks as you climb elevation.  About halfway up the trail, sections of the path literally cling to the mountainside. After crossing a scree field, an area of large loose rocks, watch for the first waterfall below you. At two miles,you will hear and see the upper waterfall. Here, you will find a bench with a gorgeous view.  If you venture a little further, you will see a small bridge crossing the creek and the trail continuing on if you wish to extend your hike.

Notes:  Be warned about completing this hike in the summer as this trail offers little shade.  If you are hiking in the warmer parts of the year, start early and take plenty of water. There is water for the dogs along the trail via Grove Creek but I would still bring water for them, for the sections where the creek is a little too far. I would say older kids only for this hike as the steep beginning, scree footing and narrow edge of the trail clinging along the mountainside may be difficult for younger kids.

Heading up the Grove Creek Trail
Heading up the Grove Creek Trail
View of Timp while heading up the Grove Creek Trail
The dogs posing along a ledge on the trail
Grove Creek Trail
Grove Creek Trail views of Utah Valley and Utah Lake
Trail across the scree- Grove Creek Trail
Grove Creek Trail
Waterfall on Grove Creek Trail
View down Grove Creek Canyon from the bench and waterfall 
Grove Creek Trail
Heading Back down the Grove Creek Trail
Viewing point along the Grove Creek Trail
Returning down the Grove Creek Trail

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Seventeen year old me wouldn't be caught dead at a bird refuge. The idea of walking around looking at birds would have initiated a horribly dramatic reaction. But twenty-seven year old me was pretty excited to check out a bird refuge. 
  
You know you are getting old when....

It is that time of year when a lot of the great hikes are too snowy, and the ski mountains just aren't snowy enough. Sure, the mountains have opened, but I am a picky skier and when the mountains are so close (and so expensive) you wait for some pretty stellar conditions to bundle up. This time of year I am always looking for some alternative activities to keep me moving and out of this apartment on the weekend. Northern Utah is an area we really haven't explored much besides just driving through.

One of the best things about Utah, is there are so many hidden gems. I have come across so many adventures that even locals haven't discovered. While doing some research mid week, I cam across the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City, Utah. I really only found this spot after zooming around portions of the Northern Utah map (that's how non hyped up this spot is).  

The Great Salt Lake is a huge "layover" for migratory birds. and you can read more about what makes the Great Salt Lake such a perfect spot here. While you can see many birds on Antelope Island and in the Great Salt Lake, the "bird mecca" (and gorgeous scenery) is just north of the lake. 


Following information from www.FWS.gov 

What is it:  Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, on the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake, offers phenomenal bird watching, especially in spring and early summer. Each year, millions of birds spend time on the refuge. A total of more than 200 species have been observed here.

Visit the James V. Hansen Wildlife Education to learn about the birds and habitat of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem through our interactive displays and watch the amazing Wings of Thunder film.  This film was produced by the Friends of the Bear River Refuge and takes you on a 27 minute journey through our history and seasons of wildlife.  A 1.5 mile walking trail meanders through the wetland habitat just outside the center.  

A visitor center, boardwalk area, and a 12 mile-long auto tour route loops around large wetland units, giving birders close views of American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, White-faced Ibis, Western and Clark's Grebes, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, the occasional Snowy Plover, and many other species. The auto tour route is available for vehicles, bicycles and hikers and remains open year-round, weather and road conditions permitting. Restrooms, a teaching pavilion, boardwalk, interpretive panels and accessible fishing pier are located at the River Delta Interpretive Site, near the beginning of the auto tour route.  You can download the audio tour for the auto tour HERE.  

Click here for the Refuge Map and Brochure 
Directions:  The refuge is located 12 miles west of Interstate 15 at Brigham City. Take Exit 363, Forest Street, and turn west to the refuge. Consult the refuge's "Birding Information Line" 435-734-6426 for a recorded message of recent sightings. The refuge operates a Wildlife Education Center in Brigham City, one block west of I-15 at the Forest Street exit (#363).  

Distance:  12 miles out to the start of the auto tour, 12 mile loop on the actual auto tour (dirt road), and 12 miles back to the highway. 36 miles of beautiful Utah wetlands. The everglades of Utah if you will. NOTE 1: the 12 miles to the start of the tour is paved, while the auto tour is a 12 mile DIRT road that loops. In the Spring and winter the access road to the refuge may be covered with water or snow please call in advance to check road conditions. Tour Route may also be closed due to snow or water. NOTE 2: The Auto Tour is one way (counter clockwise). Please be courteous and pull over for others if you are stopped to view or photograph wildlife.

Hours: Like everything in Utah, the wildlife education center is closed on Sunday (this makes my blood BOIL-  good luck finding anywhere to eat BTW). Visitor Center hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturdays, and is closed on Federal holidays.  However, the Refuge auto tour route is open every day from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. There is an automatic gate that will open and close at sunrise and sunset hours.

Cost:  Free! The National Wildlife Refuge System is operated within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Facilities:  There are restrooms located at the visitors center, and at the start of the auto tour.  Check out the map (above) for more information on facilities, boat ramps, and amenities.  

Dogs and Family: This gorgeous area is perfect for a Sunday drive with the family, and you can even walk or bike the auto tour.  The visitors center is great for adults and kids alike, and there is great educational signage all along the refuge.  And guess what. Dogs are allowed (even off leash). My dog was a little too tempted with all the birds around, and they ask to not disturb wildlife. Probably the most interesting aspect of this spot was that they allowed hunting. When you see refuge, you think a safe place for birds. However, they do allow hunting by season and areas in the refuge. We did see many hunters (and their dogs) out on the refuge. Be aware of this if you do bring your kids to the refuge you will most likely hear gun shots. 

Spring/Migration: In the spring, Bear River is active with life as birds fly back from the south. There is a continuous flow of different species in and out of the refuge. Each day offers something new. Birds are in their bright and colorful breeding plumage and the observant visitor can witness eons-old courtship rituals. Geese and ducks begin to arrive in early March. Shorebird migration lasts from early April through mid-May.

Summer/Breeding/Nesting: While some birds head further north to breed, over 60 species stay at Bear River through the summer to breed and raise their young. Baby birds can be seen as early as May when the Canada goose goslings make their debut. Later in June and July, visitors can view ducklings and young shorebirds such as American avocets and black-necked stilts. In July, the sight of young western grebes riding atop their parents' backs is especially exciting.


Fall/Migration: Beginning in July, shorebirds come back through the refuge on their way south and numbers peak in mid-August. Up to a half million ducks and geese concentrate on the refuge units. Over 30,000 tundra swans begin to arrive in mid-October and stay through December.

Winter/Residents & Visitors: From December to March, northern harriers, rough-legged hawks and prairie falcons frequent the marsh, searching the frozen land for prey. Bald eagles use the refuge in the winter for feeding and resting during the day.  For more information on the which birds are on the Refuge and when....download the Monthly Bird Happenings fact sheet.



DISCLAIMER:  If I am being honest, I am really not that into birds. Just not a bird person, sorry. But you don't have to be to enjoy this area. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and we sort of called it the "Everglades of Utah". If you love to get outside, or love to photograph wildlife then this is an amazing spot.  I forgot my zoom lens so forgive my lack of bird pictures.  
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Entrance to the (closed) visitors center and boardwalk. 
Although the visitors center was closed, the auto tour is open 7 days a week. 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
12 mile road leading to the auto tour on the refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
How ironic that someone left an intact 6 pack rink on a BIRD REFUGE.  
Yes I brought it home and cut it up.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
This place was a million different sorts of gorgeous.  
We visited late November I am sure it is stunning in the summer and spring as well
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
There are plenty of spots to pull over and take pictures on both the paved road and auto tour
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
12 mile paved road leading to the Auto Tour Road (dirt)

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge signage 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Great educational signage everywhere 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
The Auto Tour starts at the end of the 12 mile paved road.  There are bathrooms
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge-  Bear River
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge-  Bear River.  The Bear River and the marsh/wetland area
 reminded me so much of home and the Connecticut River (minus the mountains of course)
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge-  Bear River
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge-  Bear River 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge-  Bear River
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge-  Bear River 
Dirt Road, start of the Auto Tour Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Dirt Road, start of the Auto Tour Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Hunters coming back to the parking area on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Hunters coming back to the parking area on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River, Utah 
Bear River, Utah
Bear River, Utah 
Birds at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Birds at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Observation Deck Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge 
Thanks for stopping by and reading all about the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.  A hidden gem in Utah, great for the entire family.  Happy Birding!