Family Time: Happy trails on Root River State Trail

Take a walk on the wild side with the Root River State Trail Family Program Series.

Held on the Harmony-Preston Valley segment of the trail, all activities start at the trailhead in Preston. Led by Whitewater State Park naturalists, the program is is designed to introduce families to the nature right in their backyard.

"We have a gem of a trail system," said Sara Grover, interpretive naturalist at Whitewater State Park. "And there are lots of ways besides bicycling that you can use the trails. This program is a good introduction to the nature and outdoor recreation opportunities — snowshoeing, fishing, bird watching — available along the trails."

Held monthly, there are three more Root River State Trail Family programs left this year. In July, the theme is geocaching, August is the bike rodeo, and September it's a nature scavenger hunt.

There is no fee to participate and the program doesn't even require a state park sticker. Only the August program requires advance registration.


"The programs are really a lot of fun," Grover said. "It's all about giving families basic skills and information so they feel comfortable being outside and using the trails."

In addition to this program, Whitewater State Park naturalists run two other family-friendly trail programs. The Exploring Along the Root program series hosts naturalist-led activities to learn about rare plants and animals along the Root River State Trail between Whalan and Lanesboro, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the last Saturday of each month, May through August.

"This program is really designed to attract people who are out using the trails," Grover said. "It's not something you need to sign up for. If you're on the trails just stop by and check out the activities."

The Shift Gears series is designed to get families comfortable riding the trails. Open to all skill levels, the two-hour treks are held on scenic, relatively flat, paved trails. Sign up for the upcoming program, 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 18, by calling or emailing Grover, (507) 932-3007, ext. 226, or

"All you need to do is bring your bike and helmet," Grover said. "These are nice, leisurely rides. It's all about having fun and getting comfortable on the trails. We'll spend as much time stopping to check out nature as we will riding."

Find out more about these and other Whitewater State Park naturalist-led programs online, at

Seeing stars

Fridays in July and August, the History Center of Olmsted County is hosting Movies Under the Stars. Held at dusk on the history center's baseball field, the Aug. 3 movie is "Up," in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Jean Piccard balloon flight in Rochester.


Perfect for the entire family, admission is free. Donations accepted. Concessions available for purchase. Remember to bring lawn chairs, sweatshirts and bug spray.

Other upcoming movies include "Shenandoah" (July 27), "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (Aug. 17), and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (Aug. 24). Additional details can be found online at or by calling 282-9447.

Nighty night

Find out what it all means at the Rochester Public Library's Dreams & Dream Interpretation program at 7 p.m. Aug. 1.

Hosted by author and radio show host Craig Goethe and sponsored by the library's Young Adult division, participants will learn more about the messages in their dreams by discovering their hidden meanings.

Go online,, to find out more about this and other upcoming young adult programming, including Mystery Writer's Workshop, Ghost Stories, and the Teen Library Council.

Parents helping parents

It's a tough job, but Circle of Parents can help.


Hosted by Child Care Resource & Referral, Circle of Parents is a free, ongoing parenting support group that meets year-round, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.

The interactive group offers kid-tested and parent-approved tips and techniques that will help parents improve their parenting skills. Parents with kids of any age are invited to attend. Additional details, including the meeting location, which varies, are available when you call 287-2020 to register.

Going up

Harness that summertime energy at Prairie Walls Climbing Gym's Parent/Child Class. During class, parents and kids will learn all they need to know about climbing, belaying and using safety equipment by getting suited up and climbing up Prairie Wall's indoor rock climbing walls.

Classes are held 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. The cost is $35, or $18 for kids age 11 and younger. The fee includes all required rental equipment and expert instructions.

Reservations requested. Call 292-0511 to reserve your family's spot. Go online,, to check out pictures of the climbing walls and for more information on this and other Prairie Walls programs.


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