Each summer Inyo County Health & Human Services coordinates hikes for children and their parents in the Eastern Sierra through its Public Health & Prevention Division. The program is possible through collaboration among Inyo County staff and funding from obesity prevention and substance abuse prevention. The outings are open to all Inyo County families with children preferably ages 8 and up. The program provides transportation, education, snacks, and fun!

The purpose of the hikes is to promote physical activity and exploration of the outdoors and our beautiful natural surroundings. Inyo County staff invite youth who may not have had a chance to spend much time outdoors or go on hikes. This year Inyo County Health & Human Services staff invited staff and clients from other departments, including Probation, to participate.

This year the program planned two hikes per month in June, July, and August, one in the Bishop area and one in the Lone Pine area each month. A total of 28 participants – 17 from Bishop, 4 from Big Pine, 4 from Lone Pine, and 3 outside agency staff members – attended the outings in 2017. The ages of children participating ranged from 4 years old to 18 years old, with older children assisting with group management on the hikes. Most participants went on more than 1 hike.

Participants explored hiking trails in areas like Horseshoe Meadows, Bristlecone Pine Forest, Horseshoe Lake, South Lake, Whitney Portal, and Upper Rock Creek. Program staff members have some training in Wilderness First Aid and carefully monitor the hiking groups. Program staff also arrange for educational presentations on natural history, wildlife, and other topics. This year hike participants enjoyed a presentation on the ancient bristlecone pines at the visitor center at Schulman Grove.

“My family and I really enjoyed the hikes this year,” said Amber Richards, Big Pine participant. “They are good for our family and give us ideas for different activities to do as a family. I love seeing new places that are right here in our backyard.”

A special thanks goes to Eryn Clark and Tim Villanueva, Prevention Specialists in the Public Health & Prevention Division, for organizing the hikes. Sign-ups for hikes in 2018 will start in May. Consider joining us to explore our backyard!