WILDLIFE HIKES

DONE IN A DAY

Backpacker - - Contents - By Sta­sia Cal­laghan

Glimpse en­demic an­i­mals on trails in Cal­i­for­nia, Ne­vada, Texas, and Florida.

TOMALES POINT TRAIL POINT REYES NA­TIONAL SEASHORE, CA

Bay Area lo­cals aren’t the only ones who love ocean­side hik­ing—so do tule elk. Nearly 450 of the un­gu­lates, which weigh in at around 500 pounds, call the Point Reyes area home. Spy the herd graz­ing trail­side on the 9.7-mile Tomales Point out-and­back to the ocean’s edge, where elk munch on sedges and pur­ple needle­grass. Septem­ber bonus: Tule elk look for mates this month; lis­ten for their tell­tale bu­gles along the way. Con­tact nps.gov/pore

SAND DUNES MONAHANS SANDHILLS STATE PARK, TX

Evo­lu­tion worked over­time to pro­duce the dunes sage­brush lizard— the only place on Earth you’ll find it is the des­o­late re­gion of west Texas and south­east New Mex­ico, where temps can soar into the triple dig­its year­round. To spot the spiny, or­ange rep­tile, you’ll have to bear hot temps your­self (the lizards are most ac­tive from April to Oc­to­ber) and avoid busy hik­ing paths, so head to trail­less Monahans Sandhills State Park. From the Wil­low Draw Camp­ing Area, wan­der through the dunes, scan­ning for lizards near the bases of tiny shin­nery oaks. Con­tact bit.do/ monahans-sandhills-sp

LOWER WEKIVA LOOP SEMI­NOLE STATE FOR­EST, FL

No mi­gra­tion re­quired for this bird: The Florida scrub jay found its for­ever home in cen­tral Florida, where low shrubs pro­vide the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for nest­ing. See the pale blue-and-white birds year­round on the 8.8-mile Lower Wekiva Loop, which cir­cles through al­ter­nat­ing live-oak woods, palm ham­mocks, and sandhills blan­keted with scrub pal­metto, rose­mary, and live oak. Look for the jays in the lat­ter, where they flit and for­age for acorns. Con­tact bit.do/semi­nolestate-for­est

SOUTH FORK BAKER LOOP GREAT BASIN NA­TIONAL PARK, NV

Find North Amer­ica’s small­est rab­bit hid­ing amid some of the South­west’s big­gest scenery on the 5.1-mile South Fork Baker Loop. The cir­cuit traces a 12,000-foot peak and bunny-friendly moun­tain mead­ows the whole way, so link the Tim­ber Creek and South Fork Baker Creek Trails to do it. Look for the palm-size pygmy rab­bits be­neath sage bushes, where they hide from the af­ter­noon heat. (For best odds, go early, be­fore the rest of the high desert wakes.) Con­tact nps.gov/grba

Tule elk at Tomales Point

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