Trail Talks Field Trip Program

Photo: Thane Phelan



Our interactive outdoor education program

for school-age children.

What does a field trip look like?

Our Trail Talks field trip program allows grades of students to safely explore a beautiful place, Snow Mountain Ranch in Cowiche, WA. Trips combine nature walks with interactive learning stations. Focused on the interconnectivity of life in the shrub-steppe, our field trips are designed to nurture an appreciation for the natural world while using outdoor lessons about natural phenomena to support core ideas and concepts of national science standards.


Apply for a field trip

We try to make the application process as easy as possible for teachers and school administrators. Fill out an application below and we will contact you to work out the details of your school’s trip. If you have any questions about the program please feel free to contact Cy Philbrick (


Choose two learning stations! Learning stations are interactive outdoor learning experiences focused on natural phenomena.

Learning Stations

  • The Mighty Oak & the Web of Life – An iconic tree of the shrub-steppe, the garry oak teaches us about the interconnectedness of healthy ecosystems. Science Standards: LS1, ESS2, ESS3, LS2, LS4
  • When Plants Talk – Students explore the phenomenon of plant communication – how plants communicate in a special language used to call for help when under attack. Students discover how plants depend on insects for more than just pollination. Science Standards: LS1, LS4
  • The Promise of Pollination – Students learn the basic mechanics of the phenomenon of pollination. They describe the roles of butterflies and other pollinators in plant reproduction.Science Standards: LS1, LS2, LS3, LS4
  • Butterfly Life Cycle – Students learn to identify the many stages of butterfly development with a focus on the phenomenon of multiple caterpillar “instars.” They also learn about the importance of host plants. Science Standards: LS1, LS4
  • Geology – Go with the Flow – Students learn to think about deep time. Through observation, touch, and role play, they interpret the catastrophic forces and phenomena that shaped our modern landscape. Science Standards: ESS1, ESS2
  • Shrub-steppe Ecology: Love it Or Lose It – Students learn about the unique character of and threats to the shrub-steppe, our precious local ecosystem. Science Standards: LS2, ESS3, LS4
  • Climate Change: How it Works, Why it Matters – Students learn the fundamentals of how increasing greenhouse gas concentrations are warming our planet, why it matters for people and ecosystems, and what people can do about it. Science Standards: PS3, LS2, ESS2, ESS3  *(For Grades 5 and above).

Choose two Nature Walks! Nature Walks are guided walks through the diverse landsapes of our shrub-steppe.

Nature Walks

  • Meadow & Pollinators Walk – Meandering through meadow and riparian zone, this walk exposes students to a variety of pollinators and and their partner plants.
  • Stream Ecology – Students see first-hand how streams and floodplains, and the creatures that help form them, are valuable to an ecosystem.
  • Restoration Walk – Observe the differences between degraded, disturbed, and undisturbed land. See how fire can disturb, and how land can be restored.
  • Luminous Lithosol – Take the high road and venture into a magic land of rocks, wildflowers, moss, and cryptobiotic crust. (For Grades 4 and above)

Planning Your Trip

What to Bring?

Ideally, every student will bring the following:

  • Backpack or bag to carry things
  • Water – each student should have at least 16 ounces of water.
  • Snacks or lunch. We encourage students to carry their own!
  • Layered clothing for weather changes
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Sunscreen and sun-blocking hat


Please consider the following when planning your visit:

  • Limited parking is available. Accommodations can be made for parking specialized vehicles, buses and vans.
  • There are no permanent bathroom facilities, but there is a portable toilet available.
  • There is no drinking water. It is very important to bring adequate water for your planned activity.
  • There are no tables, chairs or covered shelters on site.
  • Visitors need to dress appropriately for the weather and wear shoes suitable for walking on uneven ground.
  • Children should be supervised at all times since the areas include steep rocky trails, cliffs, creeks, un-fenced bridges, and irrigation ditches.
  • School groups are responsible for providing an adequate number of chaperones in compliance with their school district policy, as well as insurance coverage during the time of their visit to the site.
  • You are visiting the natural habitat of a variety of plants, insects, animals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, some of which bite and sting!  Rattlesnake sightings are common in Cowiche Canyon in spring, summer and fall. Poison oak can be encountered in Cowiche Canyon. Be aware of ticks in spring and yellow jackets in the fall at Snow Mountain Ranch.
  • No specimen collecting.