Naturalist Leader Training Clinic


Naturalist Leader Training Clinic - Swauk Forest Discovery Trail

This clinic is for Naturalist leaders and will focus on three primary goals. 1. Explore ways that leaders can use the tools presented in the INW class to help their participants learn to use them independently. We will use Stewart’s conifer chart and Cliff’s PNW Tree app. A metaphor might be, “If you give a person a fish, they will have dinner, but if you teach them to fish, they can feed themselves long term.” The bigger goal is to think about how to each on trips, rather than just telling folks what organisms are called. We will use trees as the tool but the approach will be applicable to flowers, butterflies, birds and others. 2. Explore ecological processes and principles and contemplate why the species we see in a place might be there. This will attempt to take the principles taught in the INW class into the field and show how a leader might explain them to participants while helping them identify species. Storytelling can be helpful. 3. Review the geology of the eastern side of the Cascades. Practice how we might tell the story or a piece of the story of the creation of Washington. It is fascinating, dynamic, and rich.

  • Easy
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 3.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 ft

We will meet at 9 AM at the Swauk Forest Discovery Trail Parking Lot just off Blewett Pass – about 0.25 miles up FS Road 9716.

Here is a google link to the trailhead

The leader will send out information to all participants so they can coordinate carpools. The leader will likely be camping at Swauk Campground on US 97 the night before.


We will spend most of the day hiking the Discovery Trail. Bring lunch and water for a midday break. Bring Stewart’s Conifer chart and the Trees PNW app on your phone. We might be a little early for some of this region's specialty flowers, but I know where they will bloom in a few weeks if you decide to lead a trip here later. We will look at flowers, trees, shrubs, birds, and other things. The birds should be singing.

We will examine how abiotic and biotic factors influence plant communities and the fauna. We will look at fire regimes, how organisms adapt to fire as well as other disturbances. We will find examples of pollination, seed dispersal, predation, and parasitism. We will discuss forest management and the current challenges of public lands with climate change.

We will practice identification, teaching styles, how to do quizzes in the field, and how to make identification fun. Our human brains are excellent at learning lots of things. Think about how you know your family or friends. We will explore using some of those same techniques you naturally use with people on plants and animals.

After finishing the Swauk trail, we will head to Red Top Lookout in the cars.

This site provides a panoramic view of the Teanaway and Stuart Mountain area. This will be the perfect place to discuss the formation of Washington, the Cascades, and, in particular, this part of the Cascades. The hike is short, and bringing hiking poles can be a help. It may only be me who is afraid of heights. I like having poles to come back down.

This clinic aims to help naturalists integrate identification, teaching, ecology, and geology into their trip-leading expertise. Come and have fun.

 We will marvel at nature, feed our sense of awe, wonder with the magic of life, and laugh, cherish friendships, and celebrate nature.


Swauk Forest Discovery Trail

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Stewart’s conifer chart

Cliff’s PNW Tree app

Water, lunch, rain gear, the right shoes for the trails.

Don't forget the ten essentials.

Trip Reports