Visit Smokey the Bear at Redden State Forest

Known for his motto, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires,” Smokey the Bear has been carrying the torch (very carefully) for the US Forest Service since 1944. His wildfire prevention campaign is the longest-running public service announcement campaign in US history. Smokey’s been on TV, radio, posters, billboards, postage stamps…and signs like the one at the historic forester’s house in the Redden State Forest, just four miles north of Georgetown.

With more than 13,000 acres and 44 miles of trails, Redden State Forest offers lots of options for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers, birdwatchers, and even horseback riders. If you park near Smokey, there are two nearby trails you can try: the Blue Outer Loop (4.6 miles) and the Red Inner Loop (1.1 miles). These trails are rated “easy” and are wide and generally well-marked. They will take you through dense woods of hardwood trees and loblolly pine, across bridges, and through swamps and meadow areas. Trail maps are available. Also nearby is a small but lovely pond with lily pads and woodland edge. You may spot butterflies, geese, forest birds, and other wildlife. Catch-and-release fishing is permitted (but no swimming or boating). Feel free to bring a picnic (there are tables nearby).

In addition to natural treasures at Redden State Forest, there are also some architectural gems, including an impressive lodge that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1903, it is available to rent for picnics, family reunions, and conferences. Other structures include the Nursery Packing House (1930) and Horse Barn (1903). So, venture out to Redden State Forest to see Smokey. Take a selfie. And don’t forget to wish him a happy birthday—he turns 80 this year.  

Smokey the Bear has been carrying the torch (very carefully) for the US Forest Service since 1944.

Nancy Sakaduski is a local  award-winning writer and editor who finds inspiration in the natural world. 

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