Helping You Find Uncrowded National Park Trails

The road less traveled—it’s an old adage, sure, but also advice worth taking when it comes to exploring U.S. national parks. After all, our beloved parks are crowded: Last year, they had a banner year, with 325 million visitors enjoying (sometimes free) time in the great outdoors. Particular park trails, though, are more crowded than others, and in 2016, 24 million...

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What to do if you encounter a mountain lion while hiking

“You never know what you can encounter [while hiking],” said Mike Keckler with Idaho Department of Fish & Game. “That’s one of the things that makes [wilderness] so special.” While we may want to stop and snap a couple of pictures, Keckler says we should be aware of potential dangers – especially when it comes to mountain lions....

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Great Barrier Reef: Two-thirds damaged in ‘unprecedented’ bleaching

Unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years has damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, aerial surveys have shown. The bleaching – or loss of algae – affects a 1,500km (900 miles) stretch of the reef, according to scientists. The latest damage is concentrated in the middle section, whereas last year’s bleaching hit mainly the...

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Coal Companies Ask Trump to Stick with Paris Climate Deal

Some big American coal companies have advised President Donald Trump’s administration to break his promise to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement — arguing that the accord could provide their best forum for protecting their global interests. Remaining in the global deal to combat climate change will give U.S. negotiators a chance to advocate...

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Pisgah National Forest grows with Mills River purchase

Just in time for spring trout season, anglers get an extra section of pristine river to savor. And the gift extends to all nature lovers who now get to roam free on a new – and critical – slice of Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, NC. Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service and South Asheville landowner Tom Oreck...

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An Argument for Caution in the Wild

BY MARJORIE WOODRUFF HIGH COUNTRY NEWS Taking a hard look at the soft line between acceptable risks and ‘what-were-they-thinking’ risks. Six: That is the number of times I’ve frantically dashed out of a slot canyon because it started to rain. Once that happened when I was leading a well-advertised Sierra Club hike to promote wilderness with a capital W. We had hiked in...

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North Carolina regulators approve solar microgrid in Smokies

Duke Energy got the official go-ahead for a renewable energy project that’s drawing praise from some of its most frequent critics. The “microgrid” system, atop Mount Sterling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, represents Duke’s latest, small foray into linking solar energy to battery storage – a combination that experts say is key for the expansion of renewable...

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Inside the dangerous and unpredictable behavior of wildfire

Aircraft N2UW has flown through all kinds of weather. The twin-propeller plane is sleek, petite, and so packed with scientific gear for studying the atmosphere that there’s barely room for two passengers to squeeze into its back seats. Monitors show radar reflections, gas concentrations and the sizes of cloud droplets. The plane has flown through tropical rainstorms in...

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U.S. land agency website drops hiking photo to give coal top billing

The U.S. government’s public lands website has revealed a new face, a wall of coal, as the Trump administration underscores its promotion of an industry that has seen hard times. The Bureau of Land Management, charged with overseeing programs on vast swathes of public lands, including cattle grazing, coal leasing and recreation, changed the banner photo on its home...

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Blue Ridge Parkway Announces 2017 Season Opening Schedule

Chances are that you, like many, have already been enjoying the Blue Ridge Parkway during this unseasonably warm winter. The park unit welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors in January and February of this year alone, that’s 400,000 more than the first two months of 2016! But the scenic route truly comes alive starting in spring, and the National Park Service has...

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Camelback drummer creates public show while hiking

While many in the Valley of the Sun have seen the Camelback Mountain Christmas tree, some may not know about the Camelback drummer. A TV helicopter caught the drummer’s performance during sunrise on a recent morning. Ken Koshio takes his music all the way to the top. He is a Taiko performer and an expert in the Japanese style of drumming. Koshio said he hikes to the top...

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The Risk of Lyme Disease on the Appalachian Trail Is Going to Be High This Year

Ticks carrying Lyme disease are rampant in the forests of the northeast, and the Appalachian Trail goes straight through the thick of them. This year (2017), a host of variables is coming together that could increase the likelihood of contracting the disease while hiking the trail, says Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist and senior scientist at the Cary Institute of...

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Land, water protection favored by both GOP, Democrats in NC

Apparently protection for forests, parks, family farms land and clean water trumps all when it comes to taking political sides. This is according to a poll released April 4, 2017 that shows residents from all political parties across North Carolina support land and water conservation. Seventy-three percent of the 600 registered voters polled said they would support...

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Nestle pipes water from national forest, sparking protests

Dressed in bright colors and holding homemade signs, protesters are aiming to draw drivers’ attention to an effort to get Nestle Waters to stop piping water out of the San Bernardino National Forest. Local activist and organizer Glen Thompson said many people, including himself, are angry that while Nestle paid to run water pipes through the national forest, the company...

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Firebiner by Outdoor Element

We all love a good carabiner. We use them to clip our keys, our camera, our water bottle, or a myriad of other products to our backpacks, to shelves, to fences, to belt loops or to whatever we need at the moment. You want your carabiner to be strong, lightweight and maybe have some other functionality like a bottle opener. The Firebiner is all that, plus it has the...

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Get Free Admission to U.S. National Parks Later this Month

National Park Week is America’s largest celebration of national heritage. It’s about making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations, and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks. It’s all happening in your national parks. Travelers who want to enjoy the warmer weather in the outdoors...

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Hiking maps go mobile: Feds unveil digital backcountry guides for Alaska

Navigating Alaska’s backcountry has become a bit easier — or at least, more digital. The Bureau of Land Management Alaska has started unveiling free digital maps that users can download to their smartphones and open in a third-party mobile app. The app can use GPS technology to show the user’s location on the map, even if that person is without cellphone...

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Wildland Trekking Continues to Sponsor Meanderthals

For years, I shied away from advertising here at Meanderthals, choosing to place the focus on hiking and conservation rather than garish commercialism. I know that you would much rather look at scenic photos from the Smoky Mountains than flashing, blinking promotions that smack you upside the head and eventually simply get ignored. Over the years I have turned down...

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Oil Shouldn’t Have to Spill to Get Us to Fight for the Environment

Those old enough to remember 1969 may recall that it was a very good year for music, moon landings, and the New York Mets. But it was a spectacularly bad time for the American environment. On January 28 of that year, an offshore oil drill violently ruptured six miles off the California coast. Over the next 10 days, nearly 1,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Santa...

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Fossils stolen from Death Valley National Park

Ancient fossil footprints have been stolen from Death Valley National Park. The park announced that scientists who visit the area to document the fossilized animal tracks discovered the theft recently and reported it to rangers. The fossils formed 3 million to 5 million years ago after animals walked across what was once a muddy lakeshore in the park that sprawls across...

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Gov. helps open hiking trails at Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve

Exploring Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve’s mature forests and scenic overlooks by foot has finally gotten easier. Nearly a decade after its nearly 3,000 acres nestled between Accokeek and Potomac creeks in Stafford County, Virginia were dedicated as a preserve, eight miles of hiking trails have officially opened to the public. They can be used Thursdays through...

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John Muir Way recognised as one of Scotland’s Great Trails

The John Muir Way has officially been recognised as one of Scotland’s Great Trails. The 134-mile route which runs between Helensburgh and John Muir’s birthplace of Dunbar on the east coast, now joins other world famous paths which have been honoured with the prestigious award. The John Muir Way is the 28th Long Distance Route to be awarded to accolade by...

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Preparing for the National Trails System’s 50th Anniversary

In 2018, America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our National Trails System and a nationwide celebration is underway! This celebration will kick off at the International Trails Sympsium on May 9, 2017, in Dayton, OH. This anniversary is a golden opportunity for all Americans to not just celebrate trails – all trails – but to learn about them, enjoy them, and...

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11 New Cloud Types Named—First in 30 Years

When satellites first began taking photos of our Earth it revolutionized the way we saw our atmosphere, providing images on a grand scale from above. Now the advent of personal tech, such as smart phones, is giving us a new perspective on the sky from below. This increased use of technology is what prompted the World Meteorological Organization to add 11 new cloud...

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Exploring Canyonlands National Park in One Day

When visitors come to Moab, Utah, they’re usually there to see the famous arches of Arches National Park, the world-renowned mountain biking, or the amazing river rafting. Canyonlands National Park seems to be an afterthought to many people. “Oh, there’s another national park here? Cool, let’s drive out there for a couple of hours to check it out.” If you really want to...

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Smokies vacation haven still thriving in wake of wildfires

It’s a spectacular drive northward along Highway 441 from the small town of Cherokee on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Gatlinburg on the Tennessee side. In the lower elevations, the spring wildflowers of mid-March, mostly trillium, pop from the ground offering bits of color that soon disappear the higher you climb toward...

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Nearly 80 hikers rescued from Phoenix trails so far in 2017

Phoenix, AZ police, fire and parks officials met at Piestewa Peak this week to promote hiker safety. Seventy-seven hikers have been rescued from Phoenix trails this year through March 20. Last year, there were 279 rescues within Phoenix. Fire Capt. Jake Van Hook said calls for rescue have steadily increased over the past five years. “We train together, we work...

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Dartmouth College Sells Parcel Of Land To Be Added To Appalachian Trail

Dartmouth College and The Trust for Public Land entered into a land deal that promises to protect an old farm estate that offers birding and hiking opportunities just 3 miles from Hanover, New Hampshire’s Main Street. Immediately after purchasing the 175-acre Hudson Farm from Dartmouth, the trust gave it away to the National Park Service so that it could be added...

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Scientists made a detailed “roadmap” for meeting the Paris climate goals. It’s eye-opening.

Back in 2015, the world’s governments met in Paris and agreed to keep global warming below 2°C, to avoid the worst risks of a hotter planet. For context, the planet’s warmed ~1°C since the 19th century. One problem with framing the goal this way, though, is that it’s maddeningly abstract. What does staying below 2°C entail? Papers on this topic usually drone on about a...

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Trump’s big new executive order to tear up Obama’s climate policies, explained

This is it. The battle over the future of US climate policy kicked off in earnest today. In a sweeping new executive order, President Trump has ordered his Cabinet to start demolishing a wide array of Obama-era policies on global warming — including emissions rules for power plants, limits on methane leaks, a moratorium on federal coal leasing, and the use of the social...

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