Best of the burden: Smokies mules make backcountry operations possible

In popular culture mules get a bad rap, cast as stubborn, ornery and even mischievous. But Danny Gibson, animal packer for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spends more time with mules than just about anybody around, and he’s quick to jump to their defense. “They have that notorious reputation of being stubborn, but they’re not really stubborn — they just don’t...

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Ten Springtime Outdoor Safety Tips

That first warm and sunny day of the spring practically begs us to run outside and hit the trail again. As everything turns green and wildflowers shout their colors, spring can be one of the most exciting times to explore our National Forests. Regardless if this is your 50th or 5th spring hitting the trails or finding the perfect early season camp spot, it’s always a...

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WNC experts discuss sustainability of outdoor recreation

Head into Pisgah National Forest on any day of the week, and you’ll find activity out on the trails. From hikers standing atop Max Patch bald, enjoying stunning views of Mount Mitchell, to mountain bikers riding beside white pine and mountain laurel on the Foster Creek Trail, outdoors enthusiasts take advantage of Pisgah as just one of Western North Carolina’s hot spots...

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Catalina Island beckons with new hiking trails, vestiges of old Hollywood

This 76-square-mile fortress of rock is marooned 23 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Catalina is one of eight of the Channel Islands, and it’s the only one with a significant civilian population. Latest figures put the number around 4,000 people, almost all of them clustered in the port of Avalon. This diminutive city creeps up on the horizon like a postcard of tiny...

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Blessed hiking in the Accursed Mountains

The Peaks of the Balkans is an epic long-distance trekking route, through the mountainous borderlands of Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo. Over a distance of 192 kilometres it meanders along remote valleys and over high passes, taking in some of the finest scenery this ruggedly beautiful corner of Europe has to offer. The route involves slipping backwards and forwards over...

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Rocky Mountain National Parks 15 Best Day Hikes

While massive glaciers shaped the meadows and peaks, Rocky was an inhospitable land. It was not until some 11,000 years ago that humans began venturing into these valleys and mountains. Spearheads broken in the fury of a mammoth’s charge and scrapers discarded along a nomad’s trail tell us little about the area’s early native peoples. Even though it was...

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Why are New England’s hiking trails so beat-up?

The next time you find yourself cursing as you stumble and sweat up a steep, rocky trail in New Hampshire, here’s one target for your wrath: Horses. Or, rather, lack of horses. “Out West, trails like the Pacific Crest Trail were graded for horses, so the incline never goes above 5 percent. That’s a major reason why they’re smoother and less steep,” said Roger Moor, whose...

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Tips help you stay safe when hiking near where rattlesnakes live

Rattlesnakes and hiking go hand-in-hand. But the more you know about them, the safer you will be. From timber rattlers high in mountain meadows to western diamondbacks in the deserts, you will find rattlesnakes. Proper clothing is a must when hiking near where rattlesnakes live. Wear closed toe shoes Wear long pants Staying on trail is key to avoiding a rattlesnake...

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Seattle to run bus routes to trailheads

The timber industry used to raise a cry of “elitist backpackers” whenever proposals to create parks, wilderness areas or protected recreation lands in mountains close to Seattle came up for a public hearing. There are an awful lot of elitists these days, particularly on mountain trails in populous King County. Crowds are such that the first leg of a popular...

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Work being done to perfect the Pacific Northwest Trail

The Pacific Northwest Trail is meant to showcase pristine wilderness, but the portion that passes through Skagit County, Washington isn’t living up to the rugged nature of the majority of the trail’s 1,200 miles. Hikers who walk the length of the trail spend months climbing mountains, scrambling over brush and dodging high tides along the coast as they make their way...

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Ouray Perimeter Trail surges in popularity

  A six-mile long hiking trail that almost encircles Ouray, Colorado has become one of the most popular paths in the San Juan Mountains. According to trail registers, more than 25,000 people trod the decade-old Ouray Perimeter Trail in 2017 — and that figure represents a mere fraction of actual users. “According to Forest Service estimates, the true number of...

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Quakes, eruptions prompt closure of Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park closed late May 4, 2018 because of increasing concerns for the public’s safety. It is not safe to be at the park on Hawaii Island, which is at the center of increasing seismic and volcanic activity, park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said in a news release. The decision to close the park, on the southern tip of Hawaii Island, was made...

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Forest Service apologizes for damage to Appalachian Trail during patrols of pipeline protests

The U.S. Forest Service apologized for damaging the Appalachian Trail with all-terrain vehicles during its patrols of a pipeline protest. In a news release, the agency admitted that its law enforcement officers used the ATVs from April 11 to April 30 on a short stretch of the scenic footpath that follows the ridgeline of Peters Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest...

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Hiking etiquette: How not to be a jerk on the trail

Most everybody hikes for their own personal experience – be it adrenaline-fueled exercise or a contemplative walk – but that doesn’t mean you can completely ignore your fellow hikers. Trail etiquette is incredibly important, especially as more and more people crowd trailheads this spring and summer, but what does it mean to hike politely? For hikers encountering other...

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Hiking to the scenic summit of Oahu’s Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

The nearly 5-mile round-trip trail is known for its unimpeded views of East Oahu. From the top of the ridge, at an elevation just shy of 1,600 feet, you’re treated to a panorama of Waikiki, Honolulu, Waimanalo and Konahuanui, the highest peak in the Koolau Mountain range. Wiliwilinui Ridge sits to the left of the popular Koko Crater, and is part of three mountain ridges:...

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Pisgah National Forest could use a lot of help on Pisgah Pride Day

May 5, 2018 is the third annual Pisgah Pride Day at the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC. Hosted by the nonprofit Pisgah Conservancy, the work day will convene at the Pisgah Ranger Station, where volunteers will be dispatched to perform trail work, remove invasive species, pick up trash, plant a rain garden near the fish hatchery to help...

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National Trails Day 2018

National Trails Day® is Saturday, June 2, 2018. Join this historic event and leave the trail better than you found it. In a single day, we’ll collectively improve 2,802 miles of trail—the distance across the United States. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Trail System, pledge to pack out trash, join a trail work project, or clean up a park. Make...

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Artist paints women hikers

In 2014, Sky Evans came across a photo on the internet of Colorado’s Hope Pass. An Oregon woman Evans knew was hiking the Continental Divide Trail and had posted the photo to her blog. Evans asked if she could paint the image. “I wind up having this amazing experience with this painting in that it was like nothing I had ever done before,” Evans said last week at her home...

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Israel by Foot program makes country’s abundant, varied trails easy to find

Most tourists come to Israel either out of religious sentiment or because of an interest in the country’s abundant historical and cultural sites. Others come to enjoy the beaches and night life of Eilat or Tel-Aviv. But aside from these known attractions, Israel is also a unique hiking destination. What makes Israel – a tiny country without high mountain ridges –...

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Pacific Crest Trail celebrates 50 years

Thirty-six and a half miles east of Lake Isabella is the historic route discovered by Joseph Rutherford Walker in 1834 known as Walker Pass. Because the pass connects the Great Basin and the interior of California, it was only logical that when a walking and equestrian trail extending from Mexico to Canada was conceived, Walker Pass would be a vital section of that path....

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Trekking on Turkey’s historic Ephesus-Mimas Route

An historic 709-kilometer route in İzmir, Turkey that connects ancient Greek Ionian footways awaits visitors who want to enjoy nature as well as learn of the culture and history in the region. The main part of the route consists of six footways connecting ancient cities such as Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedos, Teos, Klazomenai, and Erythrai. The route starts in Ephesus in...

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Hiking the Jordan Trail to Petra

Billed as the “Inca Trail of the Middle East,” the 400-mile Jordan Trail runs from the Mediterranean-influenced villages of Umm Qais in the north to the coral-rich Red Sea in the south, passing through 52 villages en route, as well as two UNESCO-listed sites. The result of an eight year effort by 40-some volunteers, the route is primed to put the country on...

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Hiking groups do more than just hike

When people think of hiking clubs, they probably envision groups that lead hikes in the forests and mountains — and they’d be right. But Southern Oregon is home to a number of organizations that do a lot more than hike — they actually get their hands dirty keeping trails open, and in some cases they are building new thoroughfares in the backcountry. Gabe Howe, director...

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New Fonta Flora State Trail system connecting Asheville to Morganton grows

  It was a sleepy little town where farmers worked the rich land along the Linville River. The Burke County, North Carolina town of Fonta Flora was also once home to a post office, the Rhyne School and Old Sardis Church of 1838. But starting in 1916 the residents were dispersed and displaced to higher ground as the Catawba and Linville rivers and Paddy’s Creek...

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The 7 national trails of the Pacific Northwest

There are a ton of trails in the Pacific Northwest, but only a select few have earned the honor of being designated as national trails. From thru-hikes to road trip routes, all are part of the National Trails System, created by Congress in 1968 to “promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas...

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Hiking in Croatia: How to Master Some of the World’s Rarest Views

The Velebit Hiking Trail or Velebitski planinarski put (VPP), is open throughout the year, though heavy snowfall makes winter trekking unwise. Prime hiking season is typically from May to October. The markings are the typical European red-white-red stripes or a red circle with white center. The initials VPP often accompanies marking at trailheads. Because hiking can be...

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Tips to stay safe while hiking in the mountains

Hiking can also be dangerous and occasionally deadly if not properly prepared, especially in the mountains. The weather can change at a moment’s notice or you can fall and hurt yourself. That’s why it’s vitally important to be prepared for anything, even when out on a short hike. A map and compass are just two of the ten essentials for safe hiking. Other items include...

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Wilderness boost: Why hiking does wonders for your mind and body

  If you’ve ever had to catch your breath on an uphill stretch of trail or if your legs have felt sore after a hike, you know that hiking is a workout. You’ve also likely experienced some of the health benefits of hiking: improved cardiovascular performance, more endurance, stronger muscles and a better mood. While many people hike simply for the enjoyment of...

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Hiking the Garden of Eden – The Alpe Adria Trail, Slovenia

From the moment you touch down in Ljubljana, Slovenia you know you’re about to experience a land of the Gods. Rich green fields spread as far as the eye can see, only broken by a spattering of wild flowers like the sprinkles on a cake. The depth and lusciousness of these fields reduce remind one childhood, and feeling a primal urge to prance through them like...

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Women Hiking Solo: Staying Savvy and Safe

Regardless of gender, as a solo hiker there are daunting factors: If you injure yourself or encounter a dangerous wild animal you’re bereft of support. Yet, as a female solo hiker, the prospect of unwanted attention (or worse) whilst wandering in the wild can add an eerie element to a trek. Perhaps potential female hikers are even deterred from treading onto the trail;...

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The cloud forest in our backyard

On some mornings, the mountains across our valley radiate in the dawn light, but frequently they are coyly veiled by clouds. These are the highest peaks in the East — ancient mountains, among the oldest on the continent — and a tattered shawl of dark forest drapes over the ridge and its craggy shoulders. This high-elevation dark green forest is one of Western North...

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Hiking rescues increase in Southern California; could social media be to blame?

As the weather warms up, more people will head outdoors to hiking spots throughout Southern California and elsewhere. However, more people outdoors means more mountain rescues. “Last year our eight-volunteer Search and Rescue teams had a record 684 missions. In 2016, we had 593 and there has been a fairly steady rise over the last few years,” said Mike Leum, assistant...

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