The U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of an effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.
Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance contributed to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.
The Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region manages more than 24,000 miles of trails enjoyed by many users each year. In 2016, about 5,000 volunteers contributed more than 230,000 hours of service to trails work across Oregon and Washington. These volunteer contributions helped the Forest Service accomplish nearly half of the Region’s trail needs in 2016.
“Public input, volunteer contributions, and partnership support are cornerstones of our sustainable recreation strategy,” said Jim Peña, Regional Forester. “We have already begun hearing from Oregon and Washington trails groups with their ideas and look forward to working collaboratively with our partners and volunteers to achieve a more sustainable trails program.”
The Pacific Northwest Region will submit at least three regional proposals to National Headquarters by April 15, 2017. Those proposals will be weighed against proposals submitted by other Forest Service regions.
Here are a few reasons why hiking shoes have more advantages over boots. Shoes are lighter and feel more comfortable than full boots. Because of additional weight, boots can lead to quicker fatigue. Next, shoes are preferred in hot weather. They cover less of your foot area. Moreover, many hiking shoes have mesh uppers thereby letting your feet breathe.
There’s a lot of things to consider when buying your hiking shoes. Here are six factors to consider.
Thanks to new friend Rein Jo Regaldo for sharing this infographic with us:
Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians who frequent the forests and mountain trails outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe perform a vital role as guardians of these recreational areas.
Each year, groups from local clubs put in thousands of volunteer hours to keep the trails clear of vegetation, repair weather- and fire-caused damage or create new routes to enhance the trail experience. They partner with agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA), Albuquerque Open Space Division, New Mexico State Parks and National Monuments in the state.
“Volunteers accomplish an astounding amount of work every year, especially on trails in and out of the wilderness,” said Jennifer Sublett, the U.S. Forest Service volunteer coordinator for the Española & Pecos/Las Vegas and Coyote Ranger Districts.
Sublett decides which maintenance projects to pursue in her area and coordinates with the various groups to schedule the work and tracks their hours. In the Santa Fe National Forest alone, volunteers put in 24,000 hours of service in the fiscal year between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016.
Volunteer labor has become critical to keeping trails open as federal budgets have been cut, said Kerry Wood, wilderness and trails program manager for the Cibola National Forest Sandia Ranger District. He is one of only two Forest Service employees with responsibility for about 400 miles of trails that crisscross the Sandia Mountains.
Wildfire season, or the period between spring and late fall when dry weather, heat, and ignition sources make wildfires more likely, is already off to a devastating start, with fires already burning through a combined 2 million acres across the country — ten times the average for mid-March.
Record-high temperatures combined with low humidity and high wind have created the ideal environment for wildfires throughout much of the Great Plains and into the West, destroying homes and property and resulting in several deaths.
The influence of climate change on wildfires is well-documented. Rising temperatures, combined with prolonged drought throughout the West, has prompted wildfires to spread across 16,000 more square miles than the otherwise would have — an area larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. And over the last three decades, wildfire season has also gotten longer — as global temperatures have increased, wildfire season lasts on average 78 days longer.
The cost of fighting fires has been steadily rising in recent years, meaning more of the Forest Service’s budget has been siphoned into fighting fires, rather than non-fire services like watershed management or road maintenance. Even services that can help prevent fires, like forest management, have seen their budget decline at the expense of fire suppression.
Blue Cross and North Carolina State Parks have announced the return of Hike NC, a free hiking program that makes it easy to hike and enjoy nature.
As part of BCBSNC’s mission to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians, they have partnered with the North Carolina State Parks system and others to offer Hike NC: dozens of guided hikes ready to be explored and enjoyed.
Hikes are free, family-friendly and open to all ages, stages and levels. A trained guide leads each hike, making it easier for participants to enjoy the outdoors and explore some of the best natural beauty North Carolina has to offer.
The program aims to help people hike regardless of their experience. Hike NC’s spring season offers more than 60 guided hikes across the state.
The guided hikes will help participants:
– Try a new form of physical activity individually, or with friends and family members
– Take a break from busy schedules to enjoy the natural wonders of North Carolina
– Experience spring beauty in North Carolina’s state parks and nature preserves
– Explore the outdoors with convenience and ease without the need for any special equipment
Few pathways conjure up more conflicting emotions than the Oregon Coast Trail. One moment you’re hiking to the top of a rocky headland and looking upon a vast sweep of ocean. The next you’re risking life and limb on the shoulder of Highway 101 as cars and trucks scream past a few feet away.
The 367-mile trail, which stretches from the California state line to Astoria, brings hikers to Oregon’s most beautiful coastal viewpoints and cliff-walled beaches. But it also forces them onto one of the state’s busiest highways, sometimes for miles at a time.
“It’s an incredibly beautiful trail — the only one of its kind in the nation,” said Connie Soper, an author and expert on hiking the Oregon Coast Trail. “Unfortunately, it’s unfinished. Having to walk on the highway is dangerous, unpleasant for hikers and drivers, and really stops the trail from reaching its potential.”
Now a collection of hikers and lawmakers is hoping to change that. Legislation intended to help complete the pathway will have its first hearing this week morning at the Oregon Capitol.
An advocacy group, Friends of the Oregon Coast Trail, has been formed by Soper and Salem resident Dan Hilburn to spearhead the project.
They say making it possible to hike the OCT end-to-end — without long stretches on the highway — could make the trail a world-famous destination, providing a “village-to-village” experience unmatched in the United States.
The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) created a McAfee Knob Task Force in the Spring of 2015 to focus on resource protection and management challenges around the region’s most beloved and iconic A.T. landmark, McAfee Knob. Rapidly increasing visitation, 76,000 people in 2016, has led to an increase in avoidable environmental impacts like litter, graffiti, trail erosion and problematic bear behavior.
The McAfee Knob Volunteer Ridgerunners help mitigate these problems with outreach and maintenance. Volunteer Ridgerunners engage hikers in friendly conversations to educate them about the natural and cultural significance of this area and tips on best-practices for enjoying the Trail safely and responsibly. They report on trail conditions and perform light trail maintenance to prevent small problems from getting worse-like dismantling illegal fire rings, packing out trash and blocking social trails to discourage shortcutting. The group made a big difference the last two years, and hopes to grow this year by adding new volunteers.
Do you have what it takes to be a Volunteer Ridgerunner? You don’t have to be an athlete-many of the most important conversations and maintenance happen right in the parking lot or within the first mile.
The next Volunteer Ridgerunner Training Day is Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Roanoke Regional Fire and Rescue Center, 1220 Kessler Mill Road, Salem. To sign up, join the McAfee Knob Task Force MeetUp group and RSVP, or email Kathryn Herndon at [email protected] Kathryn will email participants prior to the training with details about the agenda and what to expect.
Orientation Hikes will be more frequent. There will be several hikes in March and April, appearing soon on the MeetUp page.
Partnering with the city of Leavenworth Parks and Recreation Department, a nonprofit organization is helping to provide a new mission for military veterans transitioning back into civilian life.
Military veterans are invited to join forces with community members in cleaning and creating trails and camp sites in Leavenworth, Kansas.
The trail creation and restoration work also includes construction of picnic and fishing areas. The program also welcomes volunteer service from active duty military personnel.
Construction is taking place at VA Memorial Park, a 72-acre tract of land located in the wooded area northeast of the Eisenhower VA Medical Center.
The program, Into the Woods, is the brainchild of Chelsea Barto, a former Army combat medic. She said military personnel are goal-minded and mission-oriented. “This is their next mission,” she said. “It gets them involved in their community.”
Barto said the program is associated with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that empowers service members and veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home.
Blooming desert wildflowers served as the perfect backdrop for Friends of the Desert Mountains to receive the $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. Each year more than 20,000 valley residents and visitors enjoy the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center, off Highway 74, and hiking trails, which the organization supports.
Friends of the Desert Mountains recognizes the ever-increasing popularity of the Coachella Valley hiking trails among residents and visitors, and aims to improve safety, usability, and the enjoyment of the entire trail system. Grant funds will benefit the organization’s Trail Stewardship Program.
“We plan to use a portion of the grant proceeds to enhance the Ed Hastey Trail, which is the trail accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, to include tactile and other sensory experiences specifically designed for those with vision, hearing, and other sensory impairments,” said Tammy Martin, Executive Director of Friends of the Desert Mountains.
Friends of the Desert Mountains maintains more than 500 miles of recreational, hiking, biking, equestrian trails in the Coachella Valley. Although much of the work for the program is carried out by volunteers, the program incurs costs associated with the upkeep and replacement of tools, sign and exhibit printing, signposts and associated materials, and staff time related to coordination and design.
With the mighty Himalayas and several other locations throughout the country offering trekking choices, India makes for an ideal destination for adventure lovers.
Starting from short day trips to longer duration intensive routes, people of various fitness levels can find suitable options. Star gazing, pilgrimage and expeditions to see flowers in bloom are among many of the reasons trekkers are undertaking their journeys, besides the immersive experience of being in nature. With the growth in online trekking communities and clubs, Indian as well as foreign travelers are increasingly taking to exploring Indian hills on foot.
A plethora of options are available for trekkers in India, with the northern part of the country being quite well-known and explored. Some of the places to head to in North India are lined along the hills of Uttarakhand with Valley of Flowers, Binsar Trek, and in Himachal Pradesh with Spiti Valley and Chandratal. Lake Trekking is also a great option and so is the Leh-Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, with some breathtaking views offered by West Bengal’s Sandakphu trek and Sikkim’s Yuksom and Goecha La, the eastern part of India is a strong contender. South India is not too far behind either, with destinations like Ooty and Wayanad and for those looking to explore western India, Rajmachi Valley in Maharashtra is a great option.
Maybe it’s the beard.
“I really enjoy having my beard full of ice,” Benny Braden, 44, said on coming out of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after another long hike. “It was that way today – just getting covered head to toe in ice.”
Braden, from Harriman, TN has been in the park a lot since Jan. 1. He’s on his way to setting a record March 18th for hiking all of the park’s trails – more than 770 miles – in the shortest amount of time.
If all goes well, he should walk into the Sugarlands Visitor Center grounds having finished in two months and 19 days. This will beat the mark of four months and 12 days set by Sharon Spezia.
Braden got the idea for the beard and the hike last year while he was section-hiking a part of the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Damascus, Va.
“I would go out once a month and hike a few days, then I would come home. I was on a short hike in the Smokies and stayed on Mount LeConte. Believe it or not, it was when the (Chimney Tops 2) fire was going on. We were on a cliff top and watched the fire below us. I got the idea, ‘Why not hike all of the trails in the Smokies?’”
The view atop Tenderfoot Mountain in Summit County, Colorado is so expansive it can barely be captured in a camera lens. On the far left is Keystone Resort and glimpses of 13ers Mount Guyot and Bald Mountain. Also on the left, the Tenmile Range and Breckenridge Ski Resort unfold with unobstructed clarity. All the way down the line, I count the 10 peaks. The town of Frisco rests straight ahead directly underneath Mount Royal.
The sleepy town of Dillon rests at the base of the mountain, nestled along the shoreline of Lake Dillon. Wildernest Road is traceable as it snakes its way up the hillside underneath Buffalo Mountain. To the right, the mighty Gore Range pops up dramatically, starting with the noticeable Buffalo Mountain. From this vantage point, the entire Gore Range is in plain site. This hike offers so much to the beholder and at the top of Tenderfoot Mountain hikers are given clear views of Summit County in its entirety.
Tenderfoot Trail is a relatively easy hike: not much elevation gain and not very long. To reach Tenderfoot Mountain travel on the Oro Grande Trail for about half a mile. Oro Grande is a gentle trail that weaves through aspen groves until topping out on a high hill.
A small signpost on the left indicates the start of the Tenderfoot Trail. The trail steepens briefly during this initial portion. At this point the views are to your back, as the trail takes you uphill towards the Tenderfoot summit.
When people grieve, they often need to do something physical to help them along. Some folks build things. Another option is hiking.
Set a goal each day to reach a scenic viewpoint, but also try to find a place along the way where you connect to something solid and real.
In the months following a loved one’s death, home is an unending flurry of details, doubts and despair, and you are unable to focus on anything for very long. Buddhism calls this “monkey mind,” when hundreds of thoughts are screeching, chattering, and jumping around, each wanting your attention.
When you’re alone on a backcountry trail, your mind quiets. Hiking where bears live keeps your senses focused on the present. You don’t want to be thinking about what happened last month and miss the slight movement in the bushes.
As the hours drag on of putting one foot in front of the other, you will begin to remember who you am. The rhythm of hiking moves you out of the labyrinth of thoughts and into the wisdom of the body. Your mind clears. Your battered heart shows up. Your spirits rise.
Remember what is important, come to understand what has happened, and make the necessary adjustments to your life. Nature puts grief in perspective and reminds you that you are part of something much greater.
Hiking is a walking meditation.
Geeks love nature, too. Mendel Kurland, a self-professed geek, figured that out in a hurry after hiking with a co-worker last year. The two talked about the fun of spending time outdoors, and on a whim afterward, he snapped up the domain name hikingwithgeeks.com. Then, last October, he started a Hiking With Geeks meetup group, hoping to lure a few nerds from their computers, labs and classrooms into the great outdoors.
“Over that weekend I had 200 people sign up. I was just blown away,” says Kurland, who works in community relations for GoDaddy. “We went out for our first hike shortly after that, and a bunch of people showed up — all of them legitimate geeks from all over the city.”
Geeks of all stripes, ages and backgrounds, from developers and designers to scientists and programmers, felt the tug of Mother Nature.
“Geeks have a lot in common with each other, whether it’s being introverted or the type of work they do,” Kurland says. “It’s almost like the hiking is the second part of it and the relationship stuff is the important piece. A lot of developers don’t go out and aren’t super social sometimes.”
In less than 30 days, the group grew to more than 1,700 members.
A spectacular bloom of wildflowers is underway at Anza Borrego Desert State Park in California, and by the middle of March, it’s expected to just get better and better, according to park officials.
The area has been deluged with rain this season and the Borrego Desert is full of green with flowers in stages of both bud and blooms, a press release issued by the park is reporting. “We are on the ‘uphill side’ of the peak bloom and experiencing more open flowers with each passing sunny day,” the release states.
According to park officials, there are many locations where open flowers can be seen, especially for those willing to wander among the buds and blooms throughout the park.
“A top location is anywhere within a two-mile stretch of the Coyote Canyon Jeep Road, north of the north end of DiGiorgio Road with abundant Peirson’s Primoses and others, including a few remarkable Desert Lilies,” the park reported.
Patches of pink sand, verbena, dune evening primroses with wide white petals, yellow desert sunflowers and desert lilies can all be found throughout the Henderson Canyon Road area.
“Around Borrego Springs, roadsides are lined with yellow Desert Dandelions and other wildflowers. These flowers are best seen in the morning, as some blossoms close in the afternoon,” the release states.
One place to start the Camino de Santiage is along “The French Way,” the branch of the Camino that unites various routes through France and across Spain. It is one of the oldest and most-walked trails in the world, dating back by most estimates to the 9th Century.
The Camino de Santiago is said to have begun when the bones of the apostle St. James were discovered by a farmer on a starry night in Galicia, Spain. People from all across Europe came to see the remains, dragging their feet through the same dirt that you can today.
As you walk, you pass small villages where you can refill your water, buy fruit and bread, and collect a stamp in your “pilgrim’s passports.” Walkers are required to receive a stamp in these booklets in two different locations each day to receive the coveted compostela upon reaching the Pilgrim’s office at the end of the walk.
If the office finds that you have walked at least 100 km, which many people accomplish by starting in Sarria and completing the last three days of the journey, you earn the compostela — a scroll covered in Latin, congratulating you on your pilgrimage.
The Camino is full of treasures, and it brings walkers through landscapes that feel ancient and untarnished, but the concrete sprawl and neon-glow of Santiago are creeping back along the route at an alarming rate.
Thankfully, spring is almost here. It’s a great time to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer. One of the best ways to get your exercise and see wonderful natural surroundings is hiking and riding a bike.
Here is a collection of 13 amazing trails in Alabama State Parks. Hiking these trails offers a chance to see waterfalls, expansive vistas and abundant wildlife. The descriptionss offer details about the trail, difficulty, length and what you can expect to see on your hike. Some trails can be shared by hikers and bike riders.
For example, the most popular trail at Cheaha State Park is the Bald Rock Boardwalk. There are 3 paths that lead out to Bald Rock Outlook; a boardwalk and a dirt trail, on either side of the boardwalk. The boardwalk leads to an amazing vista at the Bald Rock Outlook.
Or, Chewacla State Park has a great partnership with Central Alabama Mountain Peddlers (CAMP) that offers a great trail system to the public. The park offers 28 miles of trails shared by cyclists and hikers. One trail, the “For Pete’s Sake Trail” is 8 miles long.
For two decades, Florence Williams could sit on her porch at night and watch the alpenglow on the Rocky Mountains. Then she moved from remote Colorado to Washington, D.C., and started noticing the changes.
“I felt disoriented, overwhelmed, depressed,” she writes in her recent book, The Nature Fix. “My mind had trouble focusing. I couldn’t finish thoughts … and I wasn’t keen to get out of bed.”
Williams was suffering, she says, from nature withdrawal. She spent the next three years digging into the science of how nature works on our brains. In short, it makes us more relaxed, more creative, and more socially connected. She traveled to Japan and Finland, the deserts of Utah and the urban forests of Singapore, to study just how much we stand to gain by bring nature back into our lives.
At a time when more than half of all humans live in cities, the influence of the natural world is at a low ebb, while our understanding of its importance keeps growing. In a recent visit to the Grist offices, Williams talked about how writing this book led her to appreciate the role nature can play in our personal lives.
Congaree National Park visitors not only look out across a flood plain swamp but up as well. Up into the forest canopy that rises to 160 feet high. The Congaree canopy, formed by towering old-growth trees, is taller than that of any forest in the East.
The giant trees include a 167-foot-high loblolly pine. It’s the tallest tree in this wet-and-dry park, the biggest tree of its kind anywhere.
A sky-seeking cherrybark oak and a swamp tupelo fall short of the pine by just 5 feet. The former is the biggest such oak in South Carolina and the latter is a national champion, the biggest tupelo of its species.
Congaree preserves these super-sized trees and thousands more in this bottomland hardwood forest near the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree rivers south of Columbia. The trees were spared from possible logging when a public campaign to conserve the privately owned forest succeeded. Congress in 1976 created Congaree Swamp National Monument with 15,000 acres. In 2003, legislators upgraded the preserve to a national park, which now covers 26,715 acres.
Visitors may hike on 2.4 miles of elevated boardwalks and along 37.8 roundtrip miles of trails, fish Cedar Creek and oxbow lakes and tent camp in a campground or in the backcountry.
The exuberance of spring is impossible to ignore. And for fair-weather walkers, brushing cobwebs off boots and searching out walking poles, it’s like a love affair renewed. Spring walking is a welcome assault on the senses – warmth, light and colour replacing the damp greys and browns of winter.
Everyone has their favourite local walks, but these 25 circular routes have all been chosen for features in the landscape which come alive in spring, whether it be woodlands carpeted with bluebells, wildflowers along river valleys, moorland peaks, coastal paths or National Parks.
Between three and nine miles in length and of varying difficulty of terrain, they stretch from Friston Forest in Sussex to Grizedale Forest in Cumbria, from the Isle of Wight to the Isle of Arran, and from the coast of Cornwall to the coast of Northumbria. These hikes will put a spring in the step of wanderers everywhere.