Hiking News

Recreational Trails Program

Posted by on Aug 27, 2012 @ 3:03 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is a federal assistance program that helps states pay for the development and maintenance of recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. The Congressionally mandated program was in jeopardy due to budget cuts, but its backers in Congress announced this past July that RTP would be retained to the tune of $85 million per year as part of the new surface transportation agreement law called MAP-21. Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar was instrumental in the retention of RTP by introducing it as an amendment to MAP-21 as a stand-alone program with its own dedicated funding.

Half of the RTP funds are distributed equally among all 50 states, and half are distributed in proportion to the estimated amount of non-highway recreational fuel use in each state. Individual states are responsible for administering their own RTP monies and soliciting and selecting qualifying projects.

Trail lovers across the country are thrilled that Congress extended RTP, which began in 2005 with a $60 million allocation and was increased each of the following years until it plateaued at $85 million in 2009. The continuation of the $85 million allocation was also good news to those who feared that if it wasn’t cut entirely it would be scaled back significantly. With new funding for the next two years, Americans can look forward to the creation of many new trails and continued maintenance of existing ones.

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The Barrens Hike: 2.5 mile nature hike will be held Sept. 1

Posted by on Aug 26, 2012 @ 1:25 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Call it “The Barrens Hike.” That should be a dramatic enough name for anyone who is yearning for a late summer hike. So get some hiking shoes on, along with some insect repellent and sun block, and prepare for a state expert-led walk in the country that may change the way you look at a very unique part of Tennessee.

Allan Trently, a stewardship ecologist with the state of Tennessee, is putting together a nature hike Sept. 1 that is attracting attention. He has put together the 2.5 mile trek into the Carroll Cabin Barrens State Natural Area many times before. Building interest in such areas is what he and other state naturalists are all about.

The Carroll Cabin Barrens is located in Decatur County a little over an hour’s drive from Jackson.

The area to which Trently will be leading his hikers Sept. 1 has many types of rare plants and flowers. “I have visited the barrens about 70 times. I went there last week to do some trail maintenance,” he said. He explained that Silurian era structures in the barrens refers to the fact “the area was flooded and a lot of the sea creatures there died.” Their remains were fossilized.

Hikers going into this and other state natural areas are always asked to help keep it in its pristine state, Trently said, explaining the “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” motto is a good one to have.

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6 Years Old, and Reaching Summits

Posted by on Aug 25, 2012 @ 8:56 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

“Are you sure about this?” I ask my daughters. “There’s no way we’ll get out of this forest before nightfall. We’ve at least five miles and two water crossings to go.”

Despite their obvious fatigue, 6-year-old Sage cheerfully replies, “I’m sure,” and 8-year-old Alex enthusiastically nods in agreement. Though I’m nervous about the long hours ahead, if they believe they can complete this 18-mile journey in one day, then who am I to tell them they can’t?

This is, after all, why we hike mountains week after week, month after month. Out there, the girls can test their mettle and celebrate their moxie. At some point during our descent of New Hampshire’s Owl’s Head, the girls decided they didn’t want to stick with our original plan of camping for the evening and hiking out in the morning. They’re convinced they can make it all the way back to the car without stopping to sleep. I have my doubts; we’ve already hiked 13 miles, and all three of us felt on the verge of collapse during the ascent. We’ve spent hours climbing up and down a loose and difficult rock slide. My back could use a break from carrying all our overnight gear.

I had read about the White Mountain “4Ks” on an information placard by a White Mountain scenic highway. Alex, then 5, was both a nature lover and a bundle of boundless energy, so I thought she might enjoy spending a few hours on a mountain trail. Alex quickly took to hiking and the thrill of reaching summits. She stood on her 48th peak before turning 7 and became the second-youngest girl to finish the list. Soon after, Sage declared she would follow in her older sister’s footsteps. Owl’s Head is Sage’s 42nd Four-Thousand Footer. She, too, wants to finish this list before she turns 7 and either tie or break her sister’s record. With only six peaks to go, she’ll undoubtedly get her wish.

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Scott’s Creek trails offer window on nature in the middle of Dillsboro, NC

Posted by on Aug 25, 2012 @ 10:01 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A nature discovery trail along Scott’s Creek in Dillsboro, NC has been two years in the making and the Watershed Association of the Tuckaseigee River is now urging the public to come see the fruits of their labor.

The trail has educational signage on environmental and stream-related topics that explore how the ecosystem works. There are currently two trail segments located around the edge of Monteith Park. A third segment is still under-construction.

Billed as demonstration trails, the ultimate goal of the Discovery Trails is to teach and promote stewardship of the clear-water creeks.

“The trails are designed as a fun, unique and educational activity for kids, families, and tourists, with an underlying message that is important to all individuals who impact our land and creeks,” said a WATR director.

The trail teaches the importance of everyone — from contractors building mountainside houses to the average homeowner — that what they do impacts the health of creeks.

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Montana group steps up to continue Continental Divide Trail work

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 @ 8:27 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

To help complete the Continental Divide Trail, CDT-Montana is building on five decades of grassroots volunteer work and successful collaborations. After the Colorado-based Continental Divide Trail Alliance closed its doors in January 2012, the Montana Wilderness Association saw an opportunity to pick up the slack on the CDT up north. After scrambling to pursue grants and funding, a summer project schedule was in place with nearly a dozen volunteer opportunities from Glacier to Yellowstone National Park.

Designated in 1978, the CDT is the youngest, longest and wildest of three well-known long distance trails including the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails. The tri-fecta is informally known as the “Triple Crown” when a hiker travels all three trails.

Unlike the AT and PCT, however, the CDT is not complete. As a whole, the completion status sits at roughly 78% and, when comparing all five CDT states (New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana), the northern section through the latter two states is only 58% complete.

But there are big dreams and strong efforts to improve upon these numbers.

In 1995, the Colorado-based Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA) was formed to be the nonprofit partner to the CDT. But, sadly, CDTA was forced to close its doors in January 2012 as it was unable to meet financial obligations. Rather than seeing this as a failure, the Montana Wilderness Association saw this as an opportunity.

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Report offers a roadmap for America’s national parks

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 @ 3:20 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

On the eve of its 96th birthday on August 25th, the National Park Service is getting a special gift: A new report that is both the first of its kind in the last 50 years and a benchmark for the future.

Announced by NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis in a ceremony at Rocky Mountain National Park today, the report represents a science-based effort to ensure America’s parks remain protected, accessible and relevant as the system approaches its second century and the world around them undergoes massive change.

While the report focuses on the future, its title — “Revisiting Leopold: Resource Stewardship in the National Parks” — alludes to its half-century heritage. In 1963, A. Starker Leopold, son of noted conservationist Aldo Leopold, was the lead author of a report that sought to bring science-based principles to park management.

The Leopold Report, as it came to be known, was ostensibly focused on managing proliferating elk populations in Yellowstone National Park. However, it also introduced what have now become standard policies, including the reintroduction of predators and the use of controlled fires to shape park landscapes.

“We wanted to reinforce Leopold but also lay the foundation for the much more complicated issues that we’re facing today,” said Jarvis. “It was tantamount to rewriting the New Testament.”

To accomplish the task, Jarvis called on the NPS Advisory Board Science Committee, a group of 12 experts who visited parks, including Acadia and Everglades; analyzed current management practices; and incorporated new research on climate change and other 21st-century challenges.

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Plan for proposed Lake Placid-to-Old Forge recreation trail presented

Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 @ 5:09 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Plan for proposed Lake Placid-to-Old Forge recreation trail presented

Instead of bemoaning the existence of a tourist train, a local advocacy group is trying to highlight the economic benefits of a year-round, multi-use recreational trail between Lake Placid and Old Forge, NY.

A new study was conducted by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy following weeks of detailed analysis by the RTC’s Northeast office. It showed that a trail could be constructed between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake at no cost, assuming rails and ties between Saranac Lake and Old Forge can be salvaged and sold for $65,000 per mile.

Stage one could attract more than 240,000 visitors and generate nearly $20 million in annual spending.

The costs to put down a recreational trail between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are significantly less if the railroad is removed. It is noted that to build a recreational trail from Saranac Lake to Old Forge, the state would need to revise the unit management plan for the Remsen-Lake Placid Rail Corridor.

The RTC study is the third examination of the rail corridor in less than two years. Earlier this year, several organizations that support enhanced railroad service in the region with a recreational trail alongside it teamed up to sponsor a study on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s economic impact.

In 2011, a study showed that either expanding railroad operations or replacing the railroad with a recreational trail would have a larger economic impact than doing nothing.

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Founder’s Day: Honoring The Legacy Of Those Who Built The National Park Service

Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 @ 11:25 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Sure, the National Park Service could just call August 25th its birthday, but the term “Founder’s Day” seems more fitting since the Park Service was the brainchild of a great many people who contributed to its inception. The National Park Service Organic Act (or simply “the Organic Act”) established the National Park Service (NPS), an agency of the Department of the Interior. The Act was signed into law on August 25, 1916.

From the vision of early conservationists and naturalists such as John Muir and Gifford Pinchot and the formation of the NPS and its early years with Stephen Mather, Horace Albright and Arno Cammerer, to the strengthening of park infrastructures through the assistance of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the birth and growth of the Park Service can be compared to the ancient trees of Sequoia and Redwood national parks.

The national park idea was the sapling which took hold with deep and complex roots which grew tall and strong through the years.

The Park Service has evolved tremendously since the early days of the Service, when many parks didn’t even have access roads or any functioning visitor use facilities. But who were the so-called founders? Many people are familiar with the names of the early directors of the Service, but there were many others who helped the service evolve into what it is today, and are not as widely known.

Here are some of their stories:


Leaf Viewing in Western North Carolina

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 @ 11:51 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Fall is a great time to visit the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests in western North Carolina to view leaves adorned in brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. When temperatures cool in autumn, chlorophyll starts to degrade allowing the hidden pigments of deciduous trees to provide a rich, colorful display. This rich display typically starts at the highest elevation in late September and early October gradually progressing to the lowest elevation by late October and early November.

At high-elevation, above 4500 feet, red, crimson and orange colors are displayed among the sugar maples and mountain maples, yellow hues are displayed with beech and yellow birch, and red displayed with serviceberry, red oak and high-bush blueberry leaves as well as mountain ash berries. Fall flowering species at these elevations include yellows from skunk goldenrod and roan goldenrod, blues from wavy-leaved aster and eastern agueweed, and white wood aster. Red spruce, Fraser fir and Catawba rhododendron provide a backdrop of green evergreen foliage within many of the high-elevation areas.

At high-elevation, above 4500 feet, red, crimson and orange colors are displayed among the sugar maples and mountain maples, yellow hues are displayed with beech and yellow birch, and red displayed with serviceberry, red oak and high-bush blueberry leaves as well as mountain ash berries. Fall flowering species at these elevations include yellows from skunk goldenrod and roan goldenrod, blues from wavy-leaved aster and eastern agueweed, and white wood aster. Red spruce, Fraser fir and Catawba rhododendron provide a backdrop of green evergreen foliage within many of the high-elevation areas.

Here are lists of places to enjoy fall foliage in Western North Carolina.


New TRACK Trail to open on Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 @ 5:35 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Want to do something outdoorsy and fun with the kids this weekend? Take them to the Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway Saturday. There will be a grand opening of a new kid-friendly hiking trail, music and mountain beauty.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program has installed more than 15 child-friendly hiking trails, called TRACK Trails, on and in communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Through a partnership with the Altapass Foundation, the Kids in Parks program will install a TRACK Trail at the Historic Orchard at Altapass at Milepost 328 on the parkway in Spruce Pine.

The Orchard at Altapass TRACK Trail will be located along a series of newly opened trails at the Historic Apple Orchard. The trails will lead visitors along groves of apple trees, through a cove of woods, near the historic Clinchfield Railroad Line and past the gravesite of the famous Charlie McKinney – a local legend.

The Orchard at Altapass TRACK Trail will have four self-guided brochures that visitors to the trail will be able to use to connect with the natural, cultural and historical resources found at the Orchard. Whether learning about the Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking for natural things hiding along the trail, discovering the Over Mountain Victory Trail, or connecting with some of the key features at the Orchard, the self-guided brochure-led adventures are sure to turn your hike through the Orchard into a fun-filled adventure.

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Waterford Press Launches Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guide Series

Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 @ 5:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

No Food. No Map. No Cell Phone. No Problem.

Imagine you found yourself alone in the woods with no food, water, shelter—or cell phone reception. Could you save your own life? Most likely, the answer is no. Left to our own devices and without supplies, the majority of us lack the necessary skills to survive. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn.

Outdoor guide publisher Waterford Press introduces the Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guides™, designed to help you take control in a dangerous environment by teaching you how to use the resources available — whatever they may be. The Pathfinder method, honed over 20 years of hands-on experience by master woodsman and survivalist Dave Canterbury, is presented in a pocket-sized, 10-guide series from Waterford Press.

Like the Pathfinder School System on which they are based, these guides follow the wisdom of the ancient Native American scouts, or “pathfinders”. Charged with the task of locating the perfect spot to sustain their nomadic tribes, the pathfinders learned to recognize resources that would afford food, shelter, water, medicines and protection. Today, the Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guides equip 21st century explorers with the skillset they need to be their own pathfinders.

“Whether you’re a hunter, a recreational hiker or even a civilian living in a city, everyone should know how to survive a dangerous situation,” says Canterbury. “That’s why we developed the Pathfinder guides, with all the information you need to make it out alive and kicking.”

Lightweight, waterproof, and virtually indestructible, the Pathfinder guides are an essential part of every pack. With Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guides™ in your pocket, no matter where you are, you’ve got the answer.

Waterford Press’ Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guides retail for $6.95 and are available for purchase at 800-434-2555, at book and outdoor retailers around the country, or at select online retailers (see below).

About the Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guide Series:

After using several of their guides in the training program at his Pathfinder School, Dave approached the innovative publishing firm, Waterford Press, about creating guides for survival basics – navigation, fire starting, trapping, and primitive weapons construction – fields he knows well. The collaboration resulted in a 10-guide survival series that captures both the essence and the wisdom of his practical experience and teachings.

Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guides™ titles:

Building a Survival Kit
Signaling for Rescue
Improvised Trapping
Shelter, Fire, Water
Basic Tracking
Improvised Hunting Weapons
Basic and Primitive Navigation
Wilderness First Aid
Edible Plants of the Eastern Woodlands (coming in September)
Medicinal Plants of the Eastern Woodlands (coming in September)


National parks face severe funding crunch

Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 @ 4:46 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

After more than a decade of scrimping and deferring maintenance and construction projects — and absorbing a 6 percent budget cut in the past two years — the signs of strain are beginning to surface at national parks across the country. The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, which curves along the spine of the easternmost range of the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and North Carolina, has a $385 million backlog of projects, mainly in road maintenance, and has been unable to fill 75 vacant positions since 2003. For the past three years, New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument has lacked the money to hire a specialist to protect its archaeological ruins and resources.

Jonathan B. Jarvis, the National Park Service director, said in an interview that his employees have been “entrepreneurial” in devising ways to cope with rising costs on a fixed budget.

“But we’re kind of running out of ideas at some point here,” Jarvis said. For years, the Park Service has supported day-to-day operations by taking money from its maintenance and land acquisition budget, he said. “The challenge is, we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Thomas Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, said policymakers face a critical decision as the park system approaches its 100th anniversary in 2016. A major influx of funds could mobilize public support for the system, he said. Without it, he said, conditions at the parks will continue deteriorating and visits could drop sharply.

“It’s clear that inadequate federal funding is the number one threat to the future of the national parks and the national park idea,” Kiernan said. “We’re at a crossroads of historic importance here.”

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2012 BioBlitz in Rocky Mountain National Park

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 @ 7:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

On August 24 and 25, 2012, the sixth in the series of National Park Service-National Geographic Society BioBlitzes is scheduled to take place in Rocky Mountain National Park. The event is being held each year leading up to the National Park Service Centennial in 2016.

Hundreds of scientists, students, teachers, and volunteers will gather to participate in this event, a two-day celebration of biodiversity which centers on a 24-hour discovery of species. Teams of experts and volunteers will explore the park’s majestic mountains, meadows, lakes, streams, forests and tundra to have as many personal species discoveries as possible.

Check out the BioBlitz Newspaper for event schedule and details.

You are invited to work with scientists in the field to count, map, and learn about the park’s diverse organisms, ranging from microscopic bacteria to towering pines. Get to know the plants and animals of the park.

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Beauty contest for trees gets underway

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 @ 5:40 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

It’s time to branch out and root around for tall trunks, lush leaves, and beautiful bark: Nominations for Manitoba’s best trees are now being accepted for the second annual Amazing Tree Quest.

The quest stems from a partnership between Rivers West and the Manitoba Forestry Association, and it seeks to find the biggest, oldest and most striking trees — or simply ones that are community favourites.

“The quest is designed to get people out and exploring and finding their amazing trees,” said Andrea Kraayeveld of the Manitoba Forestry Association.

That’s just one objective. Strengthening knowledge and awareness of the role trees play in Manitoba’s history, providing information that supports stewardship, conservation and knowledge of trees and engaging people in an initiative that supports physical activity are others.

Nomination forms and photos are due by Sept. 4, and the forms are available on the website for Rivers West (riverswest.ca). Winning trees will be announced during National Forest Week Sept. 22-29.

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Day trips turn into a mission for couple on statewide trek

Posted by on Aug 20, 2012 @ 7:32 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

When their two children had graduated from college and settled in Seattle, Roger Williams and Liesel Dreisbach-Williams saw no reason to discontinue their tradition of designating a weekend each month for family time — or as empty-nesters, couple time.

Mostly, the Williams Township couple took day trips, going for short hikes in several Pennsylvania state parks each time they hit the road. They also logged some multi-day adventures to parks in western Pennsylvania.

After a few years, they realized their jaunts were turning into more of a mission as they crisscrossed the state and trekked mile after mile. Nine years later, the couple are among the few to have visited all 120 Pennsylvania state parks.

“We didn’t even know how many parks there were until last year. That’s when we decided it would be fun to visit all of them,” Dreisbach-Williams said, showing off a shoe box filled with brochures from every stop.

Their hunt for Pennsylvania’s natural wonders began with a 2003 excursion to Tobyhanna State Park in the Poconos. Williams and Dreisbach-Williams weren’t looking for renown or even bragging rights when they set out on their adventure. They just wanted to share the joy of exploring new places, away from familiar sights and sounds, beyond the stresses of the daily grind.

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46th Adirondack High Peak Climbed

Posted by on Aug 19, 2012 @ 11:49 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

46th Adirondack High Peak Climbed

It is hard to describe the excitement and anticipation felt leading up to the culmination of a goal to climb all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks. The anticipation of a child awaiting Santa Claus’ arrival comes close. The author slept little the previous night – and would have headed out in the wee hours of the morning if she did not have two dear friends accompanying her once daylight arrived.

After climbing 42 of the 46 solo, it was wonderful to have friends join her for the final climb. There is a time to be alone and there is a time for sharing. This was most definitely a sharing time. We set off earlier than planned on an overcast, foggy morning.

Marcy Dam is a happy and sad place. Sad because the beautiful dammed lake is no more and the bridge across it had been severed by Hurricane Irene last year. Happy because the mountains still loom overhead and hard-working people built a wonderful foot bridge across a short distance below the original dam bridge. A lesson learned – nothing stays the same in the wilderness – don’t expect it to – that is one of the charms of “wilderness” – it is ever changing, ever-fascinating.

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Injured Dog Rescued From Mountain

Posted by on Aug 18, 2012 @ 8:40 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

At 13,500 feet, among the snow-capped peaks of Mount Bierstadt in Colorado, Scott Washburn and his wife, Amanda, found an abandoned, dying German shepherd dog.

Washburn and his wife were on a leisurely hike up Mount Bierstadt in Clear Creek County, a 14,000-foot peak near Denver. It’s too difficult for a dog to be on, or an inexperienced hiker.

“We were hiking to this ridge and we got off course and I was a little ahead of my wife,” he said. “She called out to me, ‘Hey I found a dog,’ and figured I misheard her ’cause there was no way a dog was where we were.”

Washburn and his wife were incredulous at how this dog, tucked into a tiny nook between rocks, could have ended up where it was. The whimpering dog was, as Washburn said, “in awful shape.” He was convinced it would have died if left without food or water for much longer. The couple tried to coax the dog up out of the rocks and down the mountain but it was clear the dog was too injured and weak to move.

“We knew we weren’t going to be able to get her out by herself,” said Washburn. “Her paws were completely raw and her elbows were torn up.”

The dog weighed more than 100 pounds and was too heavy to carry down the mountain, so the Washburns used their first aid kit to try to patch up as many of the dog’s wounds as they could. They then left the dog, with water, on a level boulder in hopes of being able to find it when they returned with help.

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