Hiking News

New trails in Black Star and Baker Canyons open to public

Posted by on Jul 29, 2012 @ 12:44 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Two never before accessed trails in Black Star and Baker Canyons are now open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

The trail openings, a project between Orange County, CA Parks and the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, is part of the 2nd Annual Wilderness Celebration. Crews from the two groups and volunteers have worked for two months to make sure the trails would be accessible for the public.

The Silverado Creek Trail and the SilMod Trail have never been open before. They are located on about 3,000 acres within Black Star and Baker Canyons and provide access to those areas. The land is part of a 20,000 acre land grant made by the Irvine Co. two years ago.

“It’s new hiking, mountain biking and equestrian opportunities,” a spokesman said. “You can see geological formations and see the transition from coastal sage to chaparral. There are also lots of animals including raptors, bobcats and mule deer on the land.”

Opening the 2-mile SilMod Trail will also for the first time give equestrians access to the Cleveland National Forest. The trail follows a utility road and then turns to single track before meeting Black Star Canyon Road. It also provides a good view of Irvine Lake. The 1-mile Silverado Trail is a single track through coastal sage.

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Signs and etiquette for shared-use urban trails

Posted by on Jul 29, 2012 @ 11:50 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Encouraging different types of users to share the trail is as important on urban as on backcountry. In many urban trail corridors the sheer amount of use creates some dificulties for sharing the trail. Wider trails are one solution. But how wide do you want to make the trail? And does a single surface material satisfy all trail users?

In many cases, the better solution is to provide two or even three pathways or trail treads with different surfaces. Other treatments seek to make the separation of treads more clear. The two treads may be adjacent or some distance away. The secondary tread may even be an informal path made by mountain bicyclists or horse riders. Signs or pavement markings may also be provided to clarify the separation.

Check out more “Cool Trail Solutions.”


National Recreation Trail: Wolf River Greenway, Memphis, TN

Posted by on Jul 28, 2012 @ 10:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

National Recreation Trail: Wolf River Greenway, Memphis, TN

Memphis is off to a beautiful start with ambitious plans for the Wolf River. Upon its completion the Wolf River Greenway Trail will extend for 22 miles connecting public greenways and recreational trails. The Wolf River Conservancy shares responsibility with the City of Memphis, and works to protect the floodplain, wetlands, and wildlife habitats, while providing trails and public access. The Greenway is one of the National Recreation Trails designated in 2012.

The Memphis Regional Design Center and Livable Memphis are two additional partners in the development and support of the Greenway.

The Wolf River Greenway Trail is significant because it’s the first place in the city were people can connect with the river in a peaceful, natural setting. The Wolf River Greenway Trail will connect public greenways and recreational trails for residents and user groups as well as adjoining conservation wetlands and wildlife habitats from the Mississippi River east to Shelby Farms Park.

The paved trail was opened in December 2010, and is accessible for persons with disabilities. The trail is located between the Wolf River and Humphrey’s Boulevard from Walnut Grove Rd. to Shady Grove Road. There are two trailheads one located at Walnut Grove and the second along Humphrey’s Blvd.

The trail connects by way of a pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River with multi-use trails in the 2,900 acre Shelby Farms Park, the 6.5 mile Shelby Farms Greenline and to adjacent neighborhoods via bike lanes.

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Nominate people and projects for National Trails Awards

Posted by on Jul 28, 2012 @ 10:34 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The National Trails Awards are sponsored by American Trails to celebrate the leaders of our national system of trails for their outstanding contributions. This is the opportunity to recognize an outstanding person, project, or organization with America’s most prestigious trail awards. A new International Trails category is being introduced this year. Winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet on April 16, 2013 at the 21st American Trails International Trails Symposium in Arizona. The deadline for submitting nominations is October 31, 2012.

The National Trails Awards Program is one way American Trails recognizes the tremendous contributions of volunteers, professionals, and other leaders who are working to create a national system of trails for all Americans.

Learn more and make a nomination.


Effort on to map Utah’s urban area trails

Posted by on Jul 27, 2012 @ 5:35 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

In Utah there’s a statewide push to link hundreds of miles of trails for use by pedestrians, equestrians, biking enthusiasts and off-road vehicle riders. In particular, many of the trails along the Wasatch Front are already seamless and don’t stop at the geographical borders of individual counties.

In Davis County alone, there are more than 100 miles of trails and the area boasts one of the state’s most extensive network of trails that traverse from west to east, from the bottom to the top of mountain ranges.

Davis County has been trying to get the word out. Their trails website, established in 2010 and updated last year, takes advantage of GIS technology and Esri software to give trail users a spatial reference for the distance and topography of a particular trail. In addition, the downloadable files give details on distance, difficulty of terrain, the required time investment for a specific venture and access points on trailhead locations.

Such information is a significant improvement over a printed map that used to be available at Davis County offices.

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Swamp Rabbit Trail shows its value

Posted by on Jul 27, 2012 @ 5:04 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

One of the most popular assets in Greenville County, SC is one that encourages physical activity, helps combat obesity, fuels the local economy, creates opportunities for family bonding and provides good, simple fun. The Greenville Hospital System Swamp Rabbit Trail now has officially reached its second birthday, and its spectacular success is proving that when it comes to such trails, if you build them they will come.

On any weekend, but especially when the weather is pleasant, the Swamp Rabbit Trail is home to a constant stream of cyclists, joggers, walkers and roller skaters. All along the trail businesses have popped up to serve hungry and thirsty trail users. And other businesses are inventing themselves as a destination point on this almost 14-mile trail that should be an example for other cities and counties that are contemplating building their own trails.

The economic impact of the Swamp Rabbit Trail is becoming apparent as more businesses look for a home on this well-traveled path. From the Café at Williams Hardware in downtown Travelers Rest that saw the economic potential of the trail from the beginning, to restaurants and other stores just opening, it’s clear that the trail brings customers to those located beside it.

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Parking lot reduced at trailhead in Zion National Park

Posted by on Jul 26, 2012 @ 7:49 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The parking lot at Zion National Park’s Middle Fork of Taylor Creek Trailhead is being reduced to help fight overcrowding. The trail, which is in the Kolob Canyons section of the park, is part of the park’s designated wilderness.

Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth said he is sympathetic to trail users. “We know this will inconvenience some visitors, but that is not our intention. We are mandated to manage that part of the park as wilderness, which involves limiting the number of visitors and the size of groups on certain trails,” he said. “This enables us to provide a sense of solitude that can’t be found in the main canyon at Zion.”

“Instead of everyone visiting all at once, we hope that people will think about hiking the Middle Fork Trail in the early morning, late afternoon, or during weekdays, when it is less crowded. Also, please do not bring groups larger than 12 out on the trail at a time. This will really help us continue to provide that wilderness experience and preserve the primitive character of the landscape,” Whitworth said.

It’s the same area where park officials are restoring two historic cabins. The log cabins, built 80 years ago by homesteaders who grazed sheep and goats, need some new logs and roof shingles.

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Various calibers of ammo found in suspicious canisters

Posted by on Jul 26, 2012 @ 7:38 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A bomb squad was called to Pisgah National Forest this week after a hunter discovered suspicious canisters near a campsite once inhabited by a fugitive who kept materials for making booby traps.

The ammo cans, discovered near the Wolf Ford Horse Camp in Transylvania County, contained ammunition and not explosives and did not need to be detonated, said a Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman.

The Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad used a high-pressure water device to blow the lids off the cans. Various calibers of ammunition were found inside.

The hunter reported his find to the U.S. Forest Service, which enlisted the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation and the Henderson County and Transylvania County sheriff’s offices to determine what was inside the containers.

The cans were found in the same area that fugitive John Joseph Hiles set up camp four years ago. Hiles, then 45, was wanted on outstanding warrants in Henderson County.

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Popular Timpooneke Trail to close at height of hiking season

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 @ 5:15 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

One of Utah County’s most popular hiking trails is closing for a month at the height of the hiking season.

Timpooneke trailhead leads to Scout Falls and eventually up to the top of Mount Timpanogos. Thousands of hikers would typically use the trail between August 5 and September 5, when the trail will be closed this year, said Kathy Jo Pollock of the National Forest Service.

The closure is necessary to create more parking spaces at the trailhead and to improve traffic flow.

The trail is one of the most beautiful in Utah, passing a half-dozen miniature waterfalls and a large alpine meadow. But if your goal is just to climb Mount Timpanogos, there are other ways up, Pollock said. Pine Hollow and Summit trailhead, both on State Route 92, will work. From these trailheads, the Pine Hollow Trail 47, Salamander Flat Trail 150, and Willow Hollow Trail 159 connect to the Timpooneke trail 53.

But there is a caution. These options add 5-7 miles round trip to your hike, she said.

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Full moon hike set for Aug. 1

Posted by on Jul 25, 2012 @ 5:07 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The New Jersey Forest Service and the Jackson Pathfinders will host the annual Full Moon Hike on Aug. 1.

This free hike will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m. at the Interpretive Center of the Forest Resource Education Center (FREC) on Don Connor Boulevard, Jackson, NJ. Families, scouts and groups of all ages are invited to join in the adventure.

The glow of the rising full moon will help light the way as participants explore the native wildlife of the Pinelands. Visitors are encouraged to use their “night vision” and not rely on flashlights to see as twilight turns into night. Interpreters will stop at points along the trail to listen for birds, identify plants, and discuss wildlife. Wear sturdy footwear and bring insect repellent for this moderate hike, which will cover a distance of less than 1 mile.

For more information and directions, visit www.njforestrycenter.org. The Forest Resource Education Center, located on more than 700 acres, is committed to providing exceptional conservation education programs that promote forest stewardship to all age groups at no cost.

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Want to be helpful? Volunteer opportunities

Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 @ 5:03 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

All this outdoor beauty doesn’t just grow on trees. Well, it does, but it needs some tender, loving care to thrive. So here’s your chance to give back to the beauty with a couple of volunteer opportunities.

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy will hold a volunteer work day this Saturday, July 28, along with the National Parks Conservation Association and Nature Valley, to improve song bird habitat and protect water quality on the scenic and historic Cataloochee Ranch in Haywood County.

This family ranch has protected more than 300 acres of high elevation land adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park for three generations. There will be a volunteer work day 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Also, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to help staff the visitor contact station at Clingmans Dome through Nov. 30.

The visitor station at Clingmans Dome sits at an elevation of 6,300 feet and is a point source of information for the national park and the high elevation spruce fir ecosystem, in particular. Volunteers are needed to assist in educating visitors about the Park while also providing recreational, trip planning, and directional information.

Volunteers will be working alongside Great Smoky Mountains Association employees and are asked to work at least one, four-hour shift per week through November. The hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Orientation and training will be available.

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Rim-to-rim canyon hike a peak experience

Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 @ 10:31 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Of all the ways one could see the Grand Canyon, one of the best is to hike across it, rim to rim. It is a tough physical hike, and the logistics are complicated, as you need to get camping permits in advance and arrange transportation from the destination rim back to the trailhead where you presumably left your vehicle.

But the payoff is one of the peak experiences of a lifetime.

The author did this almost 24-mile hike for the first time a few weeks ago, starting on the North Rim and ending on the South Rim, camping two nights in the canyon. Of course, it can be done in either direction, but she preferred starting at the North Rim because it is less crowded. Once she reached the South Rim, she had reservations to take the five-hour-long Transcanyon Shuttle back to the North Rim.

If you are leaving from the North Rim, you will take the North Kaibab Trail about 14 miles down and lose about 4,480 feet in elevation to the Colorado River. Keep in mind this trail is easily accessible only in the warmer months before heavy snow hits there around mid-October. Along the way, there are some great short side trips including heading down to Roaring Springs and Ribbon Falls.

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Touting Arizona forest program as national model

Posted by on Jul 23, 2012 @ 3:49 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Apache County’s forest-stewardship agreement with the U.S. Forest Service was held up at a congressional hearing Friday as a model for other governments trying to tame the growing problem of wildfires.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Flagstaff, said programs like Apache County’s contract to help thin the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest should be part of a national strategy of forest management — not merely fire suppression — to combat catastrophic wildfires.

“Our forests have been mismanaged for a long time and it is way past due to change our strategy,” Gosar told the House Natural Resources Committee. “Although the need to suppress fires is never going to go away, we must shift priority towards proactive management.”

He was testifying in support of his bill that would encourage federal officials to enter into timber-harvesting and grazing projects to reduce the amount of potential wildfire fuel on federal lands.

“When you have a drought, all the trees compete for that same drop of water,” said David Cook, a member of the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association, who testified Friday. “That’s why the forest needs to be thinned.”

Gosar’s was one of three bills aimed at dealing with forest mismanagement, drought and insect infestations — specifically the invasive bark beetle — that have contributed to a rise in catastrophic wildfires. Gosar said the five largest wildfires in Arizona history have come in the last 10 years.

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Students discover relics of past peoples at national park dig site

Posted by on Jul 22, 2012 @ 7:50 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Morgan Hensley’s little chunk of roasted dirt may not look like much to the untrained eye, but she’s proud of it.

Hensley, a senior at Pisgah High School in Canton, N.C., is one of several dozen students who are getting a little history, heritage and culture under their fingernails this summer at an archaeological excavation site in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hensley’s find is a pottery shard, a half-dollar-size piece of decorated and fired clay about 3/8ths of an inch thick. And the young woman is not unaware that the find links her — and in some ways all residents of East Tennessee — directly back to those who hunted, cultivated and inhabited these hills long before European eyes ever gazed upon them.

The dig site, being overseen by representatives of both the University of Tennessee Archaeological Research Laboratory and the National Park Service, is in a small plot of flat bottomland beside U.S. Highway 441 near the park’s Oconaluftee Visitors Center.

Across the road flows the gentle Oconaluftee River, the water source for the Native American Cherokees when they inhabited the tract as far back as 2000 years ago.

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Vehicle cap on the way for Denali National Park Road

Posted by on Jul 22, 2012 @ 7:42 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The National Park Service will limit the number of vehicles allowed on the wilderness portion of Denali Park Road at 160 per day starting in 2015, but that still represents a potential sizable increase in traffic on the only road leading into Alaska’s premier national park.

The 160-vehicle-per-day cap will replace the current seasonal limit of 10,512 vehicles allowed on the road beyond Mile 15 during the 110-day tourist season from Memorial Day to a week after Labor Day. Private traffic on the park road is restricted beyond Mile 15, and buses are used to shuttle the roughly 400,000 tourists that visit Denali into and out of the park.

The decision to cap the daily number of vehicles allowed on the gravel section of the 92-mile Denali Park Road follows a four-year planning effort that included a $2 million study to evaluate how increasing traffic on the park road impacts everything from wildlife to tourists to the environment.

While the new cap has not been formally adopted, it is the final recommendation made by the Park Service in an Environmental Impact Statement on the park’s vehicle management plan.

The plan dictates that tour buses will be spaced out according to prevent traffic jams at wildlife and rest stops, one of the main concerns voiced by visitors in a survey the Park Service conducted.

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New book focuses on kid-friendly games, activities for day hiking

Posted by on Jul 22, 2012 @ 10:52 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

New book focuses on kid-friendly games, activities for day hiking

The author of the popular and highly acclaimed “Hikes with Tykes” book series has released his latest volume, “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities.”

The new guidebook provides comprehensive descriptions of more than 100 games and activities parents, grandparents, teachers and youth club leaders can engage kids in before, during and after day hikes.

Culled from the experiences of “Hikes with Tykes” author Rob Bignell and fellow outdoor-minded parents, “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities” is the most comprehensive collection of diversions available, with something for every age group and childhood interest.

The book is the follow-up to Bignell’s highly successful “Hikes with Tykes: A Practical Guide to Day Hiking with Kids,” which was released last year.

“As soon as that book came out, parents began emailing me tips and suggestions they had about hiking with kids,” Bignell said. “I noticed a lot of those suggestions were for great games and activities. I found a number of those ideas really useful, for as my son grew older I had to come up with new ones for the trail and for the drive over to the trailhead.

“Collecting all of those suggestions and my trials and tribulations with my son’s interest in the trail led to the series’ second book, ‘Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities.’”

That so many parents shared games and activities shouldn’t be surprising, Bignell said. During these difficult economic times, a number of families have turned back to the low-cost, fun activity of hiking. An Outdoor Industry Association report from 2010 says that 40 million Americans hike – and a number of them take along their children.

Among the many topics in “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities” are:

  • Activities to get kids excited about a day hike
  • Crafts in which kids make their own hiking gear
  • Recipes for healthy snacks on the trail
  • Games that will help kids better understand and appreciate nature
  • Post-hike activities to keep kids excited about the sport

A long-time hiker, editor and journalist, Bignell is uniquely qualified to discuss hiking with children. He and his son Kieran have been going on day hikes together for more than five years. Bignell took Kieran on his first hike when he was but four-months-old, through an old grove of redwood trees that soared 150 feet over their heads. Since then, they’ve peakbagged mountains, rambled along ocean coastlines, searched fossil and gem trails, and explored desert canyons, often all in the same month.

Before Kieran, Bignell served as an infantryman in the Army National Guard and taught middle school students in New Mexico and Wisconsin. His newspaper work has won several journalism awards, from editorial writing to sports reporting. In 2001, The Prescott Journal, which he served as managing editor of, was named Wisconsin’s Weekly Newspaper of the Year.


Coveted Mount St. Helens summer hiking permits tough to come by

Posted by on Jul 21, 2012 @ 8:45 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

It has become one of the Pacific Northwest’s hottest tickets.

Every $22 permit to climb Mount St. Helens is sold out through mid-September. Reservations for peak summer hiking days began hitting the 100-people-per-day limit in early spring.

So far, 13,934 permits to ascend the volcano have been sold, more than the 13,851 permits issued for all of 2011, according to the Mount St. Helens Institute.

Travis Southworth-Neumeyer, executive director of the Institute, has a few theories to explain the surge in climbers to the volcano, which was shortened by about 1,400 feet when the eruption on Sunday, May 18, 1980, blew away the old summit. “It has been kind of a forgotten gem,” Southworth-Neumeyer said. “And it’s not as commercial as Mount Hood. (Mount St. Helens) is more wild.”

The mountain initially was reopened to climbing in 1987, attracting upward of 16,000 hikers a year. However, it was closed from 2004-08 when the volcano’s lava dome became active and started growing.

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