Hiking News

Rich Mountain Loop trail provides Cades Cove scenery without the traffic

Posted by on Nov 4, 2011 @ 5:38 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

One of the best things about the Rich Mountain Loop is that it’s a Cades Cove hike without the traffic woes: to reach the trail head, you park at the entrance to the Loop Road and walk a short ways in.

Loop trails are always nice, and the 8.5-mile Rich Mountain Loop is one of the best in the Smokies. The hike offers some terrific views of Cades Cove along the ridge line of Rich Mountain, elevation 3,686 feet. The hike is known for its wildflowers in the spring, but it’s equally scenic in the late fall and winter after the leaves drop and the overlooks open up.

The loop portion of the trail begins about half-a-mile from the trail head at the junction of the Rich Mountain Loop Trail and the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail. To hike the loop clockwise, bear straight at this first intersection and proceed a short distance through the woods to the John Oliver cabin, one of the oldest log homes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Improvements planned for neglected hiking trail in San Dimas foothills

Posted by on Nov 4, 2011 @ 7:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A once-popular hiking and equestrian trail in the San Dimas foothills that has fallen into disrepair is getting a new lease on life.

The San Dimas City Council at its meeting last week awarded Bellfree Contractors Inc. a $60,000 contract for improvements to the Poison Oak trail, which winds for about a third of a mile through San Dimas Canyon Park in Sycamore Canyon.

Assistant San Dimas City Manager Ken Duran described the project as the “restoration of a historic trail that had gotten overgrown.”

Through years of neglect, parts of the trail have gotten washed out and plants, including the trail’s namesake poison oak, have encroached from the sides.

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Maricopa County celebrating centennial with hiking challenge

Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 @ 7:27 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department is celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday with a 100-mile hike challenge for Valley residents. Starting this month, Valley residents can log the miles they hike at at least three of the county’s 10 parks. People also can participate in programs at county parks or hike a portion of the Maricopa Trail.

“One of our greatest assets is our trail system because it ties into our mission to connect people with nature. So to celebrate the centennial, we decided to showcase this asset by creating a program that would not only highlight the trails but also the beauty of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert,” said Dawna Taylor, spokeswoman for the county Parks and Recreation Department.

The program runs through Jan. 30. On the day of Arizona’s centennial, Feb.14, each county park will hold a celebration for people who complete the program, and they can pick up free T-shirts.

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Technology to Power a Hiking Blog

Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 @ 8:31 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

I’ve always kept an online journal when hiking, but in the past I had to mail or email journal entries to someone else for posting. Pictures took even longer as I had to mail camera memory cards back and forth. Technology finally has gotten to the place where I was able to completely post and manage my blog and pictures while hiking.


First the solution had to be light. I’m an ultralight hiker so weight is a big deal. Maybe that’s an understatement; weight is almost everything. I’m concerned about fractions of an ounce. So the solution can’t be a satellite phone, laptop, tablet or anything that weighs more than a small paper notebook and pencil. That really makes it tough. Also, while I don’t post every day, I need to be able to post from towns without requiring a full computer hookup either.

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26 Weeks, 26 Wedding Gowns, 2600 Miles on the PCT

Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 @ 7:32 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

What do you get when you take the guy out of the city, remove the socialite from the scene, yank the stage from the entertainer, then stick him in a blue collar job and suppress his creativity? Well, if he’s the mustached Mr. 26, you end up with an explosion of the unimaginable (and utterly undefinable) trekking of the west documented via odd photographs across your computer screen. This is the story of hiking26. The plan: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, from April through October, 2012. 26 weeks, hiking 2600 miles, while wearing 26 wedding gowns. Performance Art Insanity, defined.

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Future of Blue Ridge Parkway to Be Determined by Park’s First General Management Plan

Posted by on Oct 31, 2011 @ 5:19 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

On Wednesday, November 2, the National Park Service will hold the first of four meetings on the Blue Ridge Parkway’s first-ever general management plan (GMP) in Asheville, North Carolina. This important document, the first in its 75 year history, will guide resource management at the park for the next twenty years.

When the Blue Ridge Parkway was established in 1935, it was conceived as a self-contained, controlled access scenic and recreational motorway to provide a unique experience of the landscapes and vistas of the Appalachian Mountains. Today, the Parkway is the single most visited unit in the National Park System, generating approximately $2.2 billion in local economic activity annually. However, the Parkway’s original landscape of forests and farms is changing rapidly.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway’s first general management plan provides a tremendous opportunity at a critical moment to keep up with and adapt to the significant land use changes occurring in the region surrounding our nation’s most visited national park,” said National Parks Conservation Association Program Manager Chris Watson. “We feel strongly that if the GMP fails to embody strong preservation and resource protection principles, then the very nature and purpose of the Parkway could be lost in the coming generation given the enormous growth and development pressures that the region has experienced.”

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Washington trails volunteers clear way for hikers

Posted by on Oct 30, 2011 @ 9:05 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A group of volunteers has blazed the way for hikers and bikers to enjoy the burst of autumn colors in the Iller Creek Conservation Area. The Washington Trails Association has worked for three years with other local groups to maintain, rebuild and reroute trails in the popular Valley natural area secured by the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program. A major effort this month has made the trails more foot-friendly.

Although there are years of work to be done, the volunteers have connected a 5-mile loop trail circumnavigating the 876-acres of Iller Creek’s core, and linking the additional new south-end acreage around the Rocks of Sharon.

A total of 102 volunteers participated. Some of them worked more than one day, logging a total of 253 volunteer work days. When the dust settled for the season last week, the WTA groups had invested 3,461 hours into improving the region’s trails.

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Cast Your Vote for Extreme Hiking Tale

Posted by on Oct 30, 2011 @ 8:12 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Over at Two Heel Drive, Tom Mangan has chose the five finalists for his Extreme Hiking Tale Contest.

Tom says extreme hiking stories inevitably boil down to: at which point did you decide to turn back? At the first sign of trouble — when it made sense — or after a string of mishaps left you scared, cold, wounded or in some other condition of extremity?

There’s a poll box down below the summaries from the five nominees. Cast your vote for your favorite story.

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Fallen California Sequoia Stumps Park Rangers

Posted by on Oct 29, 2011 @ 8:39 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Environmentalists suggest a massive tree that fell over at California’s Sequoia National Forest should be left where it is.

The U.S. Forest Service is trying to decide what to do with the centuries-old sequoia that keeled over about a month ago along the forest’s Trail of 100 Giants. While the rangers mull over their options, the executive director of Sequoia Forest Keeper said the way Mother Nature would handle the issue would be to do nothing.

Falling over has been the fate of sequoia trees since well before people began poking around the Sierra Nevada; however, the Forest Service has its visitors to consider. The 300-foot tree, estimated to date back to Medieval times, is blocking a popular hiking trail, although tourists are allowed to climb on top of the 17-foot diameter trunk for now.

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Remember Snacks when Hiking

Posted by on Oct 29, 2011 @ 8:31 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Water consumption while hiking is often stressed but food is not mentioned nearly as often.

The National Park Service advises hikers to eat and drink more than normal when hiking. This includes eating before, during and after a hike. Just as hikers are supposed to drink before they are thirsty, they should also eat before they are hungry.

The National Park Service says water and salty snacks should be consumed on any hike lasting longer than 30 minutes. Hikers also need to eat about twice as much as normal to meet energy and electrolyte needs.

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The Great Eastern Trail

Posted by on Oct 29, 2011 @ 9:38 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Great Eastern Trail Association, working with American Hiking Society and local trail partners are creating America’s newest long distance hiking trail. This path is 1800 miles long and crosses nine states.

The Great Eastern Trail (GET) provides a premier hiking experience on a series of existing trails that are being linked to each other into a long-distance footpath in the Appalachian Mountains stretching from Alabama to the Finger Lakes Trail in New York.

Benton MacKaye’s original vision for an Appalachian Trail in the 1920’s showed a network of “braided” trails running the length of the Appalachian Mountains. In 2000 Lloyd MacAskill of PATC published an article in the Appalachian Trailway News calling attention to the existing trails to the west of the AT and saying “Don’t look now, but parts are already in place.”

The work on this trail is being performed by volunteer effort. The organizational scheme will involve existing volunteer trail clubs, augmented where necessary by new volunteer groups.

Via Take a Long Hike

A hiking program to get your kids moving and close to nature

Posted by on Oct 28, 2011 @ 1:56 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Imagine our National Parks full of kids connected, engaged and participating in a variety of activities that contribute to and encourage overall health… their health and the health of our world.

A team effort of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina, the Kids in Parks program offers self-guided outdoor adventures aimed at reconnecting families with nature, encouraging physical activity and helping kids develop a life-long relationship with the natural world. Kids can register their hikes online and earn increasingly enticing incentives for each one.

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Elk Environmental Assessment Approved

Posted by on Oct 28, 2011 @ 10:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced the approval of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) of the Environmental Assessment (EA) on a proposed plan for managing a permanent herd of elk in the Park. The approved plan, signed on October 20, 2011, culminates a 10-year effort to reestablish elk to their native range.

In June 2010, the Park published the EA outlining the findings of an 8-year experimental elk release (2001-2008). The purpose of the EA was to determine the most appropriate and feasible approach to manage the existing elk population, currently totaling around 140 animals. The primary objective under the Preferred Alternative of Adaptive Management is to maintain an elk population within the Park that is self sustaining and allows only acceptable impacts to Park resources. “By creating a framework of flexibility, Park managers can employ a variety of management strategies to deal with a range of behaviors with the goal of preventing ‘unacceptable’ conditions as described in the EA.”

Research findings from the experimental elk release indicated that the elk population was sustainable, had minimal impacts on the Park’s resources, and human-elk conflicts were manageable.

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Amid the City, Learning to Survive in the Wild

Posted by on Oct 28, 2011 @ 10:26 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

TWENTY feet away from the dogs and children playing on the grass, deep inside a Central Park thicket, the city almost disappears. A street lamp shines through the leafy canopy, and runners and cyclists race past, oblivious to a lean man huddled beneath the trees holding fire in his hands — a fire he created using a wooden bow drill.

Since childhood the man has been passionate about, and studying, wilderness survival with a variety of teachers, some of them American Indians. A former stuntman, he now teaches these skills through his Mountain Scout Survival School, in Central Park and in the Hudson Valley, in Garrison, N.Y.

Some of his students are those newly spooked by the swell of local hurricanes and floods, ill equipped for life without batteries and electricity. Some are outdoors enthusiasts and hikers. All are eager to learn the basics of how to find and filter water, how to build a fire, how to track wild animals and even trap them for food.

His introductory class is a torrent of information, eight hours spent outdoors focused on seven survival skills: fire, food, shelter, water, tracking, awareness and movement.

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Off the Beaten Track: Hiking the Negev wilderness

Posted by on Oct 27, 2011 @ 6:16 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking in Israel is a whole different experience. The key to hiking in Israel is by knowing it’s in-depth history.

The best place to start before you set out on a hike in any part of Israel is in the pages of the Bible. Whether you are a Jew or Christian, religious or atheist just does not matter, as the key is in the stories. The authors of the Bible were master story tellers who knew the landscape like the backs of their hands. There is no better way to explore Israel’s natural beauty, than to relive those stories where they are said to have happened. Let’s examine this biblical passage:

And he removed from thence unto the mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Ai on the east; and he builded there an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South (Genesis 12:8-9).

Now, if you aren’t reading this in the original Hebrew it seems pretty straight forward, however there is a poetic inner meaning to the ancient Hebrew of the Torah. In this passage the words used to describe direction are actually places or descriptions. ‘East’ literally means “before” as in “before the sunrise” and “west” is literally “the sea” as in the direction of the Mediterranean Sea. “South” is called “Negbah” which is a form of the region of Israel’s southlands: The Negev.

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BioBlitz Finds Hundreds of Species New to National Park

Posted by on Oct 26, 2011 @ 5:03 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The 24-hour BioBlitz in Arizona’s Saguaro National Park added more than 400 species to park lists, including 190 species of invertebrates and 205 species of fungi previously unknown to the park, the National Geographic Society said in a news announcement. At least one species of bryophyte is new to the park and potentially new to science, Geographic added in a release.

The BioBlitz was the fifth in a series of annual inventories of species in U.S. National Parks adjacent to large urban areas. The series is hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service in the run-up to the centenary of the National Parks in 2016.

Nearly 200 scientists from around the U.S., thousands of amateur explorers, families and schoolchildren conducted a 24-hour inventory of the plants, insects, birds and other creatures that inhabit the desert park, National Geographic said in its news statement.

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A Street View-Style Tour Of National Parks Hiking Trails

Posted by on Oct 25, 2011 @ 7:23 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

General Mills brand Nature Valley has embarked on an ambitious initiative called Trail View to bring the parks experience to the indoors and outdoors-oriented alike. “Nature is something you have to get close to in order to be moved by it,” says Scott Baldwin, Senior Marketing Manager at Nature Valley. “It’s easy to just show a picture of nature, but people want to have deeper experiences.” To deliver that deeper experience, the company sent content-gathering teams throughout the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon this past summer to digitally capture 100 odd miles of each area, and replicate them online. Eventually, users will be able to experience, in real-time, a first-person perspective of hiking these trails, clicking on embedded points of interest along the way for pop-up information and videos. It’s a virtual hiking expedition anyone can take.

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My take: On first glance, this seems like a neat idea. We can live vicariously through Trail View with virtual hiking. For the elderly, or those unable to travel, this is an innovative way to see treasured natural beauty from the comfort of their living room.

But what of those who might have been thinking about going to a national park, pulling on their pack and boots, and heading for an exciting trek in the great outdoors? If there is one person who changes their mind about actual hiking because they can stay home and virtual hike instead, then Nature Valley has done a disservice to the national parks. There is nothing like actually being there. Get out there and experience it for yourself.