Hiking News

Outdoor Chattanooga Offers Guided Hiking Series On The Cumberland Trail In 2018

Posted by on Dec 29, 2017 @ 6:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Outdoor Chattanooga Offers Guided Hiking Series On The Cumberland Trail In 2018

Outdoor Chattanooga’s experienced guides will lead participants on short, section hikes (four to seven miles each) along the Cumberland Trail to explore unique geological formations, discover seasonal flora and fauna, trek over creeks and across suspended bridges to the tops of ridges with waterfalls and scenic overlooks. Along the way, participants will get hands on experience and learn how to make hiking and backpacking more comfortable and enjoyable.

The Cumberland Trail is a scenic footpath along the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau that begins in Chattanooga’s backyard on Signal Mountain. Building and maintaining the CT is a grassroots effort driven by volunteers with the Cumberland Trail Conference (CTC). The trail is still under construction, but with 210 of the projected 300 miles completed, there’s plenty of trail to explore. Outdoor Chattanooga aims to connect participants with this scenic trail, provide hands on experience to learn and improve hiking and backpacking skills, and encourage stewardship of Chattanooga’s local trails by offering 12 different short-section hikes throughout the year, including half-day adventures and equipped overnight backpacking adventures.

Need more incentive to hike? Participants who complete short section hikes with Outdoor Chattanooga will earn credit toward the 50 miler award from the CTC. To earn the 50 miler award, individuals must complete 50 unique miles on the CT and 10 hours of service work with the CTC. Outdoor Chattanooga has carefully selected the one-way hikes to be mostly downhill and will provide shuttle transportation to participants pre or post hike to maximize the experience and unique miles covered. Bring your sense of adventure and join them for one hike or the whole series!

The guided hiking series begins on Jan. 13, 2018 and concludes Dec. 1. Registration is required in advance as space is limited. There’s no fee for half day hikes, and it’s $65 per person for equipped overnight backpacking adventures. The CT is a remote trail over rugged terrain. Outdoor Chattanooga requires participants to have some hiking experience and be in good physical shape to hike four to seven miles continuously on sections rated as moderately strenuous. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a participating parent or responsible adult. All details will be given to participants upon registration.

For more information or to register:

Email info@OutdoorChattanooga.com
Call (423) 643-6888

The schedule is here…


Wire the wilderness? As cell service expands, national parks become the latest digital battlegrounds

Posted by on Dec 28, 2017 @ 12:06 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Wire the wilderness? As cell service expands, national parks become the latest digital battlegrounds

When John Muir helped establish the National Park Service, he argued that such parks were vital to help people unplug from the world. “Break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods,” Muir was quoted as saying in 1915.

But these days at Yosemite National Park, hikers to Half Dome are likely to encounter people talking on cell phones as they climb to the top. Similar scenes are playing out at other national parks as the call of the outdoors increasingly comes with crisp 4G service. Not everyone is wild about that.

In Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mount Rainier and other iconic parks, environmentalists are pressing the National Park Service to slow or halt construction of new cellular towers within park boundaries. They say the NPS is quietly facilitating a digital transformation with little public input or regard to its mission statement — to preserve “unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System.”

Yet advocates for increased cell service, including many NPS officials, say the parks can’t cling to an earlier era. Expanded cellular and broadband coverage, they argue, helps rescue teams respond to emergencies and are necessary to draw a new generation to the parks.

Under National Park Service guidelines, such “special uses” are encouraged if they enhance park resources or improve public safety. But such uses should be rejected, the NPS says, if they “unreasonably disrupt the atmosphere of peace and tranquility of wilderness.”

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First Day Hikes: Start the new year off healthy

Posted by on Dec 27, 2017 @ 12:37 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

First Day Hikes: Start the new year off healthy

With Arizona State Parks’ First Day Hikes on Monday, Jan. 1, you can enjoy a beautiful hike and start the new year feeling healthy.

This year marks the sixth annual collaboration of all 50 state-park systems across the country to offer guided First Day Hikes and other activities on New Year’s Day, said Michelle Thompson, chief of communications for Arizona State Parks & Trails.

“This event is specifically planned to kick-start resolutions for the new year and help people get started on a healthy note,” Thompson said.

“First Day Hikes are absolutely family-friendly; there are hikes, walks, tours and activities for all skill levels and all ages, ranging from bird walks, tours through our historic parks, snow play — if there is snow — boat tours and more strenuous hikes,” she said.

In addition to giving people a chance to start 2018 in a healthy way, Thompson said First Day Hikes also let people see parts of Arizona they may have never seen before.

Thompson hopes that participants will enjoy their outings so much that they will be inspired to return to the park or visit other ones.

“We really hope that by getting out to experience the parks, people can see how much there is to see and do and will want to explore other parks or revisit their favorite during the year,” she said.

See more about Arizona’s plans here…

Find out about your state here…


A guide to hiking the Old Man of Storr in Scotland

Posted by on Dec 25, 2017 @ 6:48 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A guide to hiking the Old Man of Storr in Scotland

The Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland, is known for its dramatic and breath-taking views. It seems that with every corner you drive on this magnificent little island, you’re surrounded by absolutely stunning views unlike any other. The landscapes of Skye are unique to say the least and that’s probably why it is used as the backdrop to many a high-budget movie or television commercial.

One of the most iconic hikes on the Isle of Skye is the Old Man of Storr which somewhat resembles a CGI scene out of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. In fact, it was actually used in the opening scenes of the 2012 film, Prometheus. The Old Man of Storr, or simply The Storr, is arguably the most famous hike on Skye and the great news is that it’s a relatively easy and quick jaunt.

The Storr was formed as a result of a major landslip during the ice age which has left dramatic rock formations along the cliff face of the Trotternish peninsula. For the most part, the hike is steady with only a few steeper and slippery parts towards the end.

Initially, there is a gravel path with a relatively tame incline which is suitable for anyone of average fitness levels. As you climb higher, the path becomes rocky and can be muddy if there has been wet weather but it remains a fairly steady climb.

Although you can see the Storr most of the way up, it is not until you get pretty close that you begin to appreciate the enormity of the beast. You will pass through a final gate at which point the designated path ends and you will follow a worn trail for the rest of the hike.

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An Appalachian Trail pioneer: first Hongkonger to hike the full length

Posted by on Dec 23, 2017 @ 11:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

An Appalachian Trail pioneer: first Hongkonger to hike the full length

The moment Tony Or Hang-tat stepped outside his tent, he absolutely understood why hikers hang food and rubbish in bags on high tree branches before retiring for the night. The big black bear looking his way must have weighed 300 pounds.

This was in Pennsylvania, 13 weeks into an adventure of a lifetime: hiking the whole of the Appalachian Trail that stretches 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine with just a backpack, a tent and a smile. It was not the first bear he had seen, nor would it be the last. But it was the closest encounter.

“I was really lucky that I didn’t decide to cook breakfast 10 minutes earlier, because almost certainly the bear would have come to get my food – and get me,” Or says. “You can’t lock the smell in, so you put the food in a bag and hang it in a tree. So if the bear is going to get your food, he’s going to climb the tree and not enter your tent.”

In the autumn of 2016, Or, then 31, was considering a new direction in life, having worked for a Hong Kong bookstore for almost a decade. He decided to take a week-long hike in the US before finding a new job.

“My friend mentioned the Appalachian Trail and I researched it a little bit, and I started thinking it’s a really cool thing to ‘thru-hike.’”

A little more than a year later, in mid-September this year he became the first Hongkonger to complete the entire trail.

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New place to hike and rock climb: Wildcat Rock Trail opens in Hickory Nut Gorge

Posted by on Dec 22, 2017 @ 11:56 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

New place to hike and rock climb: Wildcat Rock Trail opens in Hickory Nut Gorge

Some might call him the mountain whisperer. John Myers is that special kind of person who can look up at a mountain, listen to a mountain and know instinctively what it needs – to remain protected, wild and free. Myers, a landowner, conservationist and rock climber, has lived in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge for nearly 20 years with his wife, Jane Lawson.

He has had the steely focus, the patience and the friend-making capacity to take care of the mountains that are his home, and to make sure they are forever protected and available for the enjoyment of others who share his love of wild places.

At a ceremony Dec. 14, 2017 hosted by Conserving Carolina at Myers’ and Lawson’s Laughing Waters Retreat butting up against Bearwallow Mountain, about 130 people turned out to celebrate three significant conservation and recreation projects:

Completion of the 3-mile Wildcat Rock Trail that ascends Little Bearwallow Mountain and reaches Little Bearwallow Falls on the way to the scenic summit.

Completion of a Conserving Carolina conservation easement on land owned by Myers and Lawson that forever protects another 38 acres on Little Bearwallow Mountain.

Formal opening of a rock and ice climbing area at Little Bearwallow Falls and its dedication to Myers.

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Old Erie Canal Trail hosts seasonal fun

Posted by on Dec 21, 2017 @ 12:48 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Old Erie Canal Trail hosts seasonal fun

The Erie Canal in New York State is a 363-mile man-made waterway started in 1817 and finished in 1825 and celebrated the commencement of its bicentennial in 2017. The canal was built to allow mule and horse-drawn packet boats to haul materials on the east-west travel route between Buffalo and Albany.

The original canal was enlarged three times and eventually re-aligned in places to form the current NYS Canal System, managed by the NYS Canal Corporation and used by newer, larger shipping vessels. But part of the original canal east of Syracuse and its towpath, where the mules and horses historically walked along the water, is still there, with a trail on one side or both and is known today as Old Erie Canal State Park.

Old Erie Canal State Park is a 36-mile stretch at the heart of the 360-mile cross-state Erie Canalway Trail, which follows the alignment of the present day as well as the historic Erie Canal and is open to multiple user groups. And, soon, the Erie Canalway Trail will be part of the statewide Empire State Trail, a 750-mile connecting trail from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, which is slated to be finished in 2020 as announced by Gov. Cuomo in 2017.

The Old Erie Canal State Park trail is one of the key connection points for local snowmobile clubs. The waterway portion along the Old Erie Canal State Park is navigable by canoe and kayak for short segments throughout, and offers many fishing access points as well. Several footbridges afford glimpses of remnants of the many old stone canal aqueducts.

Learn more here…


Mountains to Sea Trail News Briefs

Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 @ 6:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Mountains to Sea Trail News Briefs

Allen Poole, North Carolina’s Mountains to Sea Trail volunteer Task Force Leader on the Outer Banks, has been hard at work adding signs and blazes along the route there. On this stretch, it is challenging to know which beach access to use to come on and off the beach, so his work will be a big help to MST hikers.

Meanwhile, the Trail Resource Manager Jim Grode, has just identified places for almost 400 signs that will mark the trail route where it follows roads through the Coastal Plain, and volunteers with the Elkin Valley Trails Association have done the same for MST Segment 6. Friends of the MST hope to have the signs up on the Elkin segment before the Gathering of Friends in March and the Coastal Plain segments soon thereafter. If you’d like to help install these signs, they would welcome your help.

Hurricane Irma brought down thousands of trees in western North Carolina including hundreds along the MST. Volunteers with Carolina Mountain Club went to work ASAP and cleared well over 500 trees, including many tricky ones, to re-open the trail and make it safe for hikers. Thanks to all these volunteers for their dedication and skill.

Thanks also to NC State Parks for a recent grant through the Recreational Trails Program which is helping to cover the cost of saw chains, griphoist parts, wedges and other tools which make the work of our trail volunteers possible statewide.

Early this month, 27 volunteers devoted two days to getting certified to safely operate a chainsaw on the MST. As demonstrated in the news brief above about Hurricane Irma, the trail couldn’t remain open and safe without the skilled work of these volunteers. Thanks to each and every one of them for their commitment to the MST and to State Parks for covering the cost of the class and safety equipment for all the volunteers.


Peru’s colorful Rainbow Mountain is not for the faint-hearted

Posted by on Dec 18, 2017 @ 12:31 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Peru’s colorful Rainbow Mountain is not for the faint-hearted

Some manage the ascent in three hours, others take longer. But once they are up, then they’re usually reluctant to come back down, thanks to the view of the surreal-looking mountain.

Tourism at Mount Vinicunca has yet to take off. Travel agencies only discovered it around two years ago. The mountain isn’t even listed in the current “Lonely Planet” guidebook, although that seems likely to change.

Mount Vinicunca near the mighty Ausangate is currently developing into a real tourist attraction, which could compete with Machu Picchu and other highlights in the South American country.

The Peruvians call it “Montana de Colores” – the mountain of colors. Among travelers it has acquired a similarly evocative name: Rainbow Mountain.

Millions of years ago, plate tectonics pushed various sediments to the Earth’s surface. As a result, the mountain features up to seven different colors, from iron red to sulphur yellow and copper green.

The hike is no walk in the park, however. The first step out of the bus is at an altitude of 4,480 meters, the viewing peak next to Rainbow Mountain is at 5,150 meters.

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Hiking Grand Tetons ‘a trip of a lifetime’

Posted by on Dec 17, 2017 @ 11:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking Grand Tetons ‘a trip of a lifetime’

Beyond the crystal clear lakes, past the pastel blooms, up the rock-strewn trails and over the snow-blanketed hillsides lie the canyons and campsites of the Grand Tetons National Park.

With each step up the mountain while sporting a 40-pound backpack, a new vista of rushing waters and plunging waterfalls dashes into view. Run-ins with deer, elk, moose and marmots are not out of the question.

After several miles hiking each day, the laborious trek yields its reward. Campsites look out onto snow-covered peaks, water spews down mountainsides behind melted pockets of snow and streams billow by with roaring waters, their icy beginnings still clutching the banks near brightly colored overnight abodes.

This is hiking at its best. Getting in shape months ahead of time by breaking in boots, pounding away on stair climbers or inclines at the gym and assembling proper gear are paramount to enjoying the trip.

Water is easy to find from all the streams pouring through mountain folds, and with a proper filtration system, keeping bottles filled is not a problem. Water plunging down the mountainside and peeking out occasionally behind the snow while camping at about 8,500 feet makes for the most amazing views of any camping expedition ever. Soaking it all in is refreshing.

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Creating new beaten paths

Posted by on Dec 17, 2017 @ 7:14 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Creating new beaten paths

The first time Jessica Johnson explored the Mushroom Caves in Solana Beach she was trespassing.

It was 2013, a few years after the 35-year-old elementary school art teacher first started documenting her passion for adventurous, sometimes dangerous hikes on her increasingly popular website Hidden San Diego.

Walking along the path recently, Johnson recalled that initial adventure into the network of narrow, water-carved canyons that rise above the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

“It was a crazy adventure, kind of scary,” she said, eyes beaming. “I thought I could die. It’s sandstone so it crumbles easy, and there’s slot canyons that you have to climb up, but your adrenaline’s going, and the child in you comes out.”

Last year, the hike south of the lagoon and just west of Interstate 5 was opened to the public and renamed Annie’s Canyon Trail. While the paths have been improved and a metal ladder was installed for safety at a view point, many of the canyons have now been chained off.

After Johnson wrote about the location, trespassers increasingly splashed graffiti over the sandstone environment and left beer bottles and trash littered about after bonfire parties. That came to an end when the nonprofit San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, in response to the vandalism, received a grant for around $100,000 to clean up and improve the area.

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The Best Microadventure In Every State

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 @ 7:05 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Best Microadventure In Every State

“A microadventure,” says Alastair Humphreys, a former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and founder of a global movement, “is an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.”

Sounds good, right? More importantly, it sounds do-able.

Microadventures, Humphreys argues, should fit in the 5:00 pm to 9:00 am window after each workday. Should you have a weekend free, they can also take a few days. They may involve wandering into the woods and setting up a camp or even having a slumber party in your backyard.

Because Humphreys is adamant that a microadventure must include an overnight stay under the stars, campsite information is included with every entry. If you’re relatively new to spending the night out of doors, check out the camping info. If you’re a hardened vagabond, skip it and do things your own way.

When you actually sit down and start listing all the rad outdoor areas in a state, the magnitude of natural beauty in every corner of the country is made abundantly clear. How do you choose between the redwood forests, deserts, and coastal locales of California? How do you name the best place to adventure outdoors in Hawaii? There are so many.

Read through these adventures in the westernmost states in the United States and you too will want to get outside.

Get the list here…


Everything You Know About Hiking in Colombia is Wrong

Posted by on Dec 14, 2017 @ 12:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Everything You Know About Hiking in Colombia is Wrong

For decades, Colombia’s wild areas were a no-go zone because of guerilla fighters and narcos, who occupied and fortified rural areas across the country. To venture beyond the city limits was to risk being kidnapped and held for ransom, a lucrative scheme the outlaws called miracle fishing.

Beginning around 2000, the government started negotiating peace deals with the armed rebels, all but putting an end to the practice. In 2016, Juan Manuel Santos, president of Colombia, brokered a peace deal with FARC, the main guerilla group, and earned the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Colombia’s once empty backcountry is seeing its first pioneering backpackers, with areas like the Páramo de Ocetá poised to become epicenters for adventure travel.

Páramos are unique places—the biome exists only in the eastern Andes, and Colombia has more of them than any other country. Páramo de Ocetá is considered by Colombians to be the most beautiful, with sweeping views, craggy ridges, rushing creeks, and endless stands of frailejónes.

Water is everywhere. The meadows hold it with such efficiency that hiking here is like walking on a sponge. We cross hundreds of little streams where the terrain funnels rainwater into lakes. Every step is guessing game as to which tussocks will bear weight.

The abundant water nourishes vegetation that exists here and nowhere else. The ground is such a patchwork of greens that it looks like camouflage. With these garden slopes perched at 12,000 feet, in a nature reserve that sees few visitors, the Páramo de Ocetá feels like a secret that’s maybe too well kept.

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8 things to know about the winter solstice

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 @ 6:48 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

8 things to know about the winter solstice

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night,” quipped Steve Martin — and indeed, even a day with less sunshine can feel a bit dark. Our world depends on the light radiating from that big star we traipse around, and when it’s in short supply, we feel it.

But if you count yourself among those who don’t love waking up before the sun rises and getting off work after it has set, things are about to lighten up. Hello, winter solstice!

Although winter is really just beginning, we can at least say goodbye to these short little days we’ve been suffering.

It’s sometimes easy to be hemisphere-o-centric, but the other side of the planet gets a winter solstice, too. With the planet’s orbit tilted on its axis, Earth’s hemispheres swap who gets direct sun over the course of a year.

Although the solstice is marked by a whole day on the calendar, it’s actually just the brief moment when the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Capricorn that the event occurs.

If you’re inclined to take pleasure in the little things, like shadows that seem cast from a funhouse mirror, then the winter solstice is the time for you. It’s now that the sun is at its lowest arc across the sky and thus, shadows from its light are at their longest.

Learn more here…


A Captivating Look at the “Big Four” North American Deserts

Posted by on Dec 11, 2017 @ 7:09 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

A Captivating Look at the “Big Four” North American Deserts

Ah, the desert: the “land of little rain”, the house of haboob and flash flood, the thirsty wilderness, the barren void wandered by nomads, exiles, spiritual seekers, bandits, prospectors, and UFO hunters—plus sidewinders, scorpions, tarantulas, and vultures, of course.

Taken collectively, the deserts of North America are still overshadowed sizewise by the Sahara—at 3.6 million square miles, the greatest (non-polar) desert in the world—as well as the Arabian, the Australian Outback, and several others. But in beauty, wilderness, and ecological uniqueness they hold their own with any desertscape on Earth.

We’re going to take a dusty, sandy, squinty-eyed look at the “Big Four” of North American deserts: the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan, which together cover some 500,000 square miles—from the lonesome sagebrush backlands of Oregon and Nevada, down to the cactus groves of central Mexico.

There are various ecological and climatological definitions of “desert,” a rough-and-ready one being somewhere that gets 10 inches or less of annual precipitation. A more precise one calls a desert a place where evapotranspiration (evaporation plus the water given off by plants) exceeds precipitation.

The reasons for North America’s deserts mainly has to do with rain shadow-casting mountains, distances from moisture sources, and the permanent high-pressure zones of the subtropics.

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Should people pay to play in Pisgah National Forest?

Posted by on Dec 10, 2017 @ 3:12 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Should people pay to play in Pisgah National Forest?

Patrick Scott walks 380 miles for work.

It’s not every day, but that’s how many miles curve, dip and roll through the Pisgah National Forest. If laid end to end, those trails would stretch from Asheville, NC to Montgomery, Alabama, and Scott, the forest’s Pisgah District trail program manager, must oversee them all.

The undertaking is daunting not just for the miles, but for the rapidly growing number of people who take to the trails to hike, mountain bike, rock climb, run, ride horses and use off-road vehicles.

Annual visitation reaches 4.6 million a year, leaving parking lots overflowing with vehicles and trails rutted and worn, with soil and sediment given free rein to run downill and pollute creeks and rivers.

Rehabbing, rerouting and caring for damaged trails comes with a price tag in the millions and would overwhelm the four rangers assigned to the Pisgah District. Trail work already ranks last on the list of priorities, Scott said.

The cost of upkeep has led again to the idea of paying to play in the forest, something that could affect all users or target uses with the greatest potential for causing damage, such as mountain biking and horseback riding.

“Bikes make ruts in the trail and horses make footprints that fill in with water,” North Carolina Horseman’s Council President Tom Thomas said. “One of our major things is to keep streams clean. To do that, we keep water off the trail.”

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It’s Fast Approaching Time for First Day Hikes

Posted by on Dec 10, 2017 @ 6:30 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

It’s Fast Approaching Time for First Day Hikes

What better way to kick off the New Year than by getting a jump start burning off those extra holiday calories in the great outdoors?

On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with nature.

Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes. Numerous others hiked state park trails throughout the day.

The guided First Day Hikes are led by knowledgeable state park staff and volunteers. The distance and rigor vary from park to park, but all hikes aim to create a fun experience for the whole family. People are invited to savor the beauty of the state park’s natural resources with the comfort of an experienced guide so they may be inspired to take advantage of these local treasures throughout the year.

America’s State Parks have been entrusted to preserve a variety of magnificent places from California to Maine. Hikers can experience a plethora of outdoor recreation activities including mountain and hill climbing, walks along lakes and beaches, exploration of trails through great forests, wildlife expeditions, bird-watching and much more.

America’s State Park programs are committed to promoting outdoor recreation in hopes to help address obesity, especially in children. Furthermore, exercise and outdoor activities rejuvenate the mind and body, promoting overall mental and physical health and wellness. Many believe that time spent in nature enhances creativity and lifts our moods.

Take advantage of the programs that America’s State Parks have to offer and get connected to our country’s shared resources by finding a First Day Hike near you. Let this mark the beginning of a healthy lifestyle for the whole family.