Hiking News

Jennifer Pharr Davis hits the trail

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 @ 6:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Jennifer Pharr Davis hits the trail

Jennifer Pharr Davis and her whole crew – husband Brew, daughter Charley, and son Gus – are starting the first steps down Clingmans Dome to begin an epic three-month journey across NC on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail today. The whole family will hike 4 miles, likely with a few M&Ms dispensed to nudge the children along (well, and maybe the grown-ups, too).

Tomorrow, Jen will begin the work of logging the serious daily miles that will bring her to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, some 1,175-miles distant, sometime in mid-November.

Jen is no stranger to long hikes. She thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail right out of college in 2005. She returned in 2008, and with the support of new husband Brew, she set the women’s record for fastest hike (57 days, 8 hours), and was back in 2011 to set what at the time was the new overall record (46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes).

On the MST, however, Jen plans to take time to savor the view of leaves coloring the landscape as she moves West to East.

She’ll be keeping us posted on the journey, and Brew will be adding in with notes on cultural and family-friendly venues along the trail. She’ll also be taking time out to meet and talk with you at several special events – in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Wilmington. To register for the events, go to the Jennifer Pharr Davis Hikes the MST page.


Fleeing to the Mountains

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 @ 11:57 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Fleeing to the Mountains

In contrast to many advanced countries, the United States has a vast and spectacular publicly owned wilderness, mostly free and available to all. In an age of inequality, the affluent have gated neighborhoods, private schools, backup generators and greater influence on elected officials. But our most awe-inspiring wild places have remained largely a public good to be shared by all, a bastion of equality.

This is a magnificent splendor that no billionaire is allowed to fence off. We all have equal access, at no charge: If you can hold your own against mosquitoes and bears, the spot is yours for the night. Yet these public lands are at risk today.

The march of civilization has been about distancing ourselves from the raw power of nature. At home, we move the thermostat up or down by a degree, and we absorb the idea that we are lords of the universe. On the trail, we are either sweating or freezing, and it always feels as if the path is mainly uphill. Nature mocks us, usefully reminding us who’s boss.

If your kids are suffering from what the writer Richard Louv calls nature-deficit disorder, run away from home together. Flee to the mountains. It’s heaven with blisters.

This is our collective patrimony, a tribute to the wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot and other visionaries who preserved our wild places for the future. Thank God for them. Otherwise, these lands might have been carved up and sold off as ranches for the rich.

Read full story…


National parks brace for eclipse crowds

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 @ 8:43 am in Hiking News | 1 comment

National parks brace for eclipse crowds

The U.S. National Park Service is gearing up for some historically large crowds August 21, 2017 when a total solar eclipse will occur over a swath across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina, crossing over 21 national park units and seven trails.

If you haven’t planned ahead, be aware that lodging and camping is full around most of the parks, the NPS site warns, and many of the nearby towns have limited services.

The park service, along with NASA, universities and other agencies and community organizations are offering a range of events at parks in the path of totality.

The park service is advising visitors to bring food, allow extra time for parking, protect your eyes, and take time to enjoy the park beyond the eclipse event.

Here are some of the parks across the U.S. where people will be viewing the eclipse…


Leader of the pack: Former attorney creates doggy hiking club

Posted by on Aug 13, 2017 @ 8:49 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Leader of the pack: Former attorney creates doggy hiking club

Russ Smith and his canine friends just want to haven fun!

Six mornings a week, the Tiverton, Rhode Island entrepreneur and several dogs of various shapes, sizes and ages, pile into a large van to enjoy a three-hour-long outdoor trek in the country to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and what the critters do best – play and have a lot of fun.

“I pick them up – door to door – in my van,” begins Smith, a former lawyer who developed the doggie day care business two years ago by word of mouth from friends who learned about the unique service and wanted their dogs to join in the fun and adventure.

“When the dogs pile into the van, they look for their buddy,” Smith said, adding that the during the past two years, some of the canines have bonded with each other and formed friendships, just like their human counterparts.

Smith says the idea for the hiking group was started by his dog, a golden retrieve named Sienna, a lovable canine that likes to hike along woodland trails and play with other pooches. “I call her our ‘den mother,’” Smith said. “She shares me with all the other dogs.”

Smith says the business started as a part-time venture on weekends and eventually blossomed into a full-time venture. He takes a maximum of nine dogs per day that allows him to provide optimum care and comfort.

“I try to send them home happy and tired,” Smith said, adding that the treks usually cover about six miles each morning and help the dogs to socialize and to become better canine citizens.

Read full story…


Arizona Trail to get new management plan

Posted by on Aug 12, 2017 @ 12:34 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Arizona Trail to get new management plan

The 800-mile-long Arizona Trail that spans the length of the state is getting a new level of management.

It will come in the form of a comprehensive plan aimed at better protecting and preserving the trail’s resources, whether they are located on federal, state, county, municipal or private land.

Federal agencies released an initial draft of the plan earlier this month and as a first step, are reaching out to the public for feedback.

Included in the initial draft of the comprehensive plan is:

  • A framework for locating or relocating segments of the trail. One specific priority is to reroute the trail where it shares an alignment with dirt roads.
  • Establishment of a corridor that extends one-half mile on either side of the trail on federal lands that will be managed to benefit the Arizona Trail experience.
  • A list of certain side and connecting trails proposed for designation as part of the Arizona Trail system, which opens them up for more funding opportunities.
  • A process for estimating visitor capacity to determine how much use the trail can take before the resources become damaged or degraded.
  • Calls for working with local governments, landowners and other entities to maintain the trail corridor and natural character of the surrounding landscape.

Read full story…


Bear country hiking tips from a big game biologist

Posted by on Aug 12, 2017 @ 7:05 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Bear country hiking tips from a big game biologist

Hikers in many parts of the West, especially northwest Wyoming, are in carnivore country and should think ahead to what they would do in a close encounter with a bear, wolf or mountain lion, says a wildlife biologist.

Annemarie Prince, a hiker as well as a biologist who works with big game and carnivores for the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department recently offered tips for staying safe in bear country.

Hikers should be alert for clues that indicate a bear might be nearby, including tracks, scat, prey carcasses or even freshly moved boulders, digs or ripped up logs where a bear may have been looking for squirrels or bugs.

“Keep dogs on leash, make noise and hike in a group,” she said in a list of recommended precautions one can take.

Seeing a cub is a clear sign to carefully leave the way you came. It’s not a time to be sneaking in for a photo, she said, noting that momma bear is likely close by.

“If you see a bear first, just quietly back out of there. If it sees you, let it know you’re human. Talk to it. Sometimes bears are just curious. They may stand for a better view.”

Trying to outrun a bear one might encounter in the wild is generally a bad idea, she said. “It can trigger an attack, and if motivated enough they could definitely run you down.”

Here are guidelines compiled by bear experts from federal and state wildlife agencies for avoiding an attack…


6 ways to get the best workout of your life while hiking

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 @ 8:29 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

6 ways to get the best workout of your life while hiking

Modern workout machines, like treadmills, offer flat and predictable workout surfaces. Although you can adjust the incline slightly, it does not offer a consistent challenge. In fact, most people fail to see expected results after months of using their treadmill. Hiking engages the entire body as it requires the use of hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, abdominals, calves, thighs and lower-back, as you navigate the terrain as well as whatever obstacles you may encounter. Every log you climb over during a hike will challenge you in a treadmills never can.

Apart from facilitating calorie burning, being outdoors also offers other health benefits. For instance, exposure to sunlight supplies the body with Vitamin D, which reduces the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s. Spending enough time outdoors also aids in resetting circadian rhythms, which helps cure insomnia and other sleep-related conditions. It has also been shown that outdoor activities help to improve attention span.

Hiking appeals to most people as it requires no special skills. In fact, it is easy to get started, although it does get much more intense if you’re willing to push yourself and tackle those advanced routes. However, to get maximum hiking benefits, you have to remember some simple tips.

Here they are…


Great Plains Trail could put western Nebraska’s premier scenic attractions in national spotlight

Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 @ 12:06 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Great Plains Trail could put western Nebraska’s premier scenic attractions in national spotlight

Walking from Texas to Canada might be a bigger hike than you ever imagined.

In 2016, as an energetic 25-year-old, Luke “Strider” Jordan entered Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas, taking his first step on a 2,100-mile journey that ended three months later in the North Dakota ghost town of Northgate, near Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge. He was the first hiker to walk the entire Great Plains Trail, passing through the Wildcat Hills and Mitchell Pass on his way to Agate Fossil Beds and points north.

The Great Plains Trail was conceived by Steve Myers, a teacher in Longmont, Colorado. While it is awaiting official status, he envisions it taking adventurers on a cross-continental pathway similar to the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail. If successful, the effort will put some of western Nebraska’s premier scenic attractions in the national spotlight. Myers mapped the route taken by Jordan using existing trails.

He heard about Myers efforts in 2012 and joined the non-profit Great Plains Trail Alliance, a small group of volunteer supporters. The group’s website and Facebook page mention Toadstool Geologic Park, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Fort Robinson, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Panorama Point, the highest spot in Nebraska, as some of the highest-rated highlights of the trail.

The group hopes to form a network “Trail Angels,” such as bed-and-breakfast innkeepers, ranchers and other nearby residents who might offer hikers space for a tent and a little water and firewood during the longest, most remote segments of the route.

Read full story…


Trekking Through the Rocky Mountains of Iceland

Posted by on Aug 9, 2017 @ 12:00 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Trekking Through the Rocky Mountains of Iceland

In Iceland’s central highlands the landscapes are often bare, with little more than rocks, snow and distant mountains. Small alpine flowering plants that manage to survive in these harsh surroundings offer a tiny splash of color.

It is an area where few people live and that, for most of the year, is closed to vehicles because it would be impossible for them to get through.

Yet, even here, at least during the summer, tourists are trekking by the side of the dirt road, spending their days putting one foot in front of the other and their nights sleeping in tiny one-person tents. Everything they need must be carried on their backs.

Those people are prepared to endure such hardships – crossing the country might take three weeks or more – reflects the allure that the land of fire and ice has long held for travelers.

Up the coast from Reykjavík lies the Jökulsárlón lagoon, where icebergs, ranging in color from pure white to blue, float after breaking off from a glacier. It makes for a surreal scene. Marvelous though these southern attractions are, anyone with enough time is well advised to venture into Iceland’s highlands.

Heading back west along the coast, and then north, leads to Landmannalaugar, a starting point for multi-day treks but also a great base from which to explore the neighboring mountains on single-day hikes.

The vast flows of lava – partly covered in moss – attest to the active volcanic history of this area, which also manifests itself in the stunning array of colors of the nearby mountains.

Read full story…


Best Hikes on the Oregon Coast

Posted by on Aug 9, 2017 @ 6:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Best Hikes on the Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is the most visited region in the state, and the reasons are legion. Tempestuous spring and winter months are perfect for watching waves and weather churn together over dramatic cliffs and headlands; summer and fall can bring mild temperatures that are ideal for beach exploration and a terrific relief from scorching inland weather.

Protected lands such as the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and designated areas of conservation such as the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge are models for land and habitat conservation that help make the Oregon Coast a haven for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife year round. Whether you are looking to explore the southern sea stacks, the central dunes, or the northern heads and beaches, the Oregon Coast is a diverse destination that will leave you wanting more.

One of the best ways to experience the coast is by foot. Trails of every variety await: if you are searching for incredible challenges through remote terrain, headland traverses and stretches of the Oregon Coast Trail are just the ticket; if you prefer accessible and family-friendly walks, practically every park and beach is an opportunity.

From simple strolls to expeditions, hikers on the Oregon Coast have plenty of options. Just make sure that any search for trails also includes a look at parks and beaches to expand your hiking options.

Learn more here…


The Appalachian Trail turns 80

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 @ 11:44 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Appalachian Trail turns 80

There’s something about the Appalachian Trail – or, A.T., as it’s affectionally known by enthusiasts – that draws people to it, from day-hikers, to section-hikers who spend days, weeks, or even months traversing its sections’ ups and downs, to “thru-hikers” who hike the entire trail, from start to finish.

“The A.T. is a place that balances me; it grounds me,” says section-hiker Maureen Cacioppo of St. Petersburg, Florida, who has hiked sections of the A.T. in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine over the course of about 14 years. “I can reconnect with myself and Mother Nature.”

When Benton MacKaye revealed his proposal for “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning” in October 1921 and established the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in 1925, he probably imagined just that – a place where people could get away from their daily surroundings and immerse themselves in nature.

Over the course of the following decade or so, conservancy leadership and volunteer clubs worked side-by-side, and in August 1937, the (roughly) 2,190-mile-long, footpath was complete from Maine to Georgia, passing through 14 states. The A.T. is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world.

Read full story…


Hiking Project app/website helps you head for the hills

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 @ 6:25 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking Project app/website helps you head for the hills

Sometimes it’s nice to escape the swelter of the city and head for the hills. A shady hike beside a cool mountain stream beats a steamy stroll down the city streets any day.

If you don’t know any good hiking trails or are just bored of your usual ones, Hiking Project is a useful app (for iOS and Android) and website that can make suggestions where to go. Best of all, it’s free from the fine folks at REI Coop.

The site and app describe thousands of trails around the country and the world. The routes are displayed on interactive maps that can be panned, zoomed and viewed in terrain or satellite modes. The maps can be downloaded to a mobile device so you can use them in the field even if you don’t have cell coverage. The app uses GPS to show you your current location and elevation on the trail.

Hiking Project is more than just maps. There are descriptions of the trails and their highlights. There’s also photo galleries of points of interest along the trails. An elevation profile tells you how high you’ll have to climb and how steep the grade is. Trails also are ranked for popularity and difficulty.

There are several ways to find trails. If you want to stay close to home, select your state in the Trail Directory or Trail Guide on the website, or download your state to the app. Markers on the state map indicate trails. You can zoom in on local trails to access more detailed information on them. There’s also a search function to look for specific trails. The Featured Hikes section highlights popular trails in various regions.

Read full story…


When and where to spot the best Autumn scenery in our national parks

Posted by on Aug 6, 2017 @ 11:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

When and where to spot the best Autumn scenery in our national parks

Fall color isn’t always where you expect to find it.

Quick story: The assignment, years ago, was to do a story on fall color at Yosemite National Park. Got there, and everything Yosemite was supposed to have was present that day in mid-October: Half Dome, El Capitan, waterfalls, all of it.

And from Glacier Point, one of the world’s great overlooks and the logical place to spot anything resembling fall color in Yosemite — no fall color. So we asked a ranger, Where is the very best place to see fall color? He winced.

“People come up to me all the time, and they look around and they say, ‘We came for the fall colors. Where are they?’ And I (point toward Nevada and) go, ‘That way, about 3,000 miles.’ ”

What follows is information on fall color at a few of our 59 official U.S. national parks. This isn’t a comprehensive list — yes, we know about the color at the Tetons and Hot Springs and whichever other park we’ll be accused of overlooking. But this curated collection spanning coast to coast is a good place to start. Peak color times are variable; check the park websites in season for color updates.

Learn where and when here…


Hiking a 110-Mile Jungle Trail — Entirely Within Rio

Posted by on Aug 6, 2017 @ 7:20 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking a 110-Mile Jungle Trail — Entirely Within Rio

Brazil’s longest hiking trail is 110 miles through Atlantic rainforest along the coast, stopping off at white sand beaches, waterfalls and panoramic viewpoints, where monkeys, toucans and parrots abound. Where is this tropical hiker’s paradise? It’s 100 percent within Rio de Janeiro city limits — a metropolis with more than 7 million people.

The newly inaugurated Transcarioca Trail links seven Rio de Janeiro parks from the city’s eastern to western corners, forming one of the most extensive urban hiking experiences on the planet. The trail uses several of Rio’s famous pre-existing trails — like the trail up Corcovado Mountain to Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue — and connects with newly forged trails that spread far beyond the tourist zone and into the city’s outskirts.

There’s a lot to draw you to Rio, but this urban center is built within the kind of tropical paradise usually reserved for five-star resorts on remote islands — filled with jungle, gorgeous beaches and dramatic granite mountains that jut up from the sea. The Transcarioca allows you to explore so many corners of the world’s largest urban rainforest without leaving the city.

With no government funding, the trail was put together throughout the course of 20-plus years by more than 1,000 local volunteer mountaineers who are head over heels for Rio’s abundant rainforest.

Read full story…


Here are the most effective stretches to prepare you for the hiking trail

Posted by on Aug 5, 2017 @ 12:02 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Here are the most effective stretches to prepare you for the hiking trail

Even what seems like the most benign hiking trail can result in a twisted ankle, pulled muscle, or worse if you don’t prepare properly. The most effective method of readying your body for the rigors of the trail is consistent stretching.

It is important to stretch all of the main muscle groups used in hiking, but also pay attention to your particular needs, and take them into account. If you have weak ankles, make an extra effort to strengthen them. Same goes for calf muscles, tight hamstrings, and any other muscle group you may have had past problems with.

First up: activating and strengthening your core. Having a strong core is imperative for successful hiking, and affects every other part of your body, from your back muscles, to posture, to flexibility in the legs.

The core muscles consist of your abdomen, hips and lower back. Each of these groups plays an integral part in maintaining muscle health on the trail.

Arguably one of the most important muscle groups when it comes to hiking – the quadriceps. These are the muscles on the front of your thighs, and are responsible for most of the power generated during hiking. The quads also help extend and straighten your knee with each step, so it’s important to keep them limber.

Learn about stretching techniques here…


Taking the Measure of Solitude in the Wilderness

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 @ 11:24 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Taking the Measure of Solitude in the Wilderness

People are drawn to wilderness areas for many reasons, hiking, bird watching, or camping, but another attraction is solitude.

If you’re hiking in southwest Virginia’s Mountain Lake Robbie Harris you may meet a ranger who is actually measuring the amount of solitude out there.

David Seisel, who goes by the name ‘Skip’ is a ranger on the eastern divide ranger district of the George Washington National Forest. “I partner with the Forest Service. I work for a nonprofit. It’s called SAWS and it stands for “Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards.”

“Part of what I’m doing today with this trash bag and shovel in my hand, is going out and trying to hike user trash out of the trail and disperse fire rings that have been established too close to the trail.”

“There’s a rule, more or less, that you’re only allowed 10 people within a designated wilderness to make sure that we don’t have high amounts of users or that these larger groups aren’t disturbing the solitude for others on the wilderness areas.”

It’s actually a performance management system like you’d find at many companies. Only it tracks a set of 20 different wilderness metrics like air quality, fish and wildlife, and other conditions that confirm its wild nature.

Read full story…


Backpacking Essentials Infographic

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 @ 11:06 am in Hiking News | 1 comment

Backpacking Essentials Infographic

Forgetting travel items is a pain. When you are heading to a big city it’s usually okay if you forget an item or two as you can always grab it at the hotel or a nearby store.

But what do you do if you are headed to the middle of nowhere for your next big hiking or backpacking excursion?

Chances are you are severely out of luck. That’s a reason you may find this Infographic from Live Outdoorsy to be helpful.

They talk about all the essentials to bring with you along with some tips for making it a worthwhile experience.

Thanks to new friend Nate Alger for sharing this infographic with us: