If you couldn’t carry enough water to make it 20 miles, should you be out here? California is in the grips of a severe drought. Creeks that Flash remembered soaking her feet in years before were just rivers of sand now. How long before sections of the Pacific Crest Trail were basically unhikeable?
Coming up were 40-mile dry stretches, with handfuls of volunteer caches to punctuate the barren desert. Unlike the ones we had seen today, plenty of hikers were prepared, loading up their packs with seven liters of water – over 15 pounds added to the necessities they already hauled. In the early 1990s, as a wilderness ranger and burdened with survival gear and trail maintenance tools, I carried 70-pound loads and thought little of it, though my knees took a beating. How much is too much weight when you need water to survive?
Of course, the hikers we started out with at the border didn’t remember the old days, a time when we carried maps and compasses and still got lost before we found our way again. We discovered campsites instead of having them displayed on our phones, and we carried food for long stretches without hitching into towns. Our gear was enormous and heavy. We didn’t know the weather forecasts. There were no satellite beacons to call for help; you made it out, or you didn’t. All of these things taught us resilience and how to survive. I wouldn’t trade those days for the way it is now, even though I’ve learned to appreciate having a lighter pack and trip reports posted on the Internet.
Tennessee Valley Authority will begin maintenance work on Fontana Dam on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. Work is planned to continue through March 30, 2016. During this time, the dam will be closed to vehicle traffic.
The dam will remain open to foot traffic. Hikers will need to walk behind the visitors center and then up the steps to access the dam.
If you are planning a hike along the Appalachian Trail (toward Shuckstack Fire Tower) or along the Benton MacKaye/Lakeshore Trail (toward backcountry campsite #90) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will need to plan for an extra 1.2 mile road walk each way.
Waterton Canyon, near Denver, is closed because of bear activity. The popular trail was closed Aug. 28, 2015 because two momma bears, each with twin cubs, and other bears were actively foraging in the canyon. Part of the problem is not the bears, but people trying to get the perfect picture of them.
“We’ve actually seen people using selfie sticks to try and get as close to the bears as possible, sometimes within 10 feet of wild bears,” said Brandon Ransom, Denver Water’s manager of recreation. “The current situation is not conducive for the safety of our visitors or the well-being of the wildlife.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said this time of year bears are actively seeking food to prepare for hibernation. “It is a poor choice from our perspective, A) to get that close to wildlife and B) to turn your back, particularly on bears,” said Matt Robbins, a spokesman for CPW.
The hashtag #bearselfie has become increasingly popular, though, and may be part of a broader trend – people risking their lives to get the perfect self-photo. #eejits
October is national adopt-a-dog month, according to the American Humane Association, the perfect time to pick up a new hiking partner. But before you hit the trail it’s vital that you prepare your pup.
Start with a simple 5-mile stroll. A test hike. He passed, and now you’re on to something a little tougher.
This, say veterinarians, is a good approach. “You need to bring them along slowly.”
Not only do dogs need to get into shape, but they need to toughen up their feet to handle the rigors of longer and tougher trips.
Your dog probably loves playing in the outdoors as much as you do, but just like hiking with your two-legged friends, things can get ugly if you aren’t prepared.
From a distance, New England’s beloved Mount Monadnock looks distinctly unthreatening. Veteran hikers seeking a challenge might be dubious at first, but this balding geezer of a mountain is plenty rugged.
Monadnock rises 3,165 feet in Cheshire County, near the town of Jaffrey in New Hampshire’s southwestern corner. The name comes from a Native American term for “mountain standing alone.” Its approachability makes Monadnock one of the nation’s most popular climbs, drawing more than 100,000 hikers yearly. Those who reach the summit are rewarded with 100-mile views on clear days.
More than a dozen hiking trails wind their way up the mountain, many of them converging near the summit, and several start near the park headquarters. Pick up trail maps there. Pumpelly is among the longest trails, almost 4 miles each way from the start point near the town of Dublin, and rated among the easiest because it’s a more gradual climb—but none of the options is a cinch. All but the most experienced hikers should allow at least half a day for most routes.
All routes begin as windy paths, many covered in gnarled tree branches, through fragrant forests of spruce and hemlock, along with oak, birch and maples that make Monadnock a popular destination for leaf-peeping hikers in the fall. And all trails become notoriously rocky toward the summit.
At the top, Monadnock is bare rock, above tree line, and to get there requires conquering layers of steep giant boulders and craggy paths invisible from the tame roadside view.
The popular trail to the summit of Scotchman Peak north of Clark Fork, Idaho, has been closed temporarily because of recent incidents with aggressive mountain goats, the Idaho Panhandle National Forests has announced.
The news is no surprise to groups that have been posting signs and trying to educate hikers for several years regarding the consequences of feeding the peak’s mountain goats and letting them lick hikers’ arms and legs for salt.
“The temporary closure is intended to allow time for the goats to find other sources of food beyond the handouts provided by hikers, and to reduce their willingness to approach humans,” said Jason Kirchner, forest spokesman. The Forest Service is working with the Idaho Fish and Game Department to address the situation and improve public safety, he said.
The steep, 3 1/2-mile Trail 65, which just recently reopened after being closed in August by wildfire activity, is known for its expansive views over Lake Pend Oreille and frequent mountain goat sightings.
“However, due to humans often enticing the goats to come close by offering food, or even allowing the goats to eat from their hands, the goats are becoming habituated to humans and occasionally are behaving aggressively in an attempt to obtain human foods,” the announcement said.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, its Appalachian Trail Community partners and 31 AT maintaining clubs invite families to take a hike on the AT during the fifth annual Family Hiking Day on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. Held trail-wide on National Public Lands Day, Family Hiking Day is a program developed by the ATC to introduce and welcome families of all ages and abilities to the AT.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to host Family Hiking Day for the fifth year,” Julie Judkins, the ATC’s director of education and outreach, said in a release. “Family Hiking Day is a great way to promote physical activity, entice friends and families to go outdoors, and encourage exploration of the Appalachian Trail’s natural beauty.”
Families from Maine to Georgia are invited to enjoy the outdoors with volunteer-led hikes or to plan an adventure on their own utilizing a list of family friendly hikes in their local area as well as trail-related games and activities. Planned events vary based on location and include a wide range of activities and guided hikes led by AT club volunteers. RSVPs are required for guided hikes, and carpooling is encouraged.
As a partnering organization celebrating National Public Lands Day, the ATC will offer fee-free passes to all participants in registered Family Hiking Day events. The fee-free pass is good for one day of free entry to any participating federal public land, no matter the agency, and is valid for one year.
Click here for more information about Family Hiking Day, including guided hikes, a list of suggested hikes by state and activities.
The project began when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited the newly constructed Skyline Drive in Virginia in 1933. Then U.S. Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia suggested to the president the road should be extended to connect with the recently established Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Roosevelt convened the governors of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee and asked that a planning team be created. On November 24, 1933, Interior Secretary Harold Ickes approved this “park-to-park” highway as a public works project.
Construction began September 11, 1935, near Cumberland Knob, North Carolina. Most of the construction was done by private contractors, but a variety of New Deal public works programs were also employed, including the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). When World War II began, approximately 170 miles were open to travel and another 160 miles were under construction. By the early 1950s, only half of the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed.
The National Park Service launched its ten-year development program called Mission 66, an accelerated effort to move construction ahead with a goal of the Parkway’s completion by 1966. This initiative was very successful, finishing all of the Parkway’s construction with the exception of 7.7 miles at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina. Grandfather owner, Hugh Morton, objected to the proposed construction at Grandfather, citing the fragility of the mountain’s ecology.
After years of negotiating, the revolutionary Linn Cove Viaduct – which had been constructed from the top down to protect the mountain’s terrain – opened in 1987, completing the Blue Ridge Parkway’s continuous 469-mile route.
The winding, shadowed, natural trails on Dothan, Alabama’s new Forever Wild property are exactly what city officials envisioned when they began putting together the complex land deal a few years ago.
Part of Dothan ’s Forever Wild trails will be open to the public Oct. 3, 2015 with a grand opening and a few planned activities. Work is still being done that will eventually link 11 miles of natural trails together, but walkers, hikers and bikers will still be able to enjoy the land next month.
Eventually, about 400 acres were secured and submitted to Alabama ’s Forever Wild program, which identifies land to be protected forever as a natural preserve. Dothan ’s Forever Wild property is located between Flowers Chapel Road and Fortner Street.
The primary feature of the property will be separate trails linked together by bridges. A small looped family trail is proposed off Flowers Chapel Road. A longer winding looped trail is proposed for the middle of the property and a larger 5-mile winding looped trail is proposed for the east end of the property.
Forever Wild will help construct a parking lot and trail heads next month.
The hike to beautiful Marjorie Lake includes a network of lakes and trails all within a mile or two of each other that all start from one trailhead next to Washington Lake in Utah.
The Lakes Country Trail is located at an elevation of 9,680 feet. The trailhead can be located from the parking lot near Washington Lake and its campground facility. The rolling, rocky, easy hiking trails lead to lakes such as Crystal, Cliff, Marjorie, Weir, Long, Divide and others.
The trail makes for perfect day-hike treks with the entire family. However, because these are close to other popular lakes and campgrounds, the best time to explore this piece of backcountry is during the middle of the week.
Rocky underfoot, these easy hiking distances almost guarantee complete solitude. It’s not uncommon to have a ridgetop view or a lake all to yourself during the middle of the week. However, it is not just the beautiful scenery and undisturbed quiet that draw the hiking enthusiast; these lakes sit above 10,000 feet in elevation and typically that means 30 degrees cooler than the temperature in the city.
This trail network runs along Mount Watson in the Weber River Drainage system. These remote lakes offer great overnight camping locations too. Within 3 miles of the parking lot, large expanses of meadows open up to lakes offering terrific get-back-to-nature time.
The first mile of the Highline Trail is unforgettable. It’s also heavily used. “The Highline is probably one of the most popular trails in the park,” said Denise Germann, spokeswoman for Glacier National Park. All that use is leading to some wear and tear on the trail, which is why it will be having some work done to it this fall.
The Highline Trail starts at Logan Pass and follows a cliff side with a steep drop-off on one side, traversing the west slope of the Continental Divide. A series of handrails offer something for hikers to hold on to as they make their way along the cliff. Those handrails are actually old garden hoses. This project will replace those worn hoses. “It won’t be a hose anymore,” German said.
Instead, hundreds of feet of cable will be used. Some of the anchors for the cable will be replaced as well. The project will also reconstruct the first quarter mile of the trail, including work on some switchbacks that have eroded over the years. It also includes the trailhead, which has widened over the years as visitors have wandered off trail.
Crews will also work at stabilizing and widening the narrow section of trail in the Rimrock area. “It is a very narrow section of trail,” Germann said. Work on the project will begin in early September, and the trail won’t be closed during reconstruction.
Hiking is essentially walking and walking is considered to be one of the most perfect forms of exercise for your body. The fact is hiking helps to shed pounds, maintain mental health and prevent heart disease, all while allowing the experience of the outdoors rather than being stuck in the basement or at the gym. It’s really true – a beneficial exercise does not have to involve an endless, agonizing and boring workout.
While many sports activities and games require special equipment or training to get started, hiking is relatively simple. Literally, anyone can put on a pair of shoes, find a pack to carry your supplies in, and start moving into the woods or onto the walk for a little fresh air — this is called hiking. The scenery, accessibility and diverse nature of hiking trails make this heart-healthy pastime attractive for people of all ages, fitness levels and income brackets (it’s usually free). Moreover, except for a few pointers, hiking and trekking don’t really require any special expertise or advanced skills.
The American Heart Association recommends walking for 30-60 minutes three or four times per week. A person weighing 150 pounds walking a comfortable speed of 2 mph will burn 240 calories in one hour. Given the fact that two-thirds of Americans are overweight and 13 percent of children are overweight, hiking is a great opportunity to shed some pounds and bond as a family, all while contributing to the family’s overall health.
In the wilds of the Northwest, a trail is taking shape. Designated by an act of Congress in 2009, the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail, founded by Ron Strickland, winds 1,200 miles from Glacier National Park in Montana to Cape Alava on Washington’s Pacific coast. Along the way, the trail passes through the Rocky Mountains, Eastern Washington, the North Cascades, and the Olympic Mountains. It crosses three national parks and seven national forests. Like such well-known western routes as the Pacific Crest Trail, it passes largely through public lands managed by states, tribes, and agencies of the federal government.
But while the general route of the trail is largely set, many decisions will need to be made to refine the trail’s scenic, historical, and environmental impact. For this reason, the trail’s managing agency, the U.S. Forest Service, has decided to convene an advisory council to oversee its development.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a key step this week in completing the Pacific Northwest Trail. Vilsack has named 23 advisers to help finalize the trail corridor, including Jon Knechtel with the Pacific Northwest Trail Association and American West’s founding former director David M. Kennedy.
National Scenic Trails “are extended trails that provide maximum outdoor recreation potential for the conservation and enjoyment of the various qualities,” says Kennedy. It is these qualities that trail managers at the Forest Service and the trail’s advisory council will need to assess and balance with right-of-way and accessibility questions, community interests and impacts, and other concerns.
In September 1990, a couple hiking the Appalachian Trail planned to celebrate a birthday at the Thelma Marks Shelter on the trail on the mountain overlooking Duncannon, Pennsylvania.
However, when Biff and Cindi Bowen arrived at the shelter on Sept. 13 after a meal in Duncannon, they immediately turned around and headed back into town. The couple had discovered the bodies of Geoff Hood and Molly LaRue – known on the trail as Clevis and Nalgene. Sept. 13, 2015, marks the 25th anniversary of their gruesome murders.
It is a quiet, restorative place, this clearing high on a Pennsylvania ridge. Ferns and wildflowers carpet its floor. Sassafras and tulip trees, tall oak and hickory stand tight at its sides, their leaves hissing in breezes that sweep from the valley below. Cloistered from civilization by a steep 900-foot climb over loose and jutting rock, the glade goes unseen by most everyone but a straggle of hikers on the Appalachian Trail, the 2,180-mile footpath carved into the roofs of 14 eastern states.
What a stranger did to Hood and LaRue left wounds that didn’t close neatly. It prompted outdoorsmen and trail officials to rethink conventional wisdom long held dear: that safety lies in numbers, that the wilds offer escape from senseless violence, and that when trouble does visit, it’s always near some nexus with civilization—a road, a park, the fringe of a town.
And it reverberates still, all these years later, because what befell Geoff Hood and Molly LaRue at the Thelma Marks shelter is a cautionary tale without lesson.
Providing a first-time experience for nature lovers, the cross-border environmental organization EcoPeace unveiled four new guided treks that each traverse Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian territory.
Among the treks are two hiking trails, a bike tour and a walking trip, according to EcoPeace, which has offices and directors in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. Realized through special funding from the United States Agency for Development (USAID), the project has brought together tour guides, tourism experts and trails in all three places, in what EcoPeace describes as “an unprecedented collaboration for the common cause of attracting tourists to our region.”
“We are proud to introduce an initiative that comes from cooperation among Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – we expect that the trips will attract many tourists from around the world,” said Gidon Bromberg, Israel director for EcoPeace.
The two hiking tours each last eight days, enabling travelers to immerse themselves by foot in the region’s natural landscapes, with different stops along the way.
The first begins in the Palestinian Authority in the Auja Valley, continuing on to Wadi Qelt, Jericho, the Fasail village and Wadi Al Jaheer. In Israel proper, the group hikes on to Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov, Nahal Tvivon and Nahal Dishon and the Druze village of Peki’in. After crossing the border into Jordan, the hiking tour continues to the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark, followed by climbing and rappelling on the Dalieh cliff, hiking to the Ziglab Dam and trekking in the Khirbet Zilmeh and Tibneh regions.
The Appalachian Trail is the country’s most famous footpath. Stretching 2,189 miles from Maine to Georgia, it attracts three million hikers each year—including over 2,000 thru-hikers. That number is expected to grow with the release of the Hollywood blockbuster A Walk in the Woods starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. Will crowds swamp the A.T. or help save it?
The Appalachian Trail of today stretches some 2,189 contiguous miles from the forested summit of Georgia’s Springer Mountain to the knife-edge peak of Katahdin in Maine, but Benton MacKaye’s initial vision laid out a different path.
He thought the trail should begin on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the highest point in the northern Appalachians, and culminate atop North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River.
He envisioned an uninterrupted footpath along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains with intermittent shelters along the way, much like the A.T. that exists today, but his broader goal for the trail was different from what it would eventually become. “Community groups,” he said, would be sure to “grow naturally out of shelter camps. Each would consist of a little community on or near the trail where people could live in private domiciles.”
Blue Ridge Outdoor’s Appalachian Trail Guide examines the past, present, and future of the A.T.—including interviews and video of inspiring trail personalities, colorful thru-hikers, speed record holder Scott Jurek, and homegrown heroes like Jennifer Pharr Davis. They highlight the trail’s iconic landmarks and feature the trail communities and clubs working to protect the beloved green ribbon of trail.
It’s the dream hike, all 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Or, maybe, the nightmare hike, when things don’t go quite right. Either way, that long-distance trail gem, from Mexico to Canada, is etched in the minds of many American hikers, especially those who live in the states the Pacific Crest Trail crosses _ California, Oregon and Washington. Signs posted at junctions along the way, with PCT either blazed in wood or on familiar metal triangles, send chills down the spine.
The number of hikers has increased among those clicking off miles on shorter sections of the PCT, rather than the entire length, or just hiking a mile of two on the PCT en route to another destination.
That may be the best way to experience the PCT anyway: short and sweet, on a day hike, or maybe a backpack trip of a few day’s duration. That tends to fit an average hiker’s time better. And not every mile of the trail is a scenic gem, as the name applies.
While the trail passes through miles of thick, viewless stands of lodgepole pines, it also passes near the best scenery in the Oregon Cascades.
Following are the best day hikes along the PCT, five each from the southern, central and northern Oregon sections of the PCT, in the order that through hikers on the trail usually encounter them: south to north.
There are around 200,000 kilometers of hiking trails in Germany. Whether they follow a river, pass through flowering fields or scale steep peaks – there’s something for every hiker in this list of top 10 walks.
In the 18th century, places of natural beauty saw an unprecedented boom in tourism. Bizarre rock formations, like in Saxon Switzerland south of Dresden, were suddenly seen as wild and romantic. Since then, a trail called Malerweg (Painter’s Way) has guided visitors through the rocky scenery. The path was restored in 2006 with help from historical guidebooks.
The Allgäu Alps in southern Germany are a classic hiking destination. They include part of the E5 European long distance path – a 3,200-kilometer (1,988-mile) track from Brittany in France through Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and over the Alps to Verona in Italy. Since 1969, around 12 long-distance trails crossing through various countries have been set up as a sign of cooperation.
Many European pilgrimage routes dating back to the Middle Ages have led to the shrine of Apostle St. James in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The scallop shell is a symbol of these roads. In Germany, there are 30 paths to Santiago, as well as an ecumenical pilgrimage route. This trail follows the Via Regia – the oldest and longest road linking eastern and western Europe, from Görlitz to Vacha.
The Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania is “where boots go to die,” and “lots of people leave Pennsylvania limping and bruised.”
After traversing all 220 miles of the AT in the Keystone State, both statements are indeed accurate. The reason is entirely geological, owing to the amazing jumble of rocks of all types, sizes and shapes – known scientifically as felsenmeer – that make up the progressively more difficult mountain terrain.
The Pennsylvania rocks at best have hikers stumbling about much like a drunken sailor for miles at a time; at worst the jagged rocks grab and tear at boots, twist ankles, snap trekking poles, bloody shins, sap spirits and exhaust already weary walkers. Take a fall on the nasty rocks, and all bets are off.
The trail enters Pennsylvania on South Mountain and follows its long ridges north through the piney woods of 85,500-acre Michaux State Forest. Several state parks punctuate the route through the forest.
When Jackson Spencer set out to tackle the Appalachian Trail, he anticipated the solitude that only wilderness can bring — not a rolling, monthslong frat party.
Shelters where he thought he could catch a good night’s sleep while listening to the sounds of nature were instead filled with trash, graffiti and people who seemed more interested in partying all night, said Spencer, who finished the entire trail last month in just 99 days.
“I wanted the solitude. I wanted to experience nature,” he said. “I like to drink and to have a good time, but I didn’t want that to follow me there.”
Spencer, or “Mission” as he is known to fellow thru-hikers, confronted what officials say is an ugly side effect of the increasing traffic on the Georgia-to-Maine footpath every year: More people than ever causing problems.
At Maine’s Baxter State Park, home to the trail’s final summit on Mount Katahdin, officials say thru-hikers are flouting park rules by openly using drugs and drinking alcohol, camping where they aren’t supposed to, and trying to pass their pets off as service dogs. Hundreds of miles away, misbehaving hikers contributed to a small Pennsylvania community’s recent decision to shutter the sleeping quarters it had offered for decades in the basement of its municipal building.