One of the most challenging day hikes in New England is the Presidential Traverse, a gargantuan ramble over all the major peaks of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Tackling the hike means anywhere from 12 to 20 hours on your feet for some 19 to 23 miles while you gain about 9,000 feet of elevation.
Beginning around the summer solstice in June, when there is maximum daylight, serious hikers begin to set off in numbers to attempt this extended daylong adventure in the exceedingly beautiful but all too often harsh Alpine environment of the high mountain summits.
A proper traverse climbs all seven summits in the range that are named for U.S. presidents: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Washington, Eisenhower and Pierce. The first four reach heights exceeding 5,000 feet, while the latter three are over 4,000 feet. Mount Washington tops out at 6,288 feet, the highest mountain in the northeastern U.S.
Hikers on the traverse are above treeline and fully exposed to the mountain elements for 15 miles of the 20-mile hike. When the weather is good the hiking is splendid and the views grand.
Through hikers, weekend warriors and Duncannon, PA residents alike will show their support for the United States’ first national trail when they gather for Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community’s third annual festival on June 21, 2014.
The celebration, originally called the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community Festival, got its start when Duncannon was dedicated as an Appalachian Trail Community in 2012, said trail ambassador Paul Smith. “Whenever they’re designated, they usually do a designation ceremony,” he said. “We decided to make that an annual event.”
“Appalachian Trail Communities recognize areas that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail,” community president Sean O’Shell said. Duncannon is one of 32 communities to receive the designation. The trail, boasting a length of more than 2,000 miles, wends its way across the East Coast from Georgia to Maine. High and Cumberland streets in Duncannon actually are part of the trail.
This year’s festival, renamed the Duncannon Blast, will be on a section of High Street between Cumberland and Ann streets from noon to 4 p.m.
“We try to help preserve and promote the Appalachian Trail and have people know that it’s right in town,” O’Shell said, adding that his own trail affiliation changed his life for the better.
The Finger Lakes Trail (FLT), true to its name, traverses the entire Finger Lakes region and then some. Beginning in the west at the Pennsylvania border in the Alleghany State Forest, it wends its way eastward weaving north and south past the southern ends of the larger lakes, ending at the Long Path in the Catskills.
The Cayuga Trails Club leads regularly scheduled hikes on the FLT. “The majority of our hikes are on the Finger Lakes Trail,” said the president, “but not all. We also regularly walk on the Cayuga Trail.” The latter is an 8-mile route through the Fall Creek Natural Area owned by Cornell University.
The nature of the guiding will vary according to the Cayuga Trails member who does the leading. “Different leaders will have different information,” said the club president, who leads some hikes himself. “I know a bit about trees, so that is what I will point out, but other people are well versed in topics as varied as salamanders and local history. There is a lot of history visible along the Finger Lakes Trail.”
In addition to providing information, the “hike leader” also explains the route beforehand—including its level of difficulty—asking people to sign what Hopkins described as a “modest waiver form.” You do not have to be a member of the trails club to attend one of their hikes. During this year’s warmer months the club will have offering a series of 20 hikes on Tuesday afternoons at 5 p.m. through July 29. They also offer longer hikes on both Saturdays and Sundays and occasionally on other days of the week.
The natural geologic cut of the Appalachian Mountains, and the plentiful moisture and frequency of springs in the region, combine to produce a cascading system of waterworks from Shenandoah National Park down through the Blue Ridge Parkway and into Great Smoky Mountains National Park that provides more than enough incentive to take a hike.
Across this rumpled region that stretches more than 500 miles are countless waterfalls that draw visitors throughout the year, whether they come to counter the cloaking heat and humidity of summer or marvel at the intricate iceworks of winter. Though locals know these waterworks well, and when best to view them, newcomers could use some advice, and that’s where Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge comes in handy.
Now in its 4th edition, this book provides entries on more than 120 waterfalls, from flumes 50 feet long to cataracts that plunge more than 100 feet. There are general locator maps, GPS coordinates, and a too-short section of beautiful full-color pictures.
Overall, if you’re planning a trip to any — or all — of these park units, this book is a good resource to find waterfall hikes both in the parks, and in the surrounding countryside of state parks in Virginia and North Carolina.
Shenandoah National Park and the Shenandoah National Park Association once again will host a special program featuring Jeff Alt, renowned author of Get Your Kids Hiking: How to Start Them Young and Keep it Fun, who will inspire families to enjoy and care for nature and the outdoors.
At 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 14, Alt teams up with Shenandoah National Park Rangers to lead kids and accompanying adults on a short hike loaded with hands-on family hiking tips and ways to explore the outdoors.
This short family stroll turns a walk in the park into a fun filled multi-dimensional adventure. Learn how a few simple techniques and some basic equipment can turn any walk in the woods into a safe, fun-filled adventure that kids of all ages and parents will enjoy.
The program will be held at Byrd Visitor Center at milepost 51 on Skyline Drive and is free for children and adults of all ages. Come prepared for a short walk.
Volunteers are needed to help maintain the 22 miles of hiking trails Berlin, CT has in its 2,000 acres of open space woods, hills and fields.
A free training session will take part June 14, 2014, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the pavilion at Timberlin Park off Southington Road. The trail maintenance workshop, called Building a Better Berlin, will be led by the staff of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, which since 1929 has maintained the 825-mile blue-blazed trail network through the state.
The town Conservation Commission is sponsoring the workshop.
The session is the first step toward assembling a group of trained volunteers to keep the trails clear and in good condition, said Jim Mahoney, the town’s economic development developer and an avid hiker.
“We hope to interest people in helping with our trails. People will be trained. They don’t need to bring tools,” he said. “We can also use people who may not be able to do clearing but want to help. We want to have trail spotters, people who walk the trails and report any problems they find, like a fallen tree.”
Here you are: living in the woods, freed from the constraints of society, liberated to be as filthy and disgusting as a dung beetle in a privy, and yet what is that you hear? What is that howling racket that has followed you straight from your parents’ dinner table and now rakes at you with its talons like some pedantic banshee?
Manners. Shudder at the word.
You thought you were finally far enough away from civilization that the Emily Posts of the world couldn’t hear you burp. Unfortunately, there are still some etiquette rules to follow, even in the woods. This is a little breakdown of some issues that arise when you are sharing a dingy eight foot square space with smelly strangers – and how to handle them with some grace and class.
Like the name suggests, rain will be an ever present force. Thus, much time will be spent dripping wet. However, if the rainforest canopy is particularly dense, that might keep you dry for short periods. Mud will not just cover your legs, but your arms, face, neck and feet; looking reasonably human becomes a distant memory.
Insects and small animals will become both your friend and enemy. In the space of an hour you could be gazing at a beautifully coloured butterfly or gecko, then sat down tucking into a well-deserved lunch before suddenly leaping in the air trying to escape giant red ants, or itching your neck frantically after a mosquito has noticed you’ve let your guard down. The rainforest is unpredictable, and staying alert is essential.
The humidity will hit you hard. Far away from temperate climates, water will become your lifeline. But drink in moderation. Sometimes you can be trekking for up to 8 hours depending on which route you’ve chosen, therefore the ability to ration your water intake becomes a much envied skill.
But above all, you need to appreciate every moment spent in the rainforest. It’s a place unlike any other habitat you’ve ever experienced. It is nature at its most powerful, yet at its most vulnerable.
The bus pulls up, and driver A.J. Collier hops out and sets a plank in place on the steps. Inside, the passengers stir, anxious to get out and start work. One by one, they disembark, sniffing the fresh air and solidly planting all four feet on the ground. The Rowanwood Farm “Llama Limo” has arrived.
This, said Ms. Collier, the owner of Rowanwood Farm, is how most expeditions with her llamas begin. The Sandy Hook, CT farm is home to 17 rare breed miniature llamas, and a herd of Pygora and Nigerian Dwarf goats that fluctuates between 5 and 15 in number.
Seven of the miniature llamas, which measure only up to 38 inches at the withers, are trained to visit off grounds, usually with Ms. Collier or her “right arm,” Leslie Alexander, providing the educational aspect of the visit. The llamas have visited schools, birthday parties, senior citizen centers, and dementia wards. They are also the llamas that travel to take part in Rowanwood Farm Llama Hiking Adventures.
One hiker per llama is paired up on each tour, once Ms Collier has assessed the best combination. Each approximately two-hour tour takes place on the grounds of McLaughlin Vineyards in Sandy Hook, winding through woods, rambling along the river, and even stepping lightly through the vineyards. The hikes are suitable for any age and nearly any ability.
Hiking at Grandfather Mountain State Park in North Carolina can typically be described as challenging and not for the faint of heart. However, things recently changed for a small part of the rugged hiking location.
On June 6, 2014 the grand opening of the Grandfather Mountain TRACK Trail took place in the Profile Trail parking lot. With more than 40 TRACK Trails already lining the ridges and hills of North Carolina, the Grandfather TRACK Trail is now the 84th to be opened across the United States.
TRACK Trails are part of the Kids in Parks program, created to help get children back outdoors. TRACK Trails themselves are educational hikes designed specifically with children in mind in regards to trail difficulty, education and fun.
“We have a lot of trails, but mostly they’re very challenging,” Sue McBean, Grandfather Mountain State Park superintendent, said. “Some of them are even technical, with the ladders, cables and steep sections. So, this one mile of the Profile Trail is probably the easiest trail with a nice destination that we felt was appropriate for a TRACK Trail.”
Elise Kahl, project manager for Kids in Parks, attended the opening ceremony and designed brochures to be placed at the trailhead. The brochures, placed at every TRACK trail location, include fun-filled activities to help children learn about things they see on the hike. And, so they aren’t left bamboozled by mysterious moss, parts of a fern or strange insects, some small explanations and information are included, as well.
Participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry are again teaming up to host the 7th annual National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun at sites across the nation. Following on the heels of National Trails Day, on Saturday, June 14, 2014, these diverse partners will offer opportunities for American families to experience all types of outdoor activities. Prime goals of the day are reaching currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.
Each GO Day event will offer a mix of information centers and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids, can use a fishing pole, go geocaching, help pitch a tent, hike a trail and more. The sites will provide photo opportunities with characters like Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and other interesting creatures. Many sites also feature areas that focus on other aspects of healthy living, including sustainability and good nutrition. In addition to the GO Day events, participants will be invited to nearby follow-up activities called EchO events occurring throughout the summer, which include introductions to mountain biking and fly-fishing, hikes with rangers to see wildlife, kayaking and rafting and much more.
The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008. Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, the USDA Forest Service (FS) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors.
Not a cloud sullied the mid-June sky. Mid-80s. Low humidity. Perfect hiking weather. The village cafe fills a bottle with cold, pure water. A nearby chapel, nestled into the village of Andrei and decorated with crumbling frescos that date to the ninth century, provides a cool pit-stop before facing the afternoon sun.
Nothing seems off-limits here. In a countryside dotted with tiny chapels built on – or into – remote mountainsides, not one is locked. The sacred caves in Zoures where 99 priests cloistered themselves in the 11th century are open to anyone who could climb that far up the mountain, and then navigate three wobbly metal ladders into the cavern.
Ruined Venetian castles, left from when the Italian republic ruled Crete, are a fixture even in tiny villages, standing on oceanside mountaintops with no fences or locks, amid grazing goats. The ancient and modern are often one and the same. Tiny chapels stand far away from any road, large enough for three or four people, containing traditional icons and lamps.
On this sun-bleached section of southwestern Crete, trails are often graded by the availability of shade. Plenty of that in a gorge leading from Andrei to the sea. The air had that distinctive Crete smell: A mixture of sage, sea air, and dried pine.
A trail 165-miles long surrounds Lake Tahoe. It’s a stunning path with blooming wildflowers and breathtaking vistas, and right now a challenge. Can you hike it all? If you’re going to go for a hike there is no better place to do it than around Lake Tahoe.
“There is nothing as beautiful as this. There just isn’t. This is unbelievable,” said Ed Deschamps, a hiker on the trail.
Right now, there’s a chance to take in that beauty. The Tahoe Rim Trail Challenge.
“We thought, lets make a program that encourages folks to go out and check out our really prime day hikes,” said Mary Bennington, Executive Director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association.
Six hikes ranging from 2 to 12 miles follow different parts of the trail, the challenge is to complete them all.
“Our trail challenge encourages people to check out different places because our hikes we have picked out are in all different areas of the lake,” said Bennington.
As part of a federal effort to expand the national trail system across the northern U.S., the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a revised draft Adirondack Park Trail Plan for the North Country National Scenic Trail (NST). The plan includes recommendations for the route of the National Scenic Trail through the Adirondack Park.
“Governor Cuomo recently held a tourism summit that focused on efforts to build this industry and create jobs, and the Adirondacks has long been a popular tourism destination for outdoor enthusiasts,” Commissioner Martens said. “The North Country Trail will build on the existing network of trails in the region and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors. As New York works to incorporate the North Country National Scenic Trail into the state’s Adirondack trail system, we encourage people to review the plan and provide input to ensure the trail will be a great addition to the magnificent Adirondacks.”
In March 1980, federal legislation authorized the establishment of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NST) as a component of the National Trails System. To date, Congress has authorized the establishment of eight National Scenic Trails – long distance, non-motorized trails that follow major geographic features or pass through scenic areas.
People who want to review the plan can visit DEC’s web page: North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) or obtain a copy or CD version at DEC headquarters in Albany or DEC’s Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook. DEC will accept comments on the draft plan until July 7, 2014. Comments may be sent to Josh Clague, Natural Resources Planner, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway – 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4254 or emailed to [email protected]
About 20 people hike the length of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail each year, starting at Glacier National Park and trekking 1,200 miles to the Pacific Ocean.
The trail doesn’t have the cachet of the Pacific Crest or Appalachian trails, which attract hundreds of hikers who go the whole distance, said Matt McGrath, the trail’s program manager. But the Forest Service is looking for ways to publicize and increase use of the newer and lesser known Pacific Northwest trail, which incorporates gems of the Idaho Panhandle and northeast Washington, including the Salmo-Priest Wilderness; the historic towns of Metaline Falls and Northport; and the steep ridges of the Kettle Crest range.
“Most of this is passing through a lot of remote areas – places people don’t get a chance to see traveling the roads,” said Jason Kirchner, a spokesman for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. “It always feels like the deep, dark woods to me.”
First conceived of in 1970, the trail was established as a national scenic trail by Congress in 2009. Even though it’s had an official designation for five years, parts of the trail are still being developed and refined, McGrath said.
With National Trails Day coming June 7, 21 trails and 452 miles have been added to the National Trails System.
“I can think of no better way to celebrate National Trails Day than to support the efforts of local communities by formally recognizing these exceptional trails as national recreation trails,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in releasing the list of additions. “They provide easily accessible places to get exercise and connect with nature in both urban and rural areas, and promote our goal of encouraging all Americans, especially youth, to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors.”
“The National Trails System connects Americans with federal, state and local lands and nationwide,” added National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said. “As we celebrate National Trails Day, this network of more than 16,000 miles continues to grow and offer new opportunities for Americans to explore the great outdoors.”
National recreation trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation.
The national recreation trails program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with a number of other federal and not-for-profit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the national recreation trails website.
It never hurts to review The Ten Essentials.
The basics of hiking aren’t all that complicated. Put one foot in front of the other, and you’ve pretty much got it. But the pastime still has its pitfalls.
John Ohlson, a member of the Mountaineers, a Seattle-based nonprofit for outdoor education, remembers the time he was sightseeing at Washington’s Mount St. Helens with his son, then 9. When the two took a short walk up a hill to get a better view, a thick fog engulfed them. Mr. Ohlson spent 30 harrowing minutes searching for the path back. “I felt absolutely stupid for not even throwing a compass into my pocket,” he said. “If I’d known which way was south, we would have gone down the ridge to our car immediately.”
And then there were the two teenagers who took what was supposed to be an easy day hike along a well-marked loop. According to Daniel Keebler, a backcountry ranger at Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, the teens took a wrong turn and got lost. After a failed attempt to follow a creek back to their starting point, the two were forced to spend the night on the mountain—home to plenty of bears and cougars—without any extra clothing, food or water. A search-and-rescue team found them the next day, safe but also shaken, cold and hungry. “There was a very relieved father waiting for them in the morning,” said Mr. Keebler.
It isn’t just ambitious hikers traversing treacherous terrain who need to be saved by search-and-rescue teams, said Mr. Keebler: “The majority of our incidents [involve] people who…come out here and the weather changes, they lose the trail.”
Keeping disaster at bay isn’t difficult. According to Mr. Keebler, many search-and-rescue operations could be averted if hikers carried basic gear known by outdoorsmen and women as “the 10 Essentials.”
Backcountry enthusiasts who have lost access to their favorite trails following the historic flooding of 2013 in Alberta, Canada received positive news as the provincial government announced funding to repair pathways.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) has committed $10 million to restore trails on public land as part of the Backcountry Trail Flood Rehabilitation Program. Priority trails will be repaired for both motorized and non-motorized recreational users. The program is expected to be completed by March 2017.
“Trails are important for Albertans and tourists to access our backcountry,” said Robin Campbell, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. “It is critical that families have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and our great province.”
ESRD is asking the public to report any trail damage they encounter and is encouraging citizens to volunteer their time or equipment to assist in the restoration process. Individuals or organizations who would like to help with the rebuilding of pathways is asked to contact the ESRD.