The Mud Pond Trail was constructed by the Youth Conservation Corps, US Fish and Wildlife Service staff and volunteers from the Friends of Pondicherry over a five summer period.
Visitors walk through an forest community uncommon to the Connecticut River Valley to a beautiful pond and fen deep within the refuge. The trail takes visitors, including those in strollers and wheelchairs on a unique raised boardwalk providing an experience unusual in New Hampshire. Benches allow visitors to sit and observe the wildlife, plant communities and scenery.
Mud Pond is home to three carnivorous plants and unusual wildlife for this part of New England, including Arctic Jutta butterfly, black-backed woodpecker, gray jay, boreal chickadee, yellow-bellied flycatcher, and palm warbler. Moose, black bear and snowshoe hare are sometimes seen along the trail.
The trailhead was built on a restored log landing and some of the trail follows old logging roads that are being restored. The boardwalk portion is on older forests that have not been harvested for over a century. The trail is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where opportunities for wheelchair accessible trails in this mountainous region are limited.
This mostly off-trail traverse of a stretch of the signature geological formation in Capitol Reef National Park—the rugged and vertiginous, 100-mile-long maze of canyons, sandstone towers, and cliffs known as the Waterpocket Fold—poses some of the most difficult navigational challenges you will ever face.
This trip is good for fit hikers who are comfortable with some exposure on steep terrain, preferably have some experience hiking off-trail, and possess a good sense of adventure.
It’s an idyllic myth, popularized in magazines, that there remain today unexplored corners of the world. In reality, there aren’t many, especially not within the contiguous United States. But there are places rarely seen by people—and for good reasons, as this traverse of Capitol Reef illustrates.
It’s easy to see why there aren’t many constructed park trails on the Waterpocket Fold. Any effort to build a trail would constantly run up against cliffs or steep talus where inexperienced hikers could get into trouble. Never mind the costs of maintaining a trail likely to be routinely obliterated by rockslides and flash floods.
To some, wilderness breaks appeal precisely because they offer an escape from modern life, but there is a concern that a growing attachment to technology is preventing a generation from exploring the country’s remote but beautiful landscapes.
Parks Canada, a national agency that looks after sites including the Rocky Mountains and the Bay of Fundy on the Atlantic, is setting up around 15 to 20 wireless hotspots as a trial run, which it hopes to increase to 75 within the next three years.
“Canada is a very big country, and it has become very urban. And for young people from cities, things are different,” Francois Duclos from Parks Canada said.
He suggested that the decision to install Wi-Fi was also taken to assist people who are required to stay in constant contact with their workplaces, even while whale-watching or hiking. Currently there is only partial or no mobile phone coverage in most of the country’s parks. The Wi-Fi is expected to be offered for free in some locations but for a fee in others.
While younger Canadians may be delighted that they can now tweet about their progress on a trek, or scooch down for a selfie with a grizzly, the news was not welcomed by everyone.
Additional gear, area knowledge, trip planning and hiking skills are required in order to be prepared for overnight backpacking. Since summer is near, if you are considering giving this independent, adventurous and low-cost form of traveling a try, then here are some basics of backpacking travel that will come in handy.
If you want all the surprises that you encounter during your travel to be happy ones, then make sure you at least spend an hour or so doing research via a guidebook.
Thanks to the equipment of today, ultralight backpacking is easily possible since your backpack will not weigh more than 35 pounds even if you load it with all your weekend supplies.
How well you dine while traveling all depends how smartly you plan your menu. It will be best if you do as much preparation work as possible at home before leaving.
Backpacking for a weekend should not be a problem for you if can hike for a couple of hours. However, if you want your second day to feel just like the first one, then you should do a bit of training.
When going on a trip like this, you should be familiar with essential skills such as reading a trail map, using a compass, wilderness first-aid, digging a cathole, lighting a stove and pitching a tent.
Sturdy boots are usually considered key to a long, safe hiking trip. But some hikers strip off all the foot protection to fully appreciate the ground they walk on.
Jim Guttmann co-founded the group Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota in 2003. “It feels so amazing to actually feel the trail underneath you,” he said.
Members of the group eagerly soak in what others avoid – the bumps, grooves and edges of the Earth’s surface. Jane Maloney, a computer software salesperson from Burnsville, has been hiking with the group for about six years. “Kids like to run in the mud and squish their toes in the mud and things like that,” she said. “Maybe it brings me back to being a little kid again.”
“It’s kind of a buffet of sensations,” said Rob Lowry, an acupuncturist and Tai Chi instructor from Richfield.
The Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota is a group with about 50 members. It schedules one trip a month in the spring, summer and fall – mostly in the metro area. There are no dues, no fees; all they ask is that you expose your soles. “When you’re hiking in shoes, every step feels the same,” said Guttmann. “Without shoes, every step becomes a new experience.”
Southwest Conservation Corps, in partnership with the Pike-San Isabel National Forest and funded in part by the National Forest Foundation, restored 5.7 miles of the Greens Creek Trail linking to the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado.
Motorcycles and off-highway vehicles severely degraded the trail and impacted the watershed and habitat health. Significant restoration efforts included stream crossing, trail tread and talus slope reconstruction, as well as the repair and protection of wet sections by providing trail drains, check dams, and other drainage structures. Finally, the elimination of braided trails and re-vegetation with native plants and shrubs provides a sustainable and safe trail system to support the local economy that relies on their use.
Greens Creek is an important access point to the Continental Divide Trail and the well-known Monarch Crest which attracts numerous visitors to the area each year. Nearby communities are supported by the tourist-based economy that benefits from the safe and sustainable trails throughout the forest. The Southwest Conservation Corps crews contributed to the maintenance and restoration that provides safe and sustainable trail networks.
National Forest conservation groups such as the Southwest Conservation Corps depend on Youth Corps Crews to assist with the annual maintenance of recreation trails. They provide transformative experiences beyond the environmental impact like job skills and lifelong environmental stewardship ethics.
Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico is famous for its concentration of massive Puebloan buildings that showcase the organizational and structural engineering prowess of their builders. The area was a hub of activity for thousands of people between A.D. 850 and 1250.
While the area as a whole is an explorer’s delight, there is a hiking trail that embraces the entire culture of the park. The Pueblo Alto Trail has an overlook for Pueblo Bonito, the largest great house in the park. The trail also overlooks the other Chacoan buildings, takes you through Pueblo Alto and New Alto, brings you past famous Chacoan stairs built into the rocks and offers amazing panoramic views.
National Park Service Ranger Kayla Lanoue: “When you come up on the overlook of (Pueblo Bonito), it is very easy to get to and provides a lot of insight. You can see the way they worked to create an interconnected system. This is also the only trail that you can see fragments of the ancient roadways that led to Chaco.”
There are more than 400 miles of prehistoric roadways that lead to Chaco. The road systems are believed to have connected Chaco to outlying communities and resource areas. Chaco was the center of a far-reaching trade network and goods were traded with groups as far south as Mexico. The roads are aligned precisely and continue without curving or adapting to the landscape. When a road comes to a mesa or cliff, it often goes straight up with stairs carved into the rock. The Pueblo Alto trail contains some of these architectural features.
This year has seen historically low snowpack in the Central Cascades — about 52 percent of normal — and the upside is mountain trails opening to hikers that wouldn’t typically be accessible until late May or June.
Whetstone Mountain Trail is a good example. Beginning at Opal Creek Trailhead, this little-traveled route climbs 3,600 feet and 5.5 miles to a spectacular summit where Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson dominate the horizon like gigantic ice-cream cones.
The downside, of course, is that less snow means increased danger of forest fires later this summer, making enjoyment of summits in April a bittersweet affair.
Just three weeks of exercise and a healthy diet produced positive changes in middle-aged men with a cluster of heart risk factors known as metabolic syndrome, according to a new study from Austria.
Among two groups of men sent on a hiking vacation, one at sea level and the other at just over 5,500 feet altitude, benefits were about the same and no negatives were seen, suggesting that exercising in the thinner air at altitude is neither better nor riskier for health, the researchers say.
“The data of the AMAS-2000 study proved that daily hiking for hours at any altitude provides cardiovascular benefits and represents an excellent therapeutic opportunity for physical and mental regeneration even for individuals with a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors,” Dr. Guenther Neumayr told Reuters Health.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of characteristics, including abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood sugar and elevated blood pressure. People with metabolic syndrome are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
To test whether exercise at moderate altitude posed any additional risks or offered extra benefits, the researchers recruited 71 men, ranging in age from 36 to 66 years old, and randomly assigned them to three-week vacations at one of two Austrian resorts located in Obertauem, at 5,577 feet above sea level, or in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, at 650 feet above sea level.
At the end of three weeks, men in both groups had lost an average of 7 pounds and showed similar drops in blood pressure readings, heart rate, blood sugar and similar improvements in cholesterol.
The U.S. Forest is warning visitors in the Black Balsam and Shining Rock Wilderness areas of the Pisgah Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, to be on the lookout for black bears and “Be Bear Aware.”
The warning comes after recent bear encounters have been reported in both the Black Balsam and Shining Rock Wilderness areas, north of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County. There were no injuries.
The bears have successfully obtained food from visitors. This time of the year black bears are opportunistically looking for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips. Regulations to require users to use bear-proof food canisters or bags are being considered. While black bear attacks on people are rare, such attacks have resulted in human fatalities.
Visitors are encouraged to prevent bear interactions by practicing the following safety tips:
For more tips, visit the North Carolina National Forests website to “Learn about Bear Safety.”
The warming weather and lengthening days are luring hikers to long trails—some to very long trails. The first of the few hundred hikers who attempt to complete the Pacific Crest Trail each summer have headed to the Mexican border to start their 2,663-mile journey to Canada.
The Pacific Crest Trail or PCT has two parallel siblings: The well-known 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail (AT) in the east, and the lesser-known, much rougher 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail (CDT) which traverses the peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
According to the American Long Distance Hiking Association, 196 people have hiked all three trails, which is known in the hiking world as the “Triple Crown.” Only about 40 of those people are women, one of whom is the adventure athlete Liz Thomas.
In 2011 Liz broke the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail, hiking it in 80 days, 13.5 hours. “Unsupported” means that she carried all her own gear, and bought food by hiking into towns along the way—she didn’t even mail herself packages or gear like some thru-hikers do, picking up their shipments at post offices.
Embarking upon a long-distance thru-hike is not the same as the typical out-and-backs in a nearby park—it requires not only months of planning but a different kind of mental training as well. Thomas walks us through several of the most important lessons learned on long-distance hikes—and how you can plan your own adventure.
American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® is the country’s largest celebration of trails. Mark your 2014 calendar for Saturday, June 7 to prepare for this year’s big celebration. National Trails Day events include hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more.
American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® (NTD) is a celebration of America’s magnificent Trail System, occurring annually on the first Saturday in June. NTD features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host National Trails Day® events to share their love of trails with friends, family, and their communities.
For public and private land managers alike, National Trails Day® is a great time to showcase beautiful landscapes and special or threatened locales as thousands of people will be outside looking to participate in NTD events.
National Trails Day® evolved during the late ‘80s and ‘90s from a popular ethos among trail advocates, outdoor industry leaders and political bodies who wanted to unlock the vast potential in America’s National Trails System, transforming it from a collection of local paths into a true network of interconnected trails and vested trail organizations. This collective mindset hatched the idea of a singular day where the greater trail community could band together behind the NTD moniker to show their pride and dedication to the National Trails System.
The nearly 500-mile Colorado Trail between Denver and Durango, already a crown jewel among long-distance hikers, bikers and horse riders as well as thousands of day users, added 80 miles of trail in 2012 which now includes the spectacular Collegiate Peaks, home to a dozen of the state’s 14,000-foot mountains.
The new “Collegiate West” forms a western complement to the existing 80-mile stretch of trail on the eastern side of the Collegiate Peaks from Twin Lakes, southwest of Leadville, to south of Monarch Pass, southwest of Salida. It also creates a 160-mile loop that trail designers expect to become one of Colorado’s most popular multi-day hikes/rides.
The Colorado Trail Foundation recently announced that parts of the Collegiate West segment have been re-routed for 2014. One of the lengthier reroutes on the Collegiate West is a 23-mile shift in the CT/CDT alignment. Already generating great excitement, this spectacular segment closely follows the Continental Divide, and is considered to be one of the most scenic pieces of the Colorado Trail.
Of the 23 miles, 16 are newly constructed singletrack between Cottonwood Pass and Tincup Pass Road, plus 7 Wilderness miles of old singletrack between Texas Creek and Cottonwood Pass. Another benefit is that this trail enhancement takes the place of similar mileage that followed roads and motorcycle trail. The Colorado Trail Foundation has stated on their website that this 23-mile reroute is a major enhancement to the 80-mile Collegiate West.
The woods are quiet on a cool Saturday morning in late March. There’s no wind swaying the still-bare trees or the rhododendrons clustered along streambeds. In this, one of the most remote trails of the Shining Rock Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest, the only sound comes from the occasional squirrel plowing through the bed of fallen leaves or bird sounding its call through the woods.
But then a soft buzz begins to float through the air. It pauses briefly, replaced by the sound of voices. A group of three is clustered around a fallen log, probably 2 or 3 feet in diameter, that’s lying across the faint path of the East Fork Trail. They analyze its position on the mountainside, its angle of contact with another trunk below the trail and the severity of the slope. Finally, trail crew volunteers Scotty Bowen and Richard Evans start up again with the crosscut saw, and the buzzing resumes.
The instrument looks like something that belongs more in a 1930s photograph of Civilian Conservation Corps workers than in modern-day use, and indeed, the steel blade and wooden screw-on handles do date back to that era. The zzzz zzzz, zzzz zzzz of the saw’s metal teeth biting wood resumes, chips littering the trail as the cut gets closer to the center of the trunk.
“There’s something really nice about the simplicity of just having the saw, slinging it over your shoulder,” explains Jill Gottesman, outreach coordinator for The Wilderness Society’s Southern Appalachian office. “Because you don’t have the incredible noise of a chainsaw, it’s like the log is telling you what it’s doing with different creaks and groans.”
There’s the sharp smell of sulfur fumes emanating from the lava fields in Hawaii. And the strange-looking deer they found tangled in a fence in Nebraska. Oh, and the eight stitches she got from a nasty fall at Devils Tower in South Dakota.
Relaxing in their comfortable center city home in Springfield, MO, the memories come in a rush for Ester and Bill Bultas. Although they started hiking in their 60s — relatively late in life — in just 14 years the couple managed to explore trails in all 50 states and parts of Canada. More adventures are on their horizon.
Ester, who taught high school science for 30 years, and Bill, 73, a retired Internal Revenue Service auditor, didn’t set out to hike in all 50 states. But in 2000, they took a trip to Quebec City, Quebec, and Montreal, and walked some trails. Something clicked.
The following year, they flew to Hawaii where they trekked across the black lava fields of a volcanic caldera at the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park. There, they discovered the value of being properly equipped for hiking.
The U.S. Forest Service will replace a low water ford on Courthouse Creek Road (Forest Service Road 140), located in the Pisgah Ranger District off Highway 215 in Transylvania County just north of Balsam Grove, NC, starting on May 5th. The road will be closed to motorized vehicle traffic from May 5th until late October. Non-motorized traffic is allowed, however crossing the low water ford will not be an option. Hikers can still access Courthouse Falls via Summey Cove Trail.
The ford, which in the past has become both blocked by large boulders and washed out from storm events, will be replaced with a bridge that will improve passage for aquatic species and allow a more natural stream flow during storm events.
Courthouse Creek is a class C trout stream, designated by the NC Department of Natural Resources, Water Quality Division. This classification is intended to protect freshwaters which have favorable conditions for the year-round survival and the propagation of stocked trout.
The construction of this new crossing is designed to have minimal impacts on the spawning of the rainbow trout in Courthouse Creek, and the brown and brook trout in the North Fork of the French Broad River. Work will occur outside of the stream bed while bridge abutments are installed. The only “in-stream” disturbance will occur when the existing ford is removed after both abutments for the bridge are complete.
The Blue Ridge Parkway – Peaks of Otter – is pleased to announce two guided hikes, led by National
Park Service Ranger Peter Hamel and Virginia Master Naturalist Martin Dileggi, in the Peaks of Otter
area on Saturday April 26, 2014 highlighting the return of migratory birds and emerging spring
wildflowers. These free family hikes are a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the Parkway this
BIRD HIKE: The first hike of the day departs from the Peaks of Otter Lodge lobby at 8:00 a.m. for a
short drive to a nearby trailhead in search of the many migratory birds returning to the mountains.
This two hour hike will involve lots of stops to look for birds as well as listen for their calls. The hike
will focus on identification of birds, learning their songs, and best of all, enjoying the behaviors that
make bird watching fun! No previous bird knowledge is required for this hike. Be sure to bring along
binoculars & identification guides if you have them and remember to wear sturdy hiking shoes.
BLOOM HIKE: The second hike of the day departs from the Peaks of Otter Lodge lobby at 1:30 p.m.
for a short drive to a nearby trailhead in search of emerging spring wildflowers. This two hour hike
will focus on flower & plant identification, habitats, and the beauty these blooms bring to the
mountain slopes each year. No previous flower knowledge is required, but bring along your hand lens
and identification guides if you have them. Remember to wear sturdy hiking shoes.
Scotland has officially opened the John Muir Way, a 134-mile path from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east named in honour of the Scots-born environmentalist who is revered across the Atlantic.
Walkers, cyclists and horse riders can enjoy the rocky coasts of East Lothian where Muir played as a child, Blackness Castle on the Forth, Linlithgow Palace, Roman hill forts on Antonine’s Wall and the Falkirk Wheel, among other highlights.
The First Minister declared the John Muir Way open April 21, 2014 (the conservationist’s 176th birthday) as a flare was sent up from a RNLI lifeboat, with ramblers, runners, cyclists, flag-bearers and street performers blazing a trail through the first section of the path.
Mr Salmond said: “John Muir was a remarkable Scot – a man whose passion for nature and the outdoors left an incredible environmental legacy that resonates to this day.
“From humble beginnings in Dunbar, his influence spread across the world and his name now adorns parks, glaciers and mountains. His legacy is celebrated in an annual commemorative day in California and his image has been featured on two US postage stamps.
“There is no more fitting tribute, in 2014 the 100th anniversary of his death and in our Year of Homecoming, than to officially open the John Muir Way from Helensburgh to Dunbar and take walkers and cyclists through 134 miles of splendid scenery in Scotland’s heartland.”