Hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail this summer, Lon Cooper looks like a human version of the Google Street View car. Rising out of the side of his stuffed backpack is a gray pipe with a small, but thick, circular top. The antenna stands about 3 inches out of the top of his pack and looks like a miniature version of the tall cameras standing atop the infamous mapping cars. What is harder to see is the pipe running down the entire side of Cooper’s pack and the wire that follows that pipe. And what is impossible to see is what the wire connects to deep in Cooper’s pack: A geo logger.
In a way Cooper is like a two-legged version of the street view cars. Instead of snapping pictures, though, the equipment he’s carrying is logging data to help improve a mobile phone app – the Halfmile PCT app – that has helped thousands of hikers along the same route he’s traversing. “I never dreamed it would become so popular,” Cooper said of the app during a recent pit stop at Snoqualmie Pass.
Created by David Lippke and Cooper together in early 2012, the Halfmile PCT app serves as a companion to Cooper’s famous Halfmile PCT printed maps – Cooper’s nickname is Halfmile – and aids navigation on the PCT. Using a phone’s internal GPS locator, the app provides trail diagrams, tells hikers of upcoming points of interest and calculates distance and elevation gains and losses.
“The app knows where you are exactly,” Cooper said. “It knows how far it is to landmarks, knows the amount of elevation gain. It’s a big help to planning your route.”
The National Park Service (NPS) cut the ribbon on three fourths of a mile of new trails at the Mulberry Bend Scenic Overlook. The scenic overlook is situated on the Nebraska side of the Missouri National Recreation River (MNRR) just south of Vermillion. MNRR Superintendent Rick Clark said the trail had been in planning for some time as a way to give visitors to the river more access.
‘It’s been in development for some time — ever since we acquired the property as mitigation for construction of the (Vermillion-Newcastle Bridge),’ Clark said. ‘It was a goal for us to provide access to this area — not only to the overlooks — but also to give people the opportunity to get into the hardwood ecosystem.’
Clark said the new trail distinguishes itself from others in the area for several reasons. ‘It provides access to an area that people would not ordinarily have,’ he said. ‘There are trails in this area, but I think this one is unique in that you have a combination of higher elevations and lower elevations, so you get some pretty spectacular panoramic views of the river. Being able to develop this trail and to feature those different viewpoints, I think, was a definite management objective that we were seeking and we’re glad to see that fulfilled today.’
A group that advocates for creating biking and hiking trails along abandoned rail lines wants a second cross-state trail in Missouri that would link with the Katy Trail to establish a 400-mile loop across the state.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is one of several organizations seeking to buy 145 acres of an abandoned rail corridor from Ameren Corp. The St. Louis-based company has not said when it will choose a buyer for the corridor, which was put up for sale in the spring.
If the Washington D.C.-based conservancy is chosen, it would give the corridor to the state’s park system to develop the Rock Island Trail. It would link Kansas City and St. Louis with the Lake of the Ozarks area, while also providing new visitors and an economic boost to towns such as Eldon, Versailles and Owensville, said trail advocate Mac McNally.
“We think it’s a huge thing, not just for the individual communities, but the entire state,” Mr. McNally said.
If the trail is built, it would be linked in a loop with the Katy Trail, which each year attracts 400,000 visitors and brings nearly $20 million into Missouri’s economy.
After years of planning and more than five months of construction, a link has been established between two of the Chicago area’s most heavily used bicycling and hiking trails. The one-mile link through the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s Turnbull Woods saw immediate and heavy use.
Chicago Botanic Garden Vice President Harriett Resnick said the path also makes free access to the Botanic Garden easier than ever. The Botanic Garden does not charge admission, but does charge autos to park.
The path is 10 feet wide and paved with asphalt, much of it repurposed aggregates and shingles. Because of its location, going through the Botanic Gardens, Rresnick said those who use the path can expect to see interpretive signs describing the woodland, wetland and moraine regions of the Botanic Garden’s landscape.
With the new link, continuous pathways are possible for riders and walkers from Devon Avenue and Caldwell Road on Chicago’s northwest side to the Cook-Lake County line on the North Branch Trail, and through Lake County to the north and Wilmette on the south using the Green Bay Trail.
There is a wealth of backpacking opportunities around New England, but sometimes the hardest part is finding out about them.
That’s where the recently revised guide “Best Backpacking in New England” comes in really handy. Authored by Matt Heid and published by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the book is a trove of three-season getaways featuring 37 multiday trips from Maine to Connecticut.
Heid is a former senior editor of “AMC Outdoors” and writes a gear column for the magazine. The author of two other hiking guides, Heid is a veteran backpacker of thousands of miles from New England to California to Alaska, and many other wild and scenic places.
Most of the trips in the book are overnight hikes, a few are long weekend affairs and several are four to five days. Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness requires up to 10 days and is the longest hike. For this second edition Heid added four hikes: two in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire and the Grafton Loop Trail in Maine.
Explore the Western N.C. towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire like never before with Jackson County’s new hiking map. The map, which was just released this fall, includes directions to 19 waterfalls, nine hiking trails, three multiple-use trails for riding or biking, five semi-private or public golf courses, three whitewater rafting and water sports outfitters, three horseback riding locations and eight recreational rental service locations.
“As one of the premier outdoor destinations in the south, we pride ourselves on creating the most active and visitor-friendly environment,” said Robert Jumper, chairman of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority. “The new hiking map showcases some of the best outdoor tourism attractions and scenic views that Jackson County has to offer. Visitors can now more easily plan their trip activities for the entire county.”
Visitors can pick up the map at the Dillsboro Visitor Center or the Jackson County Visitor Center. In addition, the map will be located in area retail shops, restaurants or accommodations, the Smoky Mountain Host Visitor Center, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel, as well as any state visitor center or chamber. The map will also be available on the Jackson County website for download early this winter.
During his two years confined in harsh imprisonment for the crime of homosexuality, British playwright Oscar Wilde wrote: “Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed … She will cleanse me in the great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”
Philip Ferranti, founder of the Coachella Valley, CA Hiking Club and author of “140 Hikes In and Near Palm Springs,”echoes Wilde’s thoughts: “Spiritually, hiking can take us on the journey inwards where we discover our inner strengths and calm centers … Hiking tells us that indeed we are united to the whole of life, plant and animal. This ‘prayer-in-motion,’ a hike, at best offers us a space and time to discover and connect to what really matters.”
The Palm Springs chapter of Great Outdoors benefits from the region’s inherent natural attractions. According to Ferranti, nowhere in the Lower 48 can you find more hiking trails (more than 140) or trail miles (more than 1,250) than within the 60-mile-plus radius around Palm Springs. This section of the Colorado Desert hosts a concentrated diversity of topography and flora, with elevations from 11,000-plus feet to below sea level. The traditional hiking season runs from October to May, but whisk up on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in the middle of summer, and you’ll find cool Alpine conditions that make hiking possible year-round.
Moreover, the region around the Coachella Valley is home to five state parks and recreation areas, three national wildlife preserves, and one humungous (1,240-square-mile) Joshua Tree National Park. In 2000, more than 272,000 acres of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains on the eastern flank of the Coachella Valley were deemed a national monument, the second-largest in the state.
by Rod Torrez for Huffington Post
Just over a year ago, The New Republic ran a story with a catchy, but slightly insulting title: “White People Love Hiking. Minorities Don’t. Here’s Why.” I took the bait and read the piece, and found it to be well-intentioned, but overgeneralized. Toward the end the author wondered why a Hispanic teenager from Denver would grow up to enjoy the outdoors if his or her “parents had neither the means nor the interest” in visiting, say, Rocky Mountain National Park. I laughed out loud. Here’s why.
I happen to have been a Hispanic teenager growing up in Denver. My childhood is full of memories of my parents hauling station wagon-loads of kids from our home in Denver to the Rocky Mountains on Colorado’s beautiful summer weekends. I not only enjoyed hiking, I eventually worked in the National Park Service as a professional, and this past year I became the Director of an organization of Latino sportsmen and women called Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors. TNR was dead wrong in its analysis.
Like many other Latinos in the Southwest, I come from a large, diverse family who, among other things, enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking; all activities the sensational title claims minorities “don’t” like. I now live in New Mexico, where Latinos comprise 47 percent of the population and whites 39 percent, and where without us, the outdoor industry would no doubt lose a substantial number of loyal customers. We are both providers and consumers in the business of enjoying the public lands that make this state and the southwest so beautiful.
Organizations like HECHO wouldn’t exist if Latinos didn’t have a significant stake in the outdoors. We know that because we have deep familial ties to the outdoors that go back generations.
Join the High Peaks Trail Association for a jaunt over spectacular Roan Mountain on Sept. 20, 2014. This difficult 6.3-mile trek will reward hikers with great views from the top of one of the region’s signature peaks.
Hikers should assemble on the Burnsville, NC Town Square at 8:30 a.m. Transportation will be provided by a Yancey County van for a fee of $5 per person. Leashed dogs are welcome on the hike but are not allowed on the county vans, so if you plan to bring your pet you must arrange your own transportation.
The hike will start at Carver’s Gap and ascend 700 feet to the top of Roan Mountain, where you will stop by the highest shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The group will then descend steeply 2,275 feet to Hughes Gap, the ending point. This will be tough on the knees, so bring your hiking poles if you have them. Also bring lunch, snacks, plenty of water, warm clothes and rain gear.
The van should return the group to the Burnsville Town Square around 4 p.m.
Hikers should check the High Peaks website, www.nchighpeaks.org, or the club’s Facebook page for last-minute changes due to weather. For more information, contact hike leader Dennis Smith at [email protected] or 828-675-9459.
Wondering about all the activity going on at Linville Falls? Thanks to the generosity of community stewards, the Upper Falls Overlook at Linville Falls (milepost 316.4 Blue Ridge Parkway) will welcome more visitors with a larger viewing area, taking them closer to a geological gem, the Linville Falls Thrust Line. A new boardwalk and railing tied together with rock-clad columns create the enlarged vista point.
With the expansion come educational opportunities for students, geologists, and the public to see this section of rock that jutted up and over the younger Grandfather Fault Line more than a billion years ago. Until now, scientists and students needed special permission to visit the fault line.
Carolyn Sparks, a maintenance mechanical supervisor with the National Park Service, is heading up the project slated for completion in late September. Interpretive signage is in the works to explain the significance of the geological feature. Sparks hopes the visitors enjoy learning about and seeing the thrust fault. “It will be a great highlight of the geology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It will be one of the few places the public can view the structure. That’s what makes it so unique.”
The days are getting shorter, but don’t resign yourself to settling in for a long, lazy season inside. One of West Michigan’s greatest assets is the natural beauty that surrounds the area, with amenities that you won’t even find in many big cities. From small pocket parks to epic-sized Lake Michigan, you’re never far away from a wooded trail, a mountain bike path, or a gorgeous beach. As summer turns to fall, Rapid Growth rounded up ten of West Michigan’s best hikes, with hidden urban hiking trails mixed in with cross-country paths that lead to the great lake even in the snowiest of months.
Savvy West Michiganders already know about the bounty of outdoor experiences at Blandford Nature Center, Provin Trails, Meijer Gardens, and the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve around the Rapid City’s edges, plus favorites like Riverside Park and Huff Park right in the city.
Looking for a hike that’s a little outside city limits, and maybe a little more rugged? Head out of town just a bit to hit the dirt and find some solitude. In addition to Pickerel Lake Park near Cannonsburg and Roselle Park, making your way just a few miles outside of downtown Grand Rapids gets you out of the city and into a more natural environment.
Everyone knows Lake Michigan is the place to be on a sunny summer day. But don’t discount heading to the water during the cooler months. Several West Michigan trails within an hour’s drive of Grand Rapids merit a day trip during the fall to take in the color or an outing in the winter on snowshoes or cross-country skis.
The deer season for bow hunters begins September 13 across North Carolina for 2014, and the U.S. Forest Service reminds hunters and non-hunters to practice safety when visiting the four national forests. Dates are likely to be similar in other states.
The following are just a few tips hunters should follow to ensure they return home safely from the Croatan, Uwharrie, Pisgah, or Nantahala:
Here are just some of the tips non-hunters should practice during hunting season:
Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation as you walk to alert hunters to your presence. Sound carries well across mountain basins, and hunters should be listening for any sounds of animal movement.
Remember, your safety is your responsibility when visiting a national forest.
Here is a complete list of safety tips for hunters and non-hunters.
Women will soon be able to hike Palo Duro Canyon State Park with like-minded women who want to enjoy the outdoors.
“This is not a ‘get-fit, extreme hiking group,’” according to a news release.
The hikes will start at 10 a.m. and end by noon.
“The first one is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 17 and will be once a month on Wednesdays, weather permitting,” said Bernice Blasingame, park education director and interpreter. “We will learn about the beautiful natural resource that is Palo Duro Canyon and at the same time share our love of nature.”
Blasingame will lead the women-only hikes on various trails and will meet participants at the park’s entrance office parking lot, according to the release. Wear hiking shoes or boots and bring water. Pets aren’t allowed.
The U.S. Forest Service invites national forest visitors to use the new NCtrails.org web application for planning their fall foliage adventures.
Unveiled in May 2014, the searchable web application (web app) offers details on three popular trail systems in western North Carolina, as well as state-of-the-science information on the region’s forests.
The Browse Trails section of the web app includes information on trails in the Tsali (pronounced “SAH-lee”) Recreation Area, located in the Nantahala National Forest, Cheoah Ranger District, and the Jackrabbit Recreation Area in the national forest’s Tusquitee Ranger District. The site also features two large sections of the Appalachian Trail that pass through the Nantahala National Forest.
The Forest Service’s Southern Research Station and National Forests in North Carolina produced the web app in cooperation with the University of North Carolina, Asheville National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center.
When visiting Spain on vacation, there are a multitude of fascinating hiking trails available throughout the country, but some of the most unusual and beautiful trails and landscapes can be found in the province of Cuenca in central Spain. Some of these landscapes, however, are not completely natural, as in the case of the “Ruta de las Caras” or Route of the Faces, located next to the dam at Buendía.
This hiking path is unlike any other in the world. Along the path, sculpted into the rock itself and dotted throughout the landscape, is a collection of 18 bas-reliefs or carved faces, the creation of several artists, working in combination. Unlike a walk through a stuffy art gallery or museum, this work is displayed perfectly in the fresh air and surrounding scenery.
Carved into the natural sandstone, each face is unique, and in size they range from a mere one foot to a full eight feet in height. Every sculpture has a either a religious or a mystical meaning behind it and the artists were apparently inspired by Pharaonic Egypt and the cultures of the pre-Columbian age.
“Huzzah” is a colonial-era way of saying “hurrah,” but the antique word will soon take on new meaning at the Kings Mountain National Military Park. On Sept. 6, 2014, the park near Blacksburg, S.C., will host a festival to call attention to a group called the Huzzah Hiking Club.
Representatives from local outdoor attractions, along with hospital and public health professionals will be on hand to talk about activities that promote healthy lifestyles.
The hiking club is being organized in advance of the two-year celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary that begins in 2015. The family-friendly hiking project is part of a nationwide initiative by the park service to get people active outdoors.
Chief Ranger Chris Revels said the club will set challenge goals for members who can not only hike the national park’s trail system, but trail networks at two adjoining parks: the Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina and Crowders Mountain State Park in North Carolina.
Newly released US Topo maps for Michigan now feature segments of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Several of the 1,290 new US Topo quadrangles for the state now display parts of the Trail along with other improved data layers.
“USGS maps are excellent planning and navigation tools for hikers and other trail users” said Mark Weaver, Superintendent of the Trail. “The North Country Trail is a truly special recreational resource and we are quite thrilled to have the trail incorporated onto the maps.”
The North Country Trail is one of the 11 National Scenic Trails in the U.S. It is the longest national scenic trail, extending over seven states and 168 distinct land management units, from the vicinity of Crown Point State Park New York, to Lake Sakakawea State Park on the Missouri River in North Dakota, to the route of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Plans are underway to expand the trail to include the Arrowhead region of northern Minnesota, and extend the eastern terminus to the Appalachian Trail in Vermont, eventually bringing the trail to approximately 4,600 miles long.
Tracing the footfalls of Ulysses S. Grant and visiting the room where Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson breathed his last can be experienced within a day’s drive of the nation’s capital, ringed by battlefields where thousands of soldiers fought and bled and died in the Civil War.
Protected by the National Park Service, these hallowed grounds still echo the conflict they once contained — Yankee vs. rebel, brother vs. brother — and call to following generations to never forget.
A tour could well begin at the site of the war’s first major battle — Manassas National Battlefield Park — and continue on to five other sites, following the paths where soldiers marched from the fields of Bristoe, once soaked with the blood of Union troops, to Gettysburg, where the fate of both sides was sealed.
All parks are open daily from dawn to dusk.
Culmination season is ramping up as northbound thru hikers are reaching the end of their journeys. Every hiker knows the grim reality behind that glorious moment at the end of their 2,000 mile trail. Once the photos have been snapped and descent has been made, there is only one place to go for most hikers: Home. This is wonderful at first (not at all the grim part). Sleeping in a bed, eating all the foods you missed and, maybe best of all, returning to friends and family. But for most, after a short time of rest this leads to the necessity of finding a job.
Employment, also know as hiker trash heartbreak, quickly replaces fresh air and rushes of adrenaline with schedules and routines. It is tough enough to leave behind the life and the trail family you knew so single-mindedly for half a year. It is even tougher to be immediately thrown back into the monotony of a job. But not every job out there has to create a chasm between your shiny new thru hiker life style and the necessity to make a living.
Here is a list of twelve job ideas that keep a dirty little hiker immersed in the outdoors and adventure.
Hiking has grown in popularity in recent years. The number of participants in the U.S. hiking has risen from 29.9 million in 2006 to 34.6 million in 2012. Members of the baby boom generation, who are now in their 50s and 60s, are particularly drawn to the sport.
Hikes can range from backcountry hikes, where people spend days camping in the wild, to luxury hikes, where gear is transported by car to the next overnight destination — often a hotel or hostel — while the hiker carries a daypack to day hikes, which are ranked according to difficulty, from one to four.
The Rhode Island Hiking Club focuses on day hikes, with each usually lasting several hours. The club’s website provides a list of each, along with the trail leader and members who have signed up for the trek. Many are featured in Ken Weber’s book, “Weekend Walks in Rhode Island: 40 Trails for Hiking, Birding & Nature Viewing,” which is based on his previous books of Rhode Island hikes going back to the late 1970s. Indeed, completing “the Weber 40” is a goal of many Rhode Island hikers.
Club president Tony Chernasky attributes the club’s growth to the desire by many for something different. “Some people are going through a change in lifestyle and want to get out there again,” he said, while others are looking for a fun way to get exercise. He said members tended to be middle-aged, with a lot of 40- and 50-year-olds on weekend hikes and retired folks active during the week.