Hiking News

Key segment of unfinished Foothills Parkway to receive final funding

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 @ 7:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Key segment of unfinished Foothills Parkway to receive final funding

Good news for Smokies lovers. A 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway in Blount and Sevier counties in Tennessee is a big step closer to final funding thanks to a $10 million federal transportation grant.

The unfinished section includes the “Missing Link,” an infamous 1.65-mile stretch that will require nine bridges to span a series of ravines along the steep mountain slope.

The $10 million federal grant will be matched by $15 million from the state of Tennessee and an estimated $10 million from the National Park Service to complete the up to $35 million funding package needed to open the section of the parkway between Walland and Wears Valley, said Dana Soehn, spokeswoman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“This is much more than the continuation of the park section between Walland and Wears Valley,” Soehn said. “It will be a destination driving experience in itself.”

The Foothills Parkway runs parallel to the northern boundary of Smokies. When finished, the scenic highway will stretch 72 miles between Cosby, Tenn., to the east and U.S. Highway 129 at Chilhowee Lake to the west. Congress authorized the project in 1944, but so far only 22.5 miles are completed and open to the public.

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Momentum builds for Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail

Posted by on Jul 27, 2016 @ 11:07 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Momentum builds for Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail

It’s been four years since it was first announced. And years remain before it is to be completed.

But momentum continues to build for one of the most ambitious trail projects in the mid-Hudson Valley, a potential 9-mile pathway linking Beacon and Cold Spring, New York.

The Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail will provide hikers and bikers safe passage through the towns of Fishkill and Philipstown, along the busy Route 9D corridor and adjacent to the Hudson River and Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve.

The park is home to one of the nation’s most popular day hikes, Breakneck Ridge, a 5.5-mile trail that offers sweeping views at 1,250 feet above the Hudson. The climb is so popular, it has its own train stop along Metro-North’s Hudson line.

Officials representing the public-private partnership that is building the trail unveiled signage with maps and other information at Long Dock Park in Beacon. The signs also mark another chapter in the riverfront’s transformation from an industrial center to one dominated by recreational and residential uses.

An environmental review is underway. The review, led by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, will identify environmental as well as community impacts, such as parking or trash. Nearly 30 federal, state and local agencies and groups are involved.

Cite…

 

Best places in Summit County, Colorado to view summer wildflowers

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 @ 11:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Wildflowers are all over the Rocky Mountains right now, but some places in Summit County, COlorado are better than others if you want to get your flower fix this season. Mid- to late July is usually the best time to see blooms in all of the High Country areas.

In forests, look for wild roses, yellow arnica and fairy slipper orchids, and in wet areas find tall chiming bells and elephant heads. Head to meadows for penstemon, sneezeweed, and our state flower, the columbine. In alpine areas, don’t miss the queen’s crown, the gentian and the bright and beautiful bundles of forget-me-nots.

In early summer visit the numerous side roads of Colorado State Highway 9 (CO-9) between Silverthorne and Kremmling — including Ute Pass Road — to see fields of purple lupine and yellow arrowleaf balsamroot.

Throughout the summer the Acorn Creek Trail off the Ute Park Road, 10 miles north of Silverthorne, guides hikers into the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness, and the meadows are filled with flowers for the entire season.

Wildflowers grow in droves all over Summit County, and here are some of the best spots to go for sightings…

 

Death on the Serpent River: How the Lost Girls of Panama Disappeared

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 @ 7:30 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The mysterious deaths of two young tourists in Panama puzzled examiners and shocked nations on both sides of the Atlantic; now secretly leaked documents could reveal what happened.

Welcome to the jungle: specifically, the cloud forests of the Talamanca highlands. It’s a rainy Saturday in early June, at the height of the wet season in northern Panama… on the trail of a deadly international mystery.

This mud-slick, root-choked footpath is called the Pianista, or Piano Player, because it climbs—in a series of ladder-like steps reminiscent of a keyboard—up from the tourist town of Boquete to the Continental Divide, at about 6,660 feet.

Bright-tailed quetzals flit through dwarf species of cedar, oak, and wild avocado along the trail. At this elevation the trees are stunted and wind-warped, their twisted limbs draped with moss and epiphytes. But the Pianista is known for more than just its pretty birds and haunting vistas.

Back in April 2014, two Dutch tourists—Kris Kremers, 21, and Lisanne Froon, 22—disappeared after setting out on this same three-mile stretch of trail.
The women, who had come to Boquete to study Spanish and work with children, were never seen alive again.

Read full story…

 

Solid Advice About Waterfall Safety from the National Forest Service

Posted by on Jul 24, 2016 @ 11:44 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Waterfall fatalities seem to occur in national forests and parks every year. Safety measures are the best prevention.

The best way to enjoy a waterfall is from a safe distance. Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails. Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall. Rocks can be slippery and it’s easy to lose your balance especially with bare feet. Currents near waterfalls can be extremely swift even in areas further upstream.

Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden beneath the surface of the water. Often waterfall pools have swirling water or currents that can drag and keep you underwater.

Even if you have seen other people enjoy playing around waterfalls, be aware that they have been lucky to escape unharmed. Waterfalls are constantly changing with varying water flows and erosion of the rocks around them. The current from one place to the next may be faster than you anticipate and the arrangement of rocks or other debris such as logs in the plunge pool is ever changing.

Waterfalls are exciting and rivers are a great place to cool off on a hot day, but both pose risks to unprepared visitors. We hope this information helps to make you aware of the hazards so you can enjoy a safe and fun visit to your National Forests and Parks.

 

Guide to Hiking Boots Infographic

Posted by on Jul 22, 2016 @ 11:38 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Guide to Hiking Boots Infographic

You can’t enjoy a day in the woods if your feet are bothering you because your boots are uncomfortable. One of the questions I get asked the most is how to choose the appropriate hiking footwear. It isn’t a difficult question, but it seems to defy a simple answer… at least until now. Paula Casey of Walsh Brothers Shoes sent me this infographic all the way from Ireland that identifies key components to consider when choosing hiking boots.

Thanks to new friend Paula Casey for sharing her infographic with us:

 

 

Hiking on the roof

Posted by on Jul 20, 2016 @ 7:28 am in Hiking News | 1 comment

The Wallowa Mountains get all the attention as Eastern Oregon’s great hiking and backpacking destination, but if you actually go there you’ll drive right by the similarly scenic, much more accessible Elkhorn Range.

So skip the crowds at Joseph and Wallowa Lake. Forget the long, dusty trudges hiking up to the high country of the Wallowas.

At Anthony Lake in the Elkhorn Range you can drive a paved road to over 7,000 feet of elevation, where you begin your hike in the alpine wildflower meadows and granite lake basins you came to see.

An easy 2.9-mile loop from Anthony Lake’s campground takes you to the Hoffer Lakes, with scenery that shames the Wallowas. An 8.2-mile loop circles Gunsight Butte, with views of three more alpine lake basins.

If you’re a backpacker, trek the entire Elkhorn Crest Trail 22.8 miles to Marble Pass. It’s a magnificent stroll along the roofline of Eastern Oregon, following the top of the Elkhorn Range.

A glacier scoured Anthony Lake’s granite basin from the crest of the Elkhorn Range during the Ice Age. Today subalpine firs and wildflower meadows ring the lake, framing its reflection of craggy peaks.

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Inclement Weather Hiking: Ten Tips to Stay Comfortable and Alive

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 @ 11:38 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Tasmania’s Arthur Range is arguably Australia’s most spectacular mountain chain. Unfortunately for hikers there’s a catch. It’s called the “weather.”

Backcountry trips in the Arthurs are a meteorological roll of the dice at any time of year. When it’s fine you’ll be treated to sublime views of jagged quartzite peaks, hanging valleys and glacier carved lakes. If a big storm front rumbles through, all you will likely see is horizontal rain, thick fog and the brim of your baseball cap pulled all the way down over your forehead.

When coupled with the fact that much of the hiking is done on open rocky ridges exposed to the full brunt of the Roaring Forties (i.e. gale-force westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between 40° and 50° latitude), the Arthurs is not a place you want to be without good backcountry skills and the right equipment.

If faced with these sort of extreme conditions, a hiker’s #1 priority should always be safety. Preset itineraries and/or mileage objectives should run a very distant second. In such circumstances, it is important to focus on core temperature management and sound choices.

Areas such as the Arthur Range, represent some of the most challenging conditions a hiker will face. When trekking for extended periods in driving rain and temperatures that hover around freezing, hypothermia and frostbite are a very real possibility. Thankfully, cold-related maladies are far easier to prevent than they are to cure.

Here are ten proactive measures that hikers can take when venturing into such environments…

 

Smokies superintendent taking steps to educate latest generation

Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 @ 11:18 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Smokies superintendent taking steps to educate latest generation

On a recent summer morning a group of middle schoolers joined Cassius Cash, superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for a short hike along the Porters Creek Trail in the park’s Greenbrier district about six miles east of Gatlinburg.

It was a gentle trail — at least by Smoky Mountains standards — that allowed plenty of opportunity to savor the surroundings. The clear, rushing waters of Porter Creek were close by, and beside the trail there was ample evidence of the families who farmed this narrow valley until the mid-1930s, when the federal government purchased their land for the new park. The outing was part of the Junior Naturalists program hosted by the Smoky Mountain Field School.

As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday, parks across the country are making a concerted effort to broaden their base and connect with a new generation of supporters. It’s a mission that fits Cash like a glove.

“I believe there is a whole generation out there waiting to be ushered into the outdoors,” Cash said. “I’m not just talking about the natural beauty of our national parks — I’m talking about how they can become sanctuaries for the soul. This is a leadership moment not just for me, but for the entire park service.”

The Smokies is hosting the Centennial Challenge, a yearlong program that invites participants to hike 100 miles on any of the park’s maintained trails between Jan. 1 and Dec. 6, 2016.

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Bear-resistant lockers installed along Catawba section of Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Jul 17, 2016 @ 4:26 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Bear-resistant lockers installed along Catawba section of Appalachian Trail

Bears in the Smoky Mountains long ago figured out how to raid food bags hanging from trees. But until this year, the bears in the Blue Ridge didn’t know how. Now, mama bears are teaching the baby bears how to do it.

Are the black bears in the areas of McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs in Virginia growing smarter? At the least, they seem cagier and more socialized to humans in those Appalachian Trail areas. And that can be dangerous for both man and beast.

Signs warning of bear encounters along that trail stretch first went up in the summer of 2015. Then early this past May, a series of food raids by bears raised alarms among trail administrators and enthusiasts. After closing one popular shelter and campsite near Tinker Cliffs, they raised $4,000 to buy bear-resistant food-storage lockers.

The hard part came last weekend: Moving the four heavy steel Bear Saver boxes to their remote destinations. That effort involved more than a dozen volunteers working for two days with an all-terrain vehicle and hand carts.

They installed food lockers at the Catawba shelter (about 2 miles northeast of Virginia 311); the Campbell shelter (which is just northeast of McAfee Knob), and the Lamberts Meadow shelter and campsite in southern Botetourt County. The four AT stopping points are along the trail between U.S. 311 in Catawba and U.S. 220 in Daleville.

That allowed for the reopening of the Lamberts Meadow shelter and campsite, which had been closed since three incidents on successive days in May.

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Study: How Appalachian Trail Is Affected By Its Own Popularity

Posted by on Jul 16, 2016 @ 10:59 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A team of scientists is camping on the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia this week, studying how it’s affected by its own popularity.

Georgia has one of the busiest stretches of the more than 2,000-mile trail, said Jeff Marion, who studies recreation ecology at the U.S. Geological Survey and Virginia Tech.

Since the trail begins in Georgia, there can be a lot of people on it around the same time as they begin the hike to Maine, he said.

“If you do have 100 or so people starting every day, then you need a fairly large number of campsites to accommodate all those people,” said Marion.

And the trail in Georgia can be more affected than in other places because a lot of hikers who meant to go the whole way end up dropping off earlier. And many people are inexperienced when they start out; they don’t necessarily know how to minimize their effects on the trail and campsites.

Marion and his team are measuring the condition of the trail itself, and also campsites and shelters. And they’re looking at heavily used areas by both thru-hikers and day-hikers, like vistas and swimming holes. They’re also looking at building campsites in different ways, to see if that minimizes some of the damage.

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Conservation group pushes real hiking with virtual tracking

Posted by on Jul 16, 2016 @ 9:23 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Conservation group pushes real hiking with virtual tracking

For many, getting outside is a welcome escape from computers, iPads, smartphones, and all the electronic gadgets that make our lives “more convenient.” Others embrace technology, happily combining pedometers and global-positioning systems with their adventures.

Today, such personal devices as Fitbit and applications such as MapMyHike give outdoor enthusiasts tools to gauge their effort and record their accomplishments. And goals have long been a part of the Northeast hiking community, as the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Four Thousand Footer Club (established in 1957) can attest.

The Trustees of Reservations Hike 125 initiative, challenging members to hike 125 miles this year, blends both perspectives — getting outside while employing technology. Participants register on the Trustees website, where they can record their hikes and compare results with other enthusiasts.

The Hike 125 challenge is being held in conjunction with the 125th birthday celebrations of the Trustees, one of the world’s oldest conservation organizations and the largest in the Commonwealth of Massachussetts. Trustees president Barbara Erickson said Hike 125 is an invitation to explore the Trustees myriad properties and is intended to spark “a lifelong love and appreciation for nature, recreation, and the culture that surrounds us.” The Hike 125 initiative runs through Dec. 31, 2016.

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Hanging Rock is a must see hiking destination near Winston-Salem, NC

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 @ 8:36 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Located about 45 minutes from Winston-Salem, this beautiful State Park offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails for all experience levels. The view at the end of the Hanging Rock Trail is a must-see.

At 1.3 miles (one-way), this is a fairly easy hike that also offers some waterfalls at the bottom. While the last part of the hike is steep and has several stairs to climb, the hike overall should be doable for the entire family.

Slightly more moderate trails include Cook’s Wall Trail (beautiful view) and Lower Cascade Falls Trail (large waterfall). For those looking for a challenge, Moore’s Wall Loop offers a difficult 4.7-mile loop trail that goes up to 2,579-foot peak to a wonderful view with predictably less people around.

Hanging Rock also offers other activities including camping, rock climbing and fishing. Their 12-acre lake is summertime favorite. The lake offers good fishing and swimming opportunities. Recently, the lake has been stocked with rainbow trout in addition to the population of largemouth bass.

Cite…

 

German village offers hiking trails and great castle ruins

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 @ 7:40 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

At a glance, Stamsried seems a lot like any other town in Bavaria. It has the same narrow, winding streets and the usual assortment of bakeries, butcher shops and bars. It’s home to no particularly famous individual or great cultural landmark.

What it does have is a fantastic set of hiking paths and Burgruine Kurnberg, one of the better set of castle ruins you’ll find in Bavaria.

Built in 1354 by Bavarian Duke Dietrich II, this castle is situated atop a hill overlooking the Stamsried village below. Kurnberg swapped hands several times through the centuries, ultimately falling into ruin in the early 17th century. However, most of the towers and walls remain thanks to restoration efforts over the years.

The forest trails that lead up to the ruins are destinations in their own right. Some of them are relatively level; others require a bit of a climb. There are children’s amusements on some of the paths, such as wood chimes and rock hammer stations. Placards along the way explain the flora and fauna.

The best part of the Kurnberg hiking experience is that it’s absolutely free. There is no charge for parking, no entrance fee and no donation boxes to be found. As long as you don’t mind a little exercise, there really isn’t a downside.

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One Of The Fastest Women To Hike The Appalachian Trail Shares How She Did It and What She Learned

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 @ 11:19 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A couple of years back, Liz “Snorkel” Thomas walked from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. At the time, she became the fastest woman to do this without a support team—and she did it completely solo.

The 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail cover the highest mountains on the East Coast. She hiked through fields of boulders, forded powerful rivers, and chased away a dozen snakes.

She kept walking and walking, even at night in the rain. In total, She climbed almost half a million feet of elevation—equivalent to hiking Mount Everest from sea level 16 times.

To maintain her record-breaking pace, Liz knew she would have to stay motivated, upbeat, and levelheaded through months of walking mostly alone. She developed a strategy for keeping her heart in the game and having fun every day. It helped her quiet the doubting voices in her head asking questions like, Are you strong enough to actually do this? and Why are you pushing so hard when others aren’t even awake yet? And, more troubling, the one that told her, You don’t deserve to achieve this.

Since her Appalachian Trail journey, Liz has gone on to many other hikes that are longer, faster, and more technical. She has found the strategy she developed on the AT continues to apply to her life, outdoors and in.

Here are the lessons that helped Liz Thomas stay mentally and physically strong over the course of 2,181 miles and two and a half months in the woods…

 

Google Earth Just Got Even More Powerful. Here’s How It Can Help You Plan Your Next Adventure.

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 @ 7:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Google Earth Just Got Even More Powerful. Here’s How It Can Help You Plan Your Next Adventure.

For the first time since 2013, Google has updated its satellite imagery of planet earth. The new images have more detail and truer colors, giving civilians more data than has ever been available.

Google Earth works by analyzing trillions of pixels worth of satellite images, selecting the clearest, cloud-free ones, then stitching them all together into one seamless image of the planet. Pause for a second and consider what a technical achievement that is. Just one generation ago, we didn’t even have complete maps for the earth. Now you can scroll across every inch of it in high-resolution.

The previous iteration of Google Earth was powered by images from the Landsat 7, which was launched way back in 1999 and photographed the earth with a pixel size of 30 meters. That satellite suffered a hardware failure in 2003, resulting in large diagonal gaps of missing data in the imagery it produced. Now we’re seeing images from Landsat 8, which was launched in 2013, and has a pixel size of 15 meters, in addition to other improved capabilities.

In addition to topographic and trail maps, it helps me assess conditions on the ground with far more information. I can see the location, density, and types of trees, for instance, as well as the presence of tracks and trails that may not be included on traditional maps.

Learn more here…

 

Hiking through a Hawaiian lava tube

Posted by on Jul 10, 2016 @ 7:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Picture a volcano spewing a river of molten lava burning so hot that it burrows its way through the Earth, moving so fast that a human couldn’t outrun it. That’s what happened on the Big Island of Hawaii at what is now Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The lava flow from the Kilauea volcano left behind massive lava tubes as evidence of its destructive path, scientists say.

While the Hawaiian Islands were created by 70 million years of volcanic activity that continues today, the lava tubes were created only about 500 years ago, they say.

In honor of the National Park Service’s centennial celebration this year, which is also the park’s 100th anniversary, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is giving a few visitors the chance to take a guided tour of one pristine tube called Puapo’o.

The 4-mile hike to Puapo’o, which includes a 500-foot elevation change, takes some physical strength. Visitors are required to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and are outfitted with gloves, hard hats and headlamps. A flashlight is also helpful, because it’s pitch black inside the cave.

After climbing down to the opening, the entrance is obscured by flora. Large chunks of fallen lava create the rocky path that visitors must find their way over and around throughout the mile-long journey.

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