The Department of Conservation and Recreation and Massachusetts Environmental Police are warning riders and hikers that someone is stringing wire cables across state trails with the intent of causing serious harm.
“After receiving reports made by members of the public, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Massachusetts Environmental Police issued a warning to all Off Highway Motorcycle (OHM) riders and other users of wire cables being tied across trails with the intent to cause serious harm,”said DCR Spokesman Troy Wall. “The DCR and the Environmental Police ask all individuals to report anything suspicious, and to be alert of their surroundings.”
Signs have been posted on hiking trails by police who want nature lovers to look out for the wires. They’ve been reported in the F. Gilbert Hills State Forest in Foxboro, the Franklin State Forest, the Wrentham State Forest and the Freetown State Forest.
Anyone who sees something suspicious is asked to call police at 1-800-632-8075
So far no serious injuries have been reported.
In honor of the National Park Service Centennial, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, LeConte Lodge, and Great Smoky Mountains Association partnered together to provide the popular “Day Hikes of the Smokies” guide book to all 4th grade students in Sevier County. This generous donation, made possible by Leconte Lodge, is in recognition of the National Park Service’s Every Kid in a Park initiative.
“LeConte Lodge Limited is honored to partner with the Great Smoky Mountains Association and the National Park Service in support of the Every Kid in a Park campaign. By donating the “Day Hikes of the Smokies” book to fourth graders in Sevier County, we hope to encourage more families to spend quality time hiking together and exploring all that the Great Smoky Mountain National Park has to offer,” said William B. Stokely, IV, president of LeConte Lodge.
On Friday, May 13, 2016, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash and Tasha Wade, vice president and chief financial officer of LeConte, visited the fourth grade students at Pittman Center Elementary to hand deliver the hiking guide books in time for summer break. Great Smoky Mountains National Park Centennial Ambassadors distributed the hiking guide books to the additional Sevier County fourth grade students throughout the following week.
Fourth graders nationwide can visit the new Every Kid in a Park website to obtain a pass that provides free access to students and their families to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. The pass grants free entry for fourth graders and three accompanying adults (or an entire car for drive-in parks) at more than 2,000 federally managed sites.
Fourth graders can log onto the website at www.everykidinapark.gov and complete a fun educational activity in order to obtain and print their paper pass. Students may also trade in their paper pass for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.
Straddling the cities of Nishinomiya and Takarazuka, the long-deserted Japanese National Railways rail line of the abandoned Fukuchiyama Line will reopen in October 2016 as a public hiking trail.
Stretching 4.7 kilometers along the Mukogawa river, the railway tracks were abandoned in 1986 after the opening of a nearby tunnel. The rails were removed, but the wooden ties, the old tunnel and the steel bridge remain on the tracks.
Many an adventuresome hiker has made their way through the dark tunnel with a flashlight to enjoy the picturesque views of the defunct tracks running along a valley abundant with natural scenery. On holidays, the area is often crowded with hikers.
The railroad ties, weather-beaten steel bridge, bat-dwelling tunnel and the dilapidated tracks will remain intact. But city officials urge hikers to keep safety in mind.
“The fundamental principle is that hikers will be responsible for their own safety when using the trail,” said an official from the city government’s policy bureau. “We want them to understand that and enjoy hiking.”
The Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho envelopes the Sawtooth Mountains, for which it was named, as well as other nearby mountain ranges. The Pioneer, White Cloud, Boulder and Smoky mountains are all nearby and can be easily accessed from Stanley or Ketchum, the town that hosts Sun Valley Lodge.
The area of the Sawtooths is an outdoor destination that attracts outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes; people come to camp along the lower elevation lakes to explore the canyons and valleys or to scale the summits of the more than 50 peaks over 10,000 feet that are in the vicinity.
There are no shortage of hikes to take in the Sawtooths. Go for a day hike or spend a few days on a longer backpacking trip into some truly remote areas. Fall Creek Canyon, in the Pioneer Mountains, is a wonderful place to go for a one-day or overnight trip.
Want to make the most of your experience in the Sawthooths?
Officials at Zion National Park have scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss challenges facing the park as it continues to draw record numbers of visitors.
National Park Service figures show that nearly 1 million people had visited the park in southern Utah through the end of April. That’s about an 8 percent increase over the same time period last year and puts the park on track to set an attendance record for the third year in a row. The increased traffic, combined with a stagnant budget, has taken a toll on Zion’s infrastructure.
“It has definitely been a struggle. And there hasn’t been an increase in base funding to help compensate for the crowds,” Zion spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said. Officials say search and rescue calls doubled in 2015 as more people veered off established paths.
Officials are working on a new management plan and will gather feedback at a series of public meetings in communities near the park in late May.
“Your voice is extremely important in this process,” Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said in a written statement. “We want to hear about your experiences in Zion National Park, your perspectives on visitor use levels and any recommendations you may have to enhance resource protection and visitor experience.”
Zion officials will start with a meeting in Springdale on May 23, 2016, followed by Cedar City on May 24, St. George on May 25 and Kanab on May 26.
Just in time for the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day, June 4, 2016, Mendocino County in Northern California will open two new hiking trails.
The 2.3-mile Peter Douglas Coastal Trail routes hikers through redwood groves known as Shady Dell featuring trees with branches that have split off into candelabra shapes. The land, just south of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, is owned by the nonprofit Save the Redwoods League.
Farther south in Fort Bragg, a new one-mile link will connect north and south portions of the coastal trail at Noyo Headlands Park to create a 5.5-mile trail.
Guides to the trails can be found at trails.mendocinolandtrust.org, a site from the Mendocino Land Trust offering free maps that can be downloaded.
The trails are part of the planned 1,200-mile California Coastal Trail, which is about halfway to its goal of edging the state’s entire shore in a continuous hiking trail.
Hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and the U.S. Forest Service are working together to make the North Country Trail in Wayne National Forest a bit safer this year as a proposed reroute project will help avoid public roads and skirt areas of erosion.
In a proposal released earlier this month, the U.S. Forest Service outlines three sections of the North Country Trail in Ohio that will be rerouted to avoid public roads and more effectively provide drainage and maintenance capabilities. Two sections of trail in the Marietta Wayne National Forest Unit (near the Lamping Homestead Recreation Area and near the Archer’s Fork trail) and one section of trail in the Athens Unit (near the Stone Church Trail) are proposed to be rerouted.
“We have been working with local user groups for some time now to develop the proposed route for this project and volunteers have put in thousands of hours of additional trail work on other parts of the trail as well,” said Jason Reed, Athens District ranger.
The Forest Service project is an answer to requests from local user groups for more scenic miles on the trail as well as safer trail access. The current sections of the trail that are recommended to be rerouted are along public roads and some users say these sections are not only less interesting but are not well suited for trail users.
The main goal of the proposed reroute in the Archer’s Fork area is to avoid slip-prone hillsides as some sections of the Archer’s Fork trail include a user-built trail system that currently does not meet Forest Service standards.
The Cradle of Forestry invites the public to a program, “Bogs, Bugs and Beavers,” on Saturday, May 28, 2016.
The program begins inside the Cradle’s interpretive center at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. with an introduction about beavers’ adaptations to living in a watery world. Then naturalists will lead walks to boardwalks along the Pink Beds Trail, interpreting the beavers’ wetland creating activities, the changing habitats they create, and the woods and water along the way.
Each program lasts about 1.5 hours with a walking distance of about 2 miles. Participants can use nets provided to dip for aquatic insects and salamanders from the boardwalk. Binoculars are welcome to observe birds, butterflies and dragonflies that thrive in the scenic Pink Beds valley.
The Pink Beds is part of the 6,500 acre Cradle of Forestry in America area of the Pisgah National Forest. Beavers have been active in the valley for over 20 years, creating early succession habitats and changing flow patterns of the South Mills River. The boardwalks, constructed largely by Forest Service volunteers, allow recreationists elevated access while protecting this fascinating wet area.
Admission to the Cradle of Forestry is $5 for adults and free for youth under 16 years of age. America the Beautiful, Every Kid in a Park and federal Golden passes are honored. Admission includes the new film First in Forestry: Carl Alwin Schenck and the Biltmore Forest School, hands-on exhibits, a scavenger hunt, a firefighting helicopter simulator, historic cabins and antique equipment on two paved trails. It also includes the Adventure Zone, an activity designed to reach children with autism and engage young families. Lunch is available for purchase from Hobnob at the Cradle.
The Cradle of Forestry is located on Hwy. 276 in the Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway, six miles north of Looking Glass Falls and four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 412. For more information call (828) 877-3130 or visit www.cradleofforestry.com.
North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest will temporarily close the Point Lookout Trail on the Grandfather Ranger District for repairs starting May 31, 2016.
Repairs to the paved walking and biking trail are expected to take 90 days, and the trail is anticipated to reopen by September 1.
The Point Lookout Trail connects Mill Creek Road in Ridgecrest to Old U.S. 70 in Old Fort along the historic motor route into the mountains.
The trail was briefly closed last fall after heavy rains caused a landslide that damaged the trail and covered it with large rocks. Repair work this summer will fix damage caused by last year’s slide, as well as construct retaining walls to prevent future slides.
The U.S. Forest Service urges the public to heed trail closures and avoid the area. Heavy machinery used on the trail will prohibit passage during construction. Mill Creek Road may be used as an alternate route.
Update August 31, 2016: Pisgah National Forest has reopened the Point Lookout Trail on the Grandfather Ranger District following repairs to the paved walking and biking trail.
The trail was closed this summer to fix damage from a landslide as well as construct retaining walls to prevent future slides. The reopening occurs just in time for Labor Day Weekend.
The Point Lookout Trail is a family-friendly greenway for hiking or biking that connects Mill Creek Road in Ridgecrest, NC to Old U.S. 70 in Old Fort along the historic motor route into the mountains.
The International Appalachian Trail continues to draw hikers to northern Maine, offering a tour through varied landscapes and a connection to Canada and beyond.
Trail enthusiasts celebrated some of the best of Aroostook County’s outdoors the weekend of May 7-8, 2016 at the International Appalachian Trail Maine Chapter’s annual conference in Presque Isle, sharing stories about local history and geology, visiting Mars Hill and Haystack mountains, and looking forward to the hiking season ahead.
Created by volunteers in Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec 20 years ago, the International Appalachian Trail starts east of Baxter State Park, makes its way over more than 700 miles to Cap Gaspe, Quebec. The International Appalachian Trail’s trail network extends to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland and Iceland, and then across the Atlantic to the Appalachian’s sister mountains, the Caledonians, through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
This summer, the Maine chapter is aiming to reroute 52 miles of the trail that currently is set along roadways in southern Aroostook County. About 65 miles of trail total are currently set along a road shoulder.
“The idea is in the long-run to get rid of the bulk of the road walking, and to use a combination of woods roads and paths.”
Sonoma County, California’s newest hiking trail officially opened May 15, 2016 just a few hundred yards from the often backed up and typically frustrating Highway 37.
The Eliot Trail, located at the edge of tidal wetlands near where Lakeville Highway meets Highway 37, gives travelers an experience opposite to the nearby roadway.
The two-and-a-half mile trail offers walkers, joggers and cyclists a tranquil view of Mount Tamalpais and the skyscrapers of San Francisco as they traverse the flank of the new northern border of San Pablo Bay.
The Eliot Trail — named after Wendy Eliot, the conservation director for Sonoma Land Trust — is the newest part of the San Francisco Bay Trail, a planned 500-mile walking and cycling path around the entire bay. The trail now has 350 miles of walkable trails with the opening of the Eliot segment.
The trail flanks the tidal wetlands at Sears Point, a massive restoration project to turn 1,000 acres of oat hayfields back into a saltwater marsh. In October, the Sonoma Land Trust broke a levee to begin the reclamation. It is expected to take 25 years for wildlife and vegetation to completely settle in the area.
They aren’t wearing white lab coats, but there are already young scientists collecting data at Front Lake at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina.
The Kids in Parks program recently opened its first Citizen Science TRACK Trail designed to engage kids in learning and caring for the park’s ecosystem while helping staff researchers and natural resource managers.
Citizen Science is a new approach to data collection that enlists the public’s help in making observations and taking readings for studies and research. With the new trail, children and families can get in on the action. Kids follow a brochure to locate marked stations around the lake, where they perform observations and experiments such as taking air and water temperature readings and using tools to measure the pH of the lake.
In addition to helping researchers, the children learn new skills related to environmental science, connecting the dots between outdoor adventures and protecting natural resources.
“We’re extremely excited to have the Kids in Parks program’s first Citizen Science-based TRACK Trail here at Carl Sandburg,” said Sarah Perschall, chief of Visitor Services at Carl Sandburg. Park staff and the Kids in Parks team collaborated to create the site-specific brochure and experiment stations.
“Over the past six years, we have created a network of TRACK Trails designed to get kids and families unplugged, outdoors and reconnected to our parks,” said Jason Urroz, director of Kids in Parks. “I think our Citizen Science TRACK Trails can only add to that connection. And, who knows? Maybe some of them will become scientists, or rangers, or ranger scientists.”
National Park Service Rangers are asking for any information about a possible assault after firefighters discovered a woman tied to a tree near Craggy Gardens along the Blue Ridge Parkway Thursday, May 12, 2016.
In the early afternoon, the Reems Creek Fire Department had responded to a call for a lost person who was possibly having a medical issue, according to a captain with that Weaverville-based agency.
A woman called dispatchers at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, saying she was getting texts from a friend in the area of Snowball Trail at Craggy Gardens. The 911 caller identified herself as a caretaker for the 64-year-old woman, who was hiking. The caller said she had gotten different texts from her friend about changing hiking plans, but then received messages that the woman was having an emergency.
“She has something that looks like seizures, and when she does, she is conscious long enough sometimes to send a text but generally it renders her somewhat mute,” the caller said in a 911 recording.
When crews arrived, they discovered the woman tied to a tree. Officials have declined to discuss details of those circumstances. She was transported to Mission Hospital. The woman was located near Craggy Gardens, accessible by motorists on the Blue Ridge Parkway and by hikers along the popular Mountains to Sea Trail.
Rangers are asking anyone who might have seen suspicious activity in that area from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday to call an investigative tip line at 888-653-0009.
National Park Service Rangers released a possible suspect description in connection with the investigation. The man is described as being a generally unkempt white male, about 50 years old, with salt-and-pepper hair and facial hair that is partially grown in, according to a statement released late Friday by Leesa Brandon, a public information officer with the Blue Ridge Parkway.
He was believed to be wearing a light or faded grey short sleeve T-shirt, old or faded baggy blue pants and a dark pair of tennis shoes. The man may have smelled musty from going unwashed for several days, according to the release.
Officials do not have reason to believe the incident was anything other than isolated and all visitor facilities in the area remain open, according to a statement from the National Park Service.
Officials with the National Park Service confirmed that a woman found tied to a tree last week along the Blue Ridge Parkway was assaulted. A 64-year-old woman was discovered in the area of Craggy Gardens, a popular destination along the parkway for its sweeping views. Craggy Gardens is about 20 miles from Asheville, N.C. The woman, whose service dog was nearby, was released from the hospital later that day.
Neal Labrie, chief ranger for the Blue Ridge Parkway, in an email confirmed that an assault occurred and that the “information the (National Park Service) is going to release has been released.”
The woman was found barely alive about an hour after a friend reported her missing.
Women often wonder whether it is safe for them to hike solo. For long distance athlete Liz Thomas, the answer clearly is yes: She has hiked 8,000 miles by herself, pioneered routes in Utah and the Columbia River Gorge, and set an Appalachian Trail speed record. But others argue that in the eyes of a good chunk of women – heck, in the eyes of many people in this country – what she does is an exception. Which makes her wonder: Since no one questions female pilots, police officers or professional athletes these days, why should hikers be any different?
The truth is, as the daughter of two conservative, middle-class parents, she grew up internalizing the idea, rooted in historic and cultural sexism, that walking solo is unsafe for women, whether in nature or in urban settings. For centuries, unaccompanied women frequently were attacked because women, for religious or cultural reasons, aren’t “supposed” to be out.
Liz Thomas urges all women – especially younger women – to get outdoors during Hike Like a Girl Weekend, May 14-15, 2016. Whether you hike solo or with other women, the weekend is not only supposed to be fun, it also is meant as an act of defiance against norms that seem 100 years old yet persist today.
It’s standing against every stereotype or micro-aggression ever foisted your way – from the women who are told “be safe” instead of “have fun,” to every company that designs women’s gear by shrinking-and-pinking men’s models, to the ranger who asks the solo female hiker, “Are you doing this all by yourself?” Women’s tax dollars also go to fund public land – yet they still live in a world where that public asset isn’t perceived as safe for all people to enjoy. Trees, rivers and mountains should be spaces that feel welcoming to everyone.
Bozeman, Montana is a great place to relocate if you enjoy fly fishing, hiking and being centered among some of the most spectacular scenery and national parks in the country? Some of the most enjoyable hiking is to to the peaks surrounding the Gallatin Valley, also known as the Valley of Flowers.
Bozeman is named for the early pioneer and trail builder, John Bozeman, who in 1863 blazed the first trail through the Gallatin Valley en route to the gold fields in western Montana and Virginia City.
Bozeman, at 4,820 feet, sits among several mountain ranges: The Bridger Mountains, the Tobacco Root Mountains, the Big Belt Mountains and Horseshoe Hills, the Hyalite Peaks of the Gallatin Range and the Spanish Peaks of the northern Madison Range. To the south, about a two hour drive away, lies Yellowstone National Park and to the north on the Canadian border sits Glacier National Park. The opportunities for backpacking are limitless.
If you haven’t made summer plans yet and you want to experience the high peaks of southwestern Montana, then start to plan now. Bozeman is a great city with lots of amenities and the Museum of the Rockies is also located here. There are hundreds of great hiking trails in the mountains surrounding the Gallatin Valley, just minutes from Bozeman. In addition, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are within a day’s drive. Make your plans now to experience the Valley of Flowers, the sounding mountains and trout-filled streams.
The predictable pattern of a 25% increase each year has remained steady despite Hollywood’s recent attempts to bring more people out into the wild. Only about half of these hopeful thru-hikers will make it to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and one quarter will make it to Katahdin. The impact of the crowds decreases as the masses thin, but the southern 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail suffer widely from its popularity.
From erosion and severe land compaction, to overflowing privies and bear cables that break under the weight of so many food bags, the A.T. in the south feels the effect of the large number of bodies crowded into one narrow, two-dimensional trail that many temporarily call home.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy started an initiative in 2015 to encourage thru-hikers to register online pre-hike. Click here for the ATC’s registration link. This is in an effort to disperse hiker start dates to alleviate strain on the trail.
The ATC strives to increase the accuracy of this data by placing five ridgerunners on the GA section of trail, one specifically on site at Amicalola to ensure that hikers have been counted online. Individuals have stated they chose their start date based on the information they gathered from the registration chart.
Thanks and congratulations to Alamance County and Mountains to Sea Trail Friends volunteers for completing another four miles of trail, known as the Sellers Falls Section, along the Haw River near Burlington, NC.
This new stretch of trail brings the total continuous miles of MST in this area to eight, and this is in addition to several shorter sections of trail along the Haw that they hope to incorporate soon into the route that hikers use to complete the trek across the state.
Alamance County and the towns along the Haw have been extraordinary leaders in the effort to the build the MST. Almost all of this trail has opened in the last eight years after they made a commitment to protect the river and make it accessible for walking and paddling.
Friends of MST is also eagerly awaiting the July, 2016 opening of a new bridge in Hillsborough, NC that will connect the Riverwalk section through downtown Hillsborough to the Occonnechee Speedway Trail and MST along mountain laurel bluffs overlooking the Eno River.