The National Forest Service in Washington will be holding local meetings in June, July & August to find out which of the approximately 2000 miles of Olympic National Forest roads will need to be closed. Currently, 1,400 miles of road are currently open to vehicles, but 600 miles of the roads are closed, but may be opened intermittently to provide access for resource management.
According to the Forest Service, “Most roads on the Forest were built between the 1950s and 1990s to support timber management. Needs for and uses of the road system have shifted dramatically; timber harvest on the Forest has declined while other uses such as recreation have increased. As timber-harvest declined over the past two decades, so too has funding for road maintenance.”
“The current road system cannot be maintained or sustained, so it is likely the future road system will include fewer open roads. Closing roads to motor vehicle use, but maintaining use as a trail may be an opportunity identified in Travel Analysis. However, funding for trail maintenance is continuing to decline too, so an opportunity to convert a road to a trail must consider sustainability of the trail system, too.”
Rails-to-trails advocates have announced the formal launch of the Trans Allegheny Trails network.
“The Trans Allegheny Trails are 13 trails that stretch from the Allegheny Ridge to the Allegheny River,” said Laura Hawkins, a greenway coordinator with the Allegheny Ridge Corp., which is working to promote the recreational, historical and economic assets along the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway.
Starting with Roaring Run Trail in the west, the Trans Allegheny Trails include a nearly continuous string of hiking and biking trails along the Kiski and Conemaugh rivers and Blacklick Creek from North Apollo to Ebensburg.
Also included are spurs to Delmont and Indiana; a trail network around Johnstown; and three trail segments primarily in Blair County.
Hawkins was joined by representatives of the Roaring Run, West Penn, Westmoreland Heritage and Blairsville Riverfront trails for the first of three ceremonies promoting the initiative.
Operators of the individual trails began to combine their efforts in 2011 after the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy hosted its annual Greenway Sojourn on several of the trails.
Ever since the April 18, 2014 Everest tragedy, when 16 Sherpas died in an avalanche, the Nepal Tourism Board has been grappling with how to make extreme tourism safer within the country.
After months of active discontent from local entrepreneurs, the board has made decisions about how to monitor foreign recreation, trekking in particular.
“The government has made it mandatory for foreign trekkers to accompany a local trekking guide or a porter while going for hiking,” Ramesh Dhamala, president of Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN) told reporters. He is also the coordinator of the Joint Tourism Coordination Committee.
The JTCC had been agitating for the past two months over their various demands, including that trekkers take along a local guide while mountaineering, restructuring of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and a probe into the alleged irregularities in the NTB.
Climbing activities were completely halted in the Everest region for the entire spring season following the mishap, affecting the highly-lucrative industry.
Chesterfield recently joined a program that aims to create a network of linked hiking trails around western Massachusetts.
Under the auspices of the Pioneer Valley and Berkshire Regional planning commissions and the Trustees of Reservations, the Trails Linkages Project seeks to connect long-distance trails in nine towns centered around what is known as the “Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway” (Route 20) and the Route 112 Scenic Byway.
Nancy Rich, Chesterfield’s representative for the project, said the first step is to identify and map designated trails as well as informal trails.
Rich said while the vast majority of existing trails are on public land, some tracts may be privately owned which means the project would need to gain permission from landowners before proceeding.
“We want to work closely with landowners early on in the process,” Rich said. “It is important that property owners are on board and support the project.”
There’s a mystical forest in Belgium, not far from Brussels, that will take your breath away if you visit it in April or May. Every spring, Hallebros, or Bois de Hal (Halle Forest in Dutch), a beautiful 552 ha forest, is carpeted with a thick layer of bluebell flowers. Being in this forest during the bluebell season is a spectacular experience.
Visiting would be best during weekdays, as it is packed with tourists and local visitors on weekends. Naturally, picking the flowers in this wood is strictly forbidden in order to preserve its extraordinary natural heritage.
The ethereal fog that forms quite often in this forest accentuates its mystical and surreal atmosphere even more. To experience this forest with all of your senses, visit early in the morning or at night – when the wonderful smell of the bluebells is at its strongest.
A bipartisan bill introduced June 18, 2014 would improve access to trails on national forests, addressing huge maintenance backlogs and bolstering safety for visitors.
The legislation, introduced by Reps Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN), would expand the role of volunteer and partner organizations in maintaining national forest trails. At a time when budgets are tight and demand for public land access is high, the U.S. Forest Service can use the help; a 2013 study from the Government Accountability Office found that the agency carries a $314 million trail maintenance backlog, which in turn may limit outdoor recreation opportunities and damage natural resources. The same report estimated that only about one-quarter of trails currently meet the Forest Service’s own maintenance specifications.
The National Forest System sees about 165 million visitors annually, making its network of trails among the busiest on earth. The latter allows access to activities like cross-country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and off-road vehicle use.
The U.S. Forest Service is seeking volunteers to serve on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council. The Council, established under the National Trails System Act, will provide recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture about matters relating to the administration and management of the Pacific Northwest Trail, specifically advising on trail uses, establishing a trail corridor, and prioritizing future projects.
Designated by Congress as a National Scenic Trail in 2009, the Pacific Northwest Trail connects people and communities along a 1,200-mile route in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Interested candidates should have a desire to perpetuate and protect the characteristics and values of the Trail while taking into consideration other public interests along the Trail corridor. Members will serve a two year term and may serve consecutive terms. Nominations must be received by Sept. 30.
The first Council meeting is tentatively scheduled for April, 2015, and we anticipate that it will meet approximately twice a year for three years.
For more information on eligibility and applying, you can contact Matt McGrath, Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Program Manager at (425) 783-6199; email: [email protected], or the Forest Service website.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is seeking volunteers to participate in an invasive exotic plant workday beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at Lemon Gap, along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. Carpooling to Lemon Gap will be available, and those interested should meet at 8 a.m. at the ATC’s Southern Regional Office parking lot, at 160 Zillicoa St. in Asheville, N.C.
The free event, hosted by the ATC, will provide participants with an opportunity to remove non-native invasive plants and protect the native biodiversity of the Lemon Gap area. Volunteers will target the highly-invasive plant Japanese spiraea (Spiraea japonica) by pulling small stems or cutting and applying herbicide to larger stems. This work is a continuation of control efforts which began in 2011.
The workday will begin with a brief educational workshop to train volunteers on the importance of native plant diversity, plant identification and safe work procedures. Participants will also receive free guidebooks for the identification and control of invasive exotic plants. Afterward, the group will work along the A.T. to remove spiraea and any other invasive plants encountered.
The ATC will provide all equipment needed for the workday. Volunteers are asked to wear long sleeves, long pants and sturdy hiking boots or shoes. Participants should also bring a lunch and at least two quarts of water. Those who carpool will return to Asheville by 5 p.m.
Individuals or groups interested in volunteering or carpooling should contact Rhys Brydon-Williams at [email protected] or by calling 828 254-3708..
If you’re headed to the Smoky Mountains anytime soon, consider this a warning: Some of your favorite trails may be off limits. That’s because black bears are hungry this time of year. And they’re getting more aggressive. “There’s not a lot of natural food sources out there. We’re still waiting, about another two weeks, for the berries to ripen up,” park spokesperson Molly Schroer said.
In the meantime, these bears are venturing into the open, looking for dinner. “If they see an opportunity, and somebody has left food out unattended on a picnic table in a campground, they’re gonna go into that area, try to take that food, and that’s when we have a problem,” Schroer said.
They’ve had to close parts of the park because bears are getting too close, she said. They’ve shut down the Spence Field Shelter, Curry Mountain Trail, Meigs Creek Trail, Meigs Mountain Trail, Bullhead Trail and Backcountry Campsites 11,13,19, 20 and 113.
Park rangers are tracking the bears, trying to keep them away from popular areas. “We’ll do stuff like shoot it with a bean bag in the bottom. It doesn’t break the skin, but it gives it a nice little smack, just kinda make it have a little natural fear of us,” she said.
The U.S. Forest Service has reopened most of the trails and roads in the Trace Ridge and Wash Creek areas of Henderson County, NC in the Pisgah Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest.
The closures were necessary to implement portions of the Brushy Ridge project, an ecosystem improvement project that will provide a number of environmental benefits. Visitors will see evidence of the project where timber harvesting activities took place in the Trace Ridge Trailhead area and a portion of Trace Ridge and Wash Creek Trails.
The following areas are reopened to non-motorized use:
Hendersonville Reservoir Road (FS 142);
Fletcher Creek Road (FS 5097);
Wash Creek (Trail 606);
Trace Ridge (Trail 354);
North Mills River (Trail 353) and
Yellow Gap Trail (Trail 611).
Wash Creek Road remains closed to motor vehicle traffic to protect public safety and facilitate implementation of the project. The road remains open to non-motorized use with caution advised for logging truck traffic on the road. Seniard Mountain Road and Bear Branch Trail remain closed to all use. The Forest Service will reopen all roads and trails once timber harvesting and hauling are completed, which will most likely be late fall.
It’s a little-known-fact that the some of the most spectacular wilderness lands in the country are in the North Cascades of Washington state.
This area, stretching from just north of Mt. Rainier to the Canadian border, is anchored by a network of ten wilderness areas encompassing more than 2.5 million acres of the most pristine wild lands in the state. These areas protect the most iconic peaks, lakes, and vistas of the North Cascades such as Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, the Enchantment Lakes region and the Lake Chelan high country.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, The Wilderness Society has just released a list of 14 wilderness hikes in the North Cascades that will take you to some of the most spectacular sights in the region.
These hikes capture the best of what each wilderness area in the North Cascades has to offer—from the sprawling alpine meadows of Spider Meadows in the Glacier Peak Wilderness and waterfalls of the Boulder River Wilderness to the historic Evergreen Mountain Lookout in Wild Sky Wilderness and panoramic views of Bandera Mountain in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
To minimize the chances of a wildfire, the Board of Supervisors today is expected to authorize Riverside County, CA Fire Chief John Hawkins to close access to seven hiking and off-road locations.
Since 2007, Hawkins has sought and received authorization to close the grounds – located mainly in the central and southwest portions of the county – for the duration of Southern California’s fire season, generally June to November.
Hawkins is asking that the closures begin immediately “because of the potential of damaging human-caused fires,” according to a fire department statement. Dry conditions raise the risk of wildfires, and fighting them would be challenging given the sites’ terrain and remoteness, according to agency officials.
By reducing foot and vehicle traffic in each location, the chances of a wildfire starting are much slimmer, according to the fire department.
Graffiti painted on a cliff that’s a favorite stopping point on the Lykken Trail for hikers John Moore and Ryan Cummings had the two real estate agents angry and eager to find a way to clean it off. “I can’t imagine anyone thinking that this is even remotely OK,” said Moore.
With white, orange and green paint, someone created large footprints and wording, including “Step by step,” on the cliff that offers hikers a panoramic view of the city.
Moore and husband Cummings were hiking the trail for the first time in a couple of weeks, Moore said, so he wasn’t sure when the graffiti was done.
They posted their angst and some photos on the Palm Springs Neighborhoods Group Facebook page and soon had people offering to help clean it off the rocks. Not wanting to damage the environment, they are holding off until they get some guidance from the city on the best way to remove the graffiti.
“I just need to find out what will work without damaging the rocks and the environment,” Moore said, adding he planned to also report the incident to police. He and Cummings worry that leaving it up too long will encourage more vandalism.
In North Carolina’s northwest corner, seven mountain and foothill counties share far more natural beauty and cultural treasures than anyone could ever explore in one lifetime.
You know the mountains are cool and lovely, and you know they’re out there – somewhere. But until you start looking, you can’t imagine what you’ll find.
Six state parks offer a sweep of remote outdoor experiences. In the rugged terrain of South Mountains State Park in southern Burke County, you can catch a trout, pedal a 17-mile mountain-bike loop or ride a horse to your campsite. A placid, scenic river invites canoeists to New River State Park in Ashe and Alleghany counties, where one of the campgrounds is accessible only by water.
The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, from the Great Smokies in North Carolina to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, counts the most visitors of any park of the National Park Service – but it still might be regarded as the very best of secrets where it winds serenely through northwest North Carolina. While summer weekend crowds fill tourist streets and state highways nearby, you can feel all alone as you drive the parkway at 45 mph.
The rustically modern, off-the-grid ecolodges of the Maine Huts & Trails system (opened in 2008) are attractive, spacious, impeccably clean, and staffed by supremely friendly people who make supremely good food. Your trail discomfort will dissipate upon our arrival.
All told, the system comprises 80 miles of trails and four full-service huts (with eight more planned), spread over the lovely, lake-dotted landscape two hours north of Portland. Designed for cross-country skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, the trails are blissfully accommodating, meandering flatly over meadows and through woods, carpeted here by moss, there by gigantic, prehistoric-looking ferns, and dotted with gemlike wild strawberries and rubbery, neon-colored mushrooms. Plus, since beds and meals are provided at the huts, and gear shuttles are available ($25 per bag), your load is light.
The helpful staff can map out a three-day option based on your interests and abilities. They describe the second day’s destination, Flagstaff Lake Hut, as “a total playground” and recommend staying two nights, preceded by a night at Poplar Hut. After a mellow, three-mile introduction to the trails, you will reach Poplar, where you will be shown to an airy, pine-paneled cabin with two twin beds and a bunk bed kids, if necessary.
Families are usually housed in the same bunk room, but all guests (huts can house 32 to 44 at a time) share the large bathroom in the main lodge, with spotless, state-of-the-art composting toilets and coin-op hot showers.
The Nakasendo Way is an 11-day tour. It follows the path of an ancient and largely forgotten highway known as the Nakasendo. Starting in Kyoto, you’ll walk the more scenic, better-preserved parts of the trail through Hikone, Sekigahara, Magome, Tsumago and Narai before ending up in downtown Tokyo. Be ready to hike from six to 16 miles each day along a mix of lanes, gravel tracks, forest paths and cobblestoned roadway.
Dating back to the 7th century, Japan’s Nakasendo was once a path for shoguns, pilgrims and samurai.
Studded with Shinto shrines and statues of deities charged with watching over those on the road, the Nakasendo reached the peak of its usefulness and romance during Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868), before steam trains and paved roads changed the pace of travel.
This was a stable time for Japan, under Tokugawa rule. Arts like haiku, woodblock printing, bonsai and kabuki theater flourished in the larger cities. Since the Nakasendo linked two of the biggest cities, speeding commerce and messages, it was at the heart of this Japanese golden age.
One of the most exciting parts of the walk is the chance to spend some nights at wayside inns known as ryokan or, when simpler, as minshuku. These traditional hostels are owned by many of the oldest families along the route.
One of the most challenging day hikes in New England is the Presidential Traverse, a gargantuan ramble over all the major peaks of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Tackling the hike means anywhere from 12 to 20 hours on your feet for some 19 to 23 miles while you gain about 9,000 feet of elevation.
Beginning around the summer solstice in June, when there is maximum daylight, serious hikers begin to set off in numbers to attempt this extended daylong adventure in the exceedingly beautiful but all too often harsh Alpine environment of the high mountain summits.
A proper traverse climbs all seven summits in the range that are named for U.S. presidents: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Washington, Eisenhower and Pierce. The first four reach heights exceeding 5,000 feet, while the latter three are over 4,000 feet. Mount Washington tops out at 6,288 feet, the highest mountain in the northeastern U.S.
Hikers on the traverse are above treeline and fully exposed to the mountain elements for 15 miles of the 20-mile hike. When the weather is good the hiking is splendid and the views grand.
Through hikers, weekend warriors and Duncannon, PA residents alike will show their support for the United States’ first national trail when they gather for Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community’s third annual festival on June 21, 2014.
The celebration, originally called the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community Festival, got its start when Duncannon was dedicated as an Appalachian Trail Community in 2012, said trail ambassador Paul Smith. “Whenever they’re designated, they usually do a designation ceremony,” he said. “We decided to make that an annual event.”
“Appalachian Trail Communities recognize areas that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail,” community president Sean O’Shell said. Duncannon is one of 32 communities to receive the designation. The trail, boasting a length of more than 2,000 miles, wends its way across the East Coast from Georgia to Maine. High and Cumberland streets in Duncannon actually are part of the trail.
This year’s festival, renamed the Duncannon Blast, will be on a section of High Street between Cumberland and Ann streets from noon to 4 p.m.
“We try to help preserve and promote the Appalachian Trail and have people know that it’s right in town,” O’Shell said, adding that his own trail affiliation changed his life for the better.
The Finger Lakes Trail (FLT), true to its name, traverses the entire Finger Lakes region and then some. Beginning in the west at the Pennsylvania border in the Alleghany State Forest, it wends its way eastward weaving north and south past the southern ends of the larger lakes, ending at the Long Path in the Catskills.
The Cayuga Trails Club leads regularly scheduled hikes on the FLT. “The majority of our hikes are on the Finger Lakes Trail,” said the president, “but not all. We also regularly walk on the Cayuga Trail.” The latter is an 8-mile route through the Fall Creek Natural Area owned by Cornell University.
The nature of the guiding will vary according to the Cayuga Trails member who does the leading. “Different leaders will have different information,” said the club president, who leads some hikes himself. “I know a bit about trees, so that is what I will point out, but other people are well versed in topics as varied as salamanders and local history. There is a lot of history visible along the Finger Lakes Trail.”
In addition to providing information, the “hike leader” also explains the route beforehand—including its level of difficulty—asking people to sign what Hopkins described as a “modest waiver form.” You do not have to be a member of the trails club to attend one of their hikes. During this year’s warmer months the club will have offering a series of 20 hikes on Tuesday afternoons at 5 p.m. through July 29. They also offer longer hikes on both Saturdays and Sundays and occasionally on other days of the week.
The natural geologic cut of the Appalachian Mountains, and the plentiful moisture and frequency of springs in the region, combine to produce a cascading system of waterworks from Shenandoah National Park down through the Blue Ridge Parkway and into Great Smoky Mountains National Park that provides more than enough incentive to take a hike.
Across this rumpled region that stretches more than 500 miles are countless waterfalls that draw visitors throughout the year, whether they come to counter the cloaking heat and humidity of summer or marvel at the intricate iceworks of winter. Though locals know these waterworks well, and when best to view them, newcomers could use some advice, and that’s where Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge comes in handy.
Now in its 4th edition, this book provides entries on more than 120 waterfalls, from flumes 50 feet long to cataracts that plunge more than 100 feet. There are general locator maps, GPS coordinates, and a too-short section of beautiful full-color pictures.
Overall, if you’re planning a trip to any — or all — of these park units, this book is a good resource to find waterfall hikes both in the parks, and in the surrounding countryside of state parks in Virginia and North Carolina.