Hiking is an especially beloved pastime in Switzerland, a nation veined with wanderwegen or footpaths that wind through the surreal landscapes. No matter where you travel in Switzerland, you’re sure to find a pleasant wanderweg marked every few meters by triangular yellow signs — they’re affixed to tree trunks, signposts, even privately owned barns.
After we had followed the yellow signs for two hours, the Mark Twain Trail eased into switchbacks. We spent a comfortable hour or so marching a path framed by beech and spruce trees, encountering the occasional sign inscribed with one of Twain’s gushing endorsements: “And of course the colors in the water change and blend and dissolve, producing marvel after marvel, miracle after miracle.” As we walked, my eyes kept wandering to the blueness of Lake Lucerne and all the toylike steamboats sputtering below.
“After that, we found a jodeler every ten minutes; we gave the first one eight cents, the second one six cents, the third one four, the fourth one a penny, contributed nothing to Nos. 5, 6 and 7, and during the remainder of the day hired the rest of the jodelers, at a franc apiece, not to jodel anymore.” – Mark Twain
Jeff Brewer, of Raleigh, is a hiker’s hero and a driving force behind North Carolina’s flagship trail.
Brewer fell in love with hiking in 1996 when he took a hiking class with author Allen DeHart at Louisburg College. “Well, it’s good to get away from the hustle and bustle of traffic and take the cell phones and put them away,” Brewer said.
Brewer is responsible for coordinating hundreds of volunteers in completing the Falls Lake leg of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail. “A lot of people believe the trail will be fairly flat, and I am here to tell you that is not the case,” he said. “It has a lot of hills to it.”
In 2003, Brewer became the fifth person to hike the entire trail – which spans from Clingmans Dome, in the Great Smoky Mountains, to Jockeys Ridge in Kitty Hawk. Now, Brewer volunteers for Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – a group working to bridge gaps in the trail between the Triangle and New Bern.
Back Country Horsemen (BCH) of America says it values wild lands and the right to enjoy them by horseback. Protecting the wilderness from unnecessary damage is imperative to keeping it pristine. But that creates unique challenges that can prevent proper maintenance of trails, bridges, shelters, and other amenities that allow us to recreate there.
The U.S. Forest Service’s wilderness regulations prohibit the use of motorized or wheeled equipment, which can cause extensive damage even when operated with care. The only way to access these remote places with the tools and supplies necessary for making repairs is the same way our ancestors traveled: on the back of a saddle horse, leading a string of pack horses and mules.
Back Country Horsemen of Washington collaborates and partners with other trail advocacy organizations to manage and maintain some of the most remote regions in that state’s mountains. The Lewis County Chapter recently provided pack stock support to the U.S. Forest Service and Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) for a month-long project on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,550-mile trail corridor that stretches from Mexico to Canada. Organized by PCTA, this project rebuilt a section of the trail across Packwood Glacier basin in the Goat Rocks Wilderness of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, where motorized and wheeled equipment is prohibited.
To many outdoor enthusiasts the mountains and forests are waking with life again and trails beckon. With the days of summer in plain sight, recalling the cold and snow of winter would be a cruel exercise. But hitting the trail often means entering a place where the effects of winter can be seen well into spring.
Alex DeLucia manages the Trails Volunteer and Leave No Trace programs for the Appalachian Mountain Club, where he has worked since 2001. The A.M.C. was founded in 1876 and maintains 1,800 miles of trails in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Mr. DeLucia spoke to The New York Times from the A.M.C. Highlands center at Crawford Notch, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, about the challenges of mudseason, the thawing period when lasting snowpack and moist soil leave trails vulnerable and present unexpected obstacles to the hiker.
Mr. DeLucia also shared some tips for healthy hiking in the warmer weather ahead.
Enjoy this time lapse of Western North Carolina from local videographer Smith Woosley.
June 6, 2015 is American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day®, the country’s largest celebration of trails. National Trails Day events will take place in every state across the country and will include hikes, biking and horseback rides, paddling trips, birdwatching, geocaching, gear demonstrations, stewardship projects and more.
If you are interested in leading or organizing an event, check out the host guides and prep materials on the National Trails Day website. Registration for National Trails Day 2015 is now open.
American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® (NTD) is a celebration of America’s magnificent Trail System, occurring annually on the first Saturday in June. NTD features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States.
Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host National Trails Day® events to share their love of trails with friends, family, and their communities. NTD introduces thousands of Americans to a wide array of trail activities: hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, trail running, and bird watching and more.
For public and private land managers alike, National Trails Day® is a great time to showcase beautiful landscapes and special or threatened locales as thousands of people will be outside looking to participate in NTD events.
The Attachment Shovel is a necessity for camping and other outdoor adventures. It can charge your phone, chop wood, help start a fire, and even dig a hole. The shovel measures 40 inches in length and weighs a little over 3 pounds. The shovel portion is made from Hi-Carbon Steel. This thing can take a beating.
The Shovel can cut wood, saw branches, dig holes, move rocks, the possibilities are endless. The shovel’s handles are made from a strong aircraft aluminum, with machined grips for easy use. The shovel has a removable blade and bottle opener.
The included flashlight has an Aluminum Alloy frame. It also features 4 light modes, high, low, pulse, and SOS. The light contains a rechargeable 1800mAh battery, and has a brightness of 200 lumens.
Included with every shovel is a carrying case.
In its first six months of existence, the world’s first solar road is performing even better than developers thought.
The road, which opened in the Netherlands in November of last year, has produced more than 3,000 kilowatt-hours of energy — enough to power a single household for one year.
“If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70kwh per square meter per year,” Sten de Wit, a spokesman for the project — dubbed SolaRoad — said. “We predicted [this] as an upper limit in the laboratory stage. We can therefore conclude that it was a successful first half year.” De Wit said in a statement that he didn’t “expect a yield as high as this so quickly.”
The 230-foot stretch of road, which is embedded with solar cells that are protected by two layers of safety glass, is built for bike traffic, a use that reflects the road’s environmentally-friendly message and the cycling-heavy culture of the Netherlands. However, the road could withstand heavier traffic if needed, according to one of the project’s developers.
Join Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) on Saturday, May 16th, for a guided hike through the scenic Johnson Branch conservation easement in Transylvania County. This hike has been one of CMLC’s most popular hikes from previous years, featuring a picturesque 68-acre property conserved by the Jones family through CMLC in 2009. Hikers will enjoy a moderate hike that includes several waterfalls, beautiful rich cove forest, a plethora of spring wildflowers, and a scenic view high above the French Broad River valley.
The hike will be led by the landowners David and Betty Jones who will tour hikers on their protected property as well as share stories of the land and the close connection that they share with it. This property is not otherwise open to the public for hiking.
Total cumulative hiking distance is 3.3 miles. This hike is rated as moderate in difficulty, featuring a total elevation gain of 815 feet. The hike will begin at 10:00am. Please allow extra time before and afterwards for travel. This hike is open for both members and non-members.
Participants are required to be in reasonable physical condition and capable of completing a two mile hike over uneven, forested terrain. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate pets on this hike. Hikers should wear sturdy walking shoes (no flip-flops), bring several layers of clothing in preparation for changing warm and cold temperatures, pack plenty of water as well as a snack/lunch to eat during the hike. Hikers who attend are required to participate in the entire duration of the hike.
The National Park Trust and Buddy Bison, their lovable woolly mascot, invite you to join the nationwide day of play by discovering and exploring your local, state, and national parks and public lands on Kids to Parks Day.
Children, families, teachers, cities, towns, and parks are gearing up for this year’s Kids to Parks Day (KTP), a nation-wide day of outdoor play organized by National Park Trust (NPT) in cooperation with a host of local and national collaborators. This year’s KTP Day will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2015.
NPT is encouraging children across the country to explore their neighborhood parks and discover science, history, nature and adventure right around the corner or just across town.
Framed by pitch-black canyon walls rising monumentally on either side of the rushing, rain-swollen Havasu Creek, the night sky bursts with snow-white stars and Milky Way swirls.
It is the last night of a grueling three-day Havasupai Trail round trip to the waterfalls in northern Arizona’s Havasu Canyon, an offshoot of the Grand Canyon. The hike offers bliss by way of blisters, far from the crowds.
Even though the mesa-top Hualapai trailhead is less than 30 miles as the eagle flies from tourist-thronged Grand Canyon Village inside the national park, it is 191 miles away by car, most on deserted roads. Tribal members heading home and hikers, not day-trippers spilling out of buses, embark on this trail.
The vistas into the red and white infinity of rock formations, punctuated by unexpectedly green desert brush, are breathtaking. The first couple of miles of switchbacks, dropping 2,000 feet to a wash at the canyon floor, take away what little breath you might have left.
Mercifully flat, the next 7 miles snake through gauntlets of orange-to-salmon smooth ledges, along a cottonwood-lined stream, through tiny Supai village and its corrals of pack mules and horses – for the hikers who prefer not to stagger under a 30-plus-pound backpack.
Officials in North Bend, Washington, hope a new shuttle service will ease traffic congestion at some of the area’s most popular hiking trails, including Mount Si.
The city has teamed up with the state Department of Natural Resources, the Washington Trails Association and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust to offer the shuttle, which will run every half-hour on summer weekends from the park-and-ride in downtown North Bend. Stops include the Little Si, Mount Si and Teneriffe trailheads.
Supporters say they hope to expand the service as it gains popularity. Future destinations could include the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley, Rattlesnake Lake and other hiking, biking or kayaking routes.
The shuttle schedule is also coordinated with King County Metro bus arrivals, so people can reach the trailheads from Seattle without driving. Round-trip shuttle fare is $5.
On the morning of July 11, 1983, Maine State Police Detective Sgt. Ralph E. Pinkham got a call from a woman in Texas worried about her sister Jessie Albertine Hoover.
She hadn’t heard from her since May 16, when Hoover called from a Bangor motel. At the time, her sister said, the 54-year-old had only about $15 to $20, but intended to wire for money when she passed through towns along the Appalachian Trail, which she had come to Maine to thru-hike.
At Baxter State Park, Pinkham learned Hoover had talked with rangers about her hike plans and been turned away from summiting Mount Katahdin. She is believed to have started to hike south but northbound Appalachian Trail hikers coming through the Daicey Pond checkpoint hadn’t seen her at all.
In fact, it had been six weeks since anyone had.
The 52-mile Lost Coast Trail runs about 255 miles north of San Francisco. It was named the Lost Coast because of depopulation in the area in the 1930s and because the terrain is too steep and rugged to build a road. If you look at a map, you can see how Highway 1 heads inland north of Fort Bragg.
There are two distinct sections of the Lost Coast Trail. The northern section is a 24-mile relatively flat hike along the beach. The exciting aspect of the trail is that some of it disappears at high tide. The southern section is more in the mountains.
Hiking the Lost Coast Trail north to south is the preferred direction because of the prevailing northerly wind. You want the wind at your back and not in your face.
Take heed of the “no trespassing” signs because people with guns are protective of their illegal crop. Ironically, it’s such a lucrative crop they want to keep it illegal.
Mattole Trailhead is on Mattole Beach. It is a good idea to have a tide chart for the next week and a map of the BLM King Range National Conservation Area that includes Lost Coast. Each day there was a big tide and a small tide. There are rogue waves, and impassable zones, where high tide covers the trail.
Beginning in May, the Montana Wilderness Association is offering more than 150 free day hikes, field trips, trail building and maintenance projects, wildland inventory outings and backpacking adventures across some of the state’s most magnificent backcountry.
Now in its 53rd season, MWA’s Wilderness Walks program continues to offer hikers of all ages and experience levels an opportunity to participate in traditional recreation opportunities while enjoying Montana’s quiet beauty and remaining wild places.
All MWA outings are free and open to the public, but participants must preregister. The complete 2015 Wilderness Walks schedule will be available online at www.wildmontana.org/walks starting May 22 at 8 a.m., at which time participants can begin preregistering for a walk.
For more information on the program, contact Amanda Hagerty at 406-443-7350 (ext. 108) or at [email protected]
Before there were roads, there were only trails. Before there were wheels, there were only feet. Before the Norsemen and Columbus stumbled upon North America, the continent was crisscrossed by a trail system chiseled into the earth by animals large and small and the silent moccasins that followed them.
Three hundred years ago, the southern Appalachians were home to the sovereign Cherokee Nation. Over sixty towns and settlements were connected by a well-worn system of foot trails, many of which later became bridle paths and wagon roads. This Indian trail system was the blueprint for the circuitry of the region’s modern road, rail, and interstate systems.
Cherokee towns and villages were scattered across Southern Appalachia. The most isolated of these towns were in the remote valleys of western North Carolina along the Little Tennessee, Cheoah, Valley, Hiwassee, Nantahala, and Tuckasegee Rivers. Mountainous barriers reaching into the sky surrounded these towns and European explorers described them as “impassable” on early maps.
These trails are not to be confused with modern recreational trails, although portions of some of them have become a part of the Appalachian, Bartram, and Benton MacKaye Trails. They are abandoned and deeply entrenched in some places, and overgrown in rhododendron and laurel in others. Sometimes a trail abruptly disappears where early 20th century logging operations stripped the mountains of trees.
We can stand in the deeply worn recesses and look at the distant profiles of the mountains from the exact vantage point of Cherokee ancestors a thousand years ago. These trails were the travel arteries of the land, the highways of their day, and they connect our generation with the history of the land.
Hiking trails have been identified as one of new niche tourism markets aimed at enhancing values of farms around the capital of Namibia that offer unique landscapes.
New hiking trails are being promoted by the Namplace project, which is mandated to advocate and educate the public about landscape conservation in the identified pilot landscape conservation areas such as Sossusvlei Namib, Fish River Canyon, Waterberg, Mudumu and the Windhoek Green Belt.
“These efforts are to make farms more sustainable and encourage farmers not to deplete natural resources on farms. Rather we recommend they venture into tourism to preserve the natural environment for the future,” said Manini Kandume, project communication consultant.
Farm Godeis, situated approximately 70 kilometres west of Windhoek, in what is known as the green belt, is one of the farms where the hiking trail intervention has been implemented.
The Namplace project in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has developed a Khomas-Hochland hiking trail in Windhoek’s green belt landscape, which is a pilot study of the Namplace project stretching 100 kilometres along five farms.
The hiking trail guides in Idaho adore the mountains to the north and south but ignore most of the Snake River Plain. That big, empty swath of sagebrush and lava is the high desert, and hiking authors largely direct their readers elsewhere.
That doesn’t stop folks from poking around in the desert with maps. You’ll find lovely native wildflowers. And sculpted basalt. And absolutely gorgeous silence.
But there’s been a lot of disappointment in the exploration, too: Roads that appear on maps but seem nonexistent on the ground. Long, bumpy rides to nowhere. Inability to find access to public land that doesn’t trespass on private.
Doesn’t anybody write guidebooks for the Idaho desert?
The Green Mountain Club, maintainer and protector of Vermont’s Long Trail, is asking hikers to take extra care from now until Memorial Day.
It’s mud season, and hiking trails are especially prone to erosion at this time of year. Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause irreversible erosion and damage vegetation.
Vermont officially closes state-owned trails at high elevations from April 15 through the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, including Camel’s Hump State Park, Coolidge State Forest, Mansfield State Forest, Long Trail State Forest and Jay State Forest.
Lower-elevation state forest and park trails remain open, but are still susceptible to damage.
Trails in the Green Mountain National Forest are not officially closed, but the Forest Service asks hikers to avoid muddy high-elevation trails, such as the Long Trail, until Memorial Day weekend. Dry trails at lower elevations, dirt roads and recreation paths are fine for hiking.
Shorty’s Well to Telescope Peak is regarded by some as the hardest hike in North America. It starts below sea level, and climbs to over 11,000 feet. Distances vary from hiker-to-hiker, and for us it was nearly a 40 mile round trip hike without reaching the summit of Telescope Peak. Aside from the washed out road that makes up the first eight miles, there is no trail. Route finding is difficult, and the climbs are often straight vertical.
Story by David Wherry
I tried to stand, but I was overcome with dizziness. I simultaneously needed to vomit and defecate, but if I left the trail to do either, I wouldn’t have made it back.
“Relax“, my friend and hiking companion said, “we’ll stay here as long as you need.”
This was Shorty’s Well to Telescope Peak.
We were surrounded by darkness on a long abandoned mining road in Death Valley National Park. We had started our hike almost a full day earlier under a moonlit sky.
When we started out on this now seemingly hopeless endeavor, we had large ambitions. Massive ambitions.