A group of at least a dozen hikers and backpackers spent an unplanned extra night camping in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park along Kauai’s Kalalau Trail earlier this month after the Hanakapiai Stream flooded.
The decision to remain overnight was reinforced after one couple tried to cross the turbulent, flood-swollen stream, using a makeshift rope line, and nearly drowned. By the next day, the Hanakapiai flood conditions had subsided, and the stranded hikers were able to make it back to their cars, according to the Hawaii DLNR.
the executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, said it’s crucial that people planning to hike along the Kalalau Trail, which is renowned for its stunning access to the Garden Isle’s jaw-dropping Napali Coast, check weather conditions and forecasts.
“Interior rain is a big deal,” she explained. “It can be sunny on the south shore and storming on the interior of the island, and that fills everything up that flows to ocean. Before you know it, what started out seeming like a good day for hiking turns into flash flooding.”
Hanakapiai, and other streams across the Aloha State, are incredibly dangerous during periods of heavy rain, in part, because flooding can occur so suddenly, but also because visitors don’t realize just how deadly crossing these waterways can be. Keep this in mind whenever hiking near streams no matter where you are.
Juan de Oñate, colonial governor of New Mexico, once used El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro to travel from Mexico City to a new Spanish settlement near San Juan Pueblo, now called Ohkay Owingeh, where he established the first capital of the province of New Spain.
Now a portion of that route — the Royal Road of the Interior Lands — is set to be part of a new 15-mile trail linking the Santa Fe River Trail to the Municipal Recreation Complex on Caja del Rio Road and to recreation sites farther north, along Old Buckman Road, such as the popular trail through Diablo Canyon.
Once the new segment of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail and the MRC Trail are complete, along with the final stretches of the River Trail, “People will be able to go from downtown Santa Fe out to Cajo del Rio and Diablo Canyon on bike or foot.”
The new trail also will link to hundreds of miles of other trails on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.
“The Big Friggin Loop” is the Grand Unified Trails System, an initiative to develop a loop of connecting trails around the greater Santa Fe area by 2020. Some of those trail systems include the La Tierra Trails, the Dale Ball Trails and trails in the Arroyo Hondo Open Space.
“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves,” wrote John Muir in Our National Parks. Clearly, John Muir understood the intrinsic value of spending time in nature.
Along with Muir, many of us recognize that hiking in nature is good for the body, mind, and soul. Walking through the woods while observing colorful birds and foliage, smelling the aroma of spruce and pine trees, and listening to a soothing running stream simply clear our mind and make us feel good. Lucky for us, doctors agree. Study after study shows there are many mental health benefits to spending time hiking in nature.
Those who ruminate or focus too much on negative thoughts about themselves can exhibit anxiety, depression, and other issues, such as binge eating or post traumatic stress disorder. In a recent study, researchers investigated whether spending time in nature affects rumination, and they found that hiking in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts.
In this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through an urban environment and a nature environment. They found that those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is associated with mental illness. Those who walked through an urban environment didn’t enjoy these benefits.
New Hampshire hikers braved everything El Nino could throw at them — frigid temperatures, harsh winds and snow — to accomplish something no one had done before.
Swanzey brothers Collin, 22, Ian, 26, and Ryan Hart, 24, along with their friend Matt Miller, 24, of Wilmot, became the first people to ever thru-hike the Cohos Trail in winter, according to Kim Nilsen, the founder of the Cohos Trail Association.
They began their trek on Feb. 2 at southern Crawford Notch in the White Mountain National Forest. Eleven grueling days and 170 miles later, they arrived at the Canadian border in Pittsburg. “When you’re hiking the Cohos Trail, you’re hiking with more moose than people,” Nilsen said.
Trail features include elevations between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, climbing 40 peaks and crossing three major rivers, according to Nilsen.
The trail itself is not difficult in terms of terrain, but Nilsen said its remoteness presents logistical challenges for hikers to resupply. “There’s places where it’s so remote that you’re not gonna be anywhere near population for several days,” he said.
Nilsen praised the Hart brothers and Miller for their preparation and skill, which allowed them to complete the feat.
Japan offers hikers a wide array of trails, from routes up active volcanoes to vibrant treks to historic temples. Japan’s vast terrain provides trail enthusiasts with hikes up the nation’s tallest mountain to short trails around scenic, small towns. This article reveals some of the top trails and hikes that draw outdoor tourists to Japan.
From epic climbs up active volcanoes to temple odysseys through the mists of time, Japan is full of fantastic walking trails and some of the world’s most impressive mountains.
Dominica is not to be confused with the Dominican Republic. That country produces fine cigars (like Cuba, its neighbor). Dominica, a much smaller country in the Windward Islands 280 miles east of St. Croix, exports nothing of consequence. The steepness of its mountains thwarted logging, its banana industry collapsed after losing battles with fungal blights and bigger Central American producers, and its rum is just so-so.
Nor does Dominica attract many tourists; at least, not compared to other Caribbean destinations. In the British Virgin Islands, 300 miles away, tourism accounts for 58 percent of the GDP. It’s just 25 percent here. Dominica’s mountainous jungle and cliffy shorelines don’t attract the typical Caribbean vacationer seeking talcum-soft beaches (of which Dominica has none). Even its primary airport remains small-scale, because there’s no place on the island flat enough for long, jumbo-jet runways.
So instead of courting global resort chains, this country of 72,000 started branding itself as “The Nature Island” in 2006. With 41,303 acres preserved as wilderness (about 20 percent of the country), Dominica contains more protected lands than anyplace else in the Caribbean, and is said to be the only Caribbean island that Christopher Columbus would still recognize today (in fact, its unspoiled landscape attracted Pirates of the Caribbean film crews in 2005 and 2007). Its snorkeling and diving rank among the best in the world (find both at Champagne Reef). Dayhikes lead to geothermal marvels such as 198°F, 200-foot diameter Boiling Lake and the fumarole-ridden wasteland known as the Valley of Desolation.
Danny On National Recreation Trail located in Whitefish, Montana on the Tally Lake Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest. It is by far the most popular trail on our national forest with approximately 15,000 people hiking the trail per year. Despite its popularity, it offers an aesthetically rewarding hiking experience.
The Danny On Trail extends 3.8 miles one way from the base area of Whitefish Mountain Ski and Summer Resort to its summit. Most of it winds through forests of Douglas fir, western larch, spruce, and fir while crossing grassy ski trails full of summer wildflowers. In late summer, plentiful ripe huckleberries make for an especially pleasing hike.
Along the trail and at the summit, hikers enjoy vistas of the verdant Flathead Valley below them and long-distance views of mountains of Glacier National Park; the Canadian Rockies; and the Bob Marshall, Great Bear, Scapegoat, and Cabinet wilderness areas. The view from the top is 360 degrees of alpine wonder.
The Danny On Trail is one of the few national recreation trails in the nation that can be accessed by chairlift. Hikers can pay a fee to ride the chair up and hike the trail down, or they may hike up and ride down on the chairlift; of course, they may hike both ways for free. The Danny On Trail connects near the summit to other trails including the short East Rim loop (0.4 miles) and the longer and less-travelled Flower Point Trail (5.6 miles from base area to summit).
Three great things about hiking in a national park: fresh air and your own two feet. Now a new book from Backpacker magazine can guide you to finding the best trails.
“Backpacker: The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes,” a new book by Ted Alvarez, the magazine’s Northwest editor, offers park-specific visiting tips and detailed hike profiles. The book also includes 100 maps, ranger bios and interviews, and many eye-candy images.
Alvarez has a personal connection to national parks in shaping his career.
When he was 21, a trip to Glacier National Park convinced the budding music journalist to become a wilderness writer. Although the book is written with backpacking and multi-day hikes in mind, many trails it covers are great for all levels of hikers.
The book arrives in April to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial. Pre-order now at the link above.
Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area have long supported development of trails and greenways throughout the immense and influential nine-county region. This local, grassroots activism has led to creation of some of the best regional trails in the country and positioned the Bay Area as a leader in the trails movement. Despite the tremendous popularity of trails, there are still major gaps in the area’s trail system, due to fierce competition for transportation and park funding, barriers in the built environment and a lack of attention to underserved areas.
Recognizing the importance of integrating the region’s trails into a complete, connected network, local partners have launched the Bay Area Trails Collaborative (BATC). Currently comprising more than 40 nonprofits, public agencies and private entities representing transportation, recreation, public health, equity and open space/conservation interests—the diverse group is speaking in a unified voice to regional and state planning authorities on behalf of trails.
The group aims to accelerate completion of an interconnected trail network in the San Francisco Bay Area that would link the region’s nine counties via a route spanning more than 1,000 miles. The completed trail system will connect local communities with jobs, resources and open space, and provide healthy recreation and active-transportation options, including hundreds of miles of trails, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and greenways that abound in the region.
Bali’s trekking trails have long played second fiddle to the island’s renowned beaches and surf breaks, but they’re slowly starting to wrestle a share of tourist attention.
Located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, Bali is home to several dormant and active volcanoes, many of which can be scaled on day hikes; particularly energetic visitors can opt to combine two or more, with the help of a local guide and driver.
Agung, Batur and Abang are all conveniently situated in the central and eastern region of the island and are no more than a couple of hours’ drive from each other, making them the perfect trio for a 24-hour challenge.
At 3,142 metres, Bali’s tallest peak, Agung, last erupted in 1963, causing devastating damage to the surrounding area. Nevertheless, it is considered sacred by the island’s predominantly Hindu population. Balinese legend tells how Agung was brought to the island as a fragment of the mythical Mount Meru, the centre of the Hindu universe.
Ornate shrines and temples punctuate the otherwise harsh and dusty terrain, and as we trekked up the stratovolcano’s western flank on a dried river of molten lava, the unmistakable scent of sulphur and powdery volcanic ash swirled in the breeze. Palm trees are silhouetted against the night sky and steam whisps from tiny inlets in the rock beneath you.
They’ve encountered scorpions, lizards and the perils of navigating around the abundant cacti that dot Arizona’s Casa Grande Mountain landscape, but a team of 11 AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps volunteers say they’re enjoying building a new trail in the city’s most popular hiking park.
“Every time we take a break, we sit down and stare across the desert. It’s absolutely beautiful,” said team member Forrest Potter.
The AmeriCorps team arrived in Casa Grande in mid-January and will remain through this month.
During their six-week stay, they’ll blaze new trails, install signs and do maintenance work on the mountain. They’ll also provide volunteer support at several city events.
By the second week in February, they’d already completed the new 1-mile Sun 1 Loop trail, which extends off the Ridge Trail.
In addition to enjoying the beauty of the desert and the thrill of spotting a yellow and blue lizard scurrying across the rocks, Potter said the team has encountered some challenges while working on the mountain.
“None of us are from the desert, so this is new to us,” he said.
Once a month Jeremy Beavin leads Kentucky hikers along one of Charlestown State Park’s six trails by the light of the full moon – and maybe a red-tinted flashlight.
The hikes have become more popular over the four years the park has offered them. “On average we’ll have about 30 people on each one,” said Beavin, an interpretive naturalist at the state park. “I’ve had 100 on Halloween and in June, the first warm month.”
Hikes in December and January were canceled, but the forecast is favorable for the Saturday, Feb. 20th hike on Trail 2 at 8 p.m.
“Just the last couple of months the rain and then the snow made the trails dangerous,” Beavin said. “We’re on Trail 2 this month. It’s our easiest trail, so it’s a good one for first-time out hikers.”
Nighttime hikes offer the potential to hear owls and animals. “There are nocturnal animals, but we tend to scare them off,” Beavin said. “It’s more of a social hike. You end up with a big group of people that are just kind of talking.”
“It’s a good way to give people that opportunity to overcome their fears,” he said. “There’s not any mythical creatures that exist in the dark. But your senses are heightened. You’ll hear a deer, maybe. It’s just kind of a different experience.”
Although tame in comparison to some other notoriously arduous Arizona hiking trails, Y Bar has several opportunities to pause for thought. The trail is steep, rocky and requires traversing of talus slopes and narrow, cliff-clinging turns with deep drop-offs. On days when it’s clear of obstacles, this challenging trail in the Mazatzal Wilderness is achievable by most well-conditioned, adequately equipped hikers. The reward is expansive views of the Mogollon Rim.
Do not underestimate the slowing power of constant elevation gain and unstable footing. Bring along extra water and food as this hike will likely take longer than you estimate. Even the most athletic hikers will want to allow extra time to soak in the scenery.
The hike begins with a moderate climb through juniper, oak and agave with big views of the Mogollon Rim and State Route 87 some 1,000 feet below. After a series of switchbacks, the trail swings west, heading deeper into the wilderness. It dips into Shake Tree Canyon, then moves up along the jostled terrain of Cactus Ridge to emerge on a magnificent, windy saddle.
Here, 7,903-foot Mazatzal Peak towers above a craggy back country of rock pinnacles, scorched trees and fathomless scoured basins.
by Kaitlin Wylde
Growing up in a woodsy suburb, I always felt like I was more of an indoor kid. I wasn’t particularly athletic, I was scared of the woods, allergic to most plants, and sneezed in the sun. While the other kids were trekking through the forests, playing hide and seek, collecting pet rocks, skinning their knees and looking for Big Foot, I was inside.
I much preferred to play in the world of Super Mario from the safety of my living room. I wanted to be a part of my surroundings and I wanted to lay in the grass, weave flower crowns, pretend to smoke with twigs and go camping with the other kids, but it seemed my body and mind were not built for it.
About a year ago, my brother, who’s much more of an outdoors kid than I, dragged me on a hike with him, and changed my life immeasurably. I was recently dumped, greasy-haired and sullen, sitting on the couch watching what I thought was The Jersey Shore but turned out to be Long Island Medium. My brother called me and asked what I was doing.
I looked down at my sweat pants, which had little bit of hardened yogurt on them, and started to cry. “Writing,” I lied. “Do you have sneakers?” he asked. “I’m not going running with you,” I said, emotionless and stern. “We’re not going running. I’m picking you up in an hour.”
I hated not knowing what we were about to do. My brother’s always been more adventurous than I am, but typically he would embark on his adventures alone — he knew better than to drag me along, I’d only ever slow him down. He didn’t have to see the YoPlait on my pants to know that I needed to get out of the house — he could smell my defeat through the phone.
When you tell people you’re going to Nova Scotia to hike, many seemed mystified. The province is not very big, and their mental picture may be of a placid landscape on a peninsula better known for high tides than high hills.
Mental pictures may come from a vibrant art exhibit by a Canadian cohort of painters known as the Group of Seven, whose works featured dramatic wilderness scenes in vivid colors.
Nova Scotia turns out to offer a stunning variety of walks, featuring huge, sweeping views. These meanders come with an unexpected bonus — surprisingly personal conversations with complete strangers. Besides being beautiful, it seems, this was the kind of place where paying for strawberries could get you 20 minutes of other people’s family histories, favorite cheeses (homemade stinging-nettle gouda) and personal habits.
Many of your walking destinations may come from conversations with local folk. The two young nature guides at the nature interpretation center near the town of Economy recommend a waterfall hike inland toward Economy Falls. The blueberry farmer on the morning walk to the bay suggests a little-trod path near the Age of Sail Heritage Museum down the road. He describes the route: past a clump of alders to another waterfall, it would probably take half an hour. (He also covers everything from his father’s education at the Fox River schoolhouse to the location of his other fields up the road and his family’s work on the dyke that made the lower fields arable.)
Despite the wet, cold weather, work is steadily moving forward to reroute the Fiery Gizzard Trail on the Cumberland Plateau, but crews need some helping hands.
The Friends of South Cumberland State Park just received a $2,000 Tennessee Trails Association grant that will pay for a heaving-lifting system. Park rangers will use the system to move large rocks, bridge lumber and other trail-building materials on the treacherous, steep terrain of the Southern Cumberland Plateau in Grundy County, Tenn.
The 13-mile Fiery Gizzard Trail, part of South Cumberland State Park, draws 3,000 to 4,000 users a month. It has been listed in Backpacker magazine as one of the top 25 hiking trails in the U.S. and the sixth best trail for fall foliage, according to park officials.
The rerouting will move the trail off private land its owner wants to sell. In 2014, the owner told South Cumberland State Park officials he planned to close the portion of the trail on his property by Dec. 1, 2015. Hence the need for the reroute.
Armed with the grant-funded equipment, workers on the rocky mountainsides are using a system with “all the cables, trolleys, pulleys and accessories that would allow the hoist to be used to its full potential across much greater distances,” the friends group vice president said in a statement on the grant.
The sound of rushing water floods your ears even before Cataract Creek is fully in view, descending the northern flank of Mount Tamalpais, California amid a riot of boulders, lush moss, graceful ferns and arching trees.
Prepare to be amazed by this magical place, where each step along the trail reveals some new variation on the blend of rocks and water responsible for a mile-and-a-half-long series of cascades known collectively as Cataract Falls.
Like coastal creeks around the North Coast that have been replenished by regular rainfall this winter, the popular Marin County falls have been at peak performance in recent weeks, drawing crowds to a remote canyon in the Mount Tamalpais Watershed for the kind of dramatic spectacle only Mother Nature does this well.
Part of the Mount Tamalpais Watershed, the area is overseen by the Marin Municipal Water District and open to the public without charge, although land managers hope the public will exercise the restraint necessary to protect the ecosystem and the water supply it provides. Swimming or otherwise entering the water is prohibited, and hikers must stay on the trails to avoid trampling plants and wildlife.
Cataract Falls is accessible from several different starting points, though many people choose to start at the bottom, near Alpine Lake and Fairfax-Bolinas Road.
Now a research biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, stationed at Virginia Tech, Jeff Marion’s specialty is Recreation Ecology, meaning he studies visitor impact to protected natural areas and consults with land managers to make visitation sustainable. By his account, he is one of four such scientists actively conducting research in the U.S., and he has mentored most of his colleagues.
The research studies that Jeff and his graduate students undertake are driven by one central question: Are we loving our parks and wildernesses to death? “Yes, to some extent we are,” says Jeff. “It’s essentially unavoidable.”
That’s a serious issue for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The trail is suffering from erosion and other damage, partly because the trail itself is unsustainable, and partly because visitors tend toward high-impact behavior. Even when they’re aware of Leave No Trace principles, if they aren’t compelled by what Jeff calls “ethical underpinnings” to use low-impact practices, they’ll end up trashing the trail.
Each time a section of trail wears out, the A.T. stewards reroute it, which leaves erosion trenches behind. It’s a short-term fix that causes more damage over time. Jeff sent a proposal to the A.T. community with the question: “How do we make the A.T. sustainable so that we can put thousands of people up and down it every year, and it will be here in a thousand years’ time, and it won’t just wear away?” The result of that proposal is a three-year, $300,000 study with recreation fees paid by National Park visitors.
At Wild South, a large part of the Cultural Heritage department’s work is focused on researching and mapping historical trails on public lands. These trails tie us to the past, illustrating how ways of life have changed over time. Many trails and roads are directly connected to the history of the United States. For example, travel ways leading from western North Carolina to eastern Tennessee were regularly used during the Civil War.
Most of the early roads that were used by Civil War troops were based on the ancient Cherokee trail system that had been widened and altered for wagon use in the early 1800s. Wild South has documented the evolution of the trails from Native American utility and trading paths to the Civil War era. When the Civil War began, the U.S. Army updated a map that was made in 1838 to support Cherokee Removal in western North Carolina (see map).
Though most major battles in North Carolina took place in the central and eastern regions of the state, western North Carolina was by no means excluded from the war. Men enlisted and were drafted, and the communities of western NC faced raids from bushwhackers and enemy troops. Like their white neighbors, the Cherokees found themselves in the midst of great conflict.
When it became clear that war was about to break out, William Holland Thomas, a man whose history was deeply entwined with the Cherokees, “mustered two hundred Cherokees into state service, calling them the ‘Junaluska Zouaves’ in honor of their recently deceased hero.” The Zouaves were formed to protect the home front from Unionists.
Some lovers write their names in the sand at the beach, capping the eternal gesture with a giant heart drawn around both monikers. (“Eternal” in spirit, of course; when the tide arrives those names will become one with the sea.) Some lovers make heart patterns on grassy hillsides, symbolic gestures writ large courtesy of autumn leaves or the petals of wildflowers. And some, on rare occasion, go the skywriting route, the better to tell one and all of their abiding amour. But lovers ready for quite a “strenuous” hike, of 11.2 miles, on Valentine’s Day 2016, will write a heart upon nature in a different way: They’ll do it with their hiking boots.
An outing on Mt. Eiablo, one that heads from the summit “down to the Falls Area along the Falls Trail and back up the mountain,” will not only trek, elevation-wise, over 5,600 feet up, up, up (5,671 feet, to be exact); it’ll trace a heart of sorts, at least in spirit and map-wise, upon the mountain. No actual trace will be left, of course, but if you check out hike number 32 in the recently released “Hiker’s Guide to Mount Diablo State Park,” you’ll see there is a definite Cupid-ish shape to the hike. If you and your honeybun hike a bunch, and you’re up for the elevation change, and all of those miles, and you haven’t got plans on Feb. 14