More than 600 UT students belong to a club that began with a hike between two YMCA leaders over 80 years ago. In October of 1924, Marshall Wilson and George Barber, YMCA leaders of a boys’ camp in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, decided to go on a hike. While hiking, the pair came to an agreement that they should start a club and begin leading trips to the Smokies for whoever was interested.
Today, the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (SMHC) exists in Knoxville as an organization where outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers get the chance to hike and camp in the Smokies. The club has a longstanding tradition of hiking, volunteerism, fellowship and conservation. The members go on hiking trips every week, primarily in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, although sometimes they venture into surrounding areas.
“We hike all over, though mostly on the Tennessee side,” Cindy Spangler, board member for the SMHC, said. “We also hike in Frozen Head, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, the Benton MacKaye Trail, Big Ridge State Park, the Cumberland Trail, Big South Fork and the Norris watershed.”
The club also leads kayaking and canoeing trips, backpacking outings and city walks within Knoxville. The SMHC hosts picnics, a Christmas banquet and an annual nature photography contest as well.
One of the main activities the SMHC participates in is the maintenance of the Appalachian Trail. Club members volunteer and spend time cleaning up the trail to make sure it stays easily accessible to visitors.
Aravaipa Canyon is extremely narrow—at many points, probably no more than a quarter of a mile from rim to rim—which means that to explore the canyon you often hike right through the stream bed. Traverse the entire twelve-mile length of the canyon and you’ll cross the creek at least forty times, sometimes in water that’s knee deep.
Aravaipa Creek is a rarity in the desert—a spring-fed creek that flows year-round—and through millennia the water has cut a deep gash into the Galiuro Mountains. The canyon begins with heavy slabs of dark-red shale at the bottom, rises into rust-colored schist, and then rises further into cliffs of orange-and-peach limestone. Eons of the planet’s story are visible in a glance, whole epochs etched in the span of a thousand vertical feet.
The canyon slopes are pure Sonora Desert: tall, multi-armed saguaros, writhing agave, prickly pear, and patches of gray bursage and brittlebush. It’s a world of heat and thorn and rock. A whole other universe exists just below. Along the creek grow thickets of willow skirted with horsetail reed and cattails. Colonnades of cottonwoods arch above the streambed, where cool green algae cloaks the rocks in the water.
The oasis is home to all kinds of critters, including mallard ducks and green-winged teals and flocks of northern pintails with their long, brown faces. You may scare up a great blue heron, which will flap its wide wings and retreat upstream until you surprise it again, and then again. There are whitetail deer and packs of javelina, fierce-looking with their porcupine-like hairs.
Don’t get bitten by mosquitoes. That’s the advice offered to the public in virtually every article on the rapidly-spreading, mosquito-borne Zika virus. But if you love the outdoors and are a regular hiker, what can you do?
There’s no arguing with the advice. Zika, once considered a relatively mild flu-like illness, has now been linked to a surge in severe birth defects in Brazil and possibly to cases of paralysis.
But anyone who is a mosquito-magnet must be asking: Can humans really keep the blood-sucking bugs at bay?
“DEET” is the immediate one-word answer from Dr. William Reisen, professor emeritus at the School of Veterinary Medicine at U.C. Davis and editor of the Journal of Medical Entomology.
“DEET is the standard,” agrees Dr. Mustapha Debboun, director of the mosquito control division of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in Houston. “All the repellents being tested are tested to see if they beat DEET.”
DEET is shorthand for the chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. It’s the active ingredient in many insect repellents, which don’t kill mosquitoes but keep them away.
A 2015 study tested eight commercial mosquito repellents, two fragrances and a vitamin B patch by releasing mosquitoes into a sealed chamber with a treated hand.
Now is the time for hiking in solitude and snowy silence at Wild Rivers, just north of Taos, New Mexico.
One of the less-traveled paths is the Pescado Trail that connects the Red River Fish Hatchery with the Wild Rivers Visitor Center. This trail gains about 800 feet over two miles and is considered a moderate trail in the summer months.
Add a foot or two of snow and the trail is more challenging during the winter. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Park Ranger Daniel Rael says, “We have gotten so much snow that the cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are fantastic.” The rewards for the climb up and over the ridge are dramatic views into the canyon of the Red River, along with glimpses of nearby Guadalupe Mountain and Flag Mountain to the east.
Although the hike can be accessed from either end, beginning the hike at the Red River Fish Hatchery cuts driving time significantly from Taos, with the trailhead being 22 miles away, rather than about 38 miles to the Wild Rivers Visitor Center. From the fish hatchery trailhead, the path crosses the Red River and follows it for a short distance.
A moderately steep path follows switchbacks up a rocky hillside and into the woods. The trail continues to climb through the forest of ponderosa pine.
North Carolina Forest Service officials have determined that the recent snow event has made DuPont’s trails extremely susceptible to damage from trail users because of soft, wet conditions. There will be temporary closures of all of the DuPont single track trails. Forest roads and two-track trails such as Triple Falls, High Falls, and Hooker Falls trails will remain open.
The 10,400 acre DuPont State Recreational Forest is located in Henderson and Transylvania Counties between the towns of Hendersonville and Brevard.
The intent of the DuPont State Recreational Forest Land and Resource Management Plan is to provide the ecological context within which management will be conducted on the forest, to describe the desired future condition of natural resources throughout the forest toward which management will be directed, and to outline appropriate management techniques to work towards those conditions. The goals and objectives presented in this plan were developed to support other statewide initiatives regarding natural resource conservation and education.
Look here for updates about trails reopening as information becomes available.
Update February 4, 2016: Single track trails remain closed in DuPont State Forest because of significant rain on February 3rd on top of all the previous snow melt. Ground conditions are extremely soft and susceptible to damage.
Update February 5, 2016: Single track trails, with the exception of Reasonover Creek Trail and Air Strip Trail, have reopened.
The Timberline Trail has always been one of very best hikes in the Pacific Northwest. A nearly 40-mile trek around the peak of Mt. Hood, the trail offers stunning angles of the mountain as well as views of the other giants of the Cascade Range: Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.
But for the last decade that loop has been incomplete – cut off after a 2006 debris flow washed out a seasonal bridge and large chunk of the trail near the Eliot Glacier field. The closure has forced hikers to cut their treks short, or else find more difficult paths across.
Thankfully, those hiking headaches will soon fade. The U.S. Forest Service announced this week official plans to reconnect the 40-mile trail, via a 1.5-mile re-route. Trail construction is expected to begin this summer, with the projected completion coming sometime in 2017.
“We’re thrilled to begin work on rerouting this trail to the new location so that crossing this area is safer for hikers,” Claire Pitner, eastside recreation manager for the Mt. Hood National Forest said in a press release. “The 1.5 mile reroute will minimize exposure to loose boulders which otherwise could pose as hazards for hikers.”
The new segment of trail will run south of the old path, crossing Eliot Branch at a spot the forest service hopes will be “more protected from the scouring action of the stream.”
The Aberdares Mountain Range is 160km from “tip to toe” and encompasses over 2,000sqkm of Afro-montane wilderness. There are several ways to tackle this pristine highland. One such hike is to Mt Satima, or Ol Donyo Lesatima, the highest peak at 3,999m and located on the south-eastern end of the range.
Leave Nairobi before dawn; on average, the hike takes seven hours. Drive north to Nyeri, about 140km by road, then access the Aberdares through the KWS park headquarters at Mweiga. Purchase tickets and pick up an armed KWS ranger. The resident populations of elephant and buffalo warrant bringing along a big gun. Inside the Aberdares National Park, drive about 20km to get to the starting point.
You start off in a patch of forest thick with pencil cedar, podocarpus and rosewood trees hung with sprays of reddish-pink flowers. Tassels of old man’s beard swayed from mossy boughs, and every now and then the canopy shakes from monkeys leaping around in the upper layers. Further up, the forest ends abruptly, giving way to drier ground covered with bushes, short trees and giant heather.
Wild mint and lemony scents drift on the wind. You then ascend into expansive moors of hardy tussock grass, groundsel and towering Senecia plants.
Sequoia groves are found throughout the Sequoia, Sierra, Stanislaus, Eldorado and Tahoe National Forests in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Multiple agencies, businesses and non-profits are collaborating to improve management and share scientific results regarding Giant Sequoia. Led by the National Forest Foundation, the Sequoia Work Group members believe better exchange of best management practices and access to research data is critical to the long-term survival.
Sequoias aren’t the only giants in California. Redwood trees are also in the Sequoia family. The NFF support redwood conservation throughout California and proudly supports the new movie Moving the Giants, recently featured at the Banff Mountain Film Festival and other venues. Moving the Giants follows David Milarch as he clones some of the world’s and largest living things, California’s coastal redwoods, and replants them in Oregon. This effort serves two purposes.
First, as the planet warms and conditions change in their southernmost range, it is likely that many of these trees will die. By cloning and replanting them further north in places where they were logged, Milarch will help preserve these majestic giants. Second, redwood trees are among the most effective carbon sequestration tools in the world. By planting these seedlings, Milarch takes part in a global effort to use one of nature’s most impressive achievements, treequestration, to re-chart a positive course for humanity.
Several items are essential for exploring the magical Southern Alps mountains that run across New Zealand’s South Island: insect repellent, rain gear and ear plugs.
The repellent is to ward off sandflies, those annoying black bugs that are the itchy scourge of hikers in Fiordland National Park. The park, which is bigger than Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks combined, is one of the wettest places on Earth. It gets an average 280 inches of rainfall a year, compared to Seattle’s 38.6 inches.
And while there’s plenty of peace and quiet to enjoy while hiking the region, you may want ear plugs to block the sound of snoring from exhausted hikers in the huts that offer lodging along the Great Walks. The Great Walks are routes featured by the country’s Department of Conservation (DOC) for their “diverse and spectacular scenery.” Five of the nine Great Walks are on the South Island.
The Great Walks are highly regulated by the DOC, which maintains the trails, checks for hiking passes and staffs the huts with nightly educational talks. The huts on the most popular Great Walks are large, clean cabins with bunkrooms.
The crystal-clear waters along the Milford Track make it relatively easy to spot the freshwater longfin eel, featured on an episode of Animal Planet’s “River Monsters.” Elsewhere, watch out for backpack-eating alpine parrots called keas. They are ever-present in high-altitude regions and they’re not afraid to peck at human gear in search of food.
The Buckeye Trail Association announced, in partnership with the Burr Oak State Park, Burr Oak Lodge and Burr Oak Alive!, the fifth annual Burr Oak Winter Hike will be held at the Lodge on Feb. 6, 2016 starting at 10 a.m.
This free event is being hosted by the Little Cities of the Forest Chapter of the Buckeye Trail Association. After the hike, lunch including cornbread, soup beans, and hot chocolate will be provided by Burr Oak Lodge free of charge to winter hikers.
The past years attendance at the annual Burr Oak Winter Hike has been a great success with an increasing number of hikers every year. There will be three hike options this year to give novices and seasoned hikers some variety. There will be a one mile hike, the second is a more rugged five miles with scenic features including Buckeye Cave, and the third will be longer for those looking for a challenging eight mile winter hike.
Portions of the hike will follow Ohio’s Buckeye Trail and the white blazed Bob and Mary Lou Paton Trail. The trail hosts the 4,600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail and the 6,800 mile American Discovery Trail through this part of Ohio as well.
Hikers will walk past forested hollows, impressive rock formations, and views of Burr Oak Lake while experiencing the hidden gem of Burr Oak during wintertime.
Due to snow and ice accumulation across North Carolina from winter storm Jonas, the U.S. Forest Service will be closing some areas on the National Forests in North Carolina. Visitor and Forest Service employee safety is a priority and everyone is encouraged to be prepared for dangerous driving conditions. Visitors are urged to stay off Forest Service roads and reschedule outdoor activities.
The U.S. Forest Service has closed the following areas through Monday, January 25, 2016:
Pisgah National Forest:
Avery Creek Rd. (FS477)
Yellow Gap Rd. (FS1206)
Headwaters Rd. (FS475B)
Wash Creek Rd. (FS5000)
Bent Creek Day Use Area
Wolf Ford Horse Camp
Sycamore Flats Picnic Area
Sliding Rock Day Use Area
Uwharrie National Forest:
Flintlock Valley Shooting Range (open Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday)
Due to changing weather conditions other recreational areas and road closures on the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie or Croatan National Forest may occur. Local district offices may be closed today (January 22, 2016).
Update January 25, 2016: Due to snow and ice accumulation in western North Carolina from winter storm Jonas, closures remain in effect for the Pisgah National Forest.
Roads and day-use recreation areas on the Pisgah Ranger District will be closed until road conditions improve and visitor safety can be ensured.
It wouldn’t be fair to call them the “forgotten waterfalls of Silver Falls State Park.”
After all, the five cascades smack in the middle of Oregon’s largest state park are still part of the Trail of Ten Falls, one of the most famous hikes in the Pacific Northwest.
But the truth is, this quintet of waterfalls get far fewer visitors than the most crowded sections of the park even though they’re just as stunning and easy to reach.
The waterfalls in question include Winter Falls (134 feet), Middle North Falls (106 feet), Drake Falls (30 feet), Lower North Falls (30 feet) and Double Falls (178 feet). They aren’t always impressive during the dry summer months, but following a nice Oregon rain, all five boom with spectacular power.
The best news is that all five can be visited on a hike of just 2.6 miles with 450 feet of climb. That’s not quite easy, but it’s not particularly difficult, either. Most people in even moderate shape should be able to take this hike.
If you have been on the Internet in the last 10 years, it’s likely you have seen this iconic turquoise-colored waterfall cascading over bright redwall limestone.
This stunning swimming hole is in a remote part of the Grand Canyon and accessible only by a 10-mile hike in or by helicopter. The land is administered by the Havasupai Tribe, which has lived in the area for more than 1,000 years. Known as Havasu ‘Baaja — or people of the blue-green waters — the people are inseparable from the identity of the land.
It’s easy to emotionally invest in this landscape. From the first glimpse of the water, it’s difficult to resist being captivated by its unbelievably bright color.
This is also an immensely popular destination. The falls are crowded and the campground spots are tight. Expect close quarters and to get to know your fellow campers. You will likely hike in and out with a large group of people, which is both comforting and a little pesky if you’re looking for a pristine trail and a solitary experience. It’s kind of like the Disneyland of backpacking trips — nobody gets to ride Space Mountain in their own car and nobody gets to experience this place without company. You’ll wait in line and you will deal with other people. If you’re OK with that and the trade-off is worth it to you, then you’ll have a great time. If you want to experience unadulterated nature on your own, however, this isn’t the trip for you. This can also be a difficult hike, especially as temperatures rise.
The Board of Review with the National Park Service reissued safety recommendations for hiking in bear country after a Montana man was mauled to death in Yellowstone National Park last summer. The report states most hikers are not following the precautions, despite warning and education.
Of the six fatalities caused by grizzly bears in Yellowstone since 2010, five involved hikers who were not carrying bear spray. Four of those hikers were hiking alone. Hiking alone and hiking without bear spray are the common denominators in these deaths.
The complete list of recommendations states hikers should do the following:
The National Park Service warns there is no guarantee of safety when hiking in bear country, even when all of these recommendations are followed.
Hikers and backpackers love the High Peaks Wilderness. The 203,500-acre tract is the largest state-owned wilderness areas in New York’s Adirondack Forest Preserve.
The preserve itself covers 6 million acres and is a patchwork of private and public lands that was created in 1885. It was one of the first public parks created in the United States. Only Yosemite and Yellowstone had come before.
The Adirondack Mountains are a great outdoor playground. The preserve includes more than 2,000 lakes and ponds, 1,200 miles of rivers, 30,000 miles of brooks and 2,000 miles of trails, plus black bear and moose.
The western Adirondacks is a land of water: lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers and a few mountains. But the High Peaks Wilderness in the east offers a chance to hike to the top of peaks via maintained trails. It is an accessible wilderness with lots of hiking options. The wilderness contains nearly all of New York’s 46 High Peaks (elevation 4,000 feet or greater), including Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak, the two tallest at more than 5,000 feet.
Most of those peaks are concentrated south of Lake Placid and near Keene in the nearby Keene Valley. Some are above timberline and feature Alpine-like rocky tops with incredible views.
Initially, 46 New York mountains were designated High Peaks. Four were later determined to be under 4,000 feet and one that should have been included was not. But due to tradition, no peaks were added to or eliminated from the original list of 46. All but four are in or near the High Peaks Wilderness.
The area was first hiked in the 1920s by brothers Bob and George Marshall (Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness is named after one brother).
If there’s one thing Canada is good for, it’s winter and winter activities. Introducing the Ice Skating Trail in the Muskoka Forest in Arrowhead Provincial Park. It’s definitely one of the most unique opportunities you could ever enjoy.
It’s one thing to hike through a forest, and quite another to skate through one. The trail is less than a mile long in its entirety and offers a unique perspective of the quiet forest. The trail is open from January until mid March, and is quickly becoming a sensation with locals and tourists alike. While the attraction is in a forest, there are plenty of nice accommodations and amenities in nearby Huntsville, Ontario.
This year Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating the Centennial of the National Park Service. To honor the first 100 years of the National Park Service and launch into the next century, the Park Superintendent has committed to hiking 100 miles of park trails during 2016 – and he invites you to join in on this challenge.
Whether you are new to hiking in the Smokies or have seen most or all the trails in the park before, you are encouraged to set a goal of reaching 100 miles during this special year of celebration, between January 1-December 6, 2016.
You may hike any 100 miles of maintained trails in the park. Your miles can include everything from front country nature trails to the extensive trail network in the backcountry. You may hike the same trail repeatedly or different trails; and you may hike them solo, with a group or even with a guide. The goal is to inspire you to explore and enjoy the many benefits the park has to offer.
There are more frequently asked questions here.
Explore the park website for information about hiking safety, trail recommendations, weather, road and trail closures, and the park’s trail map. If you plan to include overnight trips in your hiking plan, be sure to obtain a reservation and permit for all overnight stays in the backcountry.
When you are ready to take on this challenge, plan your hikes and get out on a trail. Download a mileage log that you may use to keep track of your miles.
After you have hiked 100 miles this year, go here to send an email to let them know. You will then receive information about the Hike 100 Celebration on Thursday, December 8, 2016 to receive your commemorative “Smokies Centennial Challenge – Hike 100” pin.
Illinois Wesleyan University physics professor Linda French has hiked to the top of all 48 peaks above 4,000 feet in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and along paths nearly 200 years old in England, but she also finds beauty in Central Illinois.
“My current favorite is Clinton Lake State Recreation Area’s North Fork Trail,” French said at a Lunch and Learn lecture at the McLean County Museum of History. “I recommend this highly.” The 9.3-mile trail is rated primitive and difficult, with many steep ups and downs in and out of ravines. French said the trail is particularly beautiful in spring when wildflowers bloom in the woods. Parts of the trail also pass through prairie areas.
She uses the trail to train for her more ambitious goals, such as hiking to the top of all 67 peaks over 4,000 feet in New England. For those training hikes, French usually carries a fully loaded pack, wears supportive hiking shoes and uses trekking poles. “What I love about hiking is you don’t need a lot of specific skills. You just walk,” French said. “There are no rules.”
And as much as she likes the challenge of “peak bagging” and wild trails, French said, “We are very blessed here to have access to Constitution Trail.” Other favorite places she recommended were Moraine View State Recreation Area, near LeRoy, particularly its Tall Timber Backpacking Trail, and Starved Rock State Park.
They call him “Elusive,” at least on the hiking trails. And that’s pretty much where Dave Roberts spends his time these days, crisscrossing the country by foot, by bike, even by kayak.
Mr. Roberts, a retired teacher and software engineer, is on a mission to navigate the United States powered only by his two legs and two arms. Hotels and lodges are out of the question; he camps out at night and lugs 25 pounds of equipment — including his tent, sleeping bag and food — on his back. And oh yes: Did we mention he is 72 years old?
“I expect to keep doing it until I get tired of it,” said Mr. Roberts, who is currently on a 3,000-mile “ramble” across Texas, weaving through at least 40 national parks and averaging about 23 miles a day.
Some people retire to golf courses. Others travel. And then there are those who enjoy physical challenges, traversing hiking trails, rivers and mountains: Huck Finn meets Grizzly Adams.
Mr. Roberts has always been adventurous; he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia in the 1970s. But then life took over. In 2002, he quit his job and rejoined the Peace Corps. When he returned home, he bought a boat and sailed across the North Atlantic. In 2014, he and his daughter, Ivy, hiked all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. He then cycled the 3,000 miles to Key West, Fla., before heading to the 1,300-mile Florida Trail. From there, he rode from Pensacola to Minnesota, some 1,500 miles. He sold his bike, picked up a kayak and paddled the Mississippi River to New Orleans.
According to Cole’s “History of Washington and Kent Counties,” the name Fisherville came from Schuyler Fisher, who manufactured “jeans and check flannel” in a Rhode Island mill until giving up the business to head west. Even in 1889, Fisherville was remote; “there is at present no business done at the place,” Cole wrote.
You may think of horse-and-buggy days as you traverse Pardon Joslin Road, the bumpy dirt road that leads to the refuge. Be sure to approach off Widow Sweets Road; the other end of Pardon Joslin is unsuitable for traffic, a point your GPS might ignore.
At 1,011 acres, the refuge is criss-crossed by five trail systems (blue, orange, red, white and yellow). The orange trail has a gentle elevation gain through oak and pine forest. The woods are quite open (and many downed trees suggest it has been intentionally thinned), so you need to pay attention to the blazes to stay on trail.
The blue trail, the shorter of the two, takes the hiker all the way around the pond and back toward the parking lot. Wooden bridges cover marshy areas, but be careful – they are not stable and can bounce up as one hiker steps off and another steps on.
In a field off the blue trail, an historical cemetery is planted on a sort of mound surrounded by stone walls and dotted with yucca plants. Most of the deaths date from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and the gravestones feature carvings and sayings typical of the period.