The Cradle of Forestry in America invites the public to attend “Frog Love in the Pink Beds,” Feb. 15, 2014. The program’s indoor portion begins at 1:00 p.m. in the Forest Discovery Center and is followed by a guided walk to seek out frog habitats near the Center and along a portion of the Pink Beds Trail, returning by 4:00 p.m.
Warm, wet weather this time of year can pull frogs from their hiding places to find mates and lay eggs in woodland waters. The program explores this ages-old phenomenon that gives the hope of spring. The indoor slide presentation focuses on the natural history of the wood frog and amphibian conservation. The program moves outdoors about 2:00 p.m. to peek at the garden pool directly behind the Center that has been attracting frogs since its construction in 1996. If the timing is not right for frogs, it may be right for seeing eggs or tadpoles.
After a discussion by the garden pool, Cradle staff will host a guided walk to the boardwalks along the Pink Beds Trail to look for natural amphibian haunts and other features of the woods.
Since frogs love rain, the program will be held unless wintry conditions make travel to the Cradle of Forestry hazardous. Call the Cradle at 828-877-3130 with questions. The program is free, but donations are welcome.
The Cradle of Forestry is located in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, on NC Highway 276, 6 miles north of Looking Glass Falls and 4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Update 02/11/2014: Due to recent wintry weather and potentially hazardous driving conditions, the Cradle of Forestry in America cancelled the program, “Frog Love in the Pink Beds,” scheduled for Feb. 15, 2014. The program will not be rescheduled. The Cradle of Forestry’s daily operations and services for the 2014 season begin on April 12.
Two historical markers, four miles apart on the Oregon Coast Trail, fire the imagination with thoughts of adventure. And, by the way, this hike also features postcard-perfect scenery and close encounters with wildlife.
The first marker, at Sunset Bay, pays tribute to Malcolm Forbes, who launched from that spot in his hot-air balloon on Oct. 4, 1973. A month later, he landed near Newport News, Va., thereby making history. He was the first person to sail across the continental United States, coast to coast, in a balloon.
Englishman Francis Drake, on the other hand, sailed the briny sea, not the cloudy sky. He came very close to touching the Oregon shore on June 5, 1579, when gale winds drove his ship, the Golden Hind, off the open ocean. He slipped behind an immense headland — thought to be today’s Cape Arago from evidence in Drake’s log — to drop anchor and wait out the storm.
Even without the bonus of having your imagination stirred by the two historical markers, following the Coast Trail from Sunset Bay to Cape Arago makes for a great hike — arguably the most highlight-packed on the Oregon Coast.
After an initial climb into the woods, dominated by Sitka spruce, the route is mostly flat and easy. It can get muddy, though — so wear shoes that you won’t mind mucking up. For the most part, the trail stays high above the ocean. When it comes out of the trees and breaks into the open, you can see the vast Pacific in all its glory.
He’s had food stolen by a skunk and a boot snatched by a racoon. He’s been head-butted by a deer in his sleep and almost stepped on a porcupine. His food bag fell off a cliff in the Bay of Fundy and he’s followed the fresh tracks of a pack of wolves days from the nearest sign of civilization.
These are just some of the adventures Dana Meise faced walking six months of the past six years through some of the most diverse landscapes in Canada.
Last summer, the 39-year old forest technician from Prince George, B.C. became the first person to walk the southern portion of the Trans Canada Trail from east to west. Due to its winding nature, he walked over 16,000 kilometres, the equivalent to walking across the country more than three times by bird’s eye view. It may be the longest hiking trip yet recorded on one of the world’s longest trails (he’s planning to apply to the Guinness World Records).
The Trans Canada Trail is actually a network of different trails run by a not-for-profit organization company of the same name. They have taken on the daunting task of making a cohesive trail through contacting local trail groups and municipalities and getting permission from land owners. As long as they have the funds, the organization will provide up to 50 per cent of the budget to local trail makers. “It really is a team effort,” says Gay Decker, the organization’s director of communications.
Decker says the trail is 72 per cent complete, with a goal of having a single continuous route by Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
One of the biggest surprises that new-to-Florida hikers discover is that Florida is a very scenic place. Despite the lack of mountains, a few inches of elevation change are all it takes to surround you in a completely different habitat.
With the 1,400-mile ribbon of the Florida Trail stretching from Pensacola Beach to the Big Cypress National Preserve between Miami and Naples, Florida’s botanical diversity puts on quite a show.
Whether you prefer backpacking or day hiking, these beauty spots along the Florida National Scenic Trail will have you walking slowly with camera in hand to capture the essence of natural Florida.
Three new public hiking trails have been constructed off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina.
Each winds through designated Game Lands of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which built them along with the Conservation Fund and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Private citizens also contributed to the projects.
The three are:
• The Rose Creek Trail, a 1.3-mile loop that’s rated easy. It’s in the Pisgah Game Land near Spruce Pine and Gillespie Gap. It is now part of the Overmountain Trail that holds Revolutionary War significance. Patriotic mountain men took this route on their way to fight and defeat British-led forces at Kings Mountain in 1781.
• The Little Table Rock Mountain Trail measures 2.1 miles, also in the Pisgah Game Land, and is almost straight. It is rated a moderate challenge to hikers, especially those planning a round trip. It affords hikers views of the North Toe River Valley and Roan Mountain. During winter months Linville Mountain also is visible.
• The Saddle Mountain Trail lying within the Mitchell River Game Land and is a 2-mile loop with a moderate rating. At the trail’s summit hikers can see the Fisher and Mitchell River valleys, plus Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain in the distance.
It doesn’t matter who you ask; everyone agrees that the land is beautiful. The hilly patch of ground sandwiched between Avila Beach and Shell Beach in California boasts spectacular ocean views and a pleasant, tranquil quality.
You can see why someone would like to build a house there, and you can also see why people would enjoy the land as a nature preserve crisscrossed with hiking trails.
The problem is, different people want to do both of those things, with the same land, at the same time. If you take that conflict, throw in some barbed wire fences, and add competing government bureaucracies, you’ve got a recipe for a bitter land-use battle.
Welcome to Ontario Ridge in 2014.
An official relationship has been established between the city of Marquette, WI and the North Country National Scenic Trail Association.
Unofficially, though, one has existed for several years with the 4,600-mile trail running from New York to North Dakota including a long stretch through the Upper Peninsula. It winds its way through the Marquette area, including along the city’s multi-use bike path and such diverse spots as Lakenenland in Chocolay Township and Little Presque Isle in Marquette Township.
The North Country Trail Association’s local chapter, the North Country Trail Hikers, has been active in using, maintaining and promoting the trail.
On January 27th, its efforts reached a milestone when the Marquette City Commission agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding between the city and the NCTA , basically supporting the “Trail Town” concept and giving Marquette that new designation.
A Trail Town is a community through which the North Country Trail passes that supports hikers with services, promotes the trail to its citizens and embraces the trail as a resource to be protected.
The Broadmoor wants to swap a sought-after island of private land in the national forest on the west side of Pikes Peak to the U.S. Forest Service in exchange for a smaller piece of land in Emerald Valley in the foothills west of Colorado Springs, where the resort has a luxury lodge and cabins.
The deal, which has the support of local conservation groups, would solidify The Broadmoor’s ownership of Emerald Valley, where it has spent $4 million on renovations to its Ranch at Emerald Valley. The deal also would add a large piece of undeveloped land near The Crags to the Pike National Forest that could be a link for the Ring the Peak Trail.
The land on one side of the swap is 320 acres of forested hills 5 miles south of Divide. For 50 years it belonged to rock climbing pioneer Harvey Carter, who dreamed of turning it into a ski resort. Carter died in 2012, and The Broadmoor purchased the property.
With determination and careful planning, the Columbia River Gorge is set to become a worldwide hiking destination that could give a big economic boost to businesses in Gorge communities.
Trails that take tourists through meadows bursting with wildflowers and paths that give hikers a view of the Columbia River valley could even pass through a vineyard, where visitors could sample local wines. After a long day of hiking, tourists could trek down for dinner at one of the towns along the Gorge and spend the night at a bed and breakfast.
That’s the pitch “Gorge Towns to Trails” project manager Renee Tkach, of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, gave to members of the Chinook Trail Association on January 26th during the association’s annual meeting in Vancouver.
A system of trails that connect to riverfront towns would provide “not a backcountry experience, (but) more of a front country experience,” Tkach said, noting that just a few years ago, National Geographic magazine ranked the Gorge the sixth best place to visit in the world. “We’re on the map. Visitors are coming, and they’re looking for these experiences.”
The Chinook Trail Association’s goal to create one big 300-mile hiking loop around the Gorge goes hand-in-hand with that mission.
A five-year-old boy from Long Island became the youngest-ever hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail on January 24th when he and his family reached Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia after a months-long trek.
Christian Thomas, also known as Buddy Backpacker, started the 2,180 mile trail, which stretches from Maine to Georgia, on April 27. Despite a hiccup caused by the government shutdown, Buddy managed to finish his continent traversing feat in less than a year.
Buddy had travel companions in his parents Dion Pagonis and Andrea Rego, who gave up life behind a desk to give the five-year-old a taste of adventure.
Through frigid temperatures, a government shutdown and even a hurricane, the family beat all odds and completed the trail where they started it – in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
‘It’s official,’ read the heart-warming post on the official Buddy Packpacker website. They have finished every mile and they are now thru hikers!’
One of the great things about living in the Central California Valley is the easy access to one of the great mountain ranges of the world, the Sierra Nevada, and its beautiful forests. Unfortunately, through no fault of anyone in the Valley, that access is being threatened. There has been a dramatic shift in the condition of the forests. The problems are twofold: lack of funding and lack of personnel.
The problem is acute in the Sequoia National Forest, most easily accessed from Bakersfield or Porterville. It has no forest rangers. Don’t think of “ranger” like others, who count anyone wearing a Forest Service uniform as a ranger. Instead, this is the absence of the traditional “ranger-naturalist,” who spends his or her time tromping the trails.
These are the rangers who interact with people in the backcountry, protect our resources on the ground, maintain the structures related to trails, check permits and help people in trouble. Such people are gone now. This has translated into a slow but steady degradation of the forest, and the rise of destructive visitor behavior, such as graffiti on trees or the creation of fires when conditions are dangerous.
Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks attract millions of visitors each year, and at the peak of summer vacation season, it can seem like all of them are there at once. But in the dead of winter, these iconic Southern Utah attractions take on a downright sleepy feel.
January and February are the slowest months by far at both parks. You can easily find yourself alone on even the most popular trails. And with a little effort and some extra gear, you can push out into areas where you might not see another soul for hours.
There are miles more of ungroomed trails suitable for cross-country skiing inside Bryce Canyon National Park. A good choice is the relatively flat, 1-mile road leading out to the canyon overlook at Fairyland Point — a perfect entry point for those who don’t spend a lot of time on cross-country skis or snowshoes but still want their trek through the white woods to pay off at the end.
Just east of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel on the east side of Zion National Park, which carries Route 9 through more than a mile of sheer canyon wall, is the half-mile Canyon Overlook Trail rising from the parking lot on stairs cut into sandstone. Then it hugs the cliff wall as it winds through a shallow cavern and out to a ledge overlooking the canyon and the towering stone sentinels that guard it.
Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii sent “cease and desist” requests this week to about 25 bloggers who promote hiking trails on the estate’s private property, asking them to remove any mentions of their properties. The landowner installed a wrought-iron fence and gate at the entrance to its popular Mariner’s Ridge trail in Hawaii Kai late last year.
On Jan. 22, hiking blogger Kenji Saito received an email from Kamehameha Schools, which owns the trail, asking him to immediately remove mentions of the Mariner’s Ridge and Kamehame Ridge trails, which Kamehameha also owns.
Saito has been blogging about various hiking trails for about three years, he said. A post from 2010 details hikes on Mariner’s Ridge, with a half dozen photos and descriptions.
“We ask that you consider helping us prevent criminal trespassing on our private properties, and instead responsibly promote hikes that are safe and open to the public.” wrote Kekoa Paulsen, Kamehameha’s community relations director in the email to Saito and other websites or bloggers that promote hikes on the estate’s land.
The ridge lands “have never been open to the public,” Paulsen said, noting that thousands of people have hiked there anyway for years. “Our intent is to manage access to these sites so we can reduce the erosion and further degradation of these conservation lands caused by years of unauthorized and increasing foot traffic.”
The landowner allows access to the Mariner’s Ridge trail through the Sierra Club and the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club for supervised hikes at specific times.
Colorado Trail users are often surprised when they emerge from heavily forested sections of trail along the Continental Divide and descend into the Cochetopa Hills, miles of rolling grasslands in southwest Colorado where cattle and sheep outnumber humans by a fair measure.
Although the gentler going and change of scenery provide a welcome relief to many who have hiked, biked or ridden for days over the trail’s rugged terrain, many are disappointed to find the single-track trail ends as the CT moves on to logging, jeep and ranch roads for the next several miles.
Add to that the lack of reliable water sources for some 20 miles and it’s little wonder that this section of the CT, which shares the tread with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST), is also one of the least popular.
That soon could change, however.
Efforts to reroute the CT/CDNST between Lujan Pass and the La Garita Wilderness Area to get it closer to the actual Continental Divide and off this motorized section began six years ago when the U.S. Forest Service responded to entreaties from The Colorado Trail Foundation (CTF) and the now-defunct Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA).
With recent favorable decisions by the Forest Service regarding the reroute, including a tentative starting date in 2014, the agency this summer sought help from the Colorado Trail Foundation in reflagging the 30 miles of new trail.
Back in mid-December, Southern Appalachian Highlands Cconservancy protected another tract at Hickory Nut Gap near Bat Cave, NC. This new conservation easement preserves 62 acres adjacent to the Florence Nature Preserve and close to the Drovers Road Scenic Byway. The property will remain privately owned, with permanent protection against future development.
“You may recall SAHC reporting on the three properties we protected at Hickory Nut Gap in December 2013, which totaled 173 acres spanning both sides of the Drovers Road Scenic Byway,” said Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s Land Protection Director. “This year we were able to expand the protection in the Gap by ensuring that the headwaters and tributaries of Ashworth Creek, and the intact forested views from the Drovers Road Scenic Byway, will remain pristine forever.”
Five tributaries of Ashworth Creek flow through the conservation easement property, three of which are headwater streams originating on its wooded slopes. The southern portion of the property also lies within the Audubon Society Chimney Rock-Hickory Nut Gorge Important Bird Area and provides wildlife habitat.
This newly protected tract is adjacent to the Florence Nature Preserve, a popular public recreation area for hikers and mountain bikers that is owned by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. Placing a conservation easement on the adjoining 62-acre parcel will help preserve the public’s wilderness experience on the existing trail system at the Florence Nature Preserve.
If you’ve lived in Avon, NY for any length of time, you probably have your own memories of the abandoned steel railroad bridge at the end of Farmers Road. You’ve probably ventured down the narrow dirt road, past the village Department of Public Works, to the old bridge which last saw a train more than 30 years ago.
More people will soon discover the location — about three-tenths of a mile off Route 5&20 — after the dedication of the Erie Attica Trail, a mile-long trail that takes its name from a former railroad and connects the village with the Genesee Valley Greenway Trail. The bridge is the linchpin in the long-developing project.
“This is just a wonderful way to open up the area,” said Mary Lou Marks, an Avon resident for more than 30 years. Marks and her husband John are “walkers,” they said, and the new trail provides “a reason to come. And there’s a sense of familiar history that people can explore.”
The truss bridge, designed by the Pratt brothers, was abandoned in 1979 by Conrail. Harvey Hanson, Dick Ash and Vito Santo had bought the railroad right of way and the bridge that came with it years ago. They donated the land to the Village of Avon, and then the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation took ownership of the bridge because it connects two municipalities.
The Farmers Road bridge is the second bridge that Avon officials have saved from demolition. The first, the five-arch stone bridge on Route 39, has become an iconic structure for the town.
If you are able to tolerate the cold temperatures, winter can be an incredible time of year to take a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visibility soars in the crystal clear air and there are hardly any bugs. That is, except the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid insect that has infested and killed millions of the mightiest trees in the eastern United States.
“This time of year, the hemlock woolly adelgids are awake. They are feeding on the Hemlock needles during the winter time. They actually hibernate during the summer,” said Jesse Webster, a forester who coordinates the GSMNP program to control the hemlock woolly adelgid. “You see what looks like snow on the underside of the hemlock branches on the needles. Each one of those little cotton balls is a female in that woolly mass sucking the carbohydrates out of the tree.”
Hemlock woolly adelgids (HWA) have devastated some of the mightiest trees in the forest since it was first identified in the national park in 2002. The invasive insect from Japan has not only benefited from the absence of natural predators, but also thrived in the relatively mild winters during the last decade.
“When we really saw the adelgid spread so fast across the Southeast was in 2007 and 2008 when we had extreme drought and warm temperatures,” said Webster. “There is a reason these insects have not thrived in places farther north than Vermont and Maine. They cannot withstand prolonged periods of extremely cold temperatures.”
The recent stretch of frigid conditions is finally punching back at the insect that has threatened the very existence of the hemlock.