Hiking News

Wildcat Rock Trail Wins National Award

Posted by on Jun 12, 2018 @ 12:24 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Wildcat Rock Trail Wins National Award

The national Coalition of Recreational Trails has granted its annual achievement award for trail design and construction to Conserving Carolina and its trails coordinator, Peter Barr, for Wildcat Rock Trail. Conserving Carolina opened this 3-mile trail in the Hickory Nut Gorge to the public in 2017.

Senator Richard Burr and Representative Mark Meadows presented the award to Barr on June 2, 2018, on Capitol Hill. Marianne Fowler, co-chair of the Coalition of Recreational Trails presided over the ceremony. Barr was joined by Jay Leutze, representing the Blue Ridge Forever coalition.

The Wildcat Rock Trail features exceptionally sustainable trail design to protect surrounding natural resources, which include rare species and sensitive natural habitats. It traverses 166 acres of natural lands forever protected by Conserving Carolina.

Barr designed the trail in 2014 and managed its construction over the next four years. The three-mile trail incorporates more than 300 masoned stone stairs that ascend Little Bearwallow Mountain, reaching a 100-foot waterfall and scenic Wildcat Rock on the way.

Its curvilinear design—using constant undulations and subtle changes of direction—quickly sheds water from the trail, which prevents erosion. It also enhances the experience of hikers by making its course feel more natural and interesting.

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Retirees wanted a place to hike, so they built their own trails

Posted by on Jun 11, 2018 @ 9:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

When it comes to being young at heart, the residents at Tellico Village are trailblazers.

In 2017, a group of residents wanted hiking trails, but the cost would have been too substantial to take on. They decided to build trails themselves.

“As retirees, it’s great when you accomplish something like this,” said Jim Lilley, a resident and athletics director at Tellico Village. “It’s a great accomplishment.”

The crew building the trails is a mix of gender, age and background, according to Brian Johnson, a new resident. “I’m from Connecticut and I was in IT so no real background in trail building but I’m learning fast. That’s for sure!”

The project was spearheaded by Simon Bradbury, director of recreation at Tellico Village and incoming president of the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association. Bradbury says while he leads the builds and the hikes, the residents truly lead him.

“I’m 52 and I’ve got folks that are 74 and 76 years old that wear me out building these trails,” he said. “I’m the last one to want to wine when I’m out here and it’s getting tough cause they’re like what’s wrong with you young man!”

Since early 2017, the residents have cleared and built eight miles of trails with the help of public works employees. Bradbury says they already have 20 more miles of trails planned for the future.



Tower of Trash

Posted by on Jun 10, 2018 @ 11:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Tower of Trash

Our planet has a population of over 7.5 billion people and as a result we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste per year. This is partly because 99% of the stuff we buy gets thrown out within 6 months of purchasing – this isn’t including food, human, electronic and medical waste either.

This waste ends up in a variety of different locations; landfill sites, dumps, and worst of all the ocean. If it continues at its current rate, in 10 years time there could be over 80 million tons of plastic floating in our seas – and that figure will continue to increase if no real action is taken soon. To put that into perspective, take a look at the infographic below that shows just how much waste that really is.

It is estimated that up to 267 marine species are affected by plastic pollution within the ocean – and that’s just in the South Pacific Garbage Patch alone. So how can we – as a globe – start to reduce the amount of waste that goes into our oceans?

Well, there are simple ways to do this, such as; reusing your plastic bags, recycling all of your rubbish, supporting river and beach clean ups, avoiding microbeads in your face and handwashes (that’s if they haven’t been banned in your country already) and spreading the word about organizations that are addressing plastic pollution.

When plastic enters the ocean it slowly gets broken down into tiny pieces and then digested and metabolised by fish and microbes which eventually get released as a carbon dioxide again, which is a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped.

The plastic that is ending up in oceans is being transported all around the globe with currents. Imagine remote beaches on small Pacific islands, British coves and even Arctic ice covered in plastic.

Imagine the sea life food chain; seaweed, zooplankton, small fish, large carnivorous fish, squid and finally sharks and dolphins – now there is plastic of all shapes and sizes affecting this food chain and even ending up back on our plates.

Hopefully this will shock you into thinking about a few ways you can help our oceans:

  • Stop using plastic straws – They can easily get stuck in sealife’s mouths, noses and get mistaken for food
  • Reuse your shopping bags – A simple way to cut plastic usage is to reuse your shopping bags
  • Give up gum – Gum is made of a synthetic rubber aka plastic
  • Purchase products in boxes, not plastic bottles – Cardboard decomposes so it is far better for our environment
  • Eat fresh produce that doesn’t come in plastic cartons and boxes – This will work out better for you as you’ll be eating fresh produce and also saving the planet. A win, win situation!

So, next time you get a straw in your drink or get offered a plastic bag while doing your weekly food shop, think about our ocean. Take a look at the piece by Eco2 Greetings and my new friend Heidi Weston which shows just how much of a difference you could make to our planet.



Infographic and content courtesy Heidi Weston and Eco2 Greetings


In Chile, a Gorgeous, Very Rainy and Sometimes Lonely Journey

Posted by on Jun 10, 2018 @ 9:07 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

In Chile, a Gorgeous, Very Rainy and Sometimes Lonely Journey

The “Route of Parks” should be emblazoned in your mind: “Road trip!” Technically, the “route” is a rebranding of a portion of Chile’s epic Southern Highway, or Carretera Austral, which stretches from the industrial city of Puerto Montt in the north to the skinny tip of the country in the south.

As part of that, this January, the Chilean government signed an accord with the nonprofit Tompkins Conservation to place an additional 10 million acres of combined public and private parkland under its protection. The goal is to create a 1,500-mile adventure-tourism trail that would be unmatched in the world.

Right now, though, it’s a road with a hodgepodge of opportunities to fend for oneself in all kinds of wilderness. And that, of course, is the appeal. Large swaths of it are unpaved and under construction and full of potholes from intense, constant dumps of rain. Gas, cell signal and fellow humans are sparse as it snakes between beaches and the Andes, across fjords and through rain forests.

Most international backpackers start in the far south at the Route’s famed, glacier-filled Torres del Paine. You may choose to head the opposite way (as do many Chileans traveling from Santiago) and maximize your time in Pumalín — a former private park that the government recently took over as part of the Tompkins accord. It’s also relatively accessible from Puerto Montt via the Carretera Austral.

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See a black bear while hiking? Don’t panic; follow these steps

Posted by on Jun 9, 2018 @ 9:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

See a black bear while hiking? Don’t panic; follow these steps

  It might be easy to think you won’t run into a bear while on a hike – but it can happen, and it’s important to always be prepared.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife gave a few tips for what to do if you run into a bear on the trail.
If you surprise the bear, you should:

stay calm
stay still
let the bear identify you before leaving the area

When leaving the scene, back away from the bear and avoid turning your back to it. Running from the bear can make you appear as a threat. Talk in a normal tone of voice if other people are present and make sure the bear has a way to leave the area too.

If the bear doesn’t leave you, CPW recommended you wave your arms slowly overhead to appear larger, and speak calmly. You can also step off the trail and slowly back away from it. Make sure you maintain a visual of the animal as you do so.

If the bear approaches you, yell and throw small rocks in its direction. Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommends using bear spray if the animal comes within 40 feet of you. If you are attacked, you should fight back with anything you have.

CPW officials said bears can become aggravated by dogs, so it is important to keep them leashed if hiking the trails with you. A loose dog can get itself into trouble, and could lead a bear back to you.

Black bears typically run away from danger, so another way to avoid an encounter is to wear bells on your hiking bag. This will allow the bear to hear you long before you come into contact with it.



Preparation Tips for First-time Plus Size Hikers

Posted by on Jun 3, 2018 @ 7:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Preparation Tips for First-time Plus Size Hikers

You may be overwhelmed before you even start your first hike. You may also be so worried about your physical ability to hike, your stamina, and safety that you are hesitant to even set foot on the trail. There is plenty of advice on the Internet.

As a first-time plus size hiker, accept the challenge to get outside and enjoy nature. Don’t wait until you lose that 20 pounds you’ve been dreaming of or until you get to some future fitness goal. If you keep putting it off, you will never get out on the trail.

The best part of hiking is that your trail experience doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s. You can stop and rest as often as needed, you can determine the length and difficulty of the trail, and you get to determine what a successful hike looks like to you. This is YOUR hike, so go at YOUR own pace, and make it YOUR own unique adventure.

Your safety and the safety of your travel companions (humans and pets) is the most important thing to remember on the trail.

Hiking is not a competition. Understand that there will be hikers who pass you.

Here are some tips that would be great for all beginners but really focused on plus size hikers…


Hikers’ paradise: walking holidays in Dolomites Val Gardena

Posted by on May 30, 2018 @ 7:20 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hikers’ paradise: walking holidays in Dolomites Val Gardena

The beauty of the Dolomites is beguiling. The minute you set eyes on the towering peaks, the stretch of the Alps that looms over north-eastern Italy, you’ll want to get up close to them. Thankfully the mountain range has some of the finest and most accessible alpine walking routes in Europe.

The Dolomites Val Gardena region in the southeast of South Tyrol is the place to seek out some of the Dolomites’ most dramatic scenery. The valley is criss-crossed with a network of natural hiking trails, so be sure to pack good walking shoes.

Early summer is prime hiking time here – the cool, clean air is perfumed with wildflower scent. Take your pick from the marked paths that unspool through lush meadows and thick forests, wind along old railway paths and into tiny hamlets. Or track upwards into the dramatic multi-coloured limestone hills.

A fantastic place to start is the Puez-Odle Nature Park in the northeast of Val Gardena and part of the Dolomites’ Unesco World Heritage Site. It has a range of hiking terrain including lovely meadows and woodlands. It’s also a popular spot for Nordic walking. Wherever, you roam keep a watch out for the wildlife: golden eagles, chamois, European roe deers and alpine marmots all live in the park.

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Clearing a path: It takes a village to keep North Country trail ready

Posted by on May 29, 2018 @ 9:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Clearing a path: It takes a village to keep North Country trail ready

Leaving civilization behind, hikers on the North Country Trail come for the beauty, the views, the solitude and the forests.

“It’s the longest, skinniest National Park in the nation being four feet wide and 4,600 miles long, and people from all across the nation come and they especially come to the western U.P. [Michigan] in general to see our trees,” said Connie Julien, president of the Peter Wolfe Chapter.

The stretch of trail includes the Trap Hills and some of the best views on the North Country Trail, Julien said.

This remote, foot travel-only trail does not maintain itself and requires hundreds of volunteers across the seven states it passes through to keep it open. In the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Peter Wolfe Chapter is responsible for around 120 miles.

Maintenance is necessary to clear the trail of fallen trees from heavy winter snow and trim back overgrowth to keep the trail clear. With the work divided among around 35 chapters, each is responsible for around 100 miles. The volunteers adopt a portion of that, typically covering one to three miles.

In spring volunteers go in with chainsaws, loppers and bow saws whenever they have time with the goal of clearing the trail by Memorial Day.

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Connecticut Hikers, Are You Up To The Challenge Of These 14 Trails?

Posted by on May 28, 2018 @ 8:58 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Connecticut Hikers, Are You Up To The Challenge Of These 14 Trails?

Along a hill overlooking the Connecticut River in Cromwell, boys once watched sailing ships ply the waters as they passed a blow hole that shot water from a narrow canyon as the tide rose.

Pitch pines and moss-covered rocks fill a craggy hilltop with a sheer drop to a pond covered with lilies and a forested view of two states.

Welcome to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Sky’s The Limit adventure that dares hikers to seek the highest points, views or destination points along 14 “lesser-known” hiking trails across Connecticut. Those who find them will be rewarded with bragging rights, plus a staff medallion, pin or hiking staff.

The goal is simple. Visit at least 10 of the 14 parks before the first week in December 2018 and take a photo at each of the parks’ entrance signs and a selfie at various high points or destinations noted on each park’s map. Visit all 14 parks and your name could be one of 50 randomly picked to receive a hand-carved hiking staff.

Participants are required to email two photos from each of the parks to DEEP.SkystheLimit@ct.gov, or to mail them to CT DEEP State Parks, Sky’s the Limit, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106. Entries must be received by Dec. 7, 2018.

More details here…


Hiking in Germany: Wandering as a national pastime

Posted by on May 26, 2018 @ 10:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking in Germany: Wandering as a national pastime

Early morning misty clouds wander around the steep, vineyard-covered hills of Germany’s Ahr Valley, enticing hikers to hit the trails to enjoy nature — and maybe some wine.

But it’s not just any day to tie up the boots; it’s national Day of Hiking, marking the German Hiking Association’s (DWV) foundation on May 14, 1883.

Hiking, or “Wandern” in German, is the most popular outdoor activity in the country, with 68 percent of Germans every year hitting an extensive 200,000-kilometer (125,000-mile) trail network. In all, Germans hike 370 million times per year.

Hundreds of activities are organized around themes such as hiking, trail maintenance, nature conservation, health and the promotion of families, youth and schools.

Hiking in Germany has a long tradition dating back to the journeymen and religious pilgrims of the Middle Ages — in a way early tourists and travelers.

But it wasn’t until Romanticist authors and painters in the 18th and 19th century began to popularize nature and the outdoors, turning it from something dangerous and to be feared into something to be explored, that hiking really began to take off.

By the second half of the 19th century, early hiking infrastructure was being built in parallel to the transformation of transportation that allowed previously, largely locally-confined populations to get out and explore.

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Five Reasons to Hike the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Posted by on May 23, 2018 @ 7:36 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Five Reasons to Hike the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie was established in 1996, making it the first national tallgrass prairie and the closest federally protected outdoors area to Chicago. It is less than 50 miles from Chicago down Interstate 55.

And yet, despite this, many Chicagoans have not heard about it.

Illinois used to be covered in tallgrass prairie. This is why it is called the “Prairie State.” In 1870 there were 22 million acres of prairie land. By 1978, only 2,300 acres of true prairie remained. This is less than 1%. Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is trying to restore and preserve over 20,000 acres of land, so people can enjoy and see what Illinois used to look like over 100 years ago.

There are an astounding 34 miles of trails in Midewin. 12 miles are hiking only and the rest are multi-use. You will rarely see other hikers at Midewin, especially once you hike a few miles away from the trailhead.

Start at the Iron Bridge Trailhead a few miles north of the Visitor’s Center on Highway 53. The Group 63 Loop is the first trail one comes across, and it is a nice loop with interesting views of the former ammunition plant bunkers. Hikers are allowed to walk cross-country at certain places. This is much easier to do in the spring when the grass is short.

Here are five reasons why you should go for a hike on the prairie this summer…


When planning a hike on an active volcano, safety before spectacle

Posted by on May 21, 2018 @ 7:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

When planning a hike on an active volcano, safety before spectacle

Peering over the craggy rim of Erta Ale, Ethiopia’s most active volcano, at the lava lake below. Beneath a gassy haze, boiling, ruby-red, molten rock thickened and rose up, swelling like a tidal wave topped off by a fireworks of crashing surf. Earth is made up of blood and guts just like us.

Take the opportunity to hike to the 2,011-foot summit of Erta Ale while planning a road trip across the ancient kingdoms and lakes of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. The East African Rift runs through Ethiopia’s crusty, northeastern Afar Region. There, the shifting of the tectonic plates beneath the parched desertscape produces a chaos of fire and gases that can be seen at the top of Erta Ale, which contains one of the world’s six lava lakes.

Many are interested in gazing upon breathtaking vistas, watching heart-stopping pyrotechnics and gaining insight into the fiery depths of the planet we inhabit. Statistics from several sites and tour companies suggest that trips to both visit and hike volcanoes are climbing.

The number of people climbing Mount Nyiragongo, for instance, an active stratovolcano at Virunga National Park in Congo, increased 92 percent between 2015 and 2017. A National Park Service report estimates a 58 percent increase in visitors at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii since 2008, when Kilauea, an active shield volcano, began erupting.

The risk of being trapped, injured or killed while hiking a live volcano, however, means one should undertake careful consideration and planning.

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Adopt a hiking trail on National Trails Day 2018

Posted by on May 20, 2018 @ 7:41 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Adopt a hiking trail on National Trails Day 2018

Saturday, June 2, 2018 people across the country will come together to collectively improve 2,802 miles of trails across the U.S.

The Laurentian Lakes Chapter (LLC) of the North Country Trail invites you to join this nationwide effort by attending a Trail Adopter Day at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. A light lunch will be served at noon followed by an overview of what’s involved in being a trail adopter.

National Trails Day is sponsored by the American Hiking Society each June to encourage people to improve a trail as well as enjoy the outdoors. The LLC trail adopter program consists of volunteers who maintain a section of the trail to keep it in good condition for hikers, mushroom hunters, birdwatchers, photographers, wildflower enthusiasts and everyone else who enjoys being out in nature.

This year also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System, enacted in 1968 to authorize a national system of trails. The first trails established under this act were the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest Trails. The North Country Trail, formed in 1980, spans 4,600 miles from New York to central North Dakota. The LLC is responsible for 72 miles of the trail — from Itasca State Park to Frazee, all maintained by trail adopters.

So what’s involved with trail adopting? Most people are familiar with the “Adopt a Highway” program where volunteers pick up trash along a section of the highway to keep the landscape looking beautiful. Likewise, LLC trail adopters insure the trail is in good condition by clearing branches, checking trail signs for repair, repainting the blue blazes and trimming as needed.

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Best of the burden: Smokies mules make backcountry operations possible

Posted by on May 18, 2018 @ 9:31 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Best of the burden: Smokies mules make backcountry operations possible

In popular culture mules get a bad rap, cast as stubborn, ornery and even mischievous.

But Danny Gibson, animal packer for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spends more time with mules than just about anybody around, and he’s quick to jump to their defense.

“They have that notorious reputation of being stubborn, but they’re not really stubborn — they just don’t want to get hurt,” said Gibson. “It’s self-preservation. If it doesn’t look safe, a horse will just walk over it, but a mule’s like, ‘Eh, I don’t know about that.’ They are thinkers.”

The six mules tethered to a gate at the Smokies’ Rainbow Falls Trailhead backed up Gibson’s words. Perhaps it’s because they were deep in thought, but they didn’t come across as ornery at all. Rather, they stood perfectly still, emptied saddles patiently awaiting the next load of locust logs to be carried a challenging 2.7 miles to Rainbow Falls.

“They’re definitely the unsung heroes of the park,” said Gibson, gesturing toward his team.

Each mule weighs about 1,200 pounds and is capable of walking for miles with 250 pounds on its back — for a team of six mules, that’s 1,500 pounds per trip, carried over some of the most difficult terrain in the park. Today’s goal, Rainbow Falls, will require ascending some 1,500 feet along 2.7 miles of trail in conditions ranging from impeccable to deplorable. The logs are to be delivered as part of a two-year rehabilitation project on Rainbow Falls Trail through the Trails Forever Program, and while some sections have already been renovated to perfection, others are full of rocks, roots and gullies.

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Ten Springtime Outdoor Safety Tips

Posted by on May 15, 2018 @ 6:59 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Ten Springtime Outdoor Safety Tips

That first warm and sunny day of the spring practically begs us to run outside and hit the trail again. As everything turns green and wildflowers shout their colors, spring can be one of the most exciting times to explore our National Forests.

Regardless if this is your 50th or 5th spring hitting the trails or finding the perfect early season camp spot, it’s always a good idea to review safety.

Spring weather is fickle. The day may start out clear and sunny and before you know it, snow is falling. Be sure to pack extra layers of clothing, including socks. Is there anything worse than cold, wet feet?

Heading up into the mountains? You’ll most likely encounter snow. And where there is snow in the mountains, avalanches are always a risk. Check your local avalanche forecast before heading out.

In a word, spring hiking is wet. Rivers may be low in the morning, but can be high by afternoon and roads are muddy. Snow is melting and rain is often falling. Be wary of wet surfaces, stream crossings and muddy roads. Be especially wary of rising waters and flash floods. Warm spring days and spring storms can cause very sudden rises in water levels.

Pitch your tent well above the highwater mark even if it means a longer walk to the stream, or a slightly less impressive view. If you’re in a campground with designated sites, be sure to think through grabbing that sweet riverfront site. Just because they’re designated, doesn’t mean they’re safe for spring time camping.

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WNC experts discuss sustainability of outdoor recreation

Posted by on May 13, 2018 @ 7:47 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

WNC experts discuss sustainability of outdoor recreation

Head into Pisgah National Forest on any day of the week, and you’ll find activity out on the trails. From hikers standing atop Max Patch bald, enjoying stunning views of Mount Mitchell, to mountain bikers riding beside white pine and mountain laurel on the Foster Creek Trail, outdoors enthusiasts take advantage of Pisgah as just one of Western North Carolina’s hot spots for recreation.

Over 1.6 million acres of national forest across the region beckon hikers, bikers, climbers, rafters and hunters, among others, to enjoy the outdoors. The Pisgah Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to the well-being of the Pisgah Ranger District, estimates that between 3 million and 4 million people visit Pisgah each year, roughly half of the 7 million annual visitors to all national forests in the state.

Recreation tourism is an undeniable driving force of the local economy. Last year, researchers from Eastern Kentucky University found that outdoor recreation in Pisgah and Nantahala national forests generated $115 million in annual spending, supporting jobs and attracting businesses. But as people flock to Western North Carolina to take advantage of the region’s abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, they also bring a human impact to wild places.

Economically and socially, sustainable trail design means sharing stewardship and making trails accessible to everyone. As the Forest Service’s 2016 report on the National Strategy for a Sustainable Trail System explains it, a sustainable trail system should be supported by public and private interests in tandem and invite people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to recreate outdoors.

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Catalina Island beckons with new hiking trails, vestiges of old Hollywood

Posted by on May 12, 2018 @ 1:28 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Catalina Island beckons with new hiking trails, vestiges of old Hollywood

This 76-square-mile fortress of rock is marooned 23 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.

Catalina is one of eight of the Channel Islands, and it’s the only one with a significant civilian population. Latest figures put the number around 4,000 people, almost all of them clustered in the port of Avalon.

This diminutive city creeps up on the horizon like a postcard of tiny cake-colored homes perched along a crescent of golden sand.

Some might recall Avalon as the town where Marilyn Monroe lived when she was still Norma Jean, or the place where Natalie Wood mysteriously drowned in its coastal waters.

In the 1970s, the Wrigley family donated 88 percent of the land to the Catalina Island Conservancy. Last year, the nonprofit conservancy expanded its already lengthy backcountry trail network with 27 miles of new and enhanced pathways.

New paths like this one are part of a plan to lure outdoor enthusiasts into the island’s 42,000 acres of wildland. It’s a lofty goal, especially when you consider that tourism officials estimate that less than 10 percent of visitors set foot outside of Avalon. Those who do are greeted with sweeping hilltop views of the mainland that stretch from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. There are also vistas of secluded canyons on the dusty path down to Little Harbor Campground.

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