Hiking News

National Park Service makes recommendations for hikers in bear country

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 @ 8:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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:

  • Be vigilant: Hikers should watch for bear signs (tracks, scat, feeding sites), especially when hiking off trail. Being vigilant for bears and bear signs can reduce the chances of stumbling into a bear at a close distance.
  • Carry bear spray: Bear spray is proven to be effective at stopping aggressive bears and other large animals like mountain lions. Hikers should carry it year round, not just in the summer time. Hikers should know how to rapidly deploy the spray.
  • Make noise: Making noise tells bears you are near so they are less likely to be surprised by your presence.
  • Don’t run: Running can trigger a chase response in bears. Jogging in bear country also increases the odds of surprise bear encounters according to the National Park Service.
  • Don’t hike alone: Hiking in a group of three or more lessens the likelihood of a bear attack. This is because large groups are intimidating to bears and more likely to have at least one member making noise or being vigilant, which reduces the risk of an attack.

The National Park Service warns there is no guarantee of safety when hiking in bear country, even when all of these recommendations are followed.

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Adirondack wilderness offers hiking access to New York’s High Peaks

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 @ 8:33 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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).

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The Ice Skating Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 @ 12:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

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.



Smokies Centennial Challenge – Hike 100

Posted by on Jan 18, 2016 @ 6:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Smokies Centennial Challenge – Hike 100

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.


Hiking enthusiast recommends Illinois trails

Posted by on Jan 17, 2016 @ 7:22 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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.

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Goodbye, Golf Clubs. Hello, Hiking Boots and Kayak.

Posted by on Jan 17, 2016 @ 3:15 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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.

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Hiking Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge

Posted by on Jan 15, 2016 @ 9:32 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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.

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Hiking Mount Qua Qua in Grenada

Posted by on Jan 13, 2016 @ 9:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Mount Qua Qua is one of the tallest mountains of Grenada, a Caribbean country known as the “Island of Spice” for its production of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and mace. Rising about 2,300 feet above sea level in the rainforest of Grand Etang Forest Preserve, the mountain’s long ridge is often obscured by shifting rainclouds, but when the clouds clear, the mountain offers spectacular views all the way to the sea.

To hike the mountain, many people hire the help of local guides because the trail is fairly remote and can be dangerous for those unfamiliar with hiking in the area. Slippery mud, sudden rainstorms and steep slopes are some of the challenges of this hike.

The Mount Qua Qua Trail begins at Grand Etang Crater Lake, a 35-acre lake formed by volcanic activity some 15,000-25,000 years ago, according to an informational sign at the nearby visitor center of Grand Etang Forest Reserve. Surrounded by lush forest, the lake is 1,740 feet above sea level and home to a variety of freshwater fish. People often visit the shore of the lake, where there’s a small dock and a beautiful gazebo.

While you’re hiking, keep an eye out for local wildlife, including the nine-banded armadillo, the mona monkey, the opossum and the tree boa. There are also a variety of birds and flowering tropical plants in the forest.

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Big South Fork Centennial Challenge – 100 Miles for 100 Years

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 @ 5:32 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Big South Fork Centennial Challenge – 100 Miles for 100 Years

Get out and explore YOUR Big South Fork! In celebration of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is holding the Centennial Challenge.

From January 1, through December 3, 2016, participants will have a the opportunity to get out and experience the many unique cultural and natural features of this park along their 100-mile journeys.

This is a self-paced activity for visitors to hike, ride (mountain bike or equestrian), and/or paddle along this park’s 500-mile multi-trail system, including 70+ miles of the Big South Fork River and its tributaries.

There will be a culminating program at Bandy Creek Visitor Center on December 03, 2016. At which time, park rangers will recognize both the youngest and oldest males and females who completed 100 miles along with the participant(s) who accomplished the challenge incorporating the most categories (hike, ride, etc.). All participants who completed the challenge will also have the opportunity to participate in a group photo at the event.

Participants are also highly encouraged to photograph their favorite places and memories along their journeys. Selected images will be printed for exhibition at the Visitor Center and may be displayed on the internet, and other venues.

Learn more here…


All National Parks Are Free On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Posted by on Jan 9, 2016 @ 10:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

All National Parks Are Free On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Admission to all national parks will be free on Jan. 18, 2016 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The discount gives visitors a chance to skirt the $25 fee for entering sites likes the Grand Canyon in Arizona or Yellowstone in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The MLK Day promotion is part of events commemorating the National Park Service’s centennial. There will be 16 days in all this year in which admission is free to parks and historical sites run by the NPS.

The NPS operates several sites tied to key moments in King’s life and the civil rights movement, such as King’s childhood home in Atlanta and a memorial near the National Mall in Washington, but these sites are free every day. The 54-mile trail from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery — along which King and thousands of protesters marched in 1965 to demand voting rights – is also part the NPS.


Find winter hiking bliss at Kentucky’s Big Bone park

Posted by on Jan 8, 2016 @ 9:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Discovery Trail is a 4.5-mile trail mosaic comprised of all the Big Bone Lick State Historic Site’s hiking trails combined into continuous circuit. Collectively, the trails pass through grasslands, woodlands, a woody savanna, the salt-sulfur springs and the bison viewing area.

Big Bone Lick State Historic Park is just off Ky. 338 not far from Beaver Lick and Rabbit Hash in a hilly section of country where thousands of years ago huge animals distantly related to today’s bison roamed the woods finding food in salt licks, plentiful water and very little interference from humans. The animals are extinct but their bones remain, hence the clever name, Big Bone.

Hiking up the wet, rocky, slippery Gobblers trail, there is evidence of contemporary animals such as deer, fox and squirrels. Dead leaves contribute clues to varieties of maple, oak, hickory and beech trees in the woods. An abundance of invasive honeysuckle bushes creeep to the trail’s edge.

Gobblers links with Cedar Run on a ridge. Cedar Run curves and bends through younger woods passing the Bison Herd field and terminating near the park’s Museum & Visitor Center.

Information about Big Bone is plentiful on the park’s website, and a general park map is available in the Museum & Visitor Center. Informative displays are in the Museum & Visitor Center along with a gift shop. Not to be missed is a hike around the lake, which is named Lake on Coralberry Trail. Extending about two miles, the lake trail is lightly used compared to Gobblers and Cedar Run.

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Swannanoa Valley Museum holds info meetings on 2016 hiking series January 7, 12 and 13

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 @ 7:23 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Swannanoa Valley Museum holds info meetings on 2016 hiking series January 7, 12 and 13

The Swannanoa Valley Museum will hold a series of interest meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the upcoming 2016 Swannanoa Rim Hike Series and Valley History Explorer Series.

The first meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 7 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts. Subsequent meetings will be held Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Black Dome Mountain Sports beginning at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 13 at REI Asheville at 7 p.m.

According to a press release from the museum, the meetings will “provide an introduction to our program offerings, details about individual hikes, advice for hikers, and information about our scholarships.” Each meeting is free to attend for the public.

The Swannanoa Rim Hike Series, now in its seventh year, features eleven different monthly hikes over the course of the year that take participants across the mountains that hem in the Swannanoa Valley, navigating 31 miles in total. The Valley Explorer Series, meanwhile, invites participants to explore the history of the communities of the Swannanoa Valley through seven moderately difficult three-mile hikes.

The first hike of 2016 Rim Hike Series is scheduled for January 23, beginning at 8 a.m. and will hikers on a strenuous six mile trek to explore the history and geography of the Y.M.C.A. Blue Ridge Assembly near Black Mountain, following the path surveyor, educator and author Willis Duke Weatherford took in 1906. The price is $30 for members of the Swannanoa Valley Museum and $50 for non-members.

Valley Explorer Series hikes begin in February and are $20 for members of the museum and $30 for nonmembers.



Deal Nears On Southeast Washington Candy Mountain Land & Hiking Trail

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 @ 9:13 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Deal Nears On Southeast Washington Candy Mountain Land & Hiking Trail

Conservationists in Washington’s Tri-Cities are nearing a deal to secure a trail right-of-way on a scenic peak. That would get closer to the goal of establishing a 20-mile trail that could offer sunny, dry hiking at times of year when most trails elsewhere in the Northwest are muddy or snow covered. This 200-acre purchase would secure a trail up the southeast flank of Candy Mountain near Richland. The hiking and conservation group Friends of Badger Mountain has been raising the money for the last two years.

Its leaders say they expect the $1.5 million deal to close by February. They have just $9,000 to go in their fundraising. Sharon Grant, the conservation group’s co-founder, said housing developments and planned roads are driving up land prices on Candy Mountain. “If we had waited much longer we wouldn’t have access to this land I don’t think,” she said.

Candy Mountain might be considered a mere hump by hikers used to Cascade summits. But it’s a central link in a string of treeless peaks and ridges that eventually would be connected. All-together the trails would provide expansive views across the desert, city and confluence of three major rivers, the Snake, Columbia and Yakima.

Grant’s group has already secured large portions of nearby Badger Mountain and established several trails to the top. The new trail corridor would link Badger Mountain to Candy Mountain.



Hike 40 Challenge

Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 @ 9:17 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hike 40 Challenge

American Hiking Society challenges you to make 2016 the year you spend more time getting active outside. In celebration of American Hiking Society’s 40th anniversary, people of all ages are committing to Hike 40 miles, 40 trails, or 40 unique hikes between New Year’s Day and American Hiking Society’s birthday on October 13th.

Beyond getting to spend more time outdoors, there is an additional feel good component to the Hike 40 challenge. Participants pledge to Hike 40 and raise funds for American Hiking Society to help preserve and protect hiking trails. Each participant can log their hikes or miles while raising funds for their preferred category: trail advocacy, trail outreach or trail stewardship. AHS has set up a team fundraising page on behalf of American Hiking Society’s three main programs and invite you to join in by setting up your own fundraiser. It’s easy to do and takes just 5-10 minutes.

In addition to helping protect the places you love to hike, you can earn some really awesome gear to take on your next adventure. They have curated an extensive list of some of the best outdoor gear and equipment in the industry to reward you for your fundraising efforts.

Learn more about Hike 40 here and here


Night-Hiking Ojai’s Dry Lakes Ridge

Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 @ 11:00 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Botanists and backpackers alike know Ojai’s Dry Lakes Ridge to be a lovely and unique destination for finding flora or sweeping views a short, steep climb away from Highway 33. Less considered is the ridge’s worth as a night hike destination. Perched high between the Matilija and Sespe drainages, the Dry Lakes Ridge affords nocturnal adventurers solitude and an owl’s eye view of the world from Pine Mountain to Santa Cruz and Anacapa islands, with enough slight navigational challenges to make it more than a mere midnight stroll.

At any time of day, Dry Lakes Ridge is a special place. Sitting atop the zigzagging State Route 33, the mountain ridge hides a noteworthy home for rare plants amidst its otherwise unassuming chaparral flanks. The hike begins at 3,720 feet of elevation with an immediate climb of just under 700 feet in less than half a mile — i.e., very steep.

There is no way to go but up, and the shadeless trail would be a brutal one in the full heat of a summer day. At sunset, however, the heart-pumping incline at least counters the plummeting temperatures and the sun’s rapid setting. Watch as headlights thread up the mountainside and the darkening gradients of slopes and sea open up to the far-off islands.

Until spring, your night hike is bound to be cold. But if you can stand the chill, then all the better, for you will likely be one of the few. The cities buzz thousands of feet below, but up here, it’s just you and the plants, sharing the peaceful light of the moon.

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Young British ‘adventurers’ come under fire after they have to be rescued THREE times

Posted by on Dec 31, 2015 @ 9:47 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A group of young British adventurers have come under fire after local volunteer rescuers had to come to their aid three times as they attempted to trek across Iceland for a documentary.

Angus Dowie, Charlie Smith, Archie Wilson, all aged 19 and Stefan Rijnbeek, 20, had set out to be the first to ‘cross Iceland unsupported in winter’, with their trip to be turned into a movie.

However they were finally forced to abort the expedition, and yet again had to be saved, much to the chagrin of locals who fund the search and rescue units via charity donations.

Before setting out on the journey, the four men had described the expedition, named The Coldest Crossing, as: ‘four British men under the age of 21 who are attempting the first mid­winter, unsupported crossing of Iceland. ‘The 18 day, 250 mile journey will be documented and shared with the world in real time as well as made into a feature film in 2016.’

The rescue missions to help the British boys have caused more than mild irritation in the local community, as the SAR teams are made up of volunteers and funded via charity. The SAR rescuers offer the services for free, but have pointed out that donations by the Cold Crossing team to cover the costs of the rescue would be welcomed. A report in the local Iceland Magazine noted: “We sincerely hope they are well insured and offer to pay for the repeated local assistance, which is obviously a costly affair.”

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Winter hiking adventure at Ghost Ranch, NM

Posted by on Dec 30, 2015 @ 11:13 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Winter hiking adventure at Ghost Ranch, NM

Not far from Taos, NM, there is a storied and luminous land called the Piedra Lumbre, or cliffs of the shining stone. One of the most famous parts of this area is Ghost Ranch: 21,000 acres located in the basin of the Rito del Yeso surrounded by red-and-gold cliffs.

The Tewa people of San Juan Pueblo call the place T’ibuhu’u, which refers to a low, round place for a winter dance, according to Lesley Poling-Kempes in her book “Ghost Ranch.”

Poling-Kempes tells the story of the Archuleta brothers, who lived in the canyon in the late 1800s. The brothers were cattle rustlers and, in order to keep their operations secret, were believed to have killed travelers who passed through their land. “Stories began to circulate in the local communities about missing persons … about cries and whispers echoing into the night from the cliffs near Yeso Canyon. … The place was soon renamed Rancho de los Brujos – the Ranch of the Witches,” according to Poling-Kempes. Eventually, the name evolved to become Ghost Ranch.

Ghost Ranch is perhaps most well known for its association with painter Georgia O’Keeffe. She first visited in 1934 and said, “I knew the minute I got up here that this was where I would live,” according Poling-Kempes’ book. Seeking solitude and desert landscapes to paint, O’Keeffe lived here off and on from that summer, until the end of her life in 1986 at the age of 98.

One of the most dramatic trails is the one to Chimney Rock. It is a moderate three-mile round-trip hike, which begins at 6,400 feet and gains 700 feet. It follows the ridge up, and there are views ahead to the two-tower Chimney Rock formation. As you go higher, the landscape opens up to reveal the red- and yellow-tinged cliffs that surround Ghost Ranch and to Pedernal, the flat-topped mountain, 10 miles away.

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