Hiking News

Hong Kong’s hiking trails offer hidden gems beyond shopping and dining

Posted by on Nov 6, 2016 @ 7:39 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hong Kong’s hiking trails offer hidden gems beyond shopping and dining

Amid the weakening economy, the Hong Kong Tourism Board wants to position the city as a top destination for hiking, in a bid to diversify from the long-running image of a beacon for shopping and dining.

A general manager from the board’s event and product development division, said there was no better time than now – the return of the hiking season between November and March – for visitors to enjoy outdoor activities and discover the hidden beauty of the countryside.

The board has published a guide booklet with detailed information of seven recommended hiking trails and two cycling routes, which are being distributed in hotels and at its information centers.

Among the highlights is the MacLehose Trail, a 100km route spanning Sai Kung and Tuen Mun, which was recently named one of the best hikes in the world by the National Geographic Society.

Another route is the 50km Hong Kong Trail, where section 1 – between The Peak and Pok Fu Lam reservoir – is highly recommended, offering a bird’s eye view of the woodland oases hugged by the concrete jungles on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

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National Park Service Commemorates Veterans Day with Special Programs and Free Admission on November 11

Posted by on Nov 5, 2016 @ 1:23 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

In honor of Veterans Day, many national parks across the country are hosting special events, displays, and ceremonies to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces. The National Park Service will waive entrance fees on November 11, 2016.

“It’s a special responsibility to be the stewards of the memorials, battlefields, and historic sites that tell the story of the honor, courage, and sacrifice of our veterans,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “All 413 of our parks nationwide offer the chance to reflect on what our veterans fought to protect, and may also provide opportunities for veterans and their families to find peace and healing.”

National parks and other public lands can be used to facilitate healing and reflection, physical and mental challenges, and rest and recuperation for veterans, active duty service members, and their families. Rivers of Recovery, one of the nonprofit organizations that uses national parks for this purpose, partnered with Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway to create the “Vets on the River” program, which offers multi-day trips on the park’s rivers to combat veterans suffering from physical or psychological injuries.

The National Park Service cares for many sites across the country related to the military experience, including more than 25 battlefields, 14 national cemeteries, and hundreds of memorials and monuments. Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and other historic sites tell greater story of contributions, sacrifice, and consequences of conflict off the battlefield.

Active duty military members and their dependents can pick up a free military annual pass at any national park that usually charges a fee. A free lifetime pass is also available to disabled veterans. These passes provide free entrance to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests, and other federal recreational areas. More information about the passes can be found at www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.


Welcome to West Virginia: The Birthplace of Rivers

Posted by on Nov 4, 2016 @ 3:04 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

One-thousand feet deep, Blackwater Canyon, in the heart of West Virginia includes public, state and private land. The canyon is home to the cheat mountain salamander and the West Virginia flying squirrel.

Outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs follow the historic railroad grade through the canyon from Thomas to the Limerock trail, seven miles away and beyond. A lush forest of red spruce, sugar maple, eastern hemlock and yes, poison ivy, surrounds the trail.

In the North Fork, a major tributary to the Blackwater, beautiful orange and red river rocks line the bottom of the canyon resembling a landscape of Arizona sandstone, but these are actually the stain of iron rich waters from legacy coal mining.

Friends of the Blackwater is group of dedicated individuals who have been working with the U.S. Forest Service with funding from the National Forest Foundation to enhance the recreation opportunities in the canyon. Their work will restore the old railroad grade for hikers, bikers, and kayakers who access the forest and river.

In the next year their work will continue along the Canyon Rim Trail of the Blackwater Canyon, extending and improving another five to seven miles of trail.

Read full story…


Adirondack Hiking Trails Show Their Age

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 @ 4:01 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Adirondack Hiking Trails Show Their Age

When many of the High Peaks’ trails were cut more than a century ago, the work was done by guides and hired hands. Keene Valley’s Orson “Old Mountain” Phelps created the first trail up Mount Marcy in 1861; Verplanck Colvin’s survey workers cut routes up Algonquin and Dix in the late 1800s; and Henry Van Hoevenberg developed a trail system for the Adirondack Lodge (as it was then spelled).

The early trails opened up the High Peaks to more people and laid the groundwork for today’s trail system, but some of the original trails continue to cause maintenance problems.

“When trails were originally cut about a hundred years ago, there wasn’t anything called trail design,” said Adirondack Mountain Club Trails Coordinator Andrew Hamlin. “It was basically just a way to get to the mountain summits, so there’s a lot of erosion taking place on trails, especially in the High Peaks region. That’s pretty much why our crews exist: to try to mitigate and minimize that erosion.”

Modern trails tend to switchback up mountains and employ trail hardening techniques to minimize erosion. In the old days, however, trails were cut straight up steep slopes. Such trails can turn into streams during rainstorms. Due to erosion, the walking surface is often characterized by rocks, roots, and loose soil.

Given the poor design and increasing number of hikers, many people argue that more money is needed to maintain and redesign trails in the High Peaks as well as on other popular peaks.

Read full story…


Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces temporary ban of backcountry campfires

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 @ 11:42 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Due to extremely dry weather conditions and fresh leaves, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced a temporary ban on campfires in the park’s backcountry.

The fire ban applies to campers using the park’s backcountry sites and shelters. It does not affect campers at the park’s frontcountry campgrounds or people using fire grills at picnic areas.

A representative with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park said the potential for escaped fires has dramatically increased.

“With the current drought conditions, it is imperative that we reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires during this period of extreme fire danger,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The park has not banned backcountry campfires since 2007, but these unusually dry conditions warrant the restriction.”

The ban impacts the availability of water at springs at the backcountry campsites and shelters throughout the park. Backcountry campsites 5, 6, 16, 26, 113, Mollies Ridge Shelter, Russell Field Shelter, Spence Field Shelter, Silers Bald Shelter, Double Spring Gap Shelter, and Pecks Corner Shelter are known to be without water.

Officials say the fire restriction will be in effect until further notice.

The backcountry office can be reached by calling 865-436-1297.


From Glacier to the Pacific, PNT is one rugged hike, albeit with amenities

Posted by on Nov 1, 2016 @ 7:15 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

From Glacier to the Pacific, PNT is one rugged hike, albeit with amenities

You’re not alone if you haven’t heard of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail before.

It, along with the 807-mile Arizona Trail and the 220-mile New England Trail, are the latest additions to America’s 11 national scenic trails as designated by Congress. The most famous of them all, certainly, is the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail that runs from Maine to Georgia.

The PNT, as it is known, crosses seven mountain ranges, seven national forests, three states and three national parks as it makes its way from the east side of the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean.

You’ll climb a total of more than 205,000 feet – that’s more than eight Mount Everests, measured from base to peak – as you hike from the starting point, about 200 yards inside the Canadian border on the east side of Glacier National Park.

You’ll also descend a total of more than 210,000 feet as you make your way up and down mountainsides to Cape Alava, Washington. That’s similar to the elevation change on the longer-established and better-known Pacific Crest Trail that runs from California to Washington, with one big difference. The Pacific Crest’s elevation change of 420,000 feet happens over 2,650 miles. PNT’s is crammed into less than half that distance.

That’s what you get when you blaze a trail that runs east-west, instead of north-south, in the Western United States.

Read full story…


(Ed. note) Read Meanderthals interview with PNT founder Ron Strickland.


Mountains to Sea Trail 40th Anniversary: Gathering of Friends

Posted by on Oct 31, 2016 @ 8:37 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Mountains to Sea Trail 40th Anniversary: Gathering of Friends

Pencil in the weekend of March 24th through 26th, 2017 to kick off the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Mountains to Sea Trail with an expanded annual meeting, the Gathering of Friends, in Elkin, a friendly trail town between Stone and Pilot Mountain state parks that has enthusiastically embraced the MST.

The weekend will officially begin Friday evening with a Hiking Boot Gala – an evening of fellowship and recognition of the accomplishments of the first 40 years.

On Saturday, the annual membership meeting will focus on where the trail is headed and goals for the next 40 years. National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis, who will hike the MST in 2017, will be the keynote speaker.

Throughout the weekend – from Friday through mid-day Sunday – the Elkin Valley Trail Association is organizing a program of great Trail & Town Excursions – from hikes to mountain biking, from winery tours to paddling on the Yadkin – to help attendees explore the great MST sections in the area. Many of these will start mid-day on Friday, so plan to head up early to explore the area.

Registration will be opening soon for the Gathering of Friends.


Feds issue burn bans for Cherokee, Chattahoochee and Oconee national forests amid high fire danger

Posted by on Oct 30, 2016 @ 10:22 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

The U.S. Forest Service has implemented special fire restrictions due to extremely dry conditions, high fire danger and little chance of rain in the immediate forecast. The move comes days after similar restrictions were issued in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia, and the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina.

Very high wildfire danger continues across much of the Tennessee Valley and Georgia because of the hot, dry weather combined with dead and dry vegetation. Fall leaves have started to drop, which can burn in a fire or cause an area that has already seen fire to be re-burned.

Starting on Oct. 29, 2016, all 655,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest are off-limits to campfires. Specifically, “building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal fire outside of developed recreation areas” is prohibited. However, “the use of portable lanterns, stoves or heating equipment that utilize gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed,” according to a news release.

Fires at developed recreation areas are still allowed for now, but must be confined to “receptacles designed for fire,” such as metal fire rings and grills.

Campfires should always be put out and cold to the touch before left for any period of time.


Haunted hikes in Maine for spooky fun this Halloween

Posted by on Oct 29, 2016 @ 11:57 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The state of Maine has long been known as a place of ghost stories and otherworldly happenings.

Perhaps it’s the landscape that inspires such tales. What makes the state beautiful — it’s jagged coastline, fog-socked harbors, mossy woods and old quaint towns — can also appear spooky and ethereal.

Or maybe — just maybe — Maine truly is a hotspot for the supernatural.

Whatever the reason, Maine is home to some of the nation’s oldest and most elaborate ghost tales, as well as host of modern spectres. Most of these stories take place in old homes, inns and theaters. But there are a few ghosts that prefer to haunt Maine’s great outdoors.

So for those who would like to mix recreation with spectral lore, here are a few haunted Maine trails that you can visit this Halloween season, in the spirit of all that goes bump in the night.


Black Mesa provides an exotic Oklahoma hiking destination

Posted by on Oct 29, 2016 @ 8:54 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

From trail’s end at 4,973 feet above sea level, resting hikers can view the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the west in New Mexico and to the north in Colorado.

The buttes, mesas and bristling cholla cacti provide scenery reminiscent of remote areas of the rugged West.

Few would recognize this arid terrain as a part of Oklahoma, but exotic Black Mesa Summit in the extreme northwestern corner of the Oklahoma Panhandle rewards adventurous hikers with stunning western vistas.

A part of Black Mesa Nature Preserve, the state’s highest point lies nearly six hours northwest of Oklahoma City. Oklahomans from the populated areas of the state rarely visit this trail, but a true hiking adventure awaits trekkers who dare.

The 8.5-mile trail that winds to Black Mesa Summit begins around 4,200 feet, so hikers contend with only 800 feet of altitude gain along the more than four-mile trail to the top. Most of the climbing is along a challenging, one-mile ascent up the side of the mesa. The well-marked trail provides good footing, and the overall hike rates at only moderately strenuous.

Read full story…


New iPhone app showcases Seattle’s hiking trails

Posted by on Oct 28, 2016 @ 12:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

New iPhone app showcases Seattle’s hiking trails

Want to go for a hike in the Seattle area, but not sure where to go? There’s now an app for that.

Seattle Parks boasts nearly a hundred miles of hiking trails. But, with that many options, it can be hard finding the right one for you. “We have destination parks with tons of trails, but we also have lots of neighborhood parks with trails,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation.

With the new Seattle Trails app coders and civic leaders came together. The volunteers came up with an app that tells you what types of trails are in which park. “You can look at the app and say, ‘hey, that’s not a great place for me to bring grandma because of the stairs.'”

The app also allows hikers to report where trail maintenance is needed using exact GPS coordinates.


Arches, narrows and waterfalls: Canyoneering and extreme hiking in Moab

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016 @ 4:45 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Moab, Utah, surrounded by Arches National Park to the north, Canyonlands National Park to the southwest and the La Sal Mountains to the east, is a hub for desert adventures from rafting to mountain biking and so much more.

For some visitors, the act of squeezing through narrow canyons, rappelling into open pools and clawing through loose dirt and bushes — canyoneering — is one of the most memorable and scenic ways to enjoy the area.

pend an epic day scrambling and rappelling through canyons in the backcountry and then cooling off in isolated pools.

Entering these canyons in eastern Utah is like stepping into a time warp — not more than a 10-minute drive out of town and you’re on a narrow path leading to a huge rappel behind a 90-by 80-foot arch.

With the rope sliding through your rappel device acting as a time machine, you lower into a prehistoric world surrounded by red towering cliffs.

Learn more here…


A Guide to the National Parks of Florida

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 @ 3:19 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Bill Reynolds has been with the national parks service for a decade, and has visited a ton of them—particularly in Florida. It’s fair to say the spokesman is a super-fan. Of the famed Everglades, he crows, “If the National Parks are America’s crown jewels, the Everglades are some of the shiniest!” But it’s not the only gem in the Sunshine State.

Florida’s national parks aren’t just vast stretches of wilderness. Some of the best sites guarded by the National Park Service include national monuments, memorials, and trails.

In addition to the usual precautions—plenty of water, salty snacks, layers, sunscreen, bug spray, and maps—keep in mind that “these are wild places,” says Reynolds. As is true of bears in the Smoky Mountains, alligators and rattlesnakes are a real part of Florida. So be aware of your surroundings at all times, keep children and pets close, check the NPS website to make sure your park of choice is open, and get ready to explore the great state of Florida.

The unique thing about these parks, says Reynolds, is that each features both outdoorsy as well as historic options. Take the Fort Caroline and the Timucuan Preserve, for example, a national memorial in Jacksonville. There are incredible wetlands and waterways for kayaking, but there are also artifacts from the Timucuan tribe (the now-extinct people who settled in that area). Fort Caroline was also the site of battles between French and Spanish settlers.

Read full story…


Hike NC! will help North Carolinians explore state’s parks

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 @ 7:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hike NC! will help North Carolinians explore state’s parks

Even as the changing fall scenery gives us picture-perfect views, many North Carolinians are still reluctant to explore the outdoors. Some people don’t venture out to North Carolina’s parks, forests and trails because they don’t know about all that the state has to offer. Others are worried they aren’t in good enough shape to take on nature, or that they might get lost by themselves out in the woods.

This fall, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the North Carolina State Parks system launched Hike NC!, a new community initiative that will take the hesitation out of hiking and encourage North Carolinians to get moving.

Hike NC! is a series of more than 60 guided hikes in North Carolina’s state parks and nature preserves, led by the state’s top hiking and nature experts.

Hike NC! will help make hiking easier and more approachable for North Carolinians, regardless of their age, fitness level or hiking experience. Each hike will be led by a trained guide or park ranger.

In addition to helping North Carolinians get active outdoors, Hike NC! is also part of Blue Cross’ efforts to promote health and well-being among North Carolinians. People who are physically active are at lower risk for chronic conditions and diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Learn more here…


A legendary journey: calendar year triple crown

Posted by on Oct 24, 2016 @ 9:05 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

When it was all over, Jeff Garmire couldn’t quite believe he had actually done it.

Around 5 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2016, the 25-year-old Oregon State University graduate found himself standing at the Mexican border somewhere southeast of Lordsburg, New Mexico, where a concrete monument marks the southern terminus of the Continental Divide Trail.

Running along the spine of the Rockies for more than 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico, the CDT is one of America’s great long trails, along with the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail and the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail.

Fewer than 300 intrepid souls are known to have completed all three routes, an achievement known among long-distance hikers as the Triple Crown.

When he reached out and touched that pillar of concrete, Garmire became just the fifth person to have hiked all three in a single calendar year.

“It was like an out-of-body experience,” Garmire said from a restaurant in El Paso, Texas, where he was killing time before catching a flight that would reunite him with his parents in Vancouver, Washington.

“When I finally saw that monument and touched it … everything went blank and I almost felt more relief than anything.”

Read full story…


Paralyzed hiker completes Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Oct 23, 2016 @ 8:53 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Paralyzed hiker completes Appalachian Trail

At first glance, Stacey Kozel looks like any other serious hiker: strong and completely in her element in nature.

The 41 year old from outside Cleveland is both of those things but she’s also incredibly determined. Because unlike most hikers, Stacey is paralyzed from the waist down but has, amazingly, accomplished what many able bodied people don’t even attempt. Stacey just completed the Appalachian Trail, in its entirety.

“It feels pretty amazing, actually,” she explained.

It took seven months for Stacey to hike from Georgia to Maine, about ten miles a day. Sensors attached to her feet trigger microprocessor equipped braces that stimulate her legs to go through the motions of walking. The technology certainly assisted but, really, it’s Stacey who made it happen.

“I don’t want people to give up. We never know what the future holds and we might even surprise ourselves,” she noted.

Doctors diagnosed Stacey with the autoimmune disease, Lupus, at 19. During the years, the disease has robbed the former athlete of more and more of her body. After the last flare up, Stacey was in a wheelchair and had to re-learn how to walk. Stacey’s worried the next one will leave her unable to sit up so the time to tackle the trail…was now.

“I wanted to take advantage of my arm and core and see what I can do,” noted Kozel. “The worst day on the trail is still better than the best day in the hospital.”

Read full story…


Catawba Falls Trail closed October 24-28, 2016

Posted by on Oct 22, 2016 @ 7:28 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Catawba Falls trail and parking lot in McDowell County will be temporarily closed beginning Monday, October 24, and is expected to reopen Saturday, October 29, 2016. A contractor will be delivering and placing a new trail bridge across Chestnut Branch.

The Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest has been working to improve access to Catawba Falls this summer and fall. Work is expected to be completed in October.

The Catawba Falls Trail is a popular hiking trail near Old Fort, NC. Chestnut Branch is the last creek crossing before visitors reach the lower falls.

A new footbridge was installed over the Catawba River in July in partnership with McDowell County, North Carolina State Parks, and a federal Recreational Trails Program grant.

The Forest Service and its partners are continuing progress towards making this area more accessible and safe for forest visitors though the route to the upper falls remains dangerous and the public is warned against attempting it. Every month, McDowell County Emergency Management responds to at least one critical rescue at the site from the public seeking access to the upper falls.

The best way to enjoy a waterfall is from a safe distance. Stay on established trails and be aware of the extreme danger posed by attempting a closer view of the waterfalls. Never climb on or jump off waterfalls. Don’t swim or dive in waterfall pools or wade in streams above waterfalls because of hazardous rocks and currents.

For more information contact the Grandfather Ranger District at 828-652-2144.


More trails to blaze with Kids in Parks

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 @ 11:03 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

More trails to blaze with Kids in Parks

With its cooler days and colorful foliage, fall is an ideal time to hike one of the Kids in Parks TRACK Trails. Now there are even more to explore. Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation just added trails at Mount Mitchell State Park (off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 355), Shenandoah National Park, and Prairie Ridge EcoStation in Raleigh, North Carolina.

At Mount Mitchell, the hike starts at the upper summit parking lot. From there, hikers can quickly reach the top of Mount Mitchell or explore the trails that cut through some of the most unique habitat in the Southeastern United States. The peak is the highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet. The temperature is often lower at this elevation, so bring layers of clothing.

Fox Hollow Trail in Shenandoah National Park is now outfitted with guides that lead hikers through the woods to discover the remains of the historic Fox family homestead. There are also Kids in Parks activity guides at Limberlost and Blackrock Summit trails.

The Prairie Ridge EcoStation TRACK Trail is an easy half-mile route that meanders through a variety of habitats including bottomland forest and prairie grassland. A diversity of plants, animals, and other life can be found among the myriad habitats, including a pond and stream.

Learn more about Kids in Parks…


Building Bridges Together

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 @ 6:59 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Join the celebration for the opening of the Boone Fork Bridge on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the popular Price Lake Picnic Area, milepost 297 Blue Ridge Parkway, this Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 10 a.m.

This 80-foot pedestrian span allows hikers to avoid wading across Boone Fork as they trek from the Boone Fork Trail to Shulls Mill Road, where the path continues to Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.

The festivities begin with remarks from Kate Dixon, Executive Director of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail; Scott Crocker, Manager of the North Carolina Trails Program; Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation; and Matt Henderson with the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The group will then set off on a 1.2-mile hike to the bridge for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Light refreshments will be provided at the picnic area.


Florida’s national hiking trail is at crossroads

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 @ 11:53 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Florida’s national hiking trail is at crossroads

Carving out the Florida National Scenic Trail began in 1966, and now the hiking path from the Everglades to the western Panhandle visits springs, manatees, wetlands, alligators, white beach, turquoise ocean and bird life not seen in more famous wilderness walks.

But the 1,300-mile adventure also has 300 miles of gaps, where hikers are now routed away from nature to trek along highways. Those gaps are going to be harder to complete than the 1,000 miles blazed so far.

Its builders, who fear Florida’s growth, already at 20 million residents and 100 million visitors annually, will claim wild spaces and make the trail impossible to finish.

Carlos Schomaker, Florida Trail Association president, said as the state grows more crowded, the trail will be an essential escape for “everybody from hardcore backpackers to a family with kids.” “It’s probably more important today than back when it started that this trail exists,” Schomaker said.

Of many highlights are the Big Cypress National Preserve, the giant Lake Okeechobee’s soaring dike, prairies and longleaf pine forests. Near Orlando are the inky Econlockhatchee River and springs of the Ocala National Forest.

In North Florida is the bluff-lined Suwannee River, a ribbon of black swamp water bleeding into crystalline spring water. Farther on is Aucilla Sinks, where the Aucilla River repeatedly sinks into and rises out of the ground. The trail ends at Gulf Islands National Seashore near Pensacola.

Read full story…