Hiking News

High Routes: Backpacking’s Exciting Next Level

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 @ 8:49 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A high route is designed to be the finest backpacking experience available in a single mountain range, watershed, or canyon system, offering an unrivaled concentration of best-of features. When worthy terrain peters out, a high route terminates; it does not continue on for days or weeks through marginal landscapes before reaching another notable destination. Depending on your prior familiarity with an area, a high route can be a defining capstone course or an ambitious attempt at one-stop shopping.

High routes are not recognized by land managers, and they are not marked in the field. They are largely off-trail and do not hesitate in traveling across extensive talus, scrambling on class 3 slabs, or plunging through thick brush. Vertical relief is extreme.

The first in the U.S. was the 195-mile Sierra High Route, which is a more adventurous alternative to the John Muir Trail. Despite other opportunities, especially in the West, only recently have other options been formalized.

Guides are now available for the 97-mile Wind River High Route, 125-mile Kings Canyon High Basin Route, and 104-mile Southern Sierra High Route. Efforts are underway to develop a Glacier Divide Route and a Trinity Alps High Route. The concept is likely to expand, including to non-mountain wilderness areas like the Colorado Plateau.

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The Yellowstone River starts its great journey

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 @ 8:39 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Just off the Continental Divide, deep in Wyoming’s Absaroka Range and Teton Wilderness, Younts Peak brushes thin air at 12,156 feet. When the melt season arrives, snowfields in a cirque high up on the massif’s north face and other flanks are adorned with countless rivulets. Trickling off the snow, they weave in the mountain’s tundra, forming into small creeks as they gather in the denser vegetation below and provide the initial waters for the North and South forks of the Yellowstone River. Beneath Younts’ west wall, the two branches unite to power the surge of the largest undammed, free-running river in America as it commences its 670-mile odyssey to meet the Missouri beyond Sidney, Mont. And what a journey it makes!

From its spawning grounds 28 air miles below Yellowstone National Park’s southeast corner, the fabled river enters a narrow deep canyon fighting its way down a boulder-strewn course. For about 10 miles the newly formed river passes through a forest of pine, spruce and fir fitted with small meadows and willow flats. The 1988 fires that burned a great deal of acreage in Yellowstone National Park also touched this corner of the Teton Wilderness, and as a result some new aspen growth is being observed. The conifer mix is changing, and lodgepole is coming back in places, while exhibits of wildflowers — including arnica and fireweed — are sprouting up under the burnt snags.

Numerous unnamed streams and waterfalls tumble off the Continental Divide to the west and from Thunder Mountain and volcanic cliffs on the east. Industrious beavers have created ponds in many places. The rough Continental Divide Trail follows the river on its north and east side, with many small but easy creek crossings. Here the river connects with some of the nation’s finest wilderness landscape — beautiful, untamed and gaining its wild soul. Far from any road, this is the gorge of the Upper Yellowstone.

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Hiking Southern Utah: Tuacahn Split

Posted by on Mar 20, 2016 @ 9:09 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Tuacahn Split is a fun but strenuous hike located near Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Ivins, Utah. It takes you through a maze of sandstone that leads up above Snow Canyon State Park. Throughout the hike you will see the breathtaking views of red sandstone and black lava rock that are so familiar to everyone in the St. George surrounding area.

The trail is about three miles long with an elevation gain of about 1,200 ft. Most of the trail is unmarked, and many areas will require a bit of scrambling and climbing. Hikers will need to make sure they have the strength to pull themselves up over ledges as well as lower themselves down. This is not a hike for children or dogs, and should only be taken on by experienced hikers, preferably with a guide.

The trail begins just outside of the Tuacahn parking lot. As you ascend the red sandstone mountain there will be one spot where you must swing your body up and over a boulder. It can be scary, but if you can make this first hurdle you can handle any of the other heights on the trail.

Looking back you’ll see a beautiful view of Tuacahn and the surrounding area, and will be able to hear the comings and goings of Tuacahn High School. The hike continues in a series of ‘staircases’ as you make your way further and further upward. One staircase in particular is extremely steep and will look near impossible when you are at the bottom.

Make sure you look back after completing each staircase because the views are spectacular. After the staircases are the splits. You will need to lower yourself into narrow crevices in the rock. There are two of these, but the second is definitely narrower than the first. Hiking guides often say the hike gets its name because hikers will split their pants as they stem down the crevices.

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Relocated Section of the Appalachian Trail near Pearisburg, VA

Posted by on Mar 19, 2016 @ 5:55 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), and the United States Forest Service announced the opening of an approximately 1-mile relocated section of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) near Pearisburg, Virginia. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday, March 18, 2016 at the A.T. trailhead near historic Pearis Cemetery along VA Route 100 in Pearisburg.

The new route will significantly improve the hiking experience for Trail users. It eliminates two road crossings, is no longer in close proximity to private homes, and hikers can enjoy a gently graded woodland walk between Cross Avenue and Route 100. The Trail now traverses the face of the stone wall from which the Bluff City neighborhood takes its name, and the steep terrain, thriving forest, and views of the New River provide a rich and scenic hiking experience along the new route.

Construction of the section was a significant undertaking, as the Trail was cut into the side of a bluff and elevated with numerous sections of stone cribbing. The project, which took more than 15 years to complete, represents thousands of volunteer hours from the RATC and the ATC’s Konnarock Trail Crew. Crews from the RATC put the final touches on the footpath.

“Community members and Appalachian Trail enthusiasts from near and far are invited to be among the first to explore the new section and celebrate with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, and the official Appalachian Trail Community of Pearisburg,” said Andrew Downs, regional director for the ATC. “The Town of Pearisburg has been very supportive of this relocation project and the many crews of volunteers who helped build it.”



Hiking Anza-Borrego is trek into desert paradise

Posted by on Mar 18, 2016 @ 8:52 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Don’t let the name Hellhole Canyon scare you off. In early March the 6-mile hike in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is alive with striking desert blooms, a lush palm oasis and hidden waterfalls. Sure, the start of the route into the sun-beaten canyon is hot.

Flowering indigo, beavertail cactus and desert dandelions buzz with insects along the seemingly misnamed trail. Camera-toting hikers, including the California Native Plant Society’s Bay Area members, wander among towering ocotillo, yellow brittlebush and red chuparosa.

Some hikers will say there are no waterfalls. That is easy to believe in what appears to be a vast, waterless landscape. But keep hiking, determined to find waterfalls in a desert. You will be rewarded.

Farther in, canyon wrens laugh as the trail scrambles over boulders and criss-crosses a creek meandering through a lush, shady palm oasis until at last you find secluded Maidenhair Falls, a slender cascade dropping 18 to 20 feet into a small pool beneath a wall of ferns.

Anza-Borrego is one of California’s southernmost state parks – stretching nearly to the Mexican border.

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Taking Back the Native Land

Posted by on Mar 17, 2016 @ 7:54 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

In the Yukon, Carcross/Tagish First Nation youth are building world class singletrack trails and ski touring, redefining their people’s mountain culture and leading their elders toward a new future.

The preamble and aftermath of the Gold Rush, and manic rush of the Alaska Highway some 45 years later, changed all of this. Endless streams of people and riches flowed through these valleys, first in a stampede that posed a brief and annoying interruption to daily life, and then as a lingering houseguest who brought with them a highway, guns and trucks full of booze.

Decades of boom-bust industry have left their mark on Montana Mountain. The daring feats of catskinners are etched across the mountainside, permanent reminders of industry’s dogged pursuit of silver and gold. Far below in Carcross, the scars are more subtle, but equally persistent—the decaying foundation of the former residential school, empty liquor bottles discarded under groves of spruce trees, caught along the stunning, windswept expanse of beach and dunes extending beyond the schoolyard fence.

In 2006, Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) undertook a small initiative with a big dream. The Singletrack to Success (S2S) Project’s vision was to “build a destination, one trail at a time,” and to employ its youth in doing so. It was the year before C/TFN signed its land claim agreement with the Yukon and Canadian governments, marking the return of autonomy over its lands, resources, and people. The question of economic self-sufficiency loomed large on the collective conscience of C/TFN citizens. The environmental impacts of mining were deemed too great; no, this Nation needed to find another way. Tourism offered a viable option, and trails—the “paydirt” of the adventure-fueled travelling set—were a tangible starting point.

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The wild, complex world of wilderness rangers

Posted by on Mar 17, 2016 @ 6:36 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

The wild, complex world of wilderness rangers

When Drew Peterson tells people he works as a U.S. Forest Service wilderness ranger, they may assume his job is defined by solitude. But that is not always the case: On a busy summer day, a wilderness ranger may stop to talk with as many as 300 people, such as on a recent day patrolling the popular Green Lakes Trail off the Cascade Lakes Highway.

“It can take up to six hours to hike up the trail,” Peterson said. The trail runs about 4½ miles from trailhead to Green Lakes.

Describing what a wilderness ranger is and what exactly he does quickly becomes complex. Peterson, 32, who now primarily patrols wilderness in the Ochoco National Forest but occasionally helps in the Deschutes National Forest, said the work combines about a dozen jobs, including customer service, trail maintenance and rule enforcement. Peterson’s job is to make sure people are doing the right thing.

The current form of the program, in which wilderness rangers go to wilderness areas around the Deschutes National Forest, started in 2010, said Jason Fisher, who supervises the five rangers in the national forest.

Though the title may bring up notions of adventure and exploration, often the work focuses on educating people about what they should and should not be doing. “It’s not what a lot of people expect,” he said.

Passing through wilderness requires adhering to federal rules and regulations, which Peterson and other wilderness rangers enforce.

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El Fin del Mundo

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 @ 9:30 am in Hiking News | 1 comment

Patagonia: land of refugees and romantics, restless souls and wilderness crusaders. What it is about this place that compels people to gamble all that they know for the chance to explore its volatile nature?

Rare are the places in the world that are as evocative as Patagonia, where the raw solitude of wilderness mingles with a certain sense of potential, where refugees from oppression, wilderness crusaders and restless souls seem to congregate in a vast cathedral of fjords, glaciers, mountains and grasslands.

The scale is such that you could point a compass south on the Carretera Austral from Puerto Montt, Chile, where Patagonia approximately begins, and drive 1,200 kilometers to the highway’s terminus at the dusty town of Villa O’Higgins near the Argentine border, and not have reached its furthest corners.

It is a place of soaring tangerine coloured granite towers, windswept plains of pampas grass, estancias (ranches) the size of small countries and weather systems that can turn cobalt blue skies into a surging turmoil of cloud in the time it takes to down a glass of Malbec and a meal of freshly grilled meat.

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Heather Anderson Is the Best, Most Badass Athlete You’ve Likely Never Heard of

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 @ 1:45 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Deep in the southwestern desert, Heather Anderson’s signal is skittish and broken. She’s been in the backcountry for nearly three weeks, checking off summits on the Sierra Club’s list of premier desert peaks—the final miles of the 4,000 she’s hiked in the past year. By the time her backcountry call made it to the cell in my mother’s kitchen, we’d been forced to break phone dates due to poor reception and unabashed confusion regarding what time zones she was straddling—a mixup that says more about Anderson’s unconventional and nomadic lifestyle than her organizational skills.

On the trail, she goes by Anish, but within hiking communities, 34­-year­-old Heather Anderson is also known as “the ghost,” for how she seems to appear out of thin air. It was late summer of 2013 when she set the record for the fastest self­-supported hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. She covered the 2,654 miles from Mexico to Canada in 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes, a distance the trail’s association recommends allowing five to seven months to complete and only about a third of hopefuls complete. Alone, she put in consecutive 18-hour days, hiking between 40 and 50 miles in daylight and darkness. This quiet and consistent rigor secured Anderson’s status as an elite athlete. Yet still, she kept walking.

This past August, Anderson set the record for the fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail, shaving four days off the men’s record and a whopping 36 off the women’s when she trekked the 2,180 miles from Maine to Georgia in 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes. Take gender out of the question, she is the first person in history to simultaneously hold the self­-supported record for both trails.

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NGO to Build Hiking Trails and Eco-camps in Southern Armenia

Posted by on Mar 15, 2016 @ 8:48 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

NGO to Build Hiking Trails and Eco-camps in Southern Armenia

Armen Kazaryan says adamantly, “I don’t need to see the route, I feel it by my feet,” as he swiftly navigates the lush terrain of Southern Armenia for an afternoon hike. Armen is probably the only blind hiking tour guide in the world, or at the very least, the only one in Armenia.

It was in Kapan, capital of the Syunik region, surrounded by some of Armenia’s most breathtaking landscapes that made Armen realize perhaps he had gained more than he had lost. His senses rejoiced in the healing powers of nature and he reconnected with the people and landscapes that so profoundly shaped his youth.

Recognizing the incredible potential of Southern Armenia to provide joy and healing to others, it wasn’t long before Armen and his wife made the bold decision to launch an NGO called ARK Armenia, which immediately started marking hiking trails in the region, making various landmarks accessible to the tourists passing by. Before long, they were acquiring volunteers, who provided valuable labor, helping build the region’s first eco-camp and marking more hiking trails.

Armen says, “Too long it’s been neglected as a touristic destination by the international community. The situation needs to change, needs to become more sustainable and encourage eco-friendly practices. Tourism is a great place to start for that.”

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Fields Pond preserve among Maine Audubon’s many gems

Posted by on Mar 13, 2016 @ 12:17 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Fields Pond Audubon Center is a 192-acre sanctuary in rural Holden, a short drive southeast of Bangor in Penobscot County. The center is owned by Maine Audubon, one of the eight such properties.

The Meadow Path leads to a summer boat launch on Fields Pond, the 85-acre central feature of the preserve. The Marsh Trail investigates the wetlands north of the modern visitor center, which houses a nature store, a reading room, interactive exhibits and a taxidermy collection.

The Ravine Trail leads gently uphill into a dark grove of hemlocks, while the Brook Trail traverses the riparian zone along a small stream that empties into the pond below. From numerous points along the Lakeshore Trail you will look over the pond.

According to Cyndi Kuhn, the center’s coordinator and lead educator, deer, porcupines, foxes, weasels, squirrels, small rodents, and even fishers and mink make their home here, plus 175 species of birds at some point during the year.

“This place is a real gem that showcases diverse habitats, the importance of those habitats and why they need to be protected,” said Kuhn. “It’s a precious textbook classroom environment.”

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Hiking couple makes pitch to revitalize Idaho Centennial Trail

Posted by on Mar 12, 2016 @ 2:06 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking couple makes pitch to revitalize Idaho Centennial Trail

Clay Jacobson of Boise, Idaho has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. So he sees no reason that Idaho can’t make its 900-mile trail from the Nevada border to the Canada border into another thru-hiking destination.

But he learned firsthand last summer that the remote Idaho Centennial Trail — named the state trail as part of a centennial celebration in 1990 — is far behind its famous counterparts.

“It’s more of an idea than a trail,” Jacobson said, “but I came away convinced that it’s very possible. … The missing piece of keeping this trail going is the need for a care-taking organization. All these trails that are successful have a group of people working hard to make sure the trail survives and improves. It’s going to come down to people who care about the trail and want to see it grow.”

Jacobson is one of fewer than 10 people to thru-hike the ICT, which is to hike it end to end. His girlfriend, Kelly Bussard, accompanied him for about 400 miles of the trip before she had to return to college.

They are making presentations around the state about their journey, the hardships they faced and the potential they found in a unique trail that runs through the heart of Idaho.

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Forest Service rerouting damaged Bogachiel Rain Forest Trail after river shifts

Posted by on Mar 9, 2016 @ 11:02 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest Service rerouting damaged Bogachiel Rain Forest Trail after river shifts

Heavy winter rains continue to wreak havoc on trails and roads in the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park. The latest victim is the Bogachiel Rain Forest Trail, where 350 feet of trail about one mile from the trailhead has been damaged or destroyed by the shifting Bogachiel River, the U.S. Forest Service said.

“With the help of partners, we expect to have the trail rerouted soon. We know it is important access as day-use for hikers and fishermen as well as those journeying into and out of the park,” said District Ranger Dean Millett.

The trail is a portion of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, and leads from the trailhead on Undi Road 10 miles south of Forks through a portion of National Forest before continuing more than 25 miles into the national park.

It is currently open to hikers, who are warned to use extreme caution and avoid areas of the trail that have been undercut by the river.
There are also trees down across the trail as a result of the river’s incursion.

According to the Forest Service, the trail is normally fully wooded with side trails leading to fishing areas and overlooks at the Bogachiel River. In many areas, the river is now fully within view of the trail, said Molly Erickson, Forest Service permit administrator. She has hiked the damaged trail.

The Forest Service is planning to create a new route and is fast-tracking the process to locate a new location for a repair. The repair would bypass a 300-foot section of trail at the one-mile mark and a 50-foot section at the 1.5 mile mark.



Yosemite’s Half Dome hiking permit lottery open through March 31

Posted by on Mar 9, 2016 @ 8:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The pre-season lottery for Yosemite’s Half Dome hiking permits runs through the end of March, 2016.

Those who submit applications this month will be in the pool when Yosemite National Park issues 225 day-hike permits for each day of the hiking season. Lottery winners will be notified by email in mid-April. Preseason applicants can request permits for up to six people and up to seven dates, ranked by preference. After the preseason round of permits is assigned, about 50 additional permits per day will be available by lottery. Hikers can apply two days before their desired date.

Weather permitting, the 2016 Half Dome season is expected to run from May 27 through October 11.

Permit applications can be submitted at Recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777. The phone line is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time. The non-refundable processing fee is $4.50 online or $6.50 by phone. An additional fee of $8 per person is charged when the permit is issued.

Backpackers whose multi-day trip includes the Half Dome trail should include the route on their wilderness permit application.

The 14-mile round trip tops out 4,800 feet above Yosemite Valley. Waist-high cables and wooden planks on the dome’s surface aid hikers in climbing the last 400 feet up the steep granite shoulder. Most years, the cables are put up the Friday before Memorial Day and removed the day after Columbus Day.


Students explore beautiful Santa Barbara trails with hiking course

Posted by on Mar 8, 2016 @ 7:39 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Sitting by the edge of a stream in the hills above Montecito, CA, students take a moment to catch their breath and have a drink after a steep hike up to a waterfall. “Should we do our quiet time?” asks instructor Randy Moharram. “I think we should. Everyone get comfortable, we’re going for a minute and a half of silence.”

The only sounds remaining while the class goes silent are the gentle babbling of the San Ysidro Creek and a chirpy conversation between two birds.

For City College students in search of an adventure, a fun way to exercise or a source of motivation to wake up before noon on a Friday, Physical Education Class 227 is the ideal class. Every Friday morning the class meets briefly on campus to clarify directions and arrange car pools, and after that, it’s off to the trailhead and on to the dirt.

“You never regret getting out of bed to go hiking,” said student Lauren Hugenroth. “It’s hard to find time to get outdoors between school and work, but if you can do it as part of a class it becomes a lot easier.”

Each week, Moharram, the instructor and Santa Barbara local, picks a new destination for the class.

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Victor Hiking Trails plans for next steps in NY community

Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 @ 8:06 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

It was nearly 25 years ago that a small group of hiking enthusiasts huddled for the first time. Their passion: enjoying and preserving Victor’s natural beauty. Their goal: to create a system of multi-use trails that would preserve open space and provide an educational and recreational experience for everyone in the town of Victor, New York. Mission accomplished. Although founding members of Victor Hiking Trail Inc. would say it’s a mission begun.

In September 1991 there was one town park with a few miles of trails that were maintained by the town Water Department, said VHT Chairperson David Wright. “I went to the first meeting,” he said. “There were about 25 of us, and we decided we’d become a 501c3. We started meeting monthly and mapped out a plan of where we thought trails needed to go.”

Indeed they did. Thanks to the passion and hard work of many, there are now more than 55 miles of maintained, non-motorized trails within the town and village. And based on a recent statewide survey, an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 users travel the Lehigh and Auburn trails alone each year.

Wright and other board members would like to see the next generation embrace the mission and continue on. The plan calls for small trail improvements, maintenance, boardwalks and bridges over creeks and even some new trails “to make the trail experience more enjoyable,” said Wright.

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32 most enjoyable hikes in Switzerland

Posted by on Mar 6, 2016 @ 7:26 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

32 most enjoyable hikes in Switzerland

Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country, home to numerous lakes, villages and the high peaks of the Alps. The country is also a destination for its ski resorts and hiking trails.

Self guided walking tours in Switzerland are a wonderful and relaxed way to explore the Swiss alpine countryside. Crisp mountain air, rich colorful meadows and dramatic snow capped peaks prevail as you explore this wonderful country on foot. Switzerland is a walkers paradise with many waymarked paths and great trails to follow.

The Swiss Alps, or Central Alps, represents just a small portion of the entire Alps range however it is home to Europe’s greatest concentration of 4,000m mountains. Often we think of stereotypes – alpine pastures, contented cows grazing lush grass, wooden chalets and snow-capped mountains. Although there is much truth in this narrow view, it does little justice to the spectacular variety of terrain that Switzerland is able to offer the active traveler.

Swiss mountains are among the most dramatic and challenging of all the Alpine ranges however you don’t have to be a skilled mountaineer or climber to enjoy a walking holiday in Switzerland. The Swiss Alps is home to some of Europe’s finest walking terrain, with enough variety to suit every taste and fitness level. Rustic inns and a network of alpine or mountain huts provide simple dormitory accommodation, generally with meals too.

Get details about a wide variety of hiking…