Hiking News

Continental Divide Trail Coalition announces its 2017 Trail Days & Kick-Off

Posted by on Dec 29, 2016 @ 10:04 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Continental Divide Trail Coalition announces its 2017 Trail Days & Kick-Off

The Continental Divide Trail Coalition will hold its third annual Trail Days & Kick-Off throughout the weekend of April 28 through 30, 2017, in Silver City, NM to celebrate the launch of the 2017 hiking season on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and Silver City as the trail’s first Gateway Community.

Continental Divide Trail Days will feature seminars, presentations, gear demos, a “Basecamp” outdoor expo, giveaways, raffles, community hikes and more. The three-day event welcomes those who are setting out to hike over 3,000 miles on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, as well as those who use the trail for shorter adventures and day hikes.

“The Continental Divide Trail Coalition is proud to celebrate communities that are helping to protect and promote the Continental Divide Trail,” states Teresa Martinez, director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. “This event has seen immense success over the past few years, and we’re excited to see it grow and engage even more of the Silver City community.”

Congress established the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in 1978 to conserve the nationally significant scenic, historic, natural and cultural qualities of the area. When complete, the CDT will be the most significant trail system in the world. Stretching 3,100 miles along the backbone of America from Canada to Mexico, it accesses some of the most wild and scenic places left in the world while conserving the environment and promoting personal well-being.

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New trail will link Tennessee Riverwalk to Cloudland Canyon State Park

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 @ 12:36 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

New trail will link Tennessee Riverwalk to Cloudland Canyon State Park

The Chickamauga Dam and Cloudland Canyon State Park are just 2.9 miles of new trail away from being connected for ambitious hikers and mountain bikers.

Lula Lake Land Trust crews are planning to begin work in January, 2017 on the Chattanooga Connector Trail that will link the land trust to Covenant College and provide the missing stretch in a network of trails between the Tennessee Riverwalk and Cloudland Canyon, a popular Georgia state park.

The connector trail will be a key link in Lookout Mountain’s trail network, which is part of the developing Great Eastern Trail that eventually will connect New York to the Gulf Coast.

Cyclists and hikers now can take the 13-mile Riverwalk from the Chickamauga Dam to St. Elmo, travel up Lookout Mountain on the Guild-Hardy trail and then take a National Park Service trail to Covenant College.

The new trail, projected to be completed in July, will connect Covenant to the Lula Lake Land Trust. From there, travelers can take existing trails to the Cloudland Connector Trail leading into the state park.

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How Can I Avoid Being Struck by Lightning?

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 @ 8:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Every thru-hiker will tell you there is a little voice in their head constantly nagging them to move forward. Thru-hikers are always concerned with making continuous progress on towards their goal, be it the Canadian border or the next resupply town. Yet traveling in lightning country often requires thru-hikers to be flexible with their schedule and hiking style because the risk is very real: about 10% of those struck will die, often from cardiac arrest, and the other 90% may become permanently disabled.

One way long-distance hikers can make continuous progress ahead is by being creative with their route. Although many thru-hikes have an official route, in mountainous areas it’s a smart decision to map out bailout trails or lower alternates that you can take should a lightning storm come in.

Furthermore, almost every hiker takes lunch breaks. Thru-hikers can time their breaks strategically, such that they can wait out thunder and lightning storms before heading above treeline.

The best rule of thumb is for all hikers to stay below treeline in the afternoons and when there are storms. But since thru-hikers need to make miles, some will continue high onto ridges—knowing full well that if the weather turns worse, they will need to initiate a backup plan pronto. When thru-hikers see dark clouds coming towards them, feel their hair standing on end, or observe less than 30 seconds between lightning and thunder, they know to get the heck off the mountain.

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Exploring Lake Clark National Park in Alaska

Posted by on Dec 26, 2016 @ 12:18 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Exploring Lake Clark National Park in Alaska

Lake Clark is one of the National Park System’s true gems—a large sliver of all of the best parts of Alaska rolled into one easy-to-get-to place. It is almost as if Mother Nature created it with explorers in mind, offering diverse environments for mountaineers, backpackers, paddlers, big-game fisherman, hikers, and photographers to play in. The lake that bares the park’s namesake is Lake Clark—a 40-mile, vividly turquoise-colored body of water that is fed by glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, and streams; and that is surrounded by volcanoes, mountains, tundra, freshwater lakes, forest, meadows, marshes, bogs, and sandy coastline… it is the best of wild Alaska rolled into one fine park.

Like most of Alaska’s national parks, it is one of the least visited of all 59—many have never even heard of it—a major draw for Alaska’s adventure circuit and residents alike who go there for its remoteness and untrammeled beauty. Entrance to the park and travel within it is possible only by plane, boat, or on foot. Flights are made easier with daily routes from Anchorage located just 100 miles away.

The first stop for most in Port Alsworth is at the Lake Clark National Park Visitor Center where backcountry permits and information is issued to incoming travelers. Nearby are several awesome day hikes—two of the most popular being the short and easy hike to Tanalian Falls; and a more difficult trek to the top of the Tanalian Mountain that towers over the bay where you can take in amazing panoramic views of Lake Clark and the surrounding mountains.

The Port Alsworth setting is immeasurably peaceful, but as it is the main thoroughfare to the national park, it is not without its fair share of people. Greater solitude can be found in the backcountry Lake Clark wilderness, and Port Alsworth is the perfect jumping off point to get you there.

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North Carolina State Parks to Host First Day Hikes

Posted by on Dec 26, 2016 @ 7:03 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

North Carolina State Parks to Host First Day Hikes

For those looking to release pent-up energy from the holiday season, Pilot Mountain State Park officials have a suggestion: take a hike. A First Day Hike at the park that is, which will be helping to perpetuate a statewide New Year’s Day tradition.

Every year on January 1 since 2011, parks across North Carolina have hosted First Day Hikes and encouraged the public to participate as a wholesome way to begin the new year while enjoying the Great Outdoors — free of charge.

“It’s starting the year off on the right foot, so to speak,” said Pilot Mountain Ranger Jesse Anderson, who has led First Day hikes there in recent years.

On Jan. 1, 2016, more than 120 people of all ages laced up their hiking boots and took part in two separate treks at Pilot Mountain.

Next weekend’s activities to kick off 2017 will be held rain or shine. Attendance largely can depend on the weather, with Anderson pointing out that the Jan. 1 date can offer a mixed bag.

“There’ll be two different hikes,” Anderson said of next Sunday’s schedule, including a longer hike and a shorter one to appeal to all levels of participants, with each to be guided by park personnel.

More information…

 

Huts with History: 10 Australian Alpine Huts You Should Visit

Posted by on Dec 25, 2016 @ 6:35 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

There are around 200 huts scattered throughout Australia’s alpine regions. Though some of them are much newer, others date back as far as the 1860’s.

For over 150 years, they’ve given shelter to cattlemen and women, gold miners, foresters, hydro-workers, fishermen, miners, skiers, and bushwalkers. Unquestionably, they’re an icon of European Australia.

Unlike in other countries where huts are setup for people to sleep in, most of Australia’s huts are provided for emergency shelter only, but they are traditionally left socked with matches and a small amount of firewood and kindling. Some hikers even leave behind emergency food rations. Relying on them is discouraged because hikers may arrive to find them full or even damaged by severe weather.

They are usually found in incredible locations, have simple construction and a rustic feel, and they just seem to fit into the landscape. Even better, though, is the way they ignite the imagination. One can imagine the adventurous spirits that have walked there, the stories shared around their fireplaces, and the amazing tales of survival they’ve made possible.

Learn more here…

 

Adventure Arkansas: Devil’s Den Hiking

Posted by on Dec 24, 2016 @ 12:06 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

There’s a place in Arkansas that runs the whole gambit of geologic features. From waterfalls, to sand stone structures to caves, there’s so much to explore, for free, at Devil’s Den State Park.

Connecting with the earth and disconnecting from electronics is a positive trend that a park guide, Terry Elder, said she has been noticing among hikers. “They actually enjoy it,” Elder said. “It makes them sit back and put their phones away for a while and just absorb what’s around them.”

Along the trails there’s the sandstone, the caves and the overlooks. Yet there’s always something new to discover, whether it’s your first or thousandth time visiting. “It’s always something different, like a different bird you hear out there or something,” Elder said. “It’s always changing, even though it’s the same. It’s always changing and I always enjoy the people and them taking in nature.”

The park has been around for 80 years, and respecting mother nature will allow for more years of this trail system for future generations to enjoy. There are almost a dozen trails at Devils Den, which frequently offers new and free events for people to learn about nature.

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Pacific Crest Trail hikers should know about Valley Fever

Posted by on Dec 24, 2016 @ 9:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Pacific Crest Trail hikers should know about Valley Fever

When it comes to Valley fever, awareness is key. Unfortunately, too few people know much of anything about it. A fungus that lives in the soil throughout the Southwest causes this terrible lung infection. The Pacific Crest Trail likely passes through areas where this fungus exists.

According to doctors at U.C. Davis, Valley fever is on the rise in California. While the infection is an annoyance for most, it can be more serious or even life threatening. More than 150,000 cases occur each year.

Valley fever, or Coccidioides, is often misdiagnosed as another ailment, in part because many health care providers have a low awareness of it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages you to talk to your doctor about the condition if you have symptoms (Fatigue, Cough, Fever, Shortness of breath, Headache, Night sweats, Muscle aches or joint pain, Rash on upper body or legs). Since many PCT hikers travel from other states and countries, it seems likely that doctors who are far removed from the American Southwest would be even less likely to consider this fungus.

The Centers for Disease Control says this: “In areas where Valley fever is common, it’s difficult to completely avoid exposure to the fungus because it is in the environment. There is no vaccine to prevent infection. That’s why knowing about Valley fever is one of the most important ways to avoid delays in diagnosis and treatment. People who have Valley fever symptoms and live in or have visited an area where the fungus is common should ask their doctor to test them for Valley fever. Healthcare providers should be aware that Valley fever symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory illnesses and should consider testing for Valley fever in patients with flu-like symptoms who live in or have traveled to an area where Coccidioides lives.”

Message from the PCTA…

 

Stay Safe in the Woods this Winter

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 @ 12:27 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The U.S. Forest Service encourages visitors to the National Forests of North Carolina to use caution when recreating this winter because of additional hazards in the woods.

Natural settings have inherent risks and winter weather can increase the danger. Falling trees and branches are an ever-present hazard; the addition of snow and ice makes tree failure more likely. Visitors should be especially cautious when entering areas burned by recent wildfires because fires may have killed or weakened trees. Fire and the freeze-thaw cycle can loosen rocks which can roll onto roads and trails. Motorists and hikers should also be aware of the potential for icy conditions on shaded areas of roads and trails.

Know before you go. Many places in the forest do not have cell phone service. Plan and prepare accordingly. Check with the National Weather Service before your trip so you know what weather to expect but be prepared for changing conditions. Contact your local Ranger District office to get the latest information about current trail conditions and seasonal closures.

Your safety is your responsibility. Take these preventative measures to help keep yourself safe:

– Avoid traveling alone. If you must travel alone, share your plans. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
– Know your limits and choose activities that are appropriate for your physical condition.
– Use appropriate tires and footwear and adjust your speed or pace where there is snow or ice.
– Carry emergency kits containing water, food, blankets, and matches.
– Dress in layers which can be adjusted to the conditions and bring extra clothing in case you get wet.

Visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/r8/recreation/safety-ethics for more outdoor safety tips.

 

The Retirement Cure

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 @ 8:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Retirement Cure

Making the most of retirement with a 40-foot RV, a patch of dirt and full-time seasonal volunteer work in the national parks.

A pop of static. Reg Wofford instinctively reaches down and adjusts the volume of his radio. Beside him his wife of 54 years, Laurie, speaks smoothly into hers: “We’re first on a jam at Willow Flats. There’s a griz on a carcass with her cubs.”

As Laurie signs off and reclips her radio, the Woffords return their focus to the dynamic scene playing out before them under the unflinching blue of a Western sky. Willows, profuse and tangled, trace a creek bank in the distance and sea-glass-tinted sagebrush smudges the air like so much incense. In the middle of this wild Eden, surrounded by twiggy clumps of bitterbrush, a mama grizzly bear — broad of forehead and tawny of coat — teaches two cubs to scavenge for meat.

The moment is captivating and raw, and something that few have the good fortune to see. It’s those few who bring the Woffords to this particular corner of Grand Teton National Park today. The spectators, lining the roadside and jockeying for pictures, buzz with faintly contained energy. “People get so excited,” says Laurie, “That’s one of the fun things that we do — get to see the excitement of people who are seeing a bear for the first time or a moose.”

It’s just another day in paradise for the Woffords, full-time seasonal volunteers with Grand Tetons National Park’s wildlife brigade. From late May through September, they work side by side in the shadow of the mountain range armed with name badges, volunteer patches and cans of bear spray. Their goal as members of the brigade is to keep people safe and animals wild.

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144-mile hiking and biking trail in Missouri’s near future

Posted by on Dec 22, 2016 @ 2:08 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A 144-mile stretch of a former railroad line is expected to be transferred to the state by the end of next year for use as a hiking and biking trail, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said December 20, 2016.

Nixon was at Ameren headquarters in St. Louis to announce details of plans to develop the former Rock Island rail line from Windsor, in western Missouri, to Beaufort, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. Ameren purchased the rail line in 1999. It has not been used for railroad purposes for more than two decades.

“This new trail will bolster Missouri’s position as [one of] the nation’s premier hiking and biking destination[s] — and strengthen local economies all along its path,” Nixon said.

Ameren Missouri President Michael Moehn said the utility company has been working for years to clear the path of vegetation and taking other measures necessary before transferring the former rail line to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources by 2017.

Use of old rail lines for trails has become increasingly popular since development of Missouri’s Katy Trail State Park nearly three decades ago.

Earlier this month, a 47.5-mile stretch was added to the Katy Trail, expanding it to Pleasant Hill, near Kansas City. The extension means the Katy Trail that starts in St. Charles County, near St. Louis, is nearly 290 miles long.

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Canada’s 150th birthday gift to you: Free pass to national parks all year long

Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 @ 11:41 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Canada’s 150th birthday gift to you: Free pass to national parks all year long

On July 1, 2017, Canada turns 150 years old. Kicking off the festivities on New Year’s Day, the stewards of the country’s protected natural treasures, Parks Canada, has a gift for all: a free, multiuse pass to the country’s 47 national parks and national park reserves.

Parks and reserves, which indicate areas earmarked as national parks pending native land claim settlements, are located in every one of the country’s 13 provinces and territories from coast to coast to coast (Pacific to Atlantic to Arctic).

The Discovery Pass also offers free access to 171 national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. By the way, it’s the 100th anniversary of the parks agency (America’s National Park Service turned 100 in 2016).

Entry to Canada’s national parks usually costs around $7 per person. With the free pass, what things will you still have to pay for? Extra activities, such as tours or parking, normally require a separate fee. Camping costs also aren’t included.

The free Discovery Card is good from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017. You order it online, hang it on your car’s rear-view mirror and show up at the park gate.

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This New Mega-Trail Could Open a Mysterious Region to Trekkers

Posted by on Dec 19, 2016 @ 6:42 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

This New Mega-Trail Could Open a Mysterious Region to Trekkers

The Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) is a 932-mile long-distance trekking route stretching from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea in the east. The trail is planned to pass under gorgeous 16,400-foot peaks capped with snow and through a stunning high-altitude UNESCO World Heritage site. The path will traverse ancient villages where hospitality and wine are the currency, and cross crystal blue mountain streams on handmade bridges and ancient Byzantine trading trails worn deep into the fern-covered floors of old-growth forests.

“You have incredibly steep terrain. You have a lot of rivers, and a lot of dense forests that are really difficult to navigate through.” The very obstacles to building a trail here are what make the region a world-class trekking destination. Though virtually unknown on international lists of top treks, the Caucasus lures a small but growing number of extreme hikers looking for adventure in a mostly uncharted wilderness.

Aside from the trouble posed by the difficult terrain, the Caucasus faces historical, cultural, and political concerns, as well as those in geographical and physical form.

From a hiker’s point of view, one of the biggest problems is that the old Soviet trails in the region are unmaintained, with trail markers faded to nothing in places. “Sometimes we lost our track in the woods,” said Irakli Chakhvashvili, a young Georgian geographer who has helped with some of the scouting and mapping.

He recalled a recent hike up to a well-known glacier above Mestia, a popular tourist town in the mountainous Svaneti province in western Georgia. “The markings are also in bad shape,” he said. “It was marked on the maps, but you shouldn’t trust that.”

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How to Thru-Hike the 133-Mile Northville-Placid Trail

Posted by on Dec 18, 2016 @ 12:47 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

How to Thru-Hike the 133-Mile Northville-Placid Trail

The Adirondacks are a wilderness area as bottomless as any other on the East Coast, filled with untainted pockets of forest located miles away from any sense of civilization. Here, trails twist like tunnels through old growth and virgin forests alike, packed dense enough that it’s generally only bears and moose who tend to navigate them.

Among the most revered of these trails that tunnel their way through northern New York’s wild expanses of undulating terrain and rocky alpine tundra is the Northville-Placid Trail, a long-distance artery plunging deep into the heart of the region’s original backwoods and into the quietest reaches of Adirondack Park. For 133 miles, the Northville-Placid Trail weaves between ponds, lakes, and rivers, climbs over mountains and hills, and slogs through swamps and bogs as it skips from wilderness areas to quintessential Adirondack villages and back again.

The first ground was broken for the route between the constructions of Vermont’s famous Long Trail and the mighty Appalachian Trail, at a time when the Adirondacks were little more than a massive tract of wilderness dotted with lumber camps, fur traders, and mining operations. It was an obvious matter of logistics that the newly-formed Adirondack Mountain Club’s long distance route would run from Northville to Lake Placid, as they were the two hubs of railroad traffic in the area.

Here’s a look at how to prepare for a 12-day thru-hike of the NPT…

 

Great Smoky Mountains Natioanl Park Reopens Several Trails

Posted by on Dec 17, 2016 @ 8:41 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Several trails that were closee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to the Chimney Tops 2 fire have been reopened effective December 17, 2016. Hikers are reminded to stay on established trails and to be cautious of overhead limbs and trail hazards throughout the area.

The following areas are now open:

Gatlinburg Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Huskey Gap Trail, Backcountry Campsite 21, and quiet walkways along Newfound Gap Road between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Newfound Gap.

Park trail crews continue to clear and assess trails throughout the burned area. For updated information on backcountry closures, please visit the park website or call the backcountry office at 865-436-1297.

The fire ban remains in place at this time and applies to the use of all campfires and grills throughout the park including frontcountry and backcountry campsites and picnic areas. No use of wood or charcoal fires is permitted. Campers may continue to use gas camp stoves at designated campsites.

 

Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail

Posted by on Dec 17, 2016 @ 6:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail

On Kangaroo Island, a 20-minute flight from Adelaide, Flinders Chase National Park is a 32,000-hectare spread with free-roaming koalas and kangaroos. It’s long been a favorite weekend escape for nature-loving Australians, but it’s lacked decent long-distance hiking options. The September opening of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail—an unguided 66-kilometer path along the island’s southwestern coast that takes five days to hike—has changed that.

Kangaroo Island holds many secrets waiting to be discovered. None is more rewarding than the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. The 66 km Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail offers a unique nature-based experience, giving visitors access to one of the most rugged, remote and spectacular coastlines in Australia.

This section of south-west Kangaroo Island is renowned for its rare and diverse wildlife, pristine bushland and sweeping coastal views. Imagine: the isolation; the serenity; and the natural wonders of this special part of South Australia, and all while walking alongside the vast, awe-inspiring expanse of the Southern Ocean with nothing between you and Antarctica.

But then you won’t be all alone. You will be surrounded, even if you don’t realise it, by Kangaroo Island’s array of wildlife, curious to know who else is enjoying this special part of the world they call home.

The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is set to become a world-class, iconic attraction of South Australia, and a sought after destination for local and overseas visitors.

But not only will the trail leave you with everlasting memories, it also provides the opportunity to access established attractions including Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, Hanson Bay and Kelly Hill Caves.

 

Changes in the works for congested Pisgah Forest entrance

Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 @ 6:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Several modifications could be on the way to help alleviate traffic congestion at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest, improve the intersection of Highways 276 and 64, and bring more pedestrian access to the area.

The N.C. Department of Transportation has submitted several projects for funding, one that would widen Highway 276 at the entrance to the forest, one to improve the intersection and another to add a pedestrian bridge.

The proposal to improve the intersection has two alternatives: an update of the signalized intersection like the one currently in use, and a roundabout, according to NCDOT Division Construction Engineer Brian Burch.

The improvements are needed to improve safety and pedestrian access and to ease traffic volume and congestion that motorists are experiencing at that intersection especially during weekends and holidays, he said.

NCDOT will submit the project as part of the draft State Transportation Improvements Program in January, after which environmental studies will begin before alternatives are chosen and the project goes to the public for input.

Traffic studies will be conducted and hopefully completed in the spring, Burch said. That will determine which alternative is the best fit for the intersection, after which an environmental document will be prepared and NCDOT will proceed with design and construction.

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