Smokies Park Announces Temporary Cataloochee Area Road Closures

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the main access road into the Cataloochee area, Cove Creek Road, will be closed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to conduct road repairs from February 10 through May 20, 2020. The county roadway will be closed to stabilize a hillside just outside the park. The secondary access road into the...

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Tarklin Branch Trail to Wintergreen Falls and Thomas Cemetery Trail, DuPont State Forest

Located in the Guion Farm region of DuPont State Forest, this hike will take you to one of the lesser known, but equally memorable, of the exciting DuPont waterfalls. You are surrounded by majestic pine forest nearly throughout, with a walk along Grassy Creek for good measure. Most of the way is excellent double track surface, but that means you should listen for the...

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The 25 Best Accessible Trails in America

There’s stiff competition to get onto any “best of” trail list in the United States. But with sweeping views of towering rock features, ruins of historic railroad towns, and some of the biggest trees in the world, these trails are all worthy on their own merits. Unlike other lists, however, this one takes surface stability, cross slope, accessible parking, and trail...

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RiverLink’s RAD Watershed Plan addresses Asheville’s most impaired waterway

Out of view of the paddleboards and kayaks that meander with the lazy flow of the French Broad River, an orange tube skims oil from a creek’s surface. The tube is a last line of defense preventing oil from flowing directly into the river. The creek is Town Branch, a waterway long believed to be the most polluted stream in Western North Carolina. “Many people still call...

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A Triple Crowner’s Advice for Following Through on Your Hiking Goals

It’s January of a new decade and ’tis the season for ambitious lists, goals, and vision boards for the coming year—adventurous ambitions hopefully among them. We set goals to push toward better versions of ourselves. Maybe it’s a peakbagging list, or getting more miles under those trail shoes so day hikes don’t end so painfully. Or maybe it’s finishing your first (or...

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White Sands is the newest national park. These places might be next.

It’s easy to think of national parks as untouchable—grand, immovable fixtures in our natural environment. But in reality, they come and go: some lose their designation, while others are added. New Mexico’s White Sands National Park hit the big leagues in December 2019, becoming the country’s 62nd national park. It protects the largest gypsum dune on Earth, a remnant of...

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Going With the Flow: How to Tackle River Crossings Safely

Of the numerous hazards that hikers may encounter in the backcountry, rivers are too often overlooked. While seemingly not as threatening as steep, snowy mountains or desolate stretches of desert, rivers can pose the most significant dangers to hikers. Without experience, rivers can easily lure you into a false sense of security before, quite literally, ripping your legs...

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Hiking New Zealand’s New Great Walk: The Paparoa Track

New Zealand’s Great Walks are legendary in the backcountry world. Since launching in 1993 to protect some of the country’s most beloved trails, the three-to-five-day treks have attracted millions of hikers, all eager to traverse the island nation’s iconic landscapes, from the Milford Track’s alpine passes on the South Island to the Tongariro Northern Circuit’s...

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This Hawaiian Island Is Home to Breathtaking Waterfalls, Lush Hiking Trails, and Landscapes You’ve Seen in the Movies

  A verdant jewel towards the northwestern edge of the Hawaiian archipelago, Kauai is commonly known as the “Garden Isle.” It’s a well-earned moniker: nearly 97% of this rugged landscape remains undeveloped. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails hug pristine shorelines and moss-covered canyons. Cathedral-like spires of rock soar above the surf. Honeymooners can...

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New Mexico’s Valles Caldera preserve acquires site with volcanic features

  A 40-acre site that includes volcanic features like steaming mudpots, sulfuric-acid hot springs and fumaroles — openings which emit steam and gases — has been acquired by the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Valles Caldera officials said the acquisition of Sulfur Springs “was critical to preserving the breadth of...

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Pick Mojave National Preserve over Joshua Tree: Twice the size, a quarter the visitors, all the beauty

Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California contains an array of stunning landscapes, dotted by its namesake oddly shaped plants. Mountain ranges, unusual rock formations, desert and wilderness found within its 800,000 acres offer a unique visual and sensory experience. “It’s the rock star of California deserts.” But those in the know say drive past Joshua Tree to...

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Woman with Multiple Sclerosis Will Be Trekking 2,200 Miles on the Appalachian Trail with Her Husband to Raise Awareness

On May 4, 2020 a Beaufort, SC husband and wife team comprised of Bernie and April Hester begin the journey of a lifetime as they embark on a 2,200-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Traversing over mountains, trails, cities and roadways April, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), is hoping that her efforts...

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Wilderness Gateway State Trail to be 100 miles and connect Chimney Rock to South Mountains

Can there ever be too many hiking trails in Western North Carolina? State trail planners, conservation groups, local governments and outdoors enthusiasts tend to think not. At least that seems to be the case as another series of long-distance trails are now in the works by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. The Wilderness Gateway State Trail should be about 100...

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Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health

  A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing. Now, policymakers, employers, and healthcare providers are increasingly considering the human need for nature in how they plan and operate. How long does it take to get a dose of nature high enough to make people...

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Hiking opportunities abound at Georgia’s state parks

It’s a new year, and if being more active is on your list of 2020 resolutions, there is one way you could hit that goal: head out to nearby Georgia state parks for some hikes in the great outdoors. There are state-run parks and historic sites all across Georgia that offer everything from scenic vistas to insight into the state’s past. These parks offer plenty of...

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Gator bites Florida college student hiking in Everglades

[AP] An alligator bit an 18-year-old college student who was hiking with a group at the Everglades National Park, officials said. The Miami Herald reported that a professor and about 15 students were wading through the water on a wet trail near the Pahayokee Overlook southwest of Miami when the reptile bit the young woman’s lower right leg. Everglades National...

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Study finds 26,000 lives were saved by shift from coal to natural gas

The human toll from coal-fired pollution in America has been laid bare by a study that has found more than 26,000 lives were saved in the U.S. in just a decade due to the shift from coal to gas for electricity generation. The shutdown of scores of coal power facilities across the U.S. has reduced the toxic brew of pollutants suffered by nearby communities, cutting deaths...

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Trump admin writes itself a permission slip to ignore climate change and wreck the environment

The Trump White House’s Council on Environmental Quality is proposing changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that would not only make it easier to keep the public in the dark about government projects, but give federal agencies a permission slip to ignore how their own actions might contribute to climate change. In short, NEPA makes the government...

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Mountain Bog Protected in Burke County, NC

  A 17-acre bog in Burke County is now protected for conservation following purchase by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. The Jonas Ridge property borders the Pisgah Loop Scenic Highway and was purchased from landowner Hazel Shell with funding from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Southern Appalachian mountain bogs are rare and contain...

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The six best hikes in Spain that aren’t the Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage route to the city of Santiago, is a magnet for modern hikers, attracting 300,000 people annually. However, its popularity means it overshadows other equally impressive treks in Spain along with many shorter walks offering spectacular scenery. Spain has around 100 long-distance footpaths or Grandes Recorridos (including the...

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These women find empowerment and strength through hiking

Each month over the past year this same group of women from Forsyth County, Georgia has met to hike and build each other up through companionship, friendship and empowerment. “We’re called Warrior Hikers,” said Aswini Oliver, the group’s founder. “It started off with just my best friends, four of us. We just thought, ‘let’s do 12 hikes this year,’ and that’s it.” In...

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A hiker went missing in Grand Canyon National Park before Christmas. Almost two weeks later, he was found alive.

  A Texas man who had not been seen since before Christmas at Grand Canyon National Park was plucked by helicopter from a trail on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 after hikers spotted him. Martin Edward O’Connor, 58, was checked by an emergency medical team, cleared to go and reunited with a family member Thursday night, according to a park spokeswoman. It was not clear...

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‘You’re all goats today:’ Maine farm opens up to human and goat hiking

Each winter, Karl Schatz and Margaret Hathaway, owners of Ten Apple Farm in Gray, Maine, host goat hikes on their 18-acre property. “When you hear me calling to the goats, I’m talking to everyone,” Ten Apple Farm owner Karl Schatz said before leading about a dozen keen hikers and snowshoers on a 1-mile hike through his property. “You’re all goats today, you’re all part...

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Hikers in California’s Sierra Nevada found the remains of a Japanese internee from World War II

Late last year, two hikers were traversing an alpine path, high in California’s Sierra Nevada range, when the unexpected happened: they stumbled upon human remains. The hikers reported their surprising find to local authorities. Once the weather cleared up nine days later, officials from Inyo County recovered the remains, sending them to the coroner’s office...

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Things to know about Duke Energy’s proposed coal ash landfill at Asheville’s Lake Julian

As the Southern Environmental Law Center announced its historic settlement Jan. 2, 2020 with Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to clean up coal ash at six North Carolina sites, Duke’s Asheville Steam Plant at Lake Julian is in the midst of a permitting request to build an industrial landfill on the plant site. The settlement, arranged on behalf...

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Land added to Haywood County’s Blue Ridge Parkway section

The Blue Ridge Parkway is now 53.3 acres bigger thanks to the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s recent donation of the Pinnacle Ridge tract in Haywood County. Pinnacle Ridge is located at milepost 440 near the Waynesville and Village of Saunooke overlooks. Prior to its inclusion in Parkway lands, the property shared more than 4,000 feet of boundary with the...

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There’s been an apocalypse going on right under our noses – but we can still save their world

Have you noticed there are fewer creepy-crawlies around these days? Significantly fewer. In fact, over the past 50 years, an insect apocalypse may have killed off half of the planet’s bugs. It poses a serious threat. More than 40% of insect species could permanently disappear. Climate change, loss of natural habitats and overexposure to pesticides are among the factors...

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Test your nerve on this less-used hiking trail in Sedona

Forming a natural divide between State Route 179 and the hyperbusy trails that loop the iconic Bell Rock in the Village of Oak Creek, Arizona, the north-south running ridge line known as the Seven Warriors is home to a pair of trails known for their edge-hugging exposure. The Hiline Trail that’s part of the Yavapai Vista Trail System scoots along the ridge line’s eastern...

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She’s on year 7 of her hiking resolution

Longtime Ranlo, NC resident Linda Benfield hiked Crowders Mountain for the first time in 2010 when a friend asked Benfield to join her for her birthday. Benfield, now 74, exercised all her life, but something was different about hiking to a North Carolina mountain’s peak. The trees, the smell, the view – it captivated her, and she was addicted. With her new resolution in...

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Hiking: Death Valley offers more than name suggests

First-time visitors to California’s Death Valley National Park can enjoy multiple hikes and points of interest within a few days. Artist’s Drive provides a look at marvelously colorful landscape on the western edge of the Black Mountains. A nine-mile drive takes visitors through an explosion of colors, featuring mountains that are red, pink, yellow, green, and...

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Colorful Trails: The Intersection of Art and Nature

There are many ways to enjoy a trail—a long run, a hard ride, a contemplative stroll. Much like a path winding through the woods, art is also wide open for personal exploration, existing to challenge us, ground us, and encourage discovery. Projects around the Blue Ridge are merging art and nature, offering opportunities to enjoy creativity outside of traditional museum...

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The Outdoor Books that Shaped the Last Decade

Digital media continued its march across the cultural landscape in the past decade, but its proliferation didn’t diminish the importance of books—even if these days we’re thumbing through real pages less often than we’re swiping pixels on our screens. Books challenge our perceptions and paradigms, provoke curiosity, and inspire action. And for many of us, engaging with...

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