Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy Protects 187 Acres at Wilkins Creek

Just beyond the rush of traffic on Interstate 40 near the Tennessee-North Carolina line, steep hillsides and forested knolls shelter a vibrant community of wildlife. Southern Appalachians Highlands Conservancy recently purchased 187 acres in this part of Haywood County near the Pigeon River to protect a corridor for wildlife grazing and movement. Encircled by the Pisgah...

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Be Vigilant Of Heat-Related Illnesses When Hiking

As the dog days of summer continue, temperatures continually reach or surpass the 90° degree mark. These temperatures bring about dangerous conditions if you don’t pay attention to heat-related illness signs. Heat-related illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash. Symptoms of these illnesses can cause nausea, vomiting,...

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Lost on the hiking trail? 6 ways to improve your chances of getting found

It’s the time of year when summer hiking is at its peak — and so are streams of headlines about missing hikers. Wandering off the trail is the most common reason people get lost. You never want to be that person. And if you do get lost, you want to stay safe and get found. Quickly. The best advice, of course, is not to go missing in the first place. “We teach ‘stay...

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Hiking: Making new connections

The world is very connected now because of phones, tablets and computers. This allows people to be almost constantly connected to their families, coworkers and even strangers. While modern technology can help to improve efficiency, broaden knowledge, and widen social networks, it also has increased screen dependence, particularly on mobile phones. Hiking gives everyone...

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Mountain goat relocation is a high-flying balancing act in Olympic National Park

In early July, the loud whirring of a helicopter punctured the quiet of Washington’s Olympic National Park as wildlife specialists scoured meadows, forests, ridgelines and mountaintops for flashes of white fuzz: mountain goats. The cherry-red aircraft kicked up dirt and debris as it lowered two goats, dangling in slings, toward a waiting truck, their feet bound and their...

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The Greenland ice sheet is in the throes of one of its greatest melting events ever recorded

The same heat dome that roasted Europe and broke national temperature records in five countries last week has shifted to Greenland, where it is causing one of the biggest melt events ever observed on the fragile ice sheet. By some measures, the ice melt is more extreme than during a benchmark record event in July 2012, according to scientists analyzing the latest data....

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Science at Sugarlands: Mysterious grassy balds

Mysterious and haunting, Southern Appalachian grassy balds have long fascinated scientists and hikers alike. How many balds are there in the Smokies? How did they evolve? How do they support rare plants? Can balds be found in other parts of the world? These and many other questions will be answered—or at least discussed—on Friday, August 16, 2019 when NPS forester Jesse...

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The Nature Conservancy Preserves Nearly 400 Square Miles of Appalachian Forest

  A 253,000-acre swath in the Central Appalachian Mountains will be protected, thanks to a land acquisition by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced earlier this month. Two parcels, one along the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, and the other in Southwest Virginia, will fill in large gaps between existing public lands and provide a wilderness corridor for...

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Hiking Boots Vs. Trail Runners: Two Loyalists Compare and Contrast

Hiking boots or trail runners? Years ago there wasn’t a choice. Leather hiking boots ruled the trail. But trail runners are now king of the mountains, and they far outnumber boots in outfitters’ displays. Still, footwear is a highly personal choice, and what works for one hiker may not work for another. The outsoles of boots give the bottoms of your feet a solid layer of...

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How to Hike the CDT: Big Agnes Launches Experiential Trail Guide

2018 marked the 40th anniversary of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), the 50th anniversary of the National Scenic Trails Act, and the year Big Agnes became a steward over 75 miles of trail. To celebrate, all 70 employees hiked and biked the 740-mile length of the CDT’s Colorado section. Now a year removed from that epic adventure, Big Agnes launched its own CDT trail...

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Hiking the Longs Pass Trail offers remarkable views of the Cascades

The Longs Pass Trail, on the east side of the Cascades Mountains Range, is seven miles round trip, with a net gain/loss of 2,100 feet. The pass itself is at an elevation of 6,250 feet. The well-marked and well-maintained trailhead is due east from the parking lot. It is a steady climb from its start in the cool forest of the valley. It slowly transitions to exposed rocky...

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How a Thru-Hiking Legend Is Getting City Kids Outside

Liz “Snorkel” Thomas set the women’s fastest known time for a self-supported hike on the Appalachian Trail in 2011 and has since become an urban-hiking advocate. She recently completed a nine-day, 225-mile thru-hike across New York’s five boroughs. Her goal was to visit 100 playgrounds to highlight the Trust for Public Lands’ (TPL) project to build such...

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How Science Got Trampled in the Rush to Drill in the Arctic

Tucked into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a bill signed by President Donald Trump, was a brief two-page section that had little to do with tax reform. Drafted by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the provision opened up approximately 1.6 million acres of the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas leasing, a reversal of the federal policy that has long protected...

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Prescott National Forest Has It All for Recreationists

In the American Southwest, only 120 miles from one of the largest cities in the country, lies an outdoor and recreational wonderland of lakes, mountains, and desert just waiting for those who seek adventure and the chance to bring home a story. This astonishing place where “the desert meets the pines” is Prescott National Forest in Central Arizona, a...

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Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday Party at Cradle of Forestry

Come and join Smokey and all his friends at The Cradle of Forestry for his 75th birthday. This year’s red carpet event is the hottest ticket in Pisgah National Forest, with all new games and events, it’s fun for the whole family. Party Schedule: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm: Smokey’s Birthday Party. Enjoy games, prizes, live children’s music, and birthday cake. 11:30 am: Smokey...

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Help with packing the perfect hiking bag for every adventure

Knowing what to bring with you on a hiking adventure can be daunting, because there are so many factors that might influence what you should pack and such a variety of products to choose from. Beginners may find the process of matching a walk in the woods with the right gear overwhelming at first, but even an expert might be daunted when preparing for a hike that is...

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7 Ways Hemp Plastic Could Change the World

Did you know that it takes between 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade? Plastic pollution is destroying our planet by the minute. In fact, so much plastic is thrown away each year it could circle the earth four times. And these numbers are on the rise. In the United States alone, Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year. This plastic ends up in...

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Best Sections of the Appalachian Trail to Hike in the Summer

Say hello to 15+ hours of daylight, refreshing mountain streams, and endless miles of green tunnel. That’s right. It’s summer in the Appalachians which means hiking season is in full swing. While summer on the AT can be one of the best times of year, certain parts of the trail are better than others to hike during the warmer months. With 2,200 miles of trail, it can be...

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Want to go hiking with small kids? Here’s where to take them.

Hiking with a child won’t be the same as hiking with adults. The goal with kids is much more about the journey than the destination. Here are four basic ideas to keep in mind: Modify your goals. You may not reach the end of the trail. You may not even hike a mile. Adjust your hike to the enjoyment and comfort level of children. Pack patience and flexibility. If you see a...

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For 35 years, a team of scientists have studied the decline of glaciers. What does their loss mean?

Walking the icy flanks of Mount Baker—an active volcano in Washington State and one of the highest peaks in the Cascade Range—is probably one of the most untainted wilderness experiences. A high mountain glacier, in its frigid, deadly enormity, doesn’t feel much like a landscape meant for humans. In the European Alps, medieval myths held that glaciers carried curses and...

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Hawaii Struggles To Maintain Its Worn-Out Hiking Trails

By almost any standard, Hawaii’s hiking trails are a world-class recreational resource. The state’s trail system alone encompasses 855 miles of trails and access roads, from epic, remote routes like the Kalalau trail on Kauai’s Napali coast to easily accessible day hikes like the 2.5- mile Makiki loop trail. And that doesn’t count trails run by the counties or the...

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Here’s how hot your hometown will feel by mid-century

Residents of Harris County, Texas are no stranger to heat. The swampy Houston metro area averages nearly 40 days per year with temperatures in the 100 degrees F or higher range. But, according to a pair of papers published this week, if nothing is done about climate change, many more U.S. cities could be feeling a similar kind of heat. A new report released by the Union...

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He took down dams, freed wolves and preserved wildlands. Bruce Babbitt is still at work.

The rising sun was just starting to light up the tops of the sandstone cliffs when Bruce Babbitt arrived at an empty parking lot, ready to set out on a hike. He chose a trail he knows and loves, a canyon filled with childhood memories and one of his favorite wilderness areas — a fitting place to meet someone who has been immersed in decisions about preserving wilderness...

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Is a Green Future Worth Spoiling the Appalachian Trail?

  A proposed hydropower transmission line in Maine would impact the AT, wildlife, recreation, and tourism. Is it worth it? The proposed project, known as New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), is a 145-mile transmission line winding down from the Canadian border through Maine’s forests, and would ferry hydroelectric energy from Canadian dams to the New...

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That Day Tropical Storm Barry Came to Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Cloudy and very windy. That’s what greeted me the morning of July 14, 2019 as I first stepped from my car at Pounding Mill Overlook (milepost 413). Those who know me also know that I’ve been picking up trash and otherwise maintaining this overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway for each of the last 10 years. As I walked around to survey the accumulated trash since...

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Walking the Walk

William O. Douglas was the longest-serving justice on the US Supreme Court. He’s also the only Supreme Court justice to lead a 185-mile hike through a national park. Whenever he needed to think deeply about a case before the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Douglas would take a long walk on the towpath of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. For Douglas, the C&O was...

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EPA restores broad use of pesticide opposed by beekeepers

The Environmental Protection Agency will allow farmers to resume broad use of a pesticide over objections from beekeepers, citing private chemical industry studies that the agency says show the product does only lower-level harm to bees and wildlife. The EPA announcement makes sulfoxaflor the latest bug and weed-killer allowed by the Trump administration despite lawsuits...

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Hiking with dogs: How to protect them from ticks, injuries and overheating

  If you love your dog and love being active and outside, taking your pup hiking is about as good as it gets. As summer gets into full swing you may be just as likely to meet a four-legged fellow hiker on the trail as another person. So what should you know first before hitting the trail? Know your dog, and know how prepared they are. The basic things to...

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