Epic 3,700-mile nature trail will one day allow you to hike coast-to-coast

Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice. An ambitious, historic new plan will one day allow you to run, bike or even rollerblade coast-to-coast. Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC) unveiled its 3,700-mile off-road trail this week. When fully completed, the “Great American Rail Trail” will become the nation’s first cross-country multi-use trail. The trail will travel from Washington...

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Study finds 96% of national parks have hazardous air quality

Millions of tourists will head out into America’s national parks this summer in search of fresh mountain air. But according to a new report they should instead expect dangerous levels of pollution; roughly 96% of the nation’s parks are struggling with significant air quality issues. The report, released by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), found that...

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2 men endure 71-day hike to document the Grand Canyon

This year is the 100th anniversary of Grand Canyon National Park. Six million visit each year, but fewer than 5 percent actually hike into the canyon. More people have walked on the moon than have walked the entire length of the Grand Canyon, 750 miles, the vast majority without trails. “It’s a hostile place and water is the key,” said photographer Pete...

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Smokies Park Invites Volunteers to an Appalachian Trail Work Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park staff and partners invite volunteers to participate in a service opportunity in celebration of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1, 2019. The national park is once again working with the Friends of the Smokies, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Regional Office, and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club to host this large volunteer event...

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U.S. agency considers more visitors to The Wave along Utah-Arizona border

The Bureau of Land Management is weighing increasing its daily visitor limits from 20 to 96 people a day at The Wave, a popular rock formation near the Utah-Arizona border. A 6-mile round trip hike through tall sandstone buttes and sage brush is required to get to the Wave, a wide, sloping basin of searing reds, oranges and yellows in the Vermilion Cliffs National...

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Trillium Gap Trail Rehabilitation Begins May 13, 2019 at Smokies Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that a 2-year trail rehabilitation project will begin next week on Trillium Gap Trail. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is necessary for the safety of both the crew and visitors. The trail and associated parking lot along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail will be closed May 13...

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Hiking Can Seriously Improve Your Mental Health

Too often when we weigh the benefits of exercise, we tend to focus on the aesthetic. There’s a persistent pressure to exercise to look “good”—to whittle ourselves down to a smaller size and to shape our bodies in a way that pleases someone else. Not only can that mindset be detrimental to our physical health by encouraging destructive habits, but it...

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One million species face extinction, U.N. report says. And humans will suffer as a result.

Up to 1 million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival, according to a United Nations report released this week. The report’s findings underscore the conclusions of previous scientific studies that say human activity is wreaking havoc on the wild kingdom, threatening the existence of living things ranging...

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A Small Town’s Battle Against Radioactive Fracking Waste

After an illegal dumping of close to 2,000 tons of dangerous sludge and contaminated materials across the street from two schools, a Kentucky community struggles with what to do next. Estill County isn’t the kind of place you’d think would have a radioactive waste problem. Half of this quiet, unassuming nook of eastern Kentucky is covered like a quilt with farmhouses and...

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Norway’s ‘Home of the Giants’ Is for You, Too

The Besseggen ridge juts from the earth as a curved spine of sharp, dark-gray stone and carves its way between two blue lakes in Jotunheimen, one of Norway’s many spectacular, wild national parks. “Jotunheimen” translates as “home of the giants,” and everything here is oversize, including the lakes. They are separated only by a narrow slice of the ridge yet have very...

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What is tree crown shyness?

Sometimes trees can be a little too respectful of one another’s boundaries. Or maybe they just stop growing when they get too close. The phenomenon is called crown shyness — when the tops of individual trees avoid touching in the forest canopy, creating separation lines and boundaries in the sky. Experts aren’t exactly sure why the naturally occurring...

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This Gorgeous New 186-mile Trail Takes Hikers Through the Best of the Alps

While there are trails you can hit around the world to immerse yourself in nature, hiking in the Alps is about to become an ultimate destination. The country of Slovenia has opened the 186-mile Julian Alps Hiking Trail, just in time for your warm-weather getaway. The new long-distance trail takes you through alpine valleys, pastures, local towns, and small villages in...

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Schoolhouse Gap and Chestnut Top Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sure, there are lots and lots of wildflowers in April at Whiteoak Sink and on the hillside at the Townsend Y to make this hike seriously entertaining. But there is a lot more to the Schoolhouse Gap/Chestnut Top combination hike than abundant spring flowers. The views into Townsend from the Chestnut Top ridge are notable, and the forest that surrounds you throughout is...

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For hikers, Yosemite National Park rewards originality

If Yosemite Valley bisects the park, the Mariposa Grove takes you on a steep jog to the south and east. Not far (which, in Yosemite, is a relative term) from Mariposa is Glacier Point, which wins the distinction of being the easiest of the Easy Day Hikes in “Best Easy Day Hikes: Yosemite National Park.” A short jog from there is Sheldon Dome, which lands squarely in the...

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South Korea opens hiking trails on world’s most heavily armed border

Travelers looking to experience the abundance of wildlife that’s thriving on the Korean Peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – oft described as the world’s most heavily armed border – have a new option to consider. The United Nations Command (UNC) has approved phase one of South Korea’s “Peace Trail” project, which includes...

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Couple Spends 20 Years Planting an Entire Forest and Animals Have Returned

Nearly 30 years ago, Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado returned from East Africa, where he was on location documenting the horrors of the Rwanda genocide. Following this traumatizing project, Salgado was to take over his family’s sprawling cattle ranch in Minas Gerais—a region he remembered as a lush and lively rainforest. Unfortunately, the area had...

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Man and his blind dog complete thru-hike of Florida Trail

While Kyle Rohrig’s little canine hiking companion, Katana, recently lost her eyesight, she has kept her spirit of adventure. The pooch is a Shiba Inu, a Japanese breed of hunting dog. Glaucoma caused her to lose one of her eyes at age 5 and her other eye shortly after she turned 8 late last year. In earlier years, Katana had joined her owner for long-distance treks on...

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Meigs Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

With the perpetual crowd at The Sinks location in the Smokies, it was surprising to me that hardly anyone hikes this trail that starts at the popular waterfall along Little River Road. Another surprise was the abundance of spring ephemeral wildflowers found along the trail. I counted more than a dozen varieties, and plenty of each. Once you reach Meigs Creek, it’s...

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Eight colorful hikes to celebrate National Wildflower Week

Warmer mornings and longer evenings are telltale signs that spring is in the air, bringing with it an array of colorful explosions, as wildflowers cover hillsides and prairies with bright blooms. The first full week of May is set aside as National Wildflower Week, the official recognition of our country’s floral bounty. Sure, you could admire the blossoms from a...

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Thousands of acres in Kentucky and Tennessee will be protected as wildlife habitat

The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit aimed at conserving land and water, is acquiring 100,000 acres of forest split between southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee. It will be one of the largest land conservation and ecological restoration projects for the organization in the Central Appalachians. It will double the amount of Kentucky acreage the organization has...

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Smokies Park Announces 2019 Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the dates for firefly viewing in Elkmont. Shuttle service to the viewing area will be provided on Thursday, May 30 through Thursday, June 6. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have a parking pass distributed through the lottery system at www.recreation.gov. Every year in late...

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How to backpack Arizona’s eerie Superstition Wilderness

Arizona is home to some serious scenery: the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon. While those are far from any major city, just an hour from Phoenix sits an untouched swath of pristine Sonoran Desert. The Superstition Wilderness, with its eerie red spires and lanky saguaro cacti, offers equally stunning vistas, is full of wildlife, and has miles of trails to...

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101 things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the country for a good reason: there are countless things to do spread across two states and thousands of acres. But sometimes it can be difficult to pick just one thing to do in the park. Other times you may find yourself in a rut doing the same thing over and over. So here is a list of 101 things...

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Earlier Springs Heighten Allergy Misery in East Tennessee

In the heart of South Knoxville sits one of eight Allergy and Asthma Affiliates clinics scattered across Tennessee. Allergist and immunologist Dr. Trent Ellenburg is already being kept busy at his family-owned business, where patients have started coming in suffering from spring allergy symptoms. “As we’re seeing warmer, milder weather, and lots of rain, we do see...

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Hiking through history: Little Cataloochee offers a window to the past

One hundred years ago, the parking area and campground just past the fields in Cataloochee Valley where elk often hang out was better known as Nellie, a remote community in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As anybody who’s ever driven the steep and narrow access road from Jonathan Creek can imagine, it was hard to get in and hard to get out in the...

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Hiker’s Handbook: Best U.S. Hiking Cities

Most of us will never have the time for a 6-month thru hike, but a good day hike can be as refreshing as a week in the backcountry. And if you know where to look, trails abound—even near a concrete jungle. Here are some of the best U.S. cities for getting that backcountry fix in easy-access doses. Portland Smack in the middle of town, Forest Park, Portland’s 5,200-acre...

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N.C. Arboretum receives $1 million grant for statewide outreach

All across Western North Carolina, teachers and students are headed outdoors to find, observe and photograph local wildlife as a part of ecoEXPLORE, a citizen science program developed by The North Carolina Arboretum. Kids in grades K-8 who participate in ecoEXPLORE can earn prizes and help professional researchers by cataloging the plants, animals and insects that they...

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The disease devastating deer herds may also threaten human health

Scientists have called this neurodegenerative disease, which attacks deer, elk and moose, a “nightmare” and a “state of emergency.” Lately, the media’s been calling it “zombie deer disease.” Lawmakers are calling it a “crisis” and currently considering at least three bills at the national level to combat it. Researchers, resource managers and others worry it could hurt...

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Time’s running out to hike this amazing hot springs trail near Las Vegas

Las Vegas visitors who like a challenge will find rejuvenating hot springs, spectacular vistas and, right now, abundant wildflowers on an arduous hiking trail along the banks of the Colorado River that’s about an hour’s drive east of the Strip. Go now if you want to catch spring because the trail closes in mid-May and doesn’t reopen until September. The Gold Strike Hot...

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Hiking to the Summit of Bulgaria’s Belogradchik Fortress

One of Bulgaria’s most interesting historical monuments is the Belogradchik Fortress. It’s located on the slopes of the Balkan Mountains, and the area’s phenomenal rock formations serve not only as natural protection but also as an integral part of the fortification itself. It’s believed that these ancient rock formations were formed over a period of more than 200...

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Who is responsible for Hong Kong’s disappearing trails?

Hong Kong is dense with trails criss-crossing the territory. There are the major ones, like the MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong, and Lantau trails, then the minor ones and their tributaries. What we may be less aware of is that many unofficially designated trails are at risk of disappearing for good. For centuries, residents of the territory have inscribed their marks onto...

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Next Level Trails in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee, may have the coolest backyard ever. Less than 10 miles from the city center, Mountain Creek Park will offer the community an urban recreation experience with 8 to 12 miles of natural surface trails for beginner to expert mountain bike riding, exceptional bouldering, and hiking trails for scenic exploration. With 800 feet of vertical drop and...

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