‘It’s just becoming awful’: Zion park officials try to deal with unprecedented amounts of graffiti

Officials at Utah’s Zion National Park are grappling with unprecedented amounts of graffiti throughout the park as visitors continue to flock to the canyon. These days, besides their normal job description of welcoming visitors, park rangers face the additional challenges of managing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response as well as the presence of a toxic...

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The NFF and Gunnison County Team Up to Create Stewardship Jobs

An example of National Forest stewardship in action. As with many mountain communities in Colorado, visitation to the Gunnison Valley is at an all-time high. Land managers observe that they have never seen our public lands as busy as they have been in recent years. The area is surrounded by 1.7 million acres of National Forest, and the Bureau of Land Management and...

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Route Finding and Navigation for Hiking & Mountaineering

As promised yesterday, Meanderthals will shift gears for awhile and introduce you to shared information on the Internet that can help you be a better steward in the outdoors. Today, it’s how to improve your route finding from the REI Co-op. On many hiking or mountaineering adventures, you’ll leave the well-trodden trail behind to set off for the summit. Doing so is...

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A Commitment from Meanderthals to Do Better

Have you been paying attention to social media in the Southern Appalachians region in recent days? No doubt you have seen the disturbing photographs from Max Patch, one of the iconic hiking locations along the Appalachian Trail, and in all of the South. Max Patch, and so many others of our favorite destinations, is being overcrowded to a slow, painful death. After any...

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Akron moves forward with ‘Rubber City Heritage Trail’ on abandoned elevated railway

Akron and the Ohio and Erie Canalway Coalition are moving forward with plans to design the six-mile “Rubber City Heritage Trail” on a stretch of an abandoned elevated rail line. The trail will be constructed on the former Akron-Barberton Belt elevated railway corridor, and is intended to resemble the High Line in New York City. It will be 10-feet wide and can accommodate...

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The New American Perimeter Trail Will Be the Longest Hiking Route in the U.S.

In June 2019, hiker Rue McKenrick left his home in Bend, Oregon, and headed into the Three Sisters Wilderness to then walk south along the Pacific Crest Trail. When he hit the end of the Sierras, he turned east, walking across the Mojave Desert in California through Death Valley. He’s kept walking and, in the last year, has averaged 20 to 30 miles a day, notching more...

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Are you ready, boots? Hiking do’s and don’ts in the age of COVID-19

Hiking is a wonderful thing. It’s great exercise and it’s good for the psyche. But with more newbies hitting the trail, and concerns about social distancing, it’s time to take a fresh look at trail etiquette. Many people aren’t riding together anymore due to COVID, so if four friends go hiking, they each drive a car. “This, along with more people seeking outdoor...

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Migration in Motion: Visualizing Species Movements Due to Climate Change

As climate change alters habitats and disrupts ecosystems, where will animals move to survive? And will human development prevent them from getting there? Now you can see those migrations in motion. New research from The Nature Conservancy and university scientists revealed that only 41 percent of the natural land area in the United States retains enough connectivity to...

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The Best and Most Comfortable Leggings for Hiking

OK ladies, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or new to the trails, it doesn’t take long to realize that the right gear, from hiking boots to hydration packs, will make a trip exploring the great outdoors much more comfortable. Same goes for apparel — as we creep closer to the fall and winter seasons, it’s just about time to exchange your favorite shorts...

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National Public Lands Day September 26, 2020

NEEF’s National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. Established in 1994 and held annually on the fourth Saturday in September, the event brings out thousands of volunteers to help restore and improve public lands around the country. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many aspects of daily life in...

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A guide to hiking for novice hikers

On a recent hike, John Gallen Jr. came across an injured hiker. The hiker had stumbled, fallen and was bleeding. With his first aid kit, Gallen was able staunch the bleeding from what appeared to be a small severed artery. He helped the hiker to safety. Falls can happen to anyone on the trail, but being prepared can make a difference. Gallen, an experienced hiker, said...

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Studies show North Carolina’s river otters are thriving, and that’s good news for all of us

Most people would agree: River otters are adorable. But beyond their playfulness, the otters have an important role in determining the health of a river system. At N.C. State University, scientists this year released studies on river otters that they plan to use as baselines for future research. The first study examined the toxicological effects that metals, such as...

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The Best Hiking Snacks to Pack No Matter What Distance You’re Trekking

The moment your stomach starts rumbling and your energy levels take a nosedive, your instinct’s to comb through your snack stash for whatever — be it a sugar-filled granola bar or bag of pretzels — excites your tastebuds. But if you’re trekking up a mountain or through a secluded pine tree forest, you’ll need to be a little more strategic with your snack choices —...

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How apocalyptic this fire season is

It’s still 2020 and the pandemic-/-climate change apocalypse just got even worse. The West Coast is burning. Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area awoke to dark orange skies, as a thick layer of smoke settled over Northern California. (Smoke scatters blue light, allowing only red and yellow to reach the ground.) It’s hard to overstate how really, terribly bad this fire...

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Parcels donated by CTNC to National Park Service near Waterrock Knob

Conservation Trust for North Carolina recently donated three properties totaling 123 acres to the National Park Service for addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The land, made up of three tracts, contains a significant section of Woodfin Creek upstream of the Woodfin Cascades, between Parkway mileposts 446 and 450 in Jackson County. Each of the tracts adjoin other...

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These hikers wanted a pandemic getaway. They ended up barely escaping the Creek fire.

When Mandy Keathley began hiking the John Muir Trail, she expected the over 200-mile journey to take about 18 days. The 32-year-old hadn’t made plans for the summer. So when she got a month off from work, she figured it was the perfect time to spend a few weeks in the open air. She packed a 45-liter backpack with her tent, sleeping bag, stove, food, water filtration and...

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Nantahala National Forest to grow with land conserved by Asheville land trust

When you stand on a ridge or mountaintop in Western North Carolina, maybe from Wayah Bald in the Nantahala National Forest or Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it might look like miles of rippling green and blue mountains. But what you’re really looking at is a checkerboard, said Carl Silverstein, executive director of the Southern Appalachian Highlands...

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Fleeing the trolls for the grizzlies of the Pacific Northwest Trail

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed legislation creating the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail — known informally as the Pacific Northwest Trail. It runs from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, hugging the Canadian border, but it sometimes exists more on paper than on the ground. Some 1,200 miles long, the Pacific Northwest Trail was cobbled together from...

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A small town outside Zion National Park copes with COVID-19 changes

Trish Jennings watched customers dining 6 feet apart outside her Bit & Spur Restaurant and Saloon on an evening in mid-August, missing the usual gregarious chatter of outdoor adventures. Springdale, a small southwest Utah town sits just outside the gates of Zion National Park, and most of the restaurant’s customers arrived after a day exploring the...

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Liz “Mercury” Anjos Sets Northbound Appalachian Trail Fastest Known Time

While she’s been captivated by the Appalachian Trail since she was young, Elizabeth Anjos, who ran cross country at Greeneville College, mostly sticks to road racing. But in 2015 when Scott Jurek broke the AT record, she started thinking more seriously about going for the record for the 2,190 miles stretching from Georgia to Maine, most recently set by Belgian dentist...

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Subaru, National Parks Conservation, and National Park Foundation Team Up to Reduce Waste at National Parks

Subaru of America, Inc., the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and National Park Foundation (NPF) announced that through an innovative partnership three of America’s most iconic national parks are at the forefront to reduce the amount of waste that parks send to landfills. As part of the multi-year Don’t Feed the Landfills Initiative led by...

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Pacific Crest Trail Association postpones 2021 permits

The nonprofit that helps organize long-distance hiking trips on the Pacific Crest Trail announced that applications for the 2021 permitting cycle will not open as planned this October. Organizers with the Pacific Crest Trail Association wrote on their website that because of the ongoing pandemic and continuing spread of the coronavirus they’re not opening permits in...

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Trump administration plan makes drilling and fracking easier in national forests

The U.S. Forest Service released a proposal that would fast-track fracking and drilling across the country’s 192 million acres of national forests and grasslands. The proposed rule would reduce requirements that the Forest Service approve oil and gas leasing plans, sidestep National Environmental Policy Act review, and prevent public involvement before the public lands...

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Blue Ridge Parkway teen volunteer wins National Park Service excellence award

At age 4, Virginia Ward could identify every tree in the woods near her home. By age 12, Ward was rappelling off the highest cliffs in Western North Carolina, helping Blue Ridge Parkway plant ecologist Dr. Chris Ulrey in his important work to study rare plants. Now 15, Ward, a sophomore at Nesbitt Discovery Academy who lives in Fairview, has won the prestigious 2019...

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Out hiking? Here’s why you should leave those stones unstacked and those stacks untouched

Cairns are rock stacks that can serve as critical trail markers, and some carry cultural significance, as well. Others are purely decorative, built by visitors who enjoy designing these towers in nature, often for the sake of sharing images of delicately balanced stones on social media. Besides the fact that it violates the Leave No Trace program’s ethos that should be...

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A 500-mile hiking trail across Alaska? Advocates say the pandemic is a perfect time to start

Since the pandemic started, storefronts in towns around Alaska may have emptied, but trails? “They’re jammed with people, and that’s all the trails — trails up in the Chugach all the trails here in town,” said former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, standing on the Coastal Trail near downtown Anchorage. Park use around Alaska is up over 150% since the start of the pandemic,...

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North Carolina Young Adults Work with Volunteers to Restore Black Mountain Crest Trail

  A Conservation Corps North Carolina (CCNC) crew of young adults worked with volunteers from the North Carolina High Peaks Trail Association to complete high priority trail work on the Black Mountain Crest Trail in the Nantahala National Forest. The CCNC crew consisted of five 18 to 24 year-old AmeriCorps Members led by a trained Crew Leader. The crew worked...

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Celebrate the Mountains-to-Sea Trail’s 43rd birthday during the month of September

Friends of the MST Has announced plans to celebrate the Mountains-to-Sea Trail’s 43rd birthday during the month of September. This year, four new challenges help hikers and trail friends celebrate in a socially responsible and safe way. The trail runs 1175 miles across North Carolina, from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky National Park to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks,...

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