Hiking News

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

Posted by on Jan 23, 2020 @ 6:33 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 next) thru-hike or backpacking trip. Whatever it is, these projects can take a lot of preparation and energy to move forward. Often they suck up every ounce of your free time (and possibly savings account) in order to find accomplishment.

The hardest part of it all? Actually following through. Getting what it is you’re after. Because chances are, you don’t really know what that is yet.

There’s no doubt that challenges will get between you and your goals, questioning motivations, and forcing you to dig deep. It’s cute at the beginning of these journeys when everyone thinks they’re perfectly capable of keeping themselves directly on course. But challenges can wear you down. The tasks and logistics surrounding these goals can be intimidating, and the physical nature of seeing it through can open up all these other parts to yourself you didn’t know existed.

So, here is how to get yourself to the other side of your goals…


Going With the Flow: How to Tackle River Crossings Safely

Posted by on Jan 21, 2020 @ 6:23 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 out from under you.

Fast flowing rivers are powerful and can easily knock you off your feet and put you in a dangerous situation. The key hazards in rivers are obstacles that can trap you underwater such as logs or bushes (known as strainers), as well as waterfalls/cascades, and the cold.

When hiking in an area that you know will have challenging river crossings, it’s important to prepare yourself mentally and logistically. At each crossing, decisions will need to be made about where, when, and how to cross. This will inevitably add time and it’s entirely possible that you will be stopped in your tracks and need to turn around or take a significant detour to stay safe. It’s important to carry good maps showing side trails and escape routes, as well as extra food to provide the flexibility to be able to change your plans.

This post will outline the objective hazards posed by fast-flowing rivers, as well as the tactics and techniques to help you to cross rivers safely.


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

Posted by on Jan 20, 2020 @ 7:07 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 active volcanic fields on the North Island. Many lie in remote, untouched corners.

While the nine original Great Walks were based on existing trails, the 35-mile Paparoa is purpose-built, cutting southeast to northwest through difficult, previously inaccessible terrain in Paparoa National Park, from the inland town of Blackball to the coastal village Punakaiki on the South Island.

It’s also the first Great Walk designated for dual use by hikers and mountain bikers. Designed to be walked over three days (or ridden over two days), the track gently meanders upward through rainforest to exposed ridges and past waterfalls, limestone caves, and relics of the area’s gold-mining past. On clear days, views stretch across alpine tussocks to the Tasman Sea.

The Paparoa Track features three huts: the previously existing Ces Clarke Hut and the brand-new Moonlight Tops and Pororari Huts. Some tracks allow trailside camping in designated sites; on others, like the Paparoa, huts are mandatory and must be reserved in advance.

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

Posted by on Jan 19, 2020 @ 7:16 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 have Maui. This place is reserved for those in search of natural wonder. And with the reopening of the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park earlier this year, there’s never been a better time to marvel at its majesty.

Kauai’s north shore was cut off to visitors after massive flooding wiped out parts of the roadway in April of 2018. It took 14 months of restoration to bring traffic back to Hāʻena State Park — gateway to the Kalalau Trail, Hawaii’s most famous hiking destination. The closure gave the local community an opportunity to better manage a delicate ecosystem that had become threatened in recent years.

“We were being inundated with two to three thousand visitors a day,” recalls Presley Wann, president of the Hui Maka’ainana O Makana, a nonprofit aimed at protecting the natural and cultural resources of the region. “Now you must plan visits to Ha’ena by making reservations on its website. There is a 900 person per day cap. And the feedback from both local residents and visitors has been overwhelmingly positive.”

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

Posted by on Jan 17, 2020 @ 6:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 the Mojave National Preserve. “It’s even more pure and vast. No one is there.”

The 1.6 million-acre preserve is exquisite. There are desert, dunes, salt flats, plateaus, mesas and buttes, ancient volcanoes, abandoned mines, and few paved roads or established trails.

“It’s a beautiful, powerful landscape that most of the world doesn’t encounter.” In 2018, the National Park Service recorded only 787,000 visits.

You can climb and slide on the sand hills in rarely visited Cadiz Dunes Wilderness. Wander through the underground caves in the spectacular Mitchell Caverns. Hike to the center of Amboy Crater — an extinct cinder cone volcano — atop black lava. Walk around volcanic rocks perforated with holes caused by uneven cooling and erosion.

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

Posted by on Jan 16, 2020 @ 6:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 dubbed the “Finish MS Hike” will bring much-needed awareness to multiple sclerosis and can help and inspire others afflicted with this incurable disease.

It’s important to note that April is not alone. Hers is just one of the approximately 400 new cases of multiple sclerosis diagnosed each week, contributing to the more than 1,000,000 people in the United States living with this disabling neurological condition. While most individuals are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, multiple sclerosis can be developed at any age.

Over the past 2 years the couple has thru hiked the 500-mile Palmetto Trail in South Carolina three times and the rugged remote 77 mile Foothills Trail traversing the South Carolina mountains twice to prepare for this upcoming hike.

For those interested, the couple is encouraging others to follow along with them on their adventure. They have established a trail journal that they will be posting to throughout the hike at www.trailjournals.com/muleandinchwormAThike, as well as on Instagram @Mule_Inchworm and a map showing their location.

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

Posted by on Jan 15, 2020 @ 6:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 miles when completed, and connect Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County with South Mountains State Park in Burke County, to the towns of Hickory and Valdese, as well as contain a paddle trail across two waterways — Henry Fork and Jacob Fork rivers – in a linear trail with access points for people to hop on and off, or to hike continuously for days.

Wilderness Gateway was authorized by the General Assembly in July 2019, and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, also authorizing creation of the Northern Peaks State Trail in Watauga and Ashe counties, and the Overmountain Victory State Trail reaching across Avery, Mitchell, McDowell, Burke, Rutherford, Polk, Caldwell, Wilkes and Surry counties.

The vision for the Wilderness Gateway State Trail entails three primary purposes: conservation, recreation and tourism.



Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health

Posted by on Jan 14, 2020 @ 7:03 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being? Precisely 120 minutes.

In a study of 20,000 people, a team from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Two hours was a hard boundary: The study showed there were no benefits for people who didn’t meet that threshold.

The effects were robust, cutting across different occupations, ethnic groups, people from rich and poor areas, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

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Hiking opportunities abound at Georgia’s state parks

Posted by on Jan 13, 2020 @ 6:50 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 opportunities for people looking to work more fitness into their lives to lace up their sneakers and hit some trails.

For example, located just 40 miles north of Lawrenceville on the north end of Lake Lanier in Hall County, Don Carter State Park offers 12.5 miles of multi-use trails that can be used for either hiking or bicycling. It also has cabins on hillsides close to the lake as well as “primitive” campgrounds and RV campgrounds for hikers who want to spend the night.

Or, Victoria Bryant State Park is just 12 miles off Interstate 85 in Franklin County. It features a short nature trail as well as a longer perimeter trail for hikers to take advantage of. State officials also highlight a stream that flows through the park as “the perfect setting for an after-picnic stroll.”

Officials with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources suggested these other options as well…


Gator bites Florida college student hiking in Everglades

Posted by on Jan 12, 2020 @ 6:53 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 Park’s spokeswoman Allyson Gantt said the student suffered two small puncture wounds and described the injury as “low pain.” Gantt said the trail is a popular spot among hikers, and alligator attacks there are extremely unusual.

Park biologists have temporarily closed the area to visitors as they evaluate the incident. Gantt said visitors need to stay alert and exercise caution and reminded it is not recommended to swim.


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

Posted by on Jan 8, 2020 @ 6:34 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 Camino de Santiago, GR65), which are signposted by horizontal red and white stripes, painted on a pine tree, rock or fence post.

GR1, the Sendero Histórico, is a remote but accessible 700-mile path across northern Spain in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It runs along the ancient Muslim–Christian line of control from Puerto de Tarna in the Picos to Sant Martí d’Empúries on the Mediterranean taking in scores of historic medieval and Romanesque churches, castles and towns.

The spine of the 300-mile wide Pyrenees is another epic trek but much shorter sections offer outstanding natural scenery too. The Ordesa valley in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site with steep-sided canyons on either side and views up to high peaks.

The Picos de Europa is the mountain range behind the coast in Cantabria and Asturias, easily accessed via the ferry to Santander. It became the first of Spain’s 14 national parks in 1995 and was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2003. Much of it is wilderness characterised by huge massifs and rocky pinnacles.

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These women find empowerment and strength through hiking

Posted by on Jan 7, 2020 @ 6:32 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 January 2019, Oliver and a few friends, all novice hikers, set out to do something for themselves, something not related to their careers and families, to prove to themselves that they are strong, brave and self-sufficient. Since then, the Warrior Hikers have done some of the toughest hikes in the state, from Sawnee Mountain in Forsyth County to Blood Mountain, in north Georgia.

“We started out with Sawnee Mountain Indian Seats, then we did sunrise on Stone Mountain, Kennesaw, Sweetwater, we did Blood Mountain, Fort Yargo,” Oliver said as she strolled down the path at Little Mulberry Park. “Blood Mountain was the toughest one; Kennesaw was a tough one too.”

Though Warrior Hikers is open to women of all ages and ethnicities, right now the group is comprised of about 60 Indian women. That wasn’t on purpose, Oliver said, the group just grew organically from friend to friend and co-worker to co-worker.

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

Posted by on Jan 6, 2020 @ 8:56 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 by Friday how or where he had spent the previous 11 days or what, if any, injuries he suffered.

O’Connor had last been seen Dec. 22, 2019 at Yavapai Lodge, a hotel within the national park where he had been staying since Dec. 17.

The first word that something was amiss came Monday, with a short news release and Facebook post from the Grand Canyon National Park: “Missing-Person Search Initiated at Grand Canyon.” The Park Service said O’Connor was believed to be traveling alone and asked anyone who saw or talked to him to get in touch.

On Wednesday, hikers did just that, going to a backcountry information office to report they had spotted the missing man, according to spokeswoman Lily Daniels. They said they saw O’Connor along the New Hance Trail, which the park says is “recommended only for highly experienced canyon hikers.”

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

Posted by on Jan 5, 2020 @ 8:06 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

‘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 of the herd,” said Schatz.

Turns out, goats are pretty good hiking partners. They don’t protest or complain but are content with foraging, stripping bark from trees and munching on boughs of trees along the trail.

According to Hathaway, the goat hikes started about 10 years ago, a few years after her and Schatz left New York, spent a year traveling around the country living at various goat farms and settled in Gray.

Part of the “Year of the Goat” was spending time in Wyoming, where goats carry gear and bags and go out hiking. They were inspired to implement the same system, sans the gear-carrying, with their goats.

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

Posted by on Jan 4, 2020 @ 9:18 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 for examination.

That’s where the story takes another unusual turn. The remains belonged to Giichi Matsumura, a Japanese man who had lived in an internment camp for those of Japanese ancestry during World War II, according to a DNA analysis by the Department of Justice.

The 46-year-old Matsumura was living with his family and 11,000 other incarcerated Japanese at the Manzanar War Relocation Center when he joined a group of fisherman on July 29, 1945, to venture up into the high mountain lakes, according to a news release from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office.

Several days later, on August 2, he left the main group, venturing out on his own to paint and sketch in solitude among the sweeping mountain vistas.

But a storm came, and in the aftermath, the fishing group couldn’t find their lost friend. They hiked down the mountain, hoping Matsumura had beaten them back, but he wasn’t there either. He died in the mountains.

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

Posted by on Dec 31, 2019 @ 6:11 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 slopes while the newer Transept Trail traces the less congested western side.

There are several ways to access the user-created route that was adopted by the U.S. Forest Service in 2018. The most direct way to is begin at the small trailhead along Verde Valley School Road. This less aggressive approach offers a more gradual, smoother gradient than its east side counterpart as well as equally heady views.

Although some slippery loose rock, tricky turns and short sections with stomach-churning deep drop-offs require extra effort and steady nerves, the payoff of hiking close to the edge is unobstructed vistas of Cathedral Rock, House Mountain and the flood plains of Oak Creek.

The Transept Trail ends at the 3.2-mile point where it connects with the Hiline Trail. From this high-point junction on the nose of a beveled rock jetty with 360-degree views, there are several ways to extend the hike or make a long loop. Consult the forest service map for details.

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She’s on year 7 of her hiking resolution

Posted by on Dec 30, 2019 @ 6:36 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 mind, Benfield set out to find a hiking group who hit the trails during the week, with no foreseeable luck. She set out on several trails with another friend in the meantime, but eventually, schedules changed and the trips stopped.

She’d only learned to use a computer a few years prior, but she had enough expertise to create a Facebook group – Carolina Ridge Runners – in 2013 in hopes she’d inspire some of her friends, mostly friends she met at the Gaston County Senior Center, to join her.

“The best things in life are free, and this is a way to take advantage of the wide open spaces and fresh air. Short strolls to all day excursions. You pick what you want to do. All you need is plenty of water and a good attitude. It is amazing how even the worst attitude changes when you get away from the chaos and walk among the trees,” Benfield wrote to the Carolina Ridge Runners on Facebook.

For Benfield, it’s not about staying fit, though it’s a nice bonus. It’s about escaping.

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Hiking: Death Valley offers more than name suggests

Posted by on Dec 29, 2019 @ 7:22 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 purple. There are multiple places to stop and walk around and admire the geology, including the notable Artists Palette, an especially colorful viewpoint.

Just south of Artist’s Drive, Badwater Basin marks the lowest dry elevation in North America at 279 feet below sea level. Hikers here enjoy a short out-and-back walk on the large salt flat where a lake existed thousands of years ago. Only a shallow pond of very salty water remains, hence the basin’s name.

Dantes View affords one of the most dramatic and rewarding views of Death Valley, and terrific sunset photography. Visitors can reach it simply by driving to the end of Dantes View Road. Those slightly more ambitious can hike about a quarter mile to the north to summit Dantes Peak.

More suggestions here…


Colorful Trails: The Intersection of Art and Nature

Posted by on Dec 28, 2019 @ 8:51 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

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 and gallery spaces.

In addition to enhancing outdoor experiences, Miranda Kyle, arts and culture project manager for the Atlanta BeltLine, says placing installations outside and along trails helps democratize art by making it accessible to more people.

“There may be that kid out there who would never go to a museum and feels like that space is not for them,” Kyle said. “Then they see the artwork on the trail and get inspired as the next generation of creatives. Public art serves to be an example of the best of our hopes and dreams, what we want for ourselves and our city. If that isn’t inclusive and accessible, then it has failed.”

Most people who visit Elk Knob State Park come for the views of the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia mountains from the Summit Trail. While the Beech Tree Trail, an easy one-mile loop around the picnic area, does not offer the same views, visitors will walk through an American Beech forest marked with engraved hand-printed works of art.

Whether in the middle of a city or a forest, here are a few scenic spots to find art in the wild…


Hike into the New Year with First Day Hikes

Posted by on Dec 25, 2019 @ 6:35 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hike into the New Year with First Day Hikes

Kick 2020 off with an adventure by participating in one of the First Day Hikes offered by N.C. State Parks. Parks across the state, and the nation, will host guided hikes on New Year’s Day.

  • Chimney Rock State Park. A group stroll up the 3.2-mile entrance road will commence at 8 a.m., meeting at the park entrance next to Old Rock Café. Usually restricted to vehicle traffic only, the road will be pedestrian-only that morning and admission will be free for hikers. A park ranger will lead an informative discussion about the park’s history during the walk, including a crossing of the bridge over Rocky Broad River, which was first traversed in 1916. A shuttle will be available at the top to return hikers to their vehicles at Chimney Rock Village by 10 a.m., and hikers can return to the park that same day at no charge.

  • Gorges State Park. Meet at the visitor center at 10 a.m. to join a ranger for a 2.4-mile hike to Upper Bearwallow Falls. All participants must be prepared for cold temperatures and a strenuous hike, also bringing their own food and water. However, hot chocolate and cookies will be provided afterward courtesy of Friends of Gorges.

  • Gorges State Park. Meet at Bearwallow Picnic Area at 2 p.m. to join a ranger on a kid-friendly 0.8-mile hike to Upper Bearwallow Falls. All participants must be prepared for cold temperatures and a strenuous hike, also bringing their own food and water. However, hot chocolate, s’mores and cookies will be provided afterward courtesy of Friends of Gorges.

  • Grandfather Mountain State Park. A stroll along the lower Profile Trail will make for an unforgettable winter hike, with the group meeting at the Profile Trail parking area at 1 p.m. Ranger Appling will lead the excursion. This trail section is moderate, and hiking boots are strongly recommended. Participants should bring their own water and snacks, and dress for the weather. No pets, and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Mount Mitchell State Park. Learn about the park’s unique high alpine environment during a strenuous 2-mile hike atop the Black Mountains ridgeline to Mount Craig, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Deep Gap Trailhead in the picnic area of the Lower Summit Parking Lot. The hike includes an elevation change of 275 feet and will take about three hours, depending on the group’s pace. Winter clothing and insulated hiking boots with traction devices such as crampons are recommended for this time of year. Hikers should bring water and a snack. If the Blue Ridge Parkway or the park is closed due to winter weather, the hike will be rescheduled for the earliest available date. Unsafe trail conditions could also result in a change of plans, with the group instead hiking the three-quarter-mile Balsam Nature Trail.