Hiking News

From ghost towns to hiking trails, this is the ultimate guide to Death Valley

Posted by on Mar 4, 2018 @ 9:01 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

From ghost towns to hiking trails, this is the ultimate guide to Death Valley

  If you have ever driven to Las Vegas on Interstate 15 from Southern California, then no doubt you have stopped in or rolled by the small town of Baker, known as the Gateway to Death Valley. It’s also home to the World’s Tallest Thermometer and the Mad Greek, a great place to get some road food as well as fresh strawberry shakes. There are more and more new places opening, like Alien Fresh Jerky, but gas and food is the most there is to see.

After filling up your vehicle (best to get gas when you see it as it’s much cheaper here than in the park), head north on Death Valley Road (State Route 127) for about 50 miles of pristine two-lane desert highway that passes the Dumont Dunes before arriving at China Ranch Date Farm.

Located just south of Tecopa, the road to the farm winds down through desert cliffs for about a mile before a lush, green oasis appears out of nowhere. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., this family-run ranch has miles of hiking trails to the Amargosa River and abandoned mines, plus the Old Spanish Trail.

It also has an excellent variety of dates, including their own hybrid varieties that are some of the best there are. There is a museum and store full of handmade gifts as well as date shakes, muffins, date bread and cookies that are all made fresh daily.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center is the best place to start your Death Valley adventure. Here, you can pay your park fee and talk to a ranger, get maps, books and gifts, and learn about the history of the area. Death Valley is home to many ghost towns, mountain ranges, abandoned mines, sand dunes, craters and some of the most beautiful desert vistas you will ever experience. This is a must stop for all visitors to get the most up-to-date conditions of the park.

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A hiking hotel in the Alpine forest of Italy blends seamlessly into the landscape

Posted by on Mar 1, 2018 @ 12:13 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A hiking hotel in the Alpine forest of Italy blends seamlessly into the landscape

  A new hotel that’s hoping to attract hikers to the Italian hills in South Tyrol has been built to seamlessly blend into the surrounding countryside. The Hotel Bühelwirt in South Tyrol, Italy has recently been reconstructed with a beautiful dark exterior and large windows offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forest.

Every one of the 20 rooms in the hotel features panoramic views and were designed with the purpose of keeping guests connected to the alpine landscape. The dark wooden exterior belies the bright spacious rooms inside, that start from a reasonable £50 ($69) per night.

Pedevilla Architects designers of the hotel upgraded it from a traditional hiking hotel. “The hiking hotel is located on the “Bühel”, a small elevation right next to the village church, at 1200m above sea level.”

“The green shade of the blackened wooden facade is influenced by the dark-green, or often black forest tinge, which seem to blend nature and topography with the building. The larch wood from the surrounding forests provides a sense of comfort.”

Specially selected and locally sourced materials generate a familiar and cozy atmosphere according to the designers, and with that in mind every room is simple in layout, each having a window seat to admire the view, and a handcrafted copper lamp from a local artist along with curtains in a natural material made in a nearby factory.



Hiking the Appalachian Trail through hail and high water

Posted by on Mar 1, 2018 @ 9:10 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hiking the Appalachian Trail through hail and high water

Five miles into his 2,200-mile hike, Tom Abel was welcomed to the Appalachian Trail by pelting quarter-inch pellets of hail. The 15-minute storm of stinging ice missiles would not be all that Mother Nature had in store for the 68-year old during his six-month journey from the summit of Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine, to the summit of Springer Mountain in Georgia. As he quickly discovered, hiking through hail, high water, heat waves, and snow would all be required to reach his long-held goal of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.

Thousands of hikers endeavor to complete the demanding expedition each year. Only one in four succeeds. As it happens, Abel completed the thru-hike on his first attempt. Having thought about hiking the entire trail since his post Air Force college days, the retired geologist’s opportunity finally came, a few years after retirement.

On May 31, Abel and his wife, Becky, flew to Maine. The next day, Abel began the hike that would take him almost six months to complete. Although Abel admits that his best training actually happened on the trail, where he spent entire days after days hiking, he had devoted the months prior to his venture by preparing his body for the anticipated terrain.

“I went to the gym three days a week and used the stair climber and treadmill at maximum incline. I also went to Carter Road Park once or twice per week and hiked the trails with my loaded backpack. In May of last year, my eldest daughter and I hiked into the Grand Canyon from the rim to the Colorado River, where we camped one night, then hiked out the next day. Also last year, I hiked up Mount Katahdin, Hump Mountain in Tennessee and North Carolina, Springer Mountain via the Amicalola Falls State Park approach trail, Clingman’s Dome in the Smoky Mountains National Park, and Pico El Yunque in Puerto Rico,” Abel said.

His disciplined training was wise considering his intended completion of 10 miles per day, atop varied terrain, through diverse weather conditions, and while carrying a 25 to 30-pound backpack.

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Forest Service turns to volunteers for trail repair

Posted by on Feb 28, 2018 @ 11:29 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Forest Service turns to volunteers for trail repair

The U.S. Forest Service hopes to double the workload of its volunteer helpers as it attacks a backlog of trail maintenance largely in Montana.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex’s 3,200 miles of trail arrived No. 1 on a Forest Service priority list for trail work. So did the Continental Divide Scenic Trail; its largest segment passes through Montana. And the Central Idaho Wilderness Complex listing includes a chunk of the Bitterroot National Forest slopping across the Montana-Idaho border.

But no money was attached to any of these priority areas. Instead, the Forest Service is following the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016, which commands the agency “to increase trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by 100 percent” within five years of enactment.

“The fundamental problem is the Forest Service is underfunded,” said Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation Director Carol Treadwell. “They’re probably frustrated too by an act passed by Congress outside of their advice, and now they need to implement it when what they need is funding to fill the gaps. Instead they get mandate from Congress to find more volunteers out there.”

BMWF does exactly that, providing volunteers for about 40 backcountry repair projects a year for the past 20 years.

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Ed. note: the same is true of national forests all across the country. If you value your favorite hiking trails on national forest public lands, look for your nearest “Friends” group and volunteer to help out. It is very rewarding.


Hiking trail serves as lasting legacy for fallen Canadian soldiers

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 @ 11:58 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A Port aux Basques, Newfoundland man continues to combine his love of the outdoors with his respect for fallen soldiers.

Colin Seymour is ready to place 158 yellow ribbons – one for each Canadian soldier who lost their life in the war in Afghanistan – along the hiking trail leading to Mark Rock Mountain, just outside South Branch, where a monument honors Sgt. Craig Gillam of that community. Gillam died in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2006. He was 40 years old.

When Seymour, his wife Cindy and family friend Donna Stuckless tried to hike the trail and visit the monument in August 2015, they found it had grown in so much they couldn’t get near the top of the mountain.

Seymour returned to the trail alone, determined to make his way to the monument. It would be his first of many trips.

“I picked my way up through the woods… originally, they’d put out (over 140) yellow ribbons to mark the trail,” he said, referring to the ribbons commemorating soldiers who had lost their lives in Afghanistan when the monument was first erected in Gillam’s memory. Remnants of those ribbons are still there, he said.

With the permission of Gillam’s family, Seymour has made a new wooden cross for the monument to replace the original one that had withered with time.

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Appomattox Court House seeks public input for plans to expand trails

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 @ 7:06 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Appomattox Court House seeks public input for plans to expand trails

For more than 40 years, visitors to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park have walked among the ghosts of history over seven miles of trails through the park’s historic village and interpretive sites.

The park now is seeking public input for plans to expand the current trails to create a comprehensive, site-wide trail system. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Superintendent Robin Snyder said plans are to add about two miles to the existing system, which serves about 75,000 visitors annually.

“The whole purpose is to provide better visitor access in the park,” she explained. “We have great stories, and this would enable people to get out to areas they haven’t seen before.”

Many of these important anecdotes are not part of the current trail system, so they may be unknown to visitors, according to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Natural Resource Manager Brian Eick. Some of these accounts include the last fighting on the morning of the surrender and the site where Hannah Reynolds, an enslaved woman and the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Appomattox Court House, was wounded.

The park, which is located in Appomattox County, Virginia, covers 1,770 acres around the site where the Confederate Army surrendered to the Union Army in April 1865, effectively ending the Civil War.

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Funding tightens for Vermont’s Long Trail caretakers

Posted by on Feb 25, 2018 @ 9:35 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Funding tightens for Vermont’s Long Trail caretakers

Hugh and Jean Joudry have spent the last fifty summers atop Stratton Mountain, and the couple, now in their seventies, aren’t planning to descend any time soon.

While their tenure at the mountain’s summit began through the State of Vermont’s Fire Watch program in 1968, the two have watched over the peak as Green Mountain Club caretakers since the 1970s. Over the past decade, however, funding for the Joudry’s and other caretakers along the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail has begun to decline — as the amount of hikers passing through continues to increase.

“We’ve always worked on top of Stratton Mountain,” said Jean Joudry. “In the early years we saw very few people; almost no one. Last year we saw over 8,000 hikers.”

Those hikers have an ecological impact, she says, and caretakers are often responsible for providing education on “Leave no Trace” practices, conducting basic trail and campsite maintenance and leading backcountry waste management.

According to GMC’s Manchester Section Director Marge Fish, many of the trail’s ponds and summits can be denigrated by the unregulated camping that occurs without caretakers like the Joudry’s.

Though the bulk of the $60,000 program in the Green Mountain National Forest has historically been funded by the U.S. Forest Service, says Fish, those numbers have declined over the past decade, largely because of shortages in the Forest Service’s own budget.

“They have been trying really hard to come up with at least some of the money,” Fish acknowledged. “This year we were told that the Forest Service’s funding could be chopped off at the knees, which is not a surprising thing out of this government.”

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Earthquake Swarms Are Shaking Yellowstone’s Supervolcano. Here’s What That Means.

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 @ 12:31 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Earthquake Swarms Are Shaking Yellowstone’s Supervolcano. Here’s What That Means.

Something is rocking the massive supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park.

Thanks to a recent earthquake swarm, the Yellowstone supervolcano has seen upwards of 200 quakes since February 8, 2018 along with countless smaller tremors. The largest earthquake was an unremarkable magnitude 2.9, and all of them have hit about five miles beneath the surface. Larger earthquakes have rocked the region in the past, some as destructive as the Hebgen Lake quake and others causing minimal damage.

With this most recent swarm, scientists say there’s no reason to worry. “Supervolcano” and “earthquake swarm” might seem like daunting terms on the surface, but in Yellowstone National Park, these geologic features are relatively nonthreatening.

Earthquake swarms occur when a single area experiences an increase in quakes over a short period of time without the trigger of a single, larger “mainshock.” Swarms can result from changes in stress along fault lines, which can be caused by either large-scale tectonic forces or pressure buildup due to changes in magma, water, or gas underneath Earth’s surface.

The area where this current swarm is happening—about 8 miles northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana—is under pressure from both these forces, since Yellowstone is a hotbed for seismicity. But earthquake swarms are frequent in the region, accounting for more than half of the parks’ seismic activity. And they haven’t triggered any volcanic eruptions yet.

Last year, a swarm ten times larger than the current one rocked the same region, generating about 2,400 earthquakes between June and September 2017. This year’s swarm could actually be just a continuation of last year’s, since seismic activity in the area can be sporadic but ongoing.

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Arizona’s Cave Creek hike is a wonderland of rocks

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 @ 9:26 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Arizona’s Cave Creek hike is a wonderland of rocks

The site of Cave Creek Regional Park has a storied history.

Before there were hiking trails, campgrounds and picnic ramadas, the park, north of Phoenix, and its surroundings were used by the ancient Hohokam people, mine operations, farms and ranches. Yet the park’s relics of human endeavors are transient compared to its geological features.

Although the 2,922-acre site has been picked over by prospectors in search of gold deposits that never quite materialized, the peaks, gullies and bizarre curiosities borne of Earth’s disruptive forces remain basically unchanged since before humans arrived.

Taking a moderate loop stroll on the Slate, Quartz and Go John trails reveals a wonderland of rock while staying (mostly) away from the park’s busiest routes. More Arizona hiking here.

During the first stretch, minor outcroppings of vertical-tilted metamorphic rocks — the “slate” — begin to pop up along the trail. Then, just beyond the half-mile point, the scaly gray slabs take center stage. The outcroppings balloon in size, running amok on and around the route. Patches of paloverde and ironwood trees provide a little shade, but mostly, this hike is open to the sky.

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The One Type of Clothing You Should Never Wear Hiking

Posted by on Feb 23, 2018 @ 11:33 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The One Type of Clothing You Should Never Wear Hiking

Instead of Velcro, buttons, and snap fasteners, magnetic closures are now the trendy alternative for fastening phone cases, gloves, jackets, hoods, and other outerwear. But this seemingly innocuous design feature can actually put your life at risk.

A recent incident involving a group of lost hikers and an intense mountain rescue mission could have been avoided had it not been for a misplaced compass and a phone case with a magnetic closure.

“[The compass] had been stored in a pocket next to a mobile phone in a case which had a magnetic closure on it,” a safety advisor said, “and the magnet had reversed the polarity of the compass needle, so that the north arrow pointed south.”

Mountaineering Scotland says that this reversed polarity occurs when a magnet comes into contact with a compass, and that needles can be deflected briefly, partially, or completely. If the compass has been partially reversed, the needle will move slowly, stick, or be out of balance. It is totally reversed if the north arrow points south, as was the case with the hikers in Scotland.

Consider bypassing the magnetic trend and instead opt for clothing and phone cases with traditional fasteners to prevent a potentially risky situation on your next hiking expedition. Keep your compasses separate from your phones, phone cases, and other electronic devices, and perhaps carry a spare compass in case it breaks.



Arizona’s Wild Burro Trail is a gateway into the Tortolita Mountains

Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 @ 12:03 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Arizona’s Wild Burro Trail is a gateway into the Tortolita Mountains

Trekking in the Tortolitas, northwest of Tucson, Arizona, is a journey into national park-quality desert country — where some 600 species of plants create a comely, prickly, colorful landscape.

Palo verde, ironwood and mesquite trees thrive alongside cacti, including chollas, barrels and grand stands of saguaros.

The range boasts a large population of crested saguaros — those with unusual flourishes of growth atop the trunk.

Hikers venturing into the range can expect some fascinating wildlife as well — anything from birds, lizards and snakes to rabbits, coyotes, javelinas, bobcats and deer.

Petroglyphs, or rock carvings, in the Tortolitas date to a period between AD 1100 and 1450. Ancient Indians, known today as the Hohokam, pecked geometric designs and figures of animals and people onto rock surfaces — and their work endures today.

Elsewhere in the Tortolitas, hikers will pass the ruins of one-time ranch buildings. One now roofless, stone-walled structure basks in silence and desert sunshine along a winsome stretch of the Wild Burro Trail.

Learn more here…


Hut-to-hut systems are growing: let’s plan for them

Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 @ 7:18 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hut-to-hut systems are growing: let’s plan for them

What comes to mind when you think hut-to-hut: probably Europe and New Zealand. With its highly-organized system of 1,000 backcountry huts New Zealand— about the same size (area and population) as Oregon— is the hut capital of the world; Switzerland and Norway each have about 500 huts.

By comparison, the USA has about 110 huts operating within 17 different hut-to-hut systems. But American interest in hut-to-hut is quickening.

America has a very strong tradition of backpacking (4% of Americans are backpackers). This is consonant with our proud history of setting aside huge reserves of wild lands for protection and recreation. Every nation’s approach to outdoor recreation— including how its citizens organize overnight stays in the wild— is based on local causes and conditions such as geography, size of the country, climate, terrain, history, economics, politics, and cultural values.

We will always be world leaders in backpacking. But American outdoor culture is evolving to explore the options that lie on the continuum between car-camping and backpacking. For example, state parks are building lots of huts and yurts, but they are following the convenience-based model of car camping, but are not connecting the dots for those who wish to walk, ski, or bike for days on end.

This increased demand for “authentic” outdoor adventure experiences by an urbanized population presents new challenges for environmentalists, land managers and recreation planners.

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USDA Secretary Announces Infrastructure Improvements for Forest System Trails

Posted by on Feb 19, 2018 @ 9:34 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

USDA Secretary Announces Infrastructure Improvements for Forest System Trails

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the selection of 15 priority areas to help address the more than $300 million trail maintenance backlog on national forests and grasslands.

Focused trail work in these areas, bolstered by partners and volunteers, is expected to help address needed infrastructure work so that trails managed by USDA Forest Service can be accessed and safely enjoyed by a wide variety of trails enthusiasts. About 25 percent of agency trails fit those standards while the condition of other trails lag behind.

“Our nation’s trails are a vital part of the American landscape and rural economies, and these priority areas are a major first step in USDA’s on-the-ground responsibility to make trails better and safer,” Secretary Perdue said. “The trail maintenance backlog was years in the making with a combination of factors contributing to the problem, including an outdated funding mechanism that routinely borrows money from programs, such as trails, to combat ongoing wildfires.

“This borrowing from within the agency interferes with other vital work, including ensuring that our more than 158,000 miles of well-loved trails provide access to public lands, do not harm natural resources, and, most importantly, provide safe passage for our users.”

This year the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Systems Act which established America’s system of national scenic, historic, and recreation trails. A year focused on trails presents a pivotal opportunity for the Forest Service and partners to lead a shift toward a system of sustainable trails that are maintained through even broader shared stewardship.

See the list of forest system trails…


A simple step toward a sustainable economy: Alaska long trails

Posted by on Feb 18, 2018 @ 12:42 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A simple step toward a sustainable economy: Alaska long trails

Building a new sustainable economy can be complex and have numerous hurdles. But sometimes a simple and easy first step forward stands right in front of you. It’s not a new idea; it’s not expensive; and much of it is already in place. It’s the kind of realization that makes Homer Simpson slap his forehead and say, “D’oh.”

That first step for Alaska is trails — long trails, in particular. Long trails are the ancient paths in Alaska that were used for commerce and communication by foot and dogsled and boat. These same trails became the Klondike and the Iditarod as later settlers and gold seekers traveled for mineral riches. Long trails tell the story of Alaska. They can also now be part of framing the future.

While long trails have existed for centuries, they are now capturing the interest of people all across the world: the Coast to Coast trail in England, the Inca Trail in Peru, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, the hut-to-hut trails throughout the Alps, the Himalayan trails of Bhutan and Nepal, the Appalachian Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail in America, to name a few. Millions of visitors are now traveling to trek on these trails.

There are three possible Alaska Long Trails, or ALTs, that are now ready for development. They could rival other international long trails by filling in the gaps.

The first is the brilliant idea of Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, an Alaska legislator, to use the current TAPS (Trans Alaska Pipeline) corridor for a 900-mile Trans-Alaska Trail from the Beaufort Sea to Valdez. Two years of quiet work and a fast-growing body of public support is beginning to take this from an idea to a practical possibility.

A second could be the 129-mile connection between the Anchorage Coastal Trail and the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward. Significant portions of this spectacular hiking, biking and possibly ski trekking trail are already in place.

A third could be the 179-mile route from Glennallen to Cordova, with its breathtaking course along the abandoned railway route on the Copper River bordering the spectacular Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Chugach National Forest.

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A father and son pilgrimage on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Posted by on Feb 17, 2018 @ 11:46 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A father and son pilgrimage on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Before it was too late, writer Mike MacEacheran made a family pilgrimage to the Alps to connect with his father’s wanderlust and retrace the steps taken 50 years before he was born.

It was on a grey winter’s day in my parents’ house outside Glasgow, watching storm clouds gather and sparrows dive for shelter in the garden, that I first suggested Mont Blanc in summer. After what had happened, I knew I should make more effort to spend time with my 74-year-old dad, but what I was proposing at his age was a risk. A 10-day hike around one of Europe’s highest mountains seemed a little extreme.

Now a grandfather, he had spent his best years in the Alps – summer after summer, in fact – and to take him along this pathway in search of a route to his past, to stir memory in long-forgotten footprints, seemed like the right thing to do.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a challenge for anyone, regardless of age, condition or state of mind. A bucket-list pilgrimage for long-distance hikers, it is a 170km, high-altitude journey on foot, a ritual walk through great landscapes and drama that plugs hikers in to something unquantifiable, yet life-affirming.

While I traveled for a love of people, food, drink and culture, my father had always been drawn to places that weren’t as easily accessible. The mountains appealed because of their unreachability. Hikers, he once told me, came to learn about themselves.

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How to not need rescuing when you hike in Phoenix

Posted by on Feb 17, 2018 @ 6:35 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

How to not need rescuing when you hike in Phoenix

In Phoenix, Arizona summer weather usually starts before the rest of the country’s winter ends.

As the temperature starts to tick upward and out-of-town guests arrive for springtime merriment, its important to remember how quickly a day hiking in the desert can turn into a nightmare mountain rescue situation.

Last year, Phoenix’s fire department had to rescue 259 hikers — 95 of whom required a helicopter evacuation.

Contrary to popular belief, Arizona does not have a “stupid hiker law,” that would require hikers who need rescuing to foot the bill for their rescue. But there are plenty of other reasons why you should avoid a rescue situation anyway.

Rescues are expensive for the city and taxpayers, embarrassing to the hiker and can be fatal if rescuers can’t reach distressed individuals fast enough.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker, new to the sport or in town on vacation and want to check out some of the Valley’s natural beauty,

Make sure to follow these tips…


The Fight Against a Pipeline Along the Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Feb 16, 2018 @ 11:40 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

The Fight Against a Pipeline Along the Appalachian Trail

  A lawsuit hasn’t been enough to stop construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a proposed 300-mile natural gas pipeline that would cross the Appalachian Trail and some of the region’s largest national forests on its way, from starting as soon as this month.

The Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, and Wild Virginia filed a lawsuit in January challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the pipeline. The case argues that the pipeline is unnecessary and its environmental reviews inadequate.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline would cut through 3.5 miles of the Jefferson National Forest, crossing waterways more than a thousand times and the Appalachian Trail once.

Construction would require clear-cutting a 125-foot-wide zone, then digging trenches and laying 42-inch diameter pipeline. Its route would climb steep slopes and limestone cliffs laced with cave systems. Its construction would bring noise and traffic, and increase sediment in streams near the headwaters for world class fisheries and amid world class hiking.

While some 58 pipelines already cross the AT, the MVP would run alongside it for almost 100 miles, and would be visible from some of the path’s most visited and photographed vistas, including Angels Rest, Kelly Knob, Rice Fields and Dragons Tooth.

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