Monday, May 25, 2020

Daniel Boone National Forest moves up reopening of Red River Gorge

The Daniel Boone National Forest opened the Red River Gorge and Redbird Crest Off-Highway Vehicle Trail System on Friday, May 22. The forest had previously announced a June 3 opening date.

“In light of the Governor’s decision to lift the travel ban on May 22, we felt we could move up the reopening of the Red River Gorge and Redbird Crest OHV Trail to the same date, while still emphasizing safety,” Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor Dan Olsen said. “We look forward to seeing our recreation sites being enjoyed by the people from the communities we serve.”

Most day-use sites, such as picnic areas and shooting ranges, as well as the White Sulphur Off Highway Vehicle Trail System will tentatively reopen on June 3.

Most developed campgrounds are tentatively scheduled to reopen on June 11. Visitors who already have campground reservations through www.Recreation.gov will be notified via email or text message if there are any changes.

The general forest area and most boat launches and trails have remained open to hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, dispersed camping, hunting, fishing, etc.

Although not accepting in-person visits, offices remain open and operational. Visitors are encouraged to call the local Forest Service office for general information or assistance with obtaining maps and passes.

As recreation sites begin to open, the Leave No Trace 7 Principles are more important than ever. Make a plan, be prepared and leave no trace. If a trailhead parking area is full, please consider another location.

“We encourage you to go outside and enjoy the fresh air, but take extra steps to do this safely, Olsen said. “Be extra cautious and avoid high-risk activities that might require health care or rescue.”

The Daniel Boone National Forest continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation. Please review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings.

For up-to-date information and the projected opening schedule on the Daniel Boone National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/dbnf/



Jeff
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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Four National Forests Reopen Trailheads and Access Points to Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The USDA Forest Service will open a series of trailheads and access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail yesterday, May 22. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia, Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina, Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia will participate in the coordinated reopening.

The Triple Crown in Virginia will remain closed, which includes Dragon’s Tooth trailhead.

To recreate responsibly outdoors, avoid congregating at parking areas, refrain from gathering in large groups and maintain a 6 feet distance from others, especially when passing other hikers.

Visitors to our National Forests are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html. Bathroom facilities may not be available. Shelters will remain closed at this time.

While work continues opening trails and roads, staffing may remain limited to encourage safe distancing. This may also cause a delay in rescue operations. It is not recommended that visitors engage in risky recreation activities at this time.

Find the latest recreation information for each national forest at: Georgia, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, www.fs.usda.gov/conf  North Carolina, Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc Tennessee, Cherokee National Forest, www.fs.usda.gov/cherokee/ Virginia, George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, www.fs.usda.gov/gwj







Jeff
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Friday, May 22, 2020

Backcountry Campsites Now Open at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park as Phased Accessibility Continues

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park’s (NHP) five backcountry campsites along the Ridge Trail are now open. The National Park Service (NPS) continues to work servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities in closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners are paramount. At Cumberland Gap, we are examining each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance,” said Park Superintendent Charles Sellars. “We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.”

The park’s 19-mile long Ridge Trail “zigzags” along the spine of Cumberland Mountain following closely the Kentucky/Virginia border. The backcountry campsites include Gibson Gap, located 5 miles east of the Pinnacle Overlook; Hensley Camp, Martins Fork and Chadwell Gap, all near the historic Hensley Settlement; and White Rocks, situated near the far eastern end of the park. The campsites provide a perfect respite after exploring gorgeous geologic and historic features along the trail. “Backcountry campers are treated to the spectacularly colored Sand Cave rock shelter with a waterfall cascading over its lip, can gaze afar into Virginia from high atop the White Rocks Overlook, and meander down fence-lined lanes amongst the richly weathered chestnut hewn cabins at Hensley Settlement,” shares Park Ranger Brittony Beason, adding “Happy trails to you!”

Backcountry campsite reservations are required and must be made by calling 606-248-2817 daily between 9 am and 4 pm or via Facebook messenger. Group size maximum is 10. Only one party will be assigned to each campsite. There is no potable water along the trail. Water must be carried in or purified. Bear proof storage cable systems, located at each campsite, must be utilized. Social distancing guidelines must be followed. “Leave No Trace,” including pack it in, pack it out should be the mantra of all backcountry users.

Backcountry permits will be issued electronically.

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on the park’s website www.nps.gov/cuga and social media channels.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Bicyclist Fatality on Foothills Parkway

Michael Barker, age 59 from Seymour, TN, was riding his bicycle approximately 5 miles east of Walland when he suffered a cardiac arrest. Emergency responders and medically trained bystanders performed CPR on site before Barker was transported to Blount Memorial Hospital and pronounced deceased.

In addition to National Park Service employees, emergency responders with American Medical Response (AMR) and Blount County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. No additional details are available at this time.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Great Smoky Mountains Increases Recreational Access

Park officials were joined by Second Lady Karen Pence and Deputy Secretary of the Interior Katherine MacGregor at Clingmans Dome to talk about the mental health benefits of being outdoors and announced the next phase in the park’s plan to restore public access to more roads and picnic areas.

Mrs. Pence is the Lead Ambassador for PREVENTS, an interagency task force that stands for the President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide. The task force launched a public health awareness campaign called “More Than Ever Before” to highlight the importance of checking in with family, friends and loved ones during the pandemic. During her visit, Mrs. Pence talked about this campaign, the holistic benefits of being outside, and the importance of public access to our country’s incredible national parks and public lands.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgent need for us to pay closer attention to our mental health and emotional well-being,” said Second Lady Karen Pence. “Our amazing national parks offer many mental health benefits and more than ever before, we must ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and each other."

Mrs. Pence, Deputy Secretary MacGregor, and Superintendent Cash opened Clingmans Dome Road today as the first step in the next phase of the park’s reopening plan. Plans to open the following areas on Saturday, May 23 were also announced:

* Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
* Big Creek Road and Big Creek Picnic Area
* Cosby Road and Cosby Picnic Area
* Greenbrier Road (to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only)
* Tremont Road
* All park trails

“With nearly every state in the nation taking some action to reopen, what a joy it is to be in Tennessee with Second Lady Karen Pence to reopen areas of our most visited National Park for the enjoyment of the American People,” said Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor. “The Great Smoky Mountains offer over half a million acres to relax and enjoy some fresh air and Vitamin D. Today we are thrilled to expand access for Americans to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of this stunning landscape.”

The park provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation with over 800 miles of trails, quiet walkways, and self-guiding nature trails where visitors can disperse for a safe hiking experience. The health and safety of visitors, employees, and volunteers is the number one priority for the National Park Service. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for this pandemic includes social distancing and wearing face coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained. By restoring access to additional roads this week, the Smokies offers even more opportunities for visitors to spread out and responsibly recreate across the park.

“We appreciate the patience of our visitors as we work together to safely share this space,” said Superintendent Cash. “When you’re planning your trip, have several options in mind so that you switch plans if you find an area congested. We want your Smokies experience to offer you a place to safely relax and recharge during these challenging times.”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park continues to increase recreational access and services across the park in alignment with guidance provided by the states of Tennessee and North Carolina, White House, CDC, and public health authorities.

The park began restoring access to the park on May 9 as part of a phased reopening plan with the following objectives: 1) support state health restrictions and local efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19; 2) allow the park, partners, and concession operators time to implement and improve mitigation actions with lighter levels of visitation; and 3) allow for an assessment of how returning visitors affect COVID-19 curves within surrounding communities. The park has developed a range of mitigation actions that include new disinfection procedures and increased cleaning frequency for facilities; installation of protective barriers in visitor contact facilities; new employee practices for shared workplaces and vehicles; and focused messaging to prepare visitors for safe outdoor recreation.

Visitors are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines and to wear facial coverings in busy areas like the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower when other visitors are present. Visitor centers and campgrounds will remain closed. These facilities will open when safe and appropriate mitigation measures are in place.

Park managers urge visitors to follow public health guidance for a safe and responsible visit: choose trails and overlooks without congested parking areas; visit early in the morning; stay in your vehicle while viewing wildlife and allow traffic to proceed; follow Leave No Trace principals by packing out everything you bring into the park; maintain social distance from other visitors; and wear face coverings where social distancing is not possible. For the most up to date information about facility openings, service hours, and access, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, the park offers a wide variety of outstanding hikes that take-in the best scenery the Smokes has to offer. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your trip planning.



Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Monday, May 18, 2020

All Trailheads Now Open at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park as Phased Accessibility Continues

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, all trailheads at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (NHP) are now open as the park continues to increase accessibility in phased stages. The National Park Service (NPS) continues to work servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities in closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

With public health in mind, the following at Cumberland Gap remain temporarily closed:

Pinnacle Road
Wilderness Road Campground
Backcountry Campsites
Visitor Center
Picnic Shelters
Restrooms

While the Pinnacle Road is closed, visitors can hike several trails leading to the Pinnacle Overlook for a commanding view into Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and the historic Cumberland Gap mountain pass, which served as the first doorway to the west. On clear days, a faint view of the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina is possible, a distance of 100 miles.

Visitors accessing the Lewis Hollow Trailhead will need to park in the Colson Lane parking area on the entrance road leading to the Wilderness Road Campground.

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, and avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities. “Visitors are reminded to plan accordingly as no restroom facilities are open at this time,” emphasized Sellars.

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on the park’s website www.nps.gov/cuga and social media channels.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pisgah National Forest begins reopening trails and roads, and lifts restrictions on dispersed camping

The Pisgah National Forest will begin to reopen many trails and roads and partially lift restrictions for dispersed camping May 14, using a site-by-site approach, including assessment of facility cleanliness, maintenance status, and health and safety of recreation areas. Facilities and services may remain limited at some sites.

Popular recreation areas that will reopen include, but are not limited to:

Catawba Falls, TR 225
Brown Mountain Off Highway Vehicle Area
Black Balsam Road, FSR 816, and associated trails
Bent Creek Road, FSR 479 and most trails and trailheads

Restrictions on dispersed camping will be lifted for the entire Appalachian Ranger District. Dispersed camping restrictions will also be lifted for the Grandfather Ranger District with the exception of overnight camping within the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area on the weekends, which requires a permit. For the month of May, the Forest Service will not be issuing these permits. Dispersed camping restrictions remain in place for the Pisgah Ranger District. These decisions were made in coordination with county and local partners to ensure the safety of the public and employees.

Visitors can expect restrooms to remain closed and trash services to continue to be suspended. Please pack out what you pack in and remember to use Leave No Trace Principles.

Forest Service staff will continue to perform risk assessments to determine which recreation areas can resume operations in accordance with county and local partners and current public health guidance.

For a full list of re-openings, please click here.







Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park