Thursday, February 20, 2020

New eBook provides hikers with trail information while hiking in Glacier National Park

Are you planning to visit Glacier National Park this summer - or anytime down the road? I wanted to let you know that I just published a new eBook that provides hikers with access to detailed trail information while hiking in the park.

Exploring Glacier National Park is the mobile version of HikinginGlacier.com, the most comprehensive website on the internet for hiking trail information in Glacier National Park. This book was published to provide readers with convenient access to the information contained on HikinginGlacier.com while in the park, or on the trail, where internet access is most likely not available. Additionally, the format of this book will provide a much better experience for smartphone users.

Exploring Glacier National Park covers 68 hikes. Like the website, the book includes driving directions to each trailhead, detailed trail descriptions, key features along the route, difficulty ratings, photographs, maps and elevation profiles, which provide readers with a visual representation of the change in elevation they’ll encounter on each hike. Some hikes will also include historical tidbits related to the trail. Whether you're looking for an easy stroll in the park, or an epic hike deep into Glacier's backcountry, this book provides all the tools you'll need to make your hiking trip as enjoyable as possible.

As with our four websites, this book also contains several directories that will help you choose the best hikes suited to your preferences and abilities. This includes hikes listed by location within the park, hikes listed by key trail feature, and hikes sorted by difficulty rating. I’ve also included lists of our top 10 hikes, the best easy hikes, the top fall hikes, and the top early season hikes.

The book is now available on Amazon.



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

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Smokies Recruits Volunteers for Clingmans Dome

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to help provide visitor information at Clingmans Dome. The information center sits at 6,300 feet in elevation, providing a unique opportunity for park volunteers to assist in educating visitors about high-elevation, spruce-fir forests, while also providing recreational, trip planning, and directional information.

The information center, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, originally served as a comfort station, but was converted into a seasonal information center in 2010. The center also includes a bookstore area managed by the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) offering visitors the opportunity to purchase guides and maps, outdoor apparel, and other GSMA products. Volunteers will work alongside GSMA employees. Each volunteer is asked to work one four-hour shift per week from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., April 1 through November 30.

At this time, new volunteers are needed on each day of the week, except Tuesdays and Thursdays. New volunteers must attend an orientation session on Monday, March 9, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.to help learn more about the Clingmans Dome area. At each training, guest speakers will share unique biological and historical information about high-elevation forests and Clingmans Dome. The training will be held at the Oconaluftee Administration Building near Cherokee, NC. Volunteers should bring a bag lunch.

To sign up for this volunteer program or receive more information, please contact Park Resource Education Ranger Florie Takaki by phone at 828-497-1906 or by email at florie_takaki@nps.gov.






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

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

USDA Forest Service seeks help to expand access to national forests and grassland areas

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is seeking public assistance to help identify national forest and grassland areas where the agency can provide greater access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities.

The agency today posted a draft list of about 90,000 acres of Forest Service land where hunters, anglers, and other recreationists are allowed but have limited or no legal access to the areas. The outreach is tied to agency efforts to implement the John D. Dingell, Jr., Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 that mandates federal land management agencies work to evaluate how to expand access to public lands.

The Forest Service is seeking nominations that describe federal lands not on the list. The lands identified must be managed by the Forest Service, be a minimum of 640 contiguous acres, and be unreachable by foot, horseback, motorized vehicle or nonmotorized vehicle because there is no public access over non-Forest Service land, or the access is significantly restricted.

“National forests and grasslands play host to some 300 million hunters, anglers, and other recreationists each year,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “The input we receive will go a long way toward helping the Forest Service provide even greater access and opportunity for the people we serve.”

The public nomination period to identify parcels for inclusion on the agency’s priority list will close on March 12, 2020. A final priority list will be published soon after and will be updated at least every two years until 2029.

To nominate a parcel of Forest Service land for consideration, email SM.FS.nominations@usda.gov or write to Lands and Realty Management, ATTN: Access Nominations, USDA Forest Service, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250-1111. Nominations must include the location of the land or parcel, total acreage affected (if known), and a narrative describing the lack of access.

Background

The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 is a broad-based law that sets provisions for various programs, projects, activities, and studies in the management and conservation of federally managed natural resources. The law includes steps agencies must take on how federal acres that are now essentially inaccessible may be opened to the public. The collective work of the Forest Service and interested citizens will help the agency decide how to reasonably provide access through such measures as easements, rights-of-way, or fee title from a willing landowner.






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

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

Funding Needed for McAfee Knob Trailhead Project to Improve Public Safety and Visitor Experience

One of the most iconic locations along the 2,193-mile Appalachian Trail (A.T.), McAfee Knob has become one of Central Virginia’s most defining — and most visited — landmarks. Approximately 45,000 people visit McAfee Knob each year, often overflowing the trailhead’s small parking lot on the opposite side of the heavily trafficked Route 311.

In order to address parking difficulties and minimize risks for both pedestrians and motorists, a coalition of partners is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to construct a pedestrian bridge over Route 311, redesign the McAfee Knob parking area and install informational signage to help guide hikers to the trailhead. Spearheaded by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the National Park Service (NPS), the VDOT and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), this project will significantly improve safety and the overall visitor experience.

“Visitor safety is one of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s highest priorities,” said Andrew Downs, senior regional director of the ATC. “This project will help pedestrians easily and safely cross over to the Appalachian Trail leading to McAfee Knob’s summit, and additional parking areas will minimize the number of people who choose to park on the side of Route 311. However, we’ll need everyone’s help to make this project a reality.”

Construction of the pedestrian bridge is currently scheduled to begin in 2025. However, a small-yet-critical part of the project has not yet been finalized: funding is still needed to purchase a 7-acre parcel of land adjacent to the existing parking area. This land will allow NPS to consider a wider variety of improvements including bathrooms, safer entrances and exits to the parking area, and more orderly parking. The ATC and RATC are currently raising the $200,000 needed to acquire this parcel and remove existing structures before transferring ownership to NPS.

Significant donations to this project have already been made by RATC and 2019 Cox Conserves Hero National Winner Diana Christopulos. The ATC invites supporters of McAfee Knob and the A.T. to help complete this project by making a donation at appalachiantrail.org/mcafee.

A public information meeting on the pedestrian bridge project is being scheduled for this summer. The final date for this meeting and more information about this project will be posted at appalachiantrail.org/mcafeeknobproject.



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

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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

USDA Forest Service announces challenge to increase focus on problems facing nation’s largest public trail system

USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen emphasized the need to find innovative ideas to tackle the nearly $300 million maintenance backlog on the nation’s largest public trail system. Christiansen called on individuals and organizations to work with the agency to address trail maintenance and sustainability to improve access, keep people safe, and support local economies.

“In 2019, organizations and individuals contributed more than 1.5 million hours on the maintenance and repair of more than 28,000 miles of trail, and we are extremely grateful for their continued support and hard work,” Christiansen told trail advocates during a meeting at Forest Service Headquarters. “However, we must find more ways to erase the backlog. We still have much more work to do, and this is our call to organizations and individuals to share with us innovative ideas and boots-on-the-ground help.”

The agency hopes to expand its employee, grassroots, nonprofit and corporate support as part of a 10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge. Roughly 120,000 miles of the 159,000 miles of trails are in need of some form of maintenance or repair. Working within current appropriations, the agency has strategically focused its approach to trail maintenance, increasing trail miles improved from 48,800 miles in 2013 to 58,300 miles in 2019.

Christiansen shared the multi-layered challenge with agency partners visiting Washington, D.C., to attend the weeklong 23rd annual Hike the Hill, a joint effort between the Partnership for the National Trail System and the American Hiking Society. Hike the Hill helps to increase awareness and highlight other needs of the National Trails System. The National Trails System consists of 30 national scenic and historic trails, such as the Appalachian National Trail and the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail, both of which pass through lands managed by the Forest Service.

The agency manages about 10,000 miles of national scenic and historic trails that cross forests and grasslands. More than 32,000 miles of trail are in wilderness areas. The remainder range from simple footpaths to those that allow horses, off-highway vehicles, cross-country skiing and other types of recreation.

The trail maintenance backlog limits access to public lands, causes environmental damage, and affects public safety in some places. Deferred maintenance also increases the costs of trail repair. When members of the public stop using trails, there could be a residual effect on the economics of nearby communities. Recreation activities on national forests and grasslands support 148,000 jobs annually and contribute more than $11 billion in annual visitor spending.

In addition to trails, the agency is working to address more than $5.2 billion in infrastructure repairs and maintenance on such things as forest roads, bridges, and other structures that are critical to the management of agency lands and that benefit visitors and communities. The backlog on forest roads and bridges alone is $3.4 billion.

To get involved with the Trail Challenge you may:

* Contact the nearest forest or grassland office to get more information on what they are doing locally.
* Join or organize a coalition of citizens and work with the agency to address the issues.
* Be mindful of how you use the trails by using Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly outdoor ethics standards.

For more information, email fstrailmanagement@usda.gov. National organizations or corporations can get more information about becoming a Forest Service partner by contacting Marlee Ostheimer, National Forest Foundation Conservation Partnership Manager, at 406-542-2805 or mostheimer@nationalforests.org.



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

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Smokies Announces Paving Project in Deep Creek Area

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that a $1.15 million pavement preservation project will begin on Monday, March 2 in the Deep Creek area near Bryson City, NC. Paving will occur along 2.5 miles of area roadways including West Deep Creek Road, East Deep Creek Road, campground and picnic area roads, and day-use parking areas. Work is expected to be completed by Friday, May 15, weather depending.

The Deep Creek picnic pavilion, parking areas, roadways, and trails will remain accessible throughout the project, although visitors should expect delays due to single-lane closures. The lane closures will be managed with flagging operations. Parking areas and pull-offs will be closed intermittently for pavement application. To better accommodate visitors during periods of high visitation, no lane closures will be allowed during weekends or holidays including the week before and after Easter from April 5 through April 19. The campground and picnic area are expected to open for the 2020 season on Thursday, May 21.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded the $1.15 million paving contract to Estes Brothers Construction Inc. of Jonesville, VA. Crews will repair and seal pavement cracks before applying the thin, asphalt overlay. This pavement preservation project will extend the life of the 20-year old asphalt surface.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.



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

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Crews Begin Clearing Mudslide on Spur

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Federal Highways Administration staff assessed the mudslide on the Spur this morning and began clearing operations. The mudslide contains an estimated 500 cubic yards of material in a pile approximately 100 feet in length and 70 feet high covering both lanes of the northbound Spur between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Staff estimate that the removal will require at least 45 dump truck loads of material to be hauled from the site. Currently, operators are using two excavators and seven dump trucks to clear the area. Weather depending, the removal is expected to be complete by this evening.

The slide is located just past Westgate Resorts Road along the northbound lanes of the Spur. Northbound traffic is detoured for approximately one mile at Westgate Resorts Road to Little Smoky Road before reentering the Spur from Beech Branch Road just before the tunnel. Large trucks and over-sized vehicles are being detoured east of Gatlinburg to Highway 321 to use alternate routes such as Highway 416.

National Park Service rangers have received assistance with traffic management by the Gatlinburg Police Department, Pigeon Forge Police Department, and Sevier County Emergency Management Agency.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.



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

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