Last month Blue Ridge Outdoors published a pretty good article about an off-trail adventure in the Smokies. The article chronicles the ascent of Anakeesta Knob by three hikers. Starting from Newfound Gap Road, their "path" took them across the Anakeesta Ridge - an area confined by the Appalachian Trail, the Alum Cave Trail and the Boulevard Trail.
Although Bob Miller, public information officer for the GSMNP, is quoted in the article as saying that you can walk almost anywhere you want inside the park, the article did receive a scathing review from a commenter who said that BRO was irresponsible for publishing an article that promotes an activity that has a negative impact on the environment.
I almost never go off trail, mainly because I don't want spend more energy than need be. However, I wanted to get your opinions: should off-trail hiking/bushwacking be allowed in wilderness areas? Should there be a distinction between national parks and national forests when considering such a ruling? Or, since we as American citizens own public lands, should we be able to enjoy them as we see fit - obviously to a certain point? But that brings us to the million dollar question again: where is that fine line between ownership and public stewardship?
Here's the article.
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