Friday, November 24, 2017

National Park Service Extends Public Comment Period for Proposed Peak-Season Entrance Fees at 17 Parks

The National Park Service has extended the public comment periods for the proposed peak-season entrance fees at 17 national parks and revised fees for road-based commercial tours and will accept comments until December 22, 2017. If implemented, the increased fees would generate needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks.

The deadlines, originally scheduled for November 23, have been extended to accommodate interest in this issue from members of Congress and the public. Already, more than 65,000 comments have been received on the proposals.

Under the proposal, peak-season entrance fees would be established at 17 highly visited national parks. The peak season for each park would include its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation. The peak season entrance fee for a seven-day pass to each park would be $70 per private, non-commercial vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person on bike or foot. A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.

The cost of the annual America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which provides entrance to all federal lands, including all national parks for a one-year period, would remain $80. Entrance fees are not charged to visitors under 16 years of age or holders of Senior, Military, Access, Volunteer, or Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes. The majority of national parks will remain free to enter; only 118 of 417 parks have an entrance fee.

The proposed new fee structure would be implemented at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

Fees have long been an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience and recreation opportunities in national parks and on other federal lands. Estimates suggest that the peak season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year. The funds would be used to improve roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other amenities which enhance the visitor experience. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 80% of entrance fees remain in the park where they are collected. The other 20% of the revenue is distributed to other national parks.

Access to the vast majority of National Park Service sites remains free; only 118 of 417 National Park Service units charge an entrance fee.

The public can comment period on the peak-season entrance fee proposal until December 22, 2017, on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.

The public comment period for proposed entry and permit fee adjustments for commercial tour operators has also been extended until December 22. The proposal would increase entry fees for commercial operators and standardize commercial use authorization (CUA) requirements for road-based commercial tours, including application and management fees. All CUA fees stay within the collecting park and would fund rehabilitation projects for buildings, facilities, parking lots, roads, and wayside exhibits that would enhance the visitor experience. The fees will also cover the administrative costs of receiving, reviewing, and processing CUA applications and required reports.

The proposal also includes a peak-season commercial entry fee structure for the 17 national parks referenced above. All proposed fee adjustments for commercial operators would go into effect following an implementation window.

Information and a forum for public comments regarding commercial permit requirements and fees is available until December 22, 2017 on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commercialtourrequirements. Written comments can be sent to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.



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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Clingmans Dome Tower Rehabilitation Project Suspended for Winter

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower has been reopened to the public. The rehabilitation work has been suspended for the winter and is expected to resume this Spring. The remaining work is expected to take approximately two weeks and will necessitate another short-term closure to complete.

Visitors can enjoy views from the tower throughout the winter, however, the Clingmans Dome Road will be inaccessible to motorists from December 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018 due to normal seasonal closures. The road, tower, and entire Clingmans Dome area remain accessible to hikers throughout the winter.

Much of the needed rehabilitation work was completed this Fall, but the final surface overlay still needs to be completed. Deteriorated areas on the concrete columns and walls have been repaired, support walls have been stabilized at the base of the ramp, and stone masonry has been repaired.

The work has been made possible through funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded last summer to the Friends of the Smokies on behalf of the park after being one of the top nine, most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks Campaign in 2016.

Straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee state line at 6,643 feet, the tower is a prominent landmark and destination as the highest point in the park. The observation tower is a precedent-setting design of the National Park Service’s Mission 66 program, which transformed park planning, management, and architecture and fundamentally altered the visitor experience in national parks. Since 1959, millions of visitors have climbed the tower, where they can see distances of up to 100 miles over the surrounding mountains and valleys. Some minimal preservation work today on the tower will ensure that visitors continue to experience this unique structure spiraling up from the highest point in the park.

For more information about the Clingmans Dome Tower, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm.



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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Smokies Invites the Public to #OptOutside after Thanksgiving Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites visitors to join a park ranger for a guided hike on Friday, November 24 or a service opportunity on Saturday, November 25. Hikes will be offered near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Elkmont Campground, providing an outstanding opportunity for people of all ages to #OptOutside and enjoy the park.

Rangers and park volunteers will help visitors discover special cultural and natural resources along the hikes. Visitors may also choose to hike on their own and can come to any of the park’s visitor centers throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to receive information about hiking options including several short nature trails that are perfect for children.

“The park offers incredible places to enjoy a hike or a scenic drive with friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We encourage you to join us in exploring the park and creating new memories over the holiday.”

The park has over 800 miles of trails to explore throughout the year with every season offering its own special rewards. During late fall and winter, the absence of deciduous leaves opens new vistas revealing stone walls, chimneys, and foundations. These reminders of past communities allow hikers to discover a glimpse of history along park trails.

Friday, November 24 at 10:00 a.m. – Mingus Creek Cemetery Hike
The 4.2-mile roundtrip hike on the Mingus Creek Trail is rated moderate but does have several steeps section near the cemeteries. The trail parallels Mingus Creek with several log foot bridges along the way. The ranger leading the hike will share some of the burial traditions and customs represented in the cemeteries of the Smokies to discover the beliefs and values that defined this southern Appalachian community as we visit two historic cemeteries. The guided portion of the hike will end after 2.1 miles at the Mingus Creek Cemetery. Participants can return to their cars at their own pace, further explore the area, or enjoy a picnic lunch near the cemetery. Meet in the Mingus Mill parking area, less than a mile north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, along Newfound Gap Road. For more information, call the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at 828-497-1904.

Friday, November 24 at 9:00 a.m. – Cucumber Gap near Elkmont
This easy, 4.8-mile roundtrip hike follows the Little River through a beautiful, cove hardwood forest. Participants will learn about the rich history of the area including the logging operations of the Little River Lumber Company. Expect 3-4 hours total for the hike. One river crossing will be required. Meet at the Little River trailhead at 9:00 a.m., 7 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center in Elkmont. For more information, call Sugarlands Visitor Center at 865-436-1291.

Saturday, November 25 at 9:00 a.m. – #OptOutside with Service
Help clean fire pits and perform other maintenance tasks around the Elkmont Campground to help care for one of the park’s busiest campgrounds. It is particularly important that we keep the area free of trash and food scraps to help us protect wildlife! Expect 3 hours total for the service project and then join us for an optional hike to Huskey Branch Falls! Bring a sack lunch and we’ll take a hike along the nearby Little River Trail to the falls and enjoy the beautiful scenery as we eat! The hike is a moderate 4.3 miles roundtrip and is expected to take 3 hours. Meet at the Elkmont Campground Office at 9:00 a.m., 7 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center in Elkmont. For more information, call the Volunteer Office at 865-436-12665.

What to bring: Weather in the Smoky Mountains can be unpredictable, especially in the fall. Rangers recommend participants dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring rain gear. Participants should also bring a bag lunch, snacks, and plenty of water.



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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Smokies Celebrates Bridging the Foothills Parkway ‘Missing Link’

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials hosted a celebration for the bridging of the Foothills Parkway’s ‘Missing Link.’ Lane Construction Company of Charlotte, NC recently completed a seven-year project to design and build five bridges at a cost of $48.5 million. This marks the first time that vehicles can travel the entire 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway extending from Walland to Wears Valley, TN.

“We are excited to mark another milestone in the completion of this spectacular section of the Foothills Parkway,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “With the missing link now bridged, we look forward to finishing the final paving and then opening the roadway to the public by the end of next year.”

Construction of this 16-mile section began in 1966. Most of the roadway was completed by 1989 when the project came to a halt due to slope failures and erosion during construction of the last 1.65 miles – known as the ‘Missing Link.’ The engineering solution included the construction of nine bridges to connect the roadway in an environmentally sustainable manner. These last five bridges mark an important milestone by completing the ‘Missing Link.’ Since 1966, $178 million has been invested in this 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway spanning parts of Blount and Sevier Counties.

“The Lane Construction Corporation is proud to have completed this complex signature project safely with significant support from the local community,” said Lane Construction Corporation District Manager Tom Meador. Since 2010, approximately 250 Lane Construction Corporation and subcontract team members have worked on the project.

Federal Highway Administration’s Eastern Federal Lands Division Engineer Melisa Ridenour and Lane Construction Corporation District Manager Tom Meador joined National Park Service representatives to commemorate this monumental achievement.



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

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Sunny Point Café Provides Matching Opportunity to Keep National Park Safe

Friends of the Smokies and Sunny Point Café in Asheville are joining forces this November to raise money for radio and emergency communications improvements in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Donation envelopes will be available on tables at the restaurant throughout the month, and all gifts made by patrons will be matched up to $1,000 by Sunny Point Café.

Donations made to Friends of the Smokies at Sunny Point Café for a new radio system will keep national park visitors, volunteers, and rangers safe by allowing the park to communicate with police, fire, and emergency services in neighboring communities. It will also improve the internal communication system of the national park’s law enforcement rangers, search and rescue, wildland fire, and emergency dispatch officers.

“Our mission is to preserve, protect and provide for our park so keeping our visitor safe by implementing a new radio system is a top priority for us,” said Anna Zanetti, North Carolina Director of Friends of the Smokies. “We are thankful to Sunny Point Café for providing this generous matching gift opportunity.”

Sunny Point Café is located at 626 Haywood Road, Asheville and is open daily.



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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Delayed Opening of Cades Cove for Loop Lope Event on Sunday

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials remind park visitors that access to Cades Cove will be delayed on Sunday, November 5 until 10:30 a.m. for the Cades Cove Loop Lope. The event has been planned to minimize disturbance to visitors for this once-a-year opportunity for pre-registered participants to run a choice of a 10-mile or 3.1-mile loop course.

The park granted approval for the park’s philanthropic partner, Friends of the Smokies, to host this unique event to support the park. The Friends announced the event in April and then accepted registration for 500 participants on August 1. The event sold out quickly for both run courses.

“We appreciate the support of the Friends and participants in supporting this event, along with those visitors who alter their plans Sunday morning to explore other areas of the park during the delayed opening,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan.

To accommodate parking for the event, park rangers will limit access to the area at the Townsend Wye until 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, which is traditionally a period of lower visitation to the area. Registered Cades Cove campers, Tremont program participants, and event participants with a parking pass must show registration documents for access beyond this point. The Cades Cove store will be open, but will not begin renting bikes until 11:00 a.m. The Cades Cove riding stables will begin offering horse rides at 11:00 a.m.

For more information regarding temporary road closures, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.



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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

National Park Service Proposes Targeted Fee Increases at Parks to Address Maintenance Backlog

As part of its commitment to improve the visitor experience and ensure America’s national parks are protected in perpetuity, the National Park Service (NPS) is considering increases to fees at highly visited national parks during peak visitor seasons. Proposed peak season entrance fees and revised fees for road-based commercial tours would generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks. This includes roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services.

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting. We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids' grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today. Shoring up our parks' aging infrastructure will do that.”

Under the proposal, peak-season entrance fees would be established at 17 national parks. The peak season for each park would be defined as its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation.

The proposed new fee structure would be implemented at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

A public comment period on the peak-season entrance fee proposal will be open from October 24, 2017 to November 23, 2017, on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.

If implemented, estimates suggest that the peak-season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year. That is a 34 percent increase over the $200 million collected in Fiscal Year 2016. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 80% of an entrance fee remains in the park where it is collected. The other 20% is spent on projects in other national parks.

During the peak season at each park, the entrance fee would be $70 per private, non-commercial vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person on bike or foot. A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.

The cost of the annual America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which provides entrance to all federal lands, including parks for a one-year period, would remain $80. Entrance fees are not charged to visitors under 16 years of age or holders of Senior, Military, Access, Volunteer, or Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes. The majority of national parks will remain free to enter; only 118 of 417 park sites charge an entrance fee, and the current proposal only raises fees at 17 fee-charging parks

The National Park Service is also proposing entry and permit fee adjustments for commercial tour operators. The proposal would increase entry fees for commercial operators and standardize commercial use authorization (CUA) requirements for road-based commercial tours, including application and management fees. All CUA fees stay within the collecting park and would fund rehabilitation projects for buildings, facilities, parking lots, roads, and wayside exhibits that would enhance the visitor experience. The fees will also cover the administrative costs of receiving, reviewing, and processing CUA applications and required reports.

In addition, the proposal would include a peak-season commercial entry fee structure for the 17 national parks referenced above. All proposed fee adjustments for commercial operators would go into effect following an 18-month implementation window.

Information and a forum for public comments regarding commercial permit requirements and fees is available October 24, 2017 to November 23, 2017 on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commercialtourrequirements. Written comments can be sent to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.



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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Storm Causes Washout on Blue Ridge Parkway

Several storm related closures are still in effect along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Parkway officials are asking for cooperation in particular at the closure from Milepost 402.7 to Milepost 408.4, where a significant washout was discovered along the road shoulder at the Little Pisgah Ridge Tunnel (Milepost 407). Park engineers are assessing the site for any additional undercutting of the road and needed repairs.

The Pisgah Inn and campground at Milepost 408.8 are accessible via US Route 276 which crosses the Parkway at Milepost 411.8.

Until repaired, this is a hazardous area and is closed to ALL traffic, including cyclists and hikers. Visitors behind closed gates will be asked to turn around. The public’s cooperation with this closure is important to personal safety as well as the protection of Parkway’s resources.

Updates regarding all closure areas will be posted on the Parkway’s online Real Time Road Map; other updates will also be posted regularly on the Parkway’s social media platforms, found using @BlueRidgeNPS.



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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Recreation Trails Program Awards 25 Grants for NC Projects

North Caroline state officials announced last week the award of $2.1 million in grants through the federal Recreational Trails Program for 25 trails projects across the state. For fiscal year 2018, the program received 53 grant applications totaling $4.4 million in requests.

The matching grants, recommended by the North Carolina Trails Committee and approved by Secretary Susi H. Hamilton of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, will help fund healthful recreation opportunities for hikers, cyclists, paddlers, equestrians and off-highway vehicle users throughout the state and will promote tourism for the enjoyment of the state’s natural resources.

The Recreational Trails Program is administered by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with Federal Highways Administration funding routed through the N.C. Department of Transportation. North Carolina has been awarded more than $32.9 million since 1999 for sustainable trail projects. These grants, combined with in-kind services and matching funds, have secured $64.3 million for local trail and greenway projects in the state.

In fiscal year 2017, 26 projects were awarded that totaled $1,995,573, plus eight safety and education grants totaling $37,700.

“These funds make North Carolina’s outdoors more accessible and outdoor exercise opportunities more convenient for a growing population,” N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation Director Mike Murphy said. “Working in partnership with many outstanding government and non-profit organizations, we are able to maximize these investments and address the increased demand for trails in communities across the state.”

Among the local governments, agencies and trails groups receiving grants in the most recent cycle include:

• City of Marion: Upper Catawba River Trail – Signage, kiosks, and maps for up to 30 access points along the Upper Catawba River Trail, $30,000

• N.C. High Peaks Trail Association, Inc.: Mount Mitchell Trail Renovation Project – Phase III, $52,460

• USDA Forest Service Grandfather Ranger District: Mortimer Area Multi-Use Trails renovations, $100,000

• McDowell County: Lower Catawba Falls Access safety and accessibility improvements, $100,000

• Carolina Mountain Club: Wilderness First Aid Class for Hike Leaders, $5,000

For a full list of all project awards, please click here.



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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Amazing Interview With Man Who Survived a Grizzly Bear Attack - Twice

This is a truly an amazing story. Todd Orr, an all-around outdoorsman from Bozeman, Montana, sat down with Jason Matzinger to discuss the sow grizzly bear that attacked him twice last fall. This guy was so incredibly calm and collected that he had the wherewithal to walk the three miles back to the trailhead by himself, and then shoot a short video of himself to show the damage done by the bear. That short clip is included in this video:



Before venturing into grizzly bear country it's always a good idea to educate yourself on how to prevent an encounter, and what to do should you see a grizzly while on the trail.



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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

HikinginGlacier.com Adds Four New Hikes to Website

Before venturing into the Canadian Rockies this past September (see blog posts from the past two weeks), we stopped in Glacier National Park for a few days of hiking. Other than Yellowstone, it may have been the highest concentration of wildlife we've ever seen in only a few days. In addition to the amazing scenery atop Grinnell Glacier Overlook, the highlight of our trip was the white wolf we saw in the Medicine Grizzly valley. It was the first wolf any of us had ever seen in Glacier.

As a result of this trip we've added four new hikes to our website at HikinginGlacier.com. Here's a quick rundown of each of those hikes:

* Grinnell Glacier Overlook is quite possibly the best view in Glacier National Park! This is in addition to all the stunning scenery you'll see along the Highline Trail before reaching the overlook. As we sat there soaking in the magnificent views, a nanny mountain goat and her kid raced past us - within 10 feet! At first we thought we were being charged, but she just wanted to get to the other side safely.

* Lake Josephine Loop - This loop takes you around both Lake Josephine and Swiftcurrent Lake in the Many Glacier area. The hike is mostly flat, making it a great choice for almost everyone in the family. Oh yea, the views are simply outstanding! Almost every time we've hiked in this area we've seen at least one moose.

* Triple Divide Pass - If you're looking for a little bit of solitude in Glacier National Park, Triple Divide Pass just may be the ticket. The trailhead is located in Cut Bank, roughly half-way between Two Medicine and St. Mary. The pass lies just below Triple Divide Peak, the only hydrological apex in North America - or is it? After soaking in the panoramic views from the pass, while proceeding down the mountain, we saw a white wolf trotting through a meadow in the valley below.

* Two Medicine Pass - Our wildlife tour definitely continued on this hike. During this trek we saw an owl as it soared through the trees just up the trail, saw an extremely large bull moose just below Rockwell Falls, and then, as we neared the pass, we came upon a large herd of Bighorn sheep. Numbering at least three dozen, it was by far the largest herd of Bighorns we've ever seen in one place. Once atop the pass we enjoyed outstanding panoramic views on both sides of the narrow ridge.

To see all of the trails covered by our website, please click here.



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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sport the Bear Plate and Support the Smokies on the Road

Scenic drives are not the only way to appreciate the mountains of Western North Carolina from a vehicle. Sales of Friends of the Smokies specialty plates for the first half of 2017 exceeded $230,000, a 6% increase over the previous year’s sales. Since the inception of the program, more than 21,000 plates in all 100 North Carolina counties have raised over $4.3 million for the North Carolina Smokies.

Jo Gilley, co-owner of Blue Ridge Books in downtown Waynesville, has a plate because it is a good cause, “but I also just love the bear,” she says. Founding member of Friends of the Smokies Steve Woody agrees: “Not only is it a good-looking plate, but it supports programs in the park enjoyed by all ages. The park is a huge economic driver of Western North Carolina, so I am proud to give back by buying the specialty license plate. It is money well spent and much appreciated by the national park.”

By sporting the green and blue license plate with the bear, drivers are contributing $20 of the $30 fee directly to projects in the park. Friends of the Smokies’ specialty license plate provides opportunities for environmental education and personal growth in the outdoors through the Parks as Classrooms program and Student Conservation Association internships. It also supports the protection of the park’s flora and fauna, like elk and ginseng, and the preservation of historic and cultural treasures, like cabins and churches.

North Carolinians interested in obtaining Friends of the Smokies’ bear plate can do so at any time at FriendsOfTheSmokies.org or by visiting a local License Plate Agency or the North Carolina DMV website. A portion of the specialty plate fee is tax-deductible and can be purchased independently of a vehicle registration.



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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

NWS Issues High Wind Warning and Flash Flood Watch for Smokies

Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials posted this on their Facebook page earlier this afternoon:

NWS has issued a high wind warning in effect from 4:00 p.m. today through 4:00 a.m. tomorrow for sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts over 58 mph. The park is also under a flash flood watch in effect from 8:00 p.m. through 8:00 a.m. with between 4 to 8 inches of rain possible.

Heavy winds and rains can cause trees to fall, localized flooding, and debris movement along banks and roadways.

Consider limiting your outdoor activities in the park during this hazardous weather due to increased risk for high stream crossings and down trees throughout the park.

Park roads and areas may close due to hazardous conditions. Follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter for the latest information on main road closures in the park. For the latest weather updates, please click here.



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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Tropical Storm Nate Could Bring 4-10 Inches of Rain to Smokies

Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials advise that the effects of Tropical Storm Nate may impact Great Smoky Mountains National Park as early as Saturday afternoon. Preliminary estimations from the National Weather Service suggest that the storm may pass the park Saturday afternoon, overnight into Sunday and on into Monday.

Current rainfall predictions range from 4-10 inches. Early wind estimates suggest the park could receive sustained winds of 25-39 mph with gusts greater than 40 mph. Historically, flooding, landslides, road washouts, and numerous tree falls along roadways and trails are associated with these types of weather conditions.

Due to these potential hazards, officials advise front and backcountry visitors should pay close attention to current and projected weather conditions. All visitors should anticipate an increased risk for high stream crossings and down trees throughout the park. Many of the Park’s 1,000 campsites are located next to rivers and creeks which rise quickly during extreme rain events. Backcountry users are encouraged to closely examine their preparedness for backcountry travel and should consider altering their trip plans.

Park officials are closely monitoring the path of Nate and may implement additional preparations as weather forecasts further develop.



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

Cherokee National Forest Warns of High Wind and Rain Over Next Dew Days

USDA Forest Service officials say that Tropical Storm Nate may impact the Cherokee National Forest after it makes landfall. Depending on the intensity of the storm and which path it takes, high winds and considerable rain are probable.

Excessive rain and high wind have the potential to create high water, flash floods, falling trees, mudslides, and severe damage to roads. Much of the Cherokee National Forest is heavily forested, remote and mountainous, making the potential for hazardous conditions significant.

Due to these potential hazards, national forest visitors should pay close attention to weather reports and be prepared to cut their visit short. Anyone planning a visit to the national forest should seriously consider postponing their visit until the threat of Nate in this area diminishes.

Low laying areas are especially vulnerable to rapidly rising and swift water. These areas should be avoided during and after major storm events. Trees falling and large limbs breaking off are not uncommon occurrences during windy conditions. Excessive rain can severely damage or wash out gravel/dirt roads in the national forest.

With the uncertainty of the extent of impacts from the storm and the potential for hazardous conditions, national forest visitors are urged to take necessary safety precautions and to be aware of changing conditions.



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

Area Closure Implemented in Cherokee National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service is closing a portion of the Tellico Ranger District in Cherokee National Forest to public entry. The closure will remain in effect while the U.S. Navy is conducting an investigation of the October 1 crash of an aircraft from the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi. Click here for a map of the closure area.

The temporary closure order applies to the following areas:

1. FS-RD 210 - Tellico River Road from Pheasant Field Picnic Area to Stateline Campground
2. FS-RD - Beaverdam Bald Road
3. FS-RD 61 - Whigg Meadow Road
4. FS-RD – 40841
5. FS-RD – 40921
6. FS-RD – 2417 – Big Cove Branch Road
7. Benton MacKaye Trail #2 from Sandy Gap to Mud Gap
8. Kirkland Creek Trail (#85)
9. Whigg Ridge Trail (#86)
10. Brookshire Creek Trail (#180)

The Donley Cabin (access to cabin only), Dam Creek Campground and Spivey Cove Campground (access to campgrounds only) will remain open.

For information about the closure area call the Tellico Ranger District at 423-254-8400.



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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sentinel Pass

Our Canadian Rockies series continues with our hike to Sentinel Pass:

The hike to Sentinel Pass begins from Moraine Lake, which sits at the foot of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Both the lake and the valley were featured on the reverse side of the Canadian twenty dollar bill between 1969 and 1979. At the foot of the lake is a large pile of boulders and rocks, leftovers from the glaciers that retreated thousands of years ago. A climb to the top of the rock pile is a popular destination for photographers. The view there of the lake and the valley is considered to be one of the most photographed scenes in Canada, and is now known as the "Twenty Dollar View". To say the least, this is an exceedingly beautiful scene, perhaps the most stunning in all of the Canadian Rockies.


After a relatively steep climb the trail levels off and begins traveling through the scenic Larch Valley. This is a great option during the fall if you wish to see the needles of the larch trees turn golden yellow. Larches are one of only a few species of conifers that shed their needles in the fall.



As you proceed towards the pass you’ll enjoy great views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Just before reaching the pass the trail passes a small tarn. From here you'll be able to see your destination, as well as the path that leads to it. Once atop the pass you’ll enjoy outstanding panoramic views of both the Larch Valley and the Paradise Valley. Unfortunately heavy smoke from the wildfires spoiled our views.






Trail: Sentinel Pass
RT Distance: 7.2 Miles (11.6km)
Elevation Gain: 2379 feet (725m)
TH Location: Moraine Lake
Map: Yoho and Banff North Trails Illustrated Map



Canadian Rockies Trail Guide Known affectionately as the Bible by outdoor enthusiasts, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide was the first guidebook with accurate distances and detailed descriptions to the trails of the Canadian Rockies. The book includes 227 hikes for all fitness levels. Not only is Canadian Rockies Trail Guide known locally as the Bible, it is also the only hiking guide to the region recommended by Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. With over 250,000 copies in print, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide is one of the best-selling non-fiction books in Canadian publishing history







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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Parkers Ridge

Our Canadian Rockies series continues with our hike to Parkers Ridge:

This outstanding hike, which begins from the Icefields Parkway just south of the Icefield Center, ascends Parkers Ridge where you’ll enjoy dramatic views of the Saskatchewan Glacier. The glacier forms the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River. Once at the top you’ll have the option of continuing your hike by heading either north or south along the broad ridge. We proceeded in both directions, both of which offered awesome views. Although the official roundtrip distance is listed at 2.5 miles, the actual mileage was more than that. We ended up doing roughly 4.25 miles total, which included our two relatively short side trips.






The Saskatchewan Glacier is the largest outflow glacier originating from the Columbia Icefield. Resting along the Continental Divide, the glacier is approximately 8.1 miles (13km) long, and covers an area of 11.5 square miles (30km²). In 1960 it was measured at more than 1300 feet (400m) thick at a distance of 5 miles (8km) from its terminal snout.




You don’t see many of these types of signs at trailheads too often:




Trail: Parkers Ridge
RT Distance: 4 Miles (6.4km)
Elevation Gain: 886 feet (270m)
TH Location: Icefields Parkway
Map: Yoho and Banff North Trails Illustrated Map



Canadian Rockies Trail Guide Known affectionately as the Bible by outdoor enthusiasts, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide was the first guidebook with accurate distances and detailed descriptions to the trails of the Canadian Rockies. The book includes 227 hikes for all fitness levels. Not only is Canadian Rockies Trail Guide known locally as the Bible, it is also the only hiking guide to the region recommended by Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. With over 250,000 copies in print, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide is one of the best-selling non-fiction books in Canadian publishing history







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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Smokies to Open Chimney Tops Trail on October 6th

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will open the Chimney Tops Trail to a newly developed observation point starting Friday, October 6, 2017. The entire trail has been closed to the public since the Chimney Tops 2 Fire event occurred in late November 2016.

“We are excited to complete the work on the Chimney Tops Trail in time for the fall color season in Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We understand that many people have a strong emotional tie to the Chimney Tops Trail and its reopening has been a priority for moving forward in our recovery from the fire event.”

The extended closure of the trail allowed the park’s trail crew to design and develop a section of the trail which will provide a safe and sustainable gathering area for hikers to enjoy beautiful views of Mount LeConte and the Chimney Tops pinnacles. The top most 0.25 mile section of trail to the Chimney Tops pinnacles themselves, though, was heavily damaged by the fire and will remain closed until further notice due to the significant safety concerns that exist.


“While the upper section of trail and rocky pinnacles are not safe for visitors to explore at this time, restoring access to the trail allows us to enjoy the rehabilitation investment made to the trail by the Friends of the Smokies’ Trails Forever Program in 2014, and also ensures the Chimney Tops Trail will remain a destination for visitors to enjoy a true Smoky Mountain hiking experience,” added Acting Superintendent Jordan.

The funding for this trail project came through donations made by individuals from all across the country to the Friends of the Smokies’ Fire Relief Fund. This fund was established in response to the outpouring of public support to aid in the rehabilitation and repair of park areas impacted by the fire.

Chimney Tops Trail is traditionally one of the most popular trails within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It provides a short, but steep climb through mature forested areas with multiple bridge crossings over rushing mountain streams and spectacular mountain vistas. With this reopening, visitors can continue to enjoy most of the trail.

Visitors hiking the trail must remain within the open section and not explore beyond the closed area at the trail’s termination due to significant environmental damage and safety concerns. The former trail past the closure point continues to slough off the side of the steep slope due to ongoing erosion of rocks and soil. Park staff will be monitoring the closed section of trail and the Chimney Tops throughout the upcoming season as rain, freeze and thaw cycles, and wind events continue to change the landscape. If in the future the ground is determined to be safe and stabilized enough for sustainable trail construction, the park will consider trail rehabilitation of this area.

For more information on this hike, please click here.



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

Wenkchemna Pass

Our Canadian Rockies series continues with our hike to Wenkchemna Pass:

The hike to Wenkchemna Pass begins from Moraine Lake, which sits at the foot of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Both the lake and the valley were featured on the reverse side of the Canadian twenty dollar bill between 1969 and 1979. At the foot of the lake is a large pile of boulders and rocks, leftovers from the glaciers that retreated thousands of years ago. A climb to the top of the rock pile is a popular destination for photographers. The view there of the lake and the valley is considered to be one of the most photographed scenes in Canada, and is now known as the "Twenty Dollar View". To say the least, this is an exceedingly beautiful scene, perhaps the most stunning in all of the Canadian Rockies.



This hike proceeds all the way to the end of the spectacular Valley of the Ten Peaks. Near the head of the valley is Eiffel Lake. Beyond the lake the trail climbs to the pass.

The highest peak in the range is the 8th peak in the valley. Known as Deltaform Mountain, this rugged peak tops out at 11,234 feet (3424m). The last mountain in the chain, Wenkchemna Peak, means “ten” in the Stoney Indian language.

Fortunately for us a cold front passed through the mountains the night before our hike, and pushed the thick smoke out of the area. That morning we awoke to a cold and blustery early-September day. We even saw a few snowflakes – the first of the season for us. As the day wore on the clouds rolled out and we enjoyed beautiful blue skies.










Trail: Wenkchemna Pass
RT Distance: 12 Miles (19.4km)
Elevation Gain: 2362 feet (720m)
TH Location: Moraine Lake
Map: Yoho and Banff North Trails Illustrated Map



Canadian Rockies Trail Guide Known affectionately as the Bible by outdoor enthusiasts, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide was the first guidebook with accurate distances and detailed descriptions to the trails of the Canadian Rockies. The book includes 227 hikes for all fitness levels. Not only is Canadian Rockies Trail Guide known locally as the Bible, it is also the only hiking guide to the region recommended by Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. With over 250,000 copies in print, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide is one of the best-selling non-fiction books in Canadian publishing history







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

Monday, October 2, 2017

Helen Lake / Dolomite Pass

Our Canadian Rockies series continues with our hike to Helen Lake and Dolomite Pass:

This outstanding hike leads to a spectacular alpine meadow filled with wildflowers after the snowmelt, before visiting two lakes and a mountain pass that offers stunning panoramic views. The hike begins with a climb up the south-facing slopes of the Bow Valley, which eventually offers views of Crowfoot Glacier across the valley. After 3.5 miles hikers will reach their first destination on this hike, Helen Lake. The cirque mountain walls that frame Helen Lake are home to a large community of marmots. Though we didn’t actually see any, we heard their distinctive whistles echoing off the walls of the natural amphitheater. We also saw a golden eagle soaring along the updrafts. It appeared to be nesting high along the mountain opposite the lake.






After soaking in the views we climbed above Helen Lake with the intention of proceeding towards Dolomite Pass. Somehow, after reaching the ridgetop above the lake, we took the wrong trail, an unmarked social trail that led us along the canyon ridge. Though it didn’t take us where we intended to go, it did offer outstanding views of both Helen and Katherine Lakes, as well as the mountains that surrounded them. With threatening skies moving in once again, we decided to end our hike there.







Trail: Dolomite Pass (Helen Lake)
RT Distance: 11.1 Miles (18km)
Elevation Gain: 1968 feet (600m)
TH Location: Icefields Parkway
Map: Yoho and Banff North Trails Illustrated Map



Canadian Rockies Trail Guide Known affectionately as the Bible by outdoor enthusiasts, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide was the first guidebook with accurate distances and detailed descriptions to the trails of the Canadian Rockies. The book includes 227 hikes for all fitness levels. Not only is Canadian Rockies Trail Guide known locally as the Bible, it is also the only hiking guide to the region recommended by Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. With over 250,000 copies in print, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide is one of the best-selling non-fiction books in Canadian publishing history







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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Bow Glacier Falls

Our Canadian Rockies series continues with our hike to Bow Glacier Falls:

The hike to Bow Glacier Falls begins from the back side of the historic Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. From the lodge the trail leads around the northern shore of Bow Lake, before following along the inlet stream that crosses over a series of broad gravel flats to the base of Bow Glacier Falls.


Both the lake and the valley offers great views of the surrounding mountains, but smoke from dozens of wildfires limited the vistas during our hike.





Be sure to check out the slot canyon before making the short, but steep climb at the end of the gravel flat section:


At the end of the valley is Bow Glacier Falls, which drops roughly 410 feet (120m), and has a maximum width of roughly 75 feet (23m):



Trail: Bow Glacier Falls
RT Distance: 5.6 Miles (9km)
Elevation Gain: 459 feet (155m)
TH Location: Icefields Parkway
Map: Yoho and Banff North Trails Illustrated Map



Canadian Rockies Trail Guide Known affectionately as the Bible by outdoor enthusiasts, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide was the first guidebook with accurate distances and detailed descriptions to the trails of the Canadian Rockies. The book includes 227 hikes for all fitness levels. Not only is Canadian Rockies Trail Guide known locally as the Bible, it is also the only hiking guide to the region recommended by Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. With over 250,000 copies in print, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide is one of the best-selling non-fiction books in Canadian publishing history







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