Monday, July 6, 2020

Precautionary Fish Consumption Advisory Issued by Obed Wild & Scenic River

On July 1, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced a 6.7-mile extension of the existing precautionary fish consumption advisory due to mercury on the Emory River in Morgan County. Additionally, a new precautionary advisory due to mercury in smallmouth bass is being issued for a portion of Daddy’s Creek in Morgan and Cumberland Counties. Obed River fish were also tested on multiple occasions and were not found to have elevated levels of mercury. Obed Wild & Scenic River includes portions of Daddy’s Creek, the Obed River and Clear Creek. Common recreation activities on these streams include boating, fishing, wading and swimming.

TDEC provides these advisories so the community can make informed decisions about whether or not to consume the fish they catch. In a 2006 statewide screening of Tennessee rivers and lakes, Emory River was identified as a waterbody where mercury levels in fish were elevated and an advisory was issued in 2007. Additional studies by TDEC and the Tennessee Valley Authority indicated these elevated mercury levels in fish extended further upstream than previously thought.

This new notification expands the advisory 6.7 miles upstream to the mouth of the Obed River. The Emory advisory, which is for all fish species, now extends from US Hwy 27 (Mile 12.4) upstream to the mouth of the Obed River at mile 28.4. Only a short section of the upper Emory River is inside the Obed Wild & Scenic River.

The Daddy’s Creek precautionary advisory is for smallmouth bass only and will extend from its mouth on the Obed River upstream to Interstate 40, near Mile 20. This section includes the portion of the stream that was designated by Congress as a National Wild & Scenic River and includes the portion within Catoosa Wildlife Management Area.

TDEC advises that pregnant or nursing mothers and children avoid eating the fish species included in the advisory and that all others limit consumption to one meal per month. Other recreational activities such as boating, swimming, wading, and catch-and-release fishing carry no risk. Warning signs will be posted at public access areas.

Obed Wild & Scenic River is the only Wild & Scenic River in Tennessee. The State of Tennessee classifies Daddy’s Creek as an Exceptional Tennessee Water and the Obed River as an Outstanding National Resource Water.

For a complete listing of Tennessee’s current fishing advisories plus additional information about the advisory issuance process, visit: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/environment/water/documents/water_fish-advisories.pdf

An EPA website has additional information about mercury at: http://www2.epa.gov/fish-tech/epa-fda-advisory-mercury-fish-and-shellfish








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

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

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Smokies Adds New "Emergency Manager" Position

Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently announced the hiring for a newly created "Emergency Manager" position. This new position will function to coordinate emergency medical response and search and rescue operations with responders inside the park in partnership with local agencies and organizations. Ranger Liz Hall will fill this new job. She will also lead preventative search and rescue efforts, such as providing safety information to hikers by staff and volunteers.

Ms. Hall comes to the Smokies from Yellowstone National Park, where she served in the Emergency Services office since 2017. Prior to her job in Emergency Services, Liz was a law enforcement ranger in the Lamar River District. Before working at Yellowstone National Park, Liz was a backcountry ranger at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska.

“I am excited that the park was able to fill this essential position with someone with the skill and experience that Liz holds,” added Lisa Hendy.

Liz has a master’s degree in public administration and is a Nationally Registered Paramedic. She spends her free time volunteering with a local search and rescue team and working her search and rescue dog, Reu. She also enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and boating. Liz grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and she is excited to come home and work in the park that introduced her to conservation and the National Park Service. She is moving to the Smokies with her husband, Travis Hall, who is also a ranger, and their young son.







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

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A.T. Volunteers Return to the Trail

Appalachian Trail (A.T.) volunteers have been given the green light to resume Trail maintenance following guidelines offered by the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Maintenance work was put on pause in late March this year as safety guidelines and procedures were developed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers, hikers, and Trailside communities. The guidelines are intended to keep everyone safe. While much of the Trail is open for hiking and volunteer work, COVID-19 spread is dynamic. Some states and public lands could shut down if there are spikes in new cases, and volunteers will abide by all closure orders should they occur.

As volunteers begin assessing and repairing any damage to the Trail, all visitors should be aware that many sections of the footpath have not been monitored or maintained for several weeks. This means you might encounter obstacles such as bushy/overgrown areas, downed trees across the footpath, or erosion damage from rainstorms. Overgrown sections are also high-risk areas for ticks, so be sure to follow tick bite prevention techniques and perform tick checks frequently. Overnight campers and visitors in parking areas should pay careful attention to potential hazard trees and dead branches overhead.

We also still advise all campers to avoid using shelters and privies along the Trail. Over 200 shelters and privies are still closed by their respective land management agencies, and maintainers have been asked to postpone cleaning these structures until further notice to help keep them safe from potential COVID-19 infection.

Should you encounter a downed tree or any other significant maintenance needs on the Trail, please send an email to info@appalachiantrail.org describing the exact location and the type of maintenance needed.







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, June 29, 2020

USFS Acquires 49-Acre Tract in Fires Creek on Nantahala National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service has acquired a 49-acre inholding at the headwaters of Laurel Creek, a tributary to Fires Creek, in a popular recreation area on the Tusquitee Ranger District. Funding for the purchase comes from the North Carolina Threatened Treasures FY 2020 Land and Water Conservation Fund Appropriations.

The tract, which is completely surrounded by national forest, had been privately owned until it was purchased by Mainspring Conservation Trust in 2017.

In closing on the sale to the U.S. Forest Service, Jordan Smith, Executive Director for Mainspring said, “We are thrilled that the Laurel Creek inholding is forever part of the National Forest, after more than a decade of uncertainty. Mainspring is grateful to the landowners, who were willing to seek a conservation solution for this incredibly significant property, the organizations and supporters who helped donate to this project so the property could become public land, and for our partners at the U.S. Forest Service, who recognized what this inholding means to hikers, hunters, and people who love the Fires Creek Area. This project exemplifies what can happen when everyone works together for permanent conservation.”

The parcel includes a section of the Rim Trail, a 25- mile foot and horse path that traverses the rim of the Tusquitee Mountains and Valley River Mountains that form the Fires Creek watershed. The Rim Trail loop starts at the Fires Creek Recreation Area and connects to other trails including the Shinbone, Sassafras, Phillips Ridge, and Bristol Horse Trails.

“This property is an important wildlife area used by sportsmen for bear, deer, turkey, and grouse hunting and ensures recreation access to the Rim Trail,” said District Ranger Andy Gaston. “Mainspring Conservation Trust has been a great partner in adding public lands to this well-loved part of the Nantahala National Forest.”

Acquisition of the property also helps provide for abundant clean water through protection of the headwaters of Fires Creek, Laurel Creek, and Phillips Creek that flow into the Hiwassee River Basin, the primary source of drinking water for residents in North Carolina and Georgia.



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, June 26, 2020

National Park Service Seeks Information on Theft of Pink Lady Slipper Plants in Big South Fork NRRA

National Park Service is seeking information related to the theft of approximately 30 pink lady slipper plants (Cypripedium acaule) along Leatherwood Loop Trail, on or about June 8-9, 2020. On June 11, park staff discovered holes where the plants were known to be present. Flowering and vegetative individuals at the site had been counted by park staff two weeks earlier, on May 28, so an accurate count of how many plants were dug was possible.

Park rangers are requesting that anyone with information on this plant theft case or any other plant thefts that the public is aware of to call the Resource Protection Hotline at (423) 569-7301.

Visitors are reminded that all fossils, rocks, plants, animals and cultural artifacts located within Big South Fork NRRA are protected and may not be collected.







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, June 22, 2020

Forest Service Issues Warning About Black Bears in Pisgah National Forest

The Pisgah National Forest warns visitors to North Mills River, Bent Creek Experimental Forest, and Black Balsam and surrounding areas on the Pisgah Ranger District to be on the look-out for black bears. On the Grandfather Ranger District, bears have also been active at Table Rock and the Old Fort Picnic Area.

Black bears look for food that campers and trail users bring on their trips. While black bear attacks on people are rare, such attacks have resulted in human fatalities.

To avoid bear attacks, experts recommend the following:

* Keep your dog on a leash in areas where bears are reported.
* If you notice a bear nearby, pack up your food and trash immediately and vacate the area as soon as possible.
* If a bear approaches, move away slowly; do not run. Get into a vehicle or a secure building.
* If necessary, attempt to scare the animal away with loud shouts, by banging pans together, or throwing rocks and sticks at it.
* If you are attacked by a black bear, try to fight back using any object available. Act aggressively and intimidate the bear by yelling and waving your arms. Playing dead is not appropriate.

Visitors are encouraged to prevent bear interactions by practicing these additional safety tips:

* Do not store food in tents.
* Properly store food and scented items, like toothpaste, by using a bear-proof container, or leaving them in your vehicle. (Many toiletries that seem to have little to no odor can still attract bears.)
* Clean up food or garbage around fire rings, grills, or other areas of your campsite.
* Do not leave food unattended.
* Never run away from a bear-back away slowly and make lots of noise.

The large number of bear sightings and encounters in the past few years has led to required use of bear-proof canisters in the Shining Rock and Black Balsam areas. Backcountry users must use commercially-made canisters constructed of solid, non-pliable material manufactured for the specific purpose of resisting entry by bears.

For more tips, visit go to www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc and click on "Learn about Bear Safety," or www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/bears.







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

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

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Tourism to Blue Ridge Parkway creates $1.4 Billion in Economic Benefits

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 14.9 million visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2019 spent $1.1 Billion in communities near the park. That spending supported 16,341 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $1.4 Billion.

“Over the past several weeks, NPS staff have been working hard to safely increase access to Blue Ridge Parkway, a unit of the National Park System which contributes to individual and collective physical and mental wellness,” said Superintendent J.D. Lee. “We welcome visitors back to the park and are excited to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. The parkway has a long history of connecting communities in our region and introducing our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $21 billion of direct spending by more than 327 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 340,500 jobs nationally; 278,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $41.7 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $7.1 billion in 2019. The restaurant sector had the next greatest effects with $4.2 billion in economic output. Motor vehicle fuel expenditures were $2.16 billion with retail spending at $1.93 billion.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm

To learn more about national parks in North Carolina and Virginia and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/NorthCarolina or www.nps.gov/Virginia







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

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Daniel Boone National Forest announces temporary closure of Tunnel Ridge Road

Tunnel Ridge Road (Forest Route 39) in the Red River Gorge will be temporarily closed for repairs June 22-25. Gates will close Sunday, June 21, at 9:00 pm. Tunnel Ridge Road provides access to popular destinations such as Gray’s Arch and Auxier Ridge.

As visitation to the popular Red River Gorge of the Daniel Boone National Forest has increased in recent years, so have the impacts on infrastructure. The Red River Gorge is a regional icon and international destination with heavy visitor use experienced daily and year-round. Heavy vehicle use of the road displaces gravel and exposes potholes, making vehicle travel challenging. With increased use comes a need for an increased frequency of maintenance and reconstruction.

The U.S. Forest Service is working cooperatively with Powell County Tourism and Powell County to maintain this popular road for the enjoyment of visitors. Please do not park vehicles in front of closed gates or block emergency vehicle access. Tunnel Ridge Road will reopen 9:00 am on Friday, June 26th.

Updates will be posted on Facebook: www.facebook.com/danielboonenf







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

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Hiker Fatality on Abrams Falls Trail

Diana Graves, age 67, of Chesterfield, VA, was hiking with her family when she experienced a cardiac event approximately 0.5 mile from the trailhead. Bystanders immediately performed CPR until Park Rangers arrived on scene. Park Rangers continued life-saving efforts, including the use of an AED, but the efforts were not successful and the patient was pronounced deceased at 1:43 p.m.

In addition to Park Rangers, emergency responders with American Medical Response (AMR) responded to the scene and transported the deceased to Blount Memorial Hospital. No additional details are available at this time.

Although completely unrelated to this unfortunate tragedy, Backpacker Magazine ranked the Abrams Falls Trail as the ninth most dangerous hiking trail in America several years ago.



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, June 15, 2020

National Park Service Visitor Spending Generates Economic Impact of More Than $41 Billion

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt today announced the annual economic benefit of national parks to the U.S. and local economies. In 2019, visitor spending in communities near national parks resulted in a $41.7 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 340,500 jobs. Visitor spending increased by $800 million from 2018 to 2019 and the overall effect on the U.S economy grew by $1.6 billion. In the last five years, visitor spending has increased by $4.1 billion and the effect on the U.S. economy grew by $9.7 billion.

“We have been working to safely welcome the public back to their national parks and provide more service again,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “These treasured places provide respite and recreation for the American people, in addition to vital economic support to gateway communities across the country. The tremendous value of our national parks is undeniable as is the need to adequately maintain them, which is why President Trump has called on Congress to address the decades of deferred maintenance.”

According to the annual National Park Service report released today, 2019 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, more than 327 million visitors spent $21 billion in communities within 60 miles of a park in the National Park System. Of the 340,500 jobs supported by visitor spending, more than 278,000 jobs exist in communities adjacent to parks. The report includes statistics by park and by state on visitor spending and the number of jobs supported by visitor spending.

“Safely increasing access to national parks and other public lands supports individual and collective physical and mental wellness, said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, exercising the authority of the Director. “It also benefits park gateway communities where millions of visitors each year find a place to sleep and eat, hire outfitters and guides and make use of other local services that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry.”

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending totaling $7.1 billion in 2019. The restaurant sector had the next greatest effects with $4.2 billion in economic output. Motor vehicle fuel expenditures were $2.16 billion with retail spending at $1.93 billion.

There are National Park System sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam. Visitation varies across the country, from Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to Grand Portage National Monument in Minnesota.

Last year, Grand Canyon National Park attracted nearly 6 million visitors who spent more than $890 million, supporting 11,806 jobs and generating a $1.1 billion total economic output. Grand Portage National Monument recorded approximately 94,985 recreation visitors who spent an estimated $6,208,000. That spending supported 78 jobs and more than a $6 million total economic output.

An online interactive tool enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. It also shows annual, trend data.

For additional state-by-state information about national parks and how the National Park Service is working with communities, go to http://www.nps.gov/[statename], for example: http://www.nps.gov/virginia.



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

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

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Appalachian National Scenic Trail will reopen access to 27 miles of the Trail in Central Virginia known as the “Triple Crown”

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is increasing recreational access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working Service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning June 13, 2020, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail will reopen access to 27 miles of the Trail in Central Virginia known as the “Triple Crown.” The “Triple Crown” area includes all National Park Service owned land between VA Route 624 (Newport Road) and VA Route 652 (Mountain Pass Road), including McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs.

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, the public should follow local area health orders https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/prevention-tips/, practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy. All visitors should plan on following CDC guidance on social distancing, avoid crowded areas, and seek outdoor recreational opportunities that are close to home. Visitors should plan on carrying hand sanitizer, as hand-washing facilities are not available on the Trail.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

As our nation continues to confront this unprecedented public health challenge, the safety and health of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is paramount. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.







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, June 12, 2020

Big South Fork NRRA is Increasing Recreational Access to Kentucky Campgrounds

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is increasing recreational access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning Thursday, June 11, 2020, Big South fork National River and Recreation Area will reopen access to Blue Heron Campground and Bear Creek Horse Camp and reservations can only be made at www.recreation.gov at this time. Big South Fork will reopen access to Alum Ford Campground and campsites are available on a first come, first serve basis. With public health in mind, the visitor centers remain closed.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Big South Fork, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas. “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.”

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, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

Updates on park operations will continue to be posted online at http://www.nps.gov/biso







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

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

As national parks reopen, our online trail guides are still here to help with all your hiking plans

With most national parks finally in the process of reopening, and with restrictions on travel slowly being lifted, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your continuing support of our online hiking trail guides for the four national parks we cover:

HikingintheSmokys.com

HikinginGlacier.com

TetonHikingTrails.com

RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

If you do plan to visit any of these parks this year or anytime in the future, be sure to visit our websites to find the most comprehensive information on the best day hiking destinations in each of those parks. Our various trail directories and lists of top hikes will help you easily drill down to find the best hikes suited to your abilities and preferences.

In addition to our online trail guides, our websites also provide Accommodations and Things To Do listings to help with all your vacation planning. You can help support our websites by clicking and visiting our advertisers' websites, and using the services of these local businesses that have been hit hard by the shutdowns.

You can also support our websites by shopping from any of our affiliate links, including REI and Amazon.

Again, thank you very much!



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, June 5, 2020

Smokies Restores Limited Campground and Visitor Center Services

Beginning on Monday, June 8, the following areas will be accessible:

* Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds
* Anthony Creek Horse Camp
* Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome Visitor Centers and Great Smoky Mountains Association Bookstores
* Backcountry Information Office at Sugarlands Visitor Center
* Cable Mill and Mingus Mill
* Abrams Creek Road
* Cataloochee Road (to Palmer Chapel only due to road washout)
* Forge Creek Road
* Rich Mountain Road

Beginning on Monday, June 15, the following areas will be accessible:

* Elkmont Road
* Elkmont Campgroundv * Spence Cabin

The 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, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and public health authorities. The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. Each facility function and service provided is examined to ensure the operations comply with current public health guidance. Park officials 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 has developed a range of mitigation to support these additional services including installation of protective barriers between staff and visitors; capacity limits for visitor centers; installation of social distancing floor decal reminders; and closure of theater and museum spaces in visitor centers. At campgrounds, services are limited to online reservations only; restroom facilities are appropriately disinfected and cleaned; and group campsites remain closed. While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased.

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. By restoring these additional services and access, the Smokies offers even more opportunities for visitors to spread out and responsibly recreate across the park. Park managers urge visitors to follow public health guidance for a safe and responsible visit by choosing trails and overlooks without congested parking areas; visiting early in the morning; staying in vehicles while viewing wildlife to avoid crowded conditions; maintaining social distance from other visitors; and wearing 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. Park rangers remain available to answer questions and help with trip planning via email or phone during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 506-8620, or GRSM_Smokies_Information@nps.gov.

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

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

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Pisgah National Forest Reopens Several Campgrounds, Trails and Recreation Sites

On June 1, 2020, Pisgah National Forest will open several campgrounds and recreation sites. Some sites remain closed and facilities and services remain limited.

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

* All concession-operated campgrounds on the Pisgah Ranger District including Davidson River, North Mills River, and Lake Powhatan

* Mount Mitchell Trail and Buncombe Horse Trail

* Hardtimes, South Toe River, and Buncombe Horse Trailheads

Dispersed camping on the Pisgah Ranger District is now allowed but campsites must be further than 1,000 feet from the nearest road. Dispersed camping is also allowed on the Appalachian and Grandfather Ranger Districts. Permits are required to camp within the Linville Gorge Wilderness on weekends and holidays and are issued by the Grandfather Ranger District office.

Below is a complete list of trails, roads, and recreation areas that are reopening. The few roads that remain closed, are only closed to motorized vehicles, non-motorized use is allowed.

The Forest Service is reopening sites in phases using a site-by-site approach, including assessment of facility cleanliness, maintenance status, and health and safety. The agency is committed to maximizing public access while ensuring the safety and well-being of employees, partners, and volunteers. We are working closely with our state and local partners to determine the best path forward to safely reopening sites.

Responsible recreation will help expand access. Avoid crowded areas, be careful with campfires and wildlife, and bring extra food, water, and clothing in case of emergency. Trash services and restrooms are not available in many areas so be prepared to take your waste home with you.

Visitors are urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus, go to: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

For more information, contact us using the information at www.fs.usda.gov/main/nfsnc/about-forest/districts.

For the Closure Order and list of temporarily closed roads, trails, and recreation areas on the Pisgah National Forest 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

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Smokies Implements Vehicle-Free Wednesdays in Cades Cove

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the implementation of vehicle-free access along the Cades Cove Loop Road each Wednesday, from June 17 through September 30, as part of a pilot study to improve the visitor experience. The park proposed the study due to congested parking areas and disruption of visitor services associated with the vehicle-free periods on Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer months that have been in effect for several years.

As part of the public planning process, park officials received feedback from 2,278 individuals from 37 states during the comment period in March. More than 60% of the comments were supportive of the trial change, and 20% of the comments were in opposition of the proposal. About 15% of the comments expressed a desire for the Saturday morning closures to continue, but most of these individuals also supported a full-day closure on Wednesdays. Several respondents expressed additional concerns including 8% of comments requesting consideration of a shuttle operation, 4% of comments noting concerns about limiting access for people with disabilities during the vehicle-free days, and a variety of other suggestions regarding congestion, safety, and descendant access.

The park began collecting data on visitor use during vehicle-free time periods in 1995. Over the last 25 years, use has continued to increase with up to 1,100 people a day cycling or walking along the roadway during the 3-hour closure time period. This increased use resulted in several challenges including congestion, lack of parking, and disruption in campground and picnic area operations. During the morning closures, access to the campground, picnic area, horse concession operation, campground store, and hiking/equestrian trails is blocked to accommodate parking for the biking/pedestrian opportunity on the Loop Road. As a result, traffic leading to the Cades Cove area is often gridlocked by a line of motorists waiting for the Loop Road to open at 10:00 a.m.

A categorical exclusion was signed in June 2020, completing the National Park Service's environmental compliance process for initiation of the pilot study. Park officials have incorporated feedback from the planning process into a monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of the trial in improving safety and the visitor experience for multiple user groups. By closing the roadway for the entire day, bicyclists and pedestrians will have over 12 hours of daylight to use the Loop Road without vehicles. By spreading use throughout the day, parking should be more available with less impacts to campground, picnic area, and concession operations. By eliminating the Saturday morning closures, more motorists will have access to the Cades Cove area for these services along with scenic driving on what is traditionally the busiest day of the week for travel in the area. In addition, park staff and volunteers will be able to better support visitor programs on Wednesdays and Saturdays instead of devoting all personnel to traffic management and parking.

The results of the pilot study will be evaluated by park management to inform future planning. Vehicle access will continue to be provided seven days a week, October through April, and six days a week during the trial period, June through September, providing ample opportunities for park descendants and visitors to enjoy Cades Cove. Mobility-assisted devices are welcomed during vehicle-free days on the Cades Cove Loop Road for individuals with disabilities. If visitors need accommodation to safely access Cades Cove on designated vehicle-free days, they should call 865-448-4105 for more information in advance of their visit.






Jeff
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Big South Fork Increasing Recreational Access to Tennessee Campgrounds

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is increasing recreational access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning today, June 3, Big South fork National River and Recreation Area will reopen access to Bandy Creek Campground, Bandy Creek Group Campground, and Station Camp Campground. Reservations can only be made at www.recreation.gov at this time. With public health in mind, the visitor center remains closed.

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Big South Fork, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas. “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.”

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, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

Updates on park operations will continue to be posted online at http://www.nps.gov/biso







Jeff
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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Brewpub Seeks "Chief Hiking Officer"

Hard to believe, but this is no joke! In fact, this just might be dream come true for one lucky, beer-loving hiker! The Devils Backbone Brewing Company is currently accepting applications for a "Chief Hiking Officer". Located in Lexington, Virginia in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Devils Backbone is seeking one person to thru-hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in 2021, and will pay them $20,000 to do so. Below is some additional information on the position from the brewers website, including a short video:
Devils Backbone is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just a few miles from the Appalachian Trail, so we can get our fill of fresh air any time. But folks always tell us how they wish they had the time to trek the AT from Georgia to Maine. So, why couldn’t we sponsor one lucky hiker and help them check “conquer the AT” off their bucket list?

Well, that’s what we’re doing! This spring we’re accepting applications for our 2021 Chief Hiking Officer. That’s right: we’re going to pay someone to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2021. We’ll outfit our CHO with gear, fly ‘em to the trail head, and throw some big ol’ beer parties along the way. Plus, there’s a $20k stipend.

Qualifications? You’ve gotta love hiking and beer. We mean really love it. We’re talking 2,200 miles, camping under the stars, pack-in-pack-out for 5-7 months love it. If this sounds like your dream job, read up on exactly what we’re looking for in our CHO below.


For more information on this unique opportunity, and how to apply, please click here.



Jeff
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Monday, June 1, 2020

National Trails Day® 2020 Goes Virtual

Each year people all across the country unite on the first Saturday of June to celebrate American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day®. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, events won’t be held in person this year on June 6, but American Hiking is still fighting for trail preservation and equitable access to the outdoors. On National Trails Day® 2020 American Hiking Society will partner with land managers, volunteers, and the public to take actions from home that preserve trails and public lands and help ensure access for all to quality natural spaces.

“While the COVID-19 quarantines have put into sharp focus how much our minds and bodies need time outside every day, the trails and parks we value are under-resourced and not everyone has easy access to quality green space,” explains Kate Van Waes, Executive Director of American Hiking Society. “In honor of National Trails Day®, we are encouraging everyone to take American Hiking’s #NationalTrailsDay Pledge to preserve trails and parks and fight for equitable access.”

In addition to taking the #NationalTrailsDay Pledge, American Hiking is encouraging the public to join the National Trails Day® digital movement and share on social media why access to trails and natural space are important to them. Tag photos with #NationalTrailsDay and @AmericanHiking to be entered into a photo contest with a chance to win one of multiple prize packages of outdoor gear.

In the upcoming weeks, American Hiking will provide easy actions the public can take to preserve trails and fight for equitable access to the outdoors, even while social-distancing.

American Hiking’s National Trails Day® is made possible by the generous support of Corporate Sponsors – Athletic Brewing Co., Merrell, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., REI Co-Op, Popular Mechanics, Adventure Medical Kits. Federal Partners include the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Highway Administration, and U.S. Forest Service.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Guidance Issued to Help A.T. Hikers Minimize COVID-19 Risks

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) recently released updated guidance for visitors seeking to visit the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) while minimizing the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. The guidance covers a wide range of topics and considerations for hikers, including keeping hike locations local, minimizing time spent in towns, and using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer in addition to standard hiking gear.

“As warmer weather takes hold and some states’ stay-at-home orders are rolled back or expire, we understand that many people are anxious to return to public lands like the Appalachian Trail,” said Sandra Marra, ATC President & CEO. “We believe the scientific information has become clearer on how to keep yourself and those around you safe from COVID-19, though we still encourage everyone to use an abundance of caution and practice social distancing wherever possible.”

The guidance also recommends that A.T. thru-hikers continue to postpone their journeys for the time being, as thru-hiking typically requires travel through dozens of towns across state lines, presenting multiple opportunities for COVID-19 to be spread in Trailside communities. However, the ATC has also identified three scenarios, any one of which would lead to a review of this recommendation: the removal of all A.T. closures in place due to the pandemic, a flattening or reduction of the COVID-19 infection rate in all A.T. states for a period of two weeks, and the availability of an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

This guidance was developed by a task force convened by the ATC with the specific purpose of finding the safest ways for Trail users, volunteers, and staff to re-engage with the A.T. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force is comprised of representatives from ATC staff, federal and state agency partners, Trail maintaining clubs, A.T. Communities, local leaders and medical experts to help ensure multiple perspectives are represented in any guidance issued.

To view this guidance and learn more about the ATC’s efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the A.T., please visit appalachiantrail.org/covid-19.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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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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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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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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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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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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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
Exploring Glacier National Park
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