Thursday, April 9, 2020

Glacier’s Grand Loop Hike

Thanks to its topography, excellent trail system, and a favorable location of accommodations, hikers have the opportunity to experience an epic three-day loop in Glacier National Park that includes the absolute best scenery the park has to offer. And as a bonus, it doesn’t require lugging any backpacking equipment around, or camping under the stars. This “grand loop” starts from Logan Pass, visits Granite Park Chalet, drops down into the Many Glacier valley, climbs over Piegan Pass, and then heads back down to Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Every step along this trek offers awe-inspiring beauty!

The best way to do this hike is to park your car at Rising Sun on the east side, or at Apgar on the west, and take the free shuttle up to Logan Pass. From there you’ll hike 7.6 miles along the Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet. Due to its exceptionally beautiful views, the Highline Trail is likely the most popular backcountry trail in the park, and should be on the bucket list of any self-respecting hiker. With an elevation gain of only 975 feet, the hike to the chalet is also relatively easy.

If you feel this first leg of the loop is a little too easy, and you still have a little gas left in the tank, I highly recommend taking the 0.6-mile Garden Wall Trail up to the top of the Continental Divide. From this perch, 900 feet above the Highline Trail, you’ll enjoy commanding views of Grinnell Glacier lying on the other side of the divide.

That night you’ll stay at the historic Granite Park Chalet. The Chalet has 12 guest rooms, each with 2 to 6 bunks. Although very basic, and virtually no amenities, it’s still much better than camping if you’re not a fan of sleeping in tents. Be forewarned though, you will need to make a reservation several months in advance.

The next day you’ll make the short climb over Swiftcurrent Pass before making the 2300-foot descent down to Many Glacier. From the top of the pass, down to the head of Bullhead Lake, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail drops nearly 2000 feet in just three miles. Once in the Swiftcurrent Valley the trail flattens out substantially. As you proceed down the valley you’ll pass Redrock Falls, Redrock Lake, Fishercap Lake, as well as several alpine meadows. In all, this leg of the trek covers 7.5 miles.

Before leaving Swiftcurrent Pass, however, you do have the option of visiting the Swiftcurrent Fire Lookout. The lookout is perched atop Swiftcurrent Mountain, which requires a climb of more than 900 feet in roughly 1.4 miles. As you might expect the panoramic views from this outpost are quite spectacular.

Once in Many Glacier you’ll have several options for overnight accommodations, including staying at the historic Many Glacier Hotel.

Your third day of hiking will be the longest and the toughest. Hikers will climb roughly 2700 feet as they make their way up to Piegan Pass, before dropping back down to Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The climb out of the Many Glacier Valley is 8.4 miles by itself, and then from Piegan Pass to Siyeh Bend is another 4.4 miles. Although Piegan Pass isn’t nearly as popular as the Highline Trail or Swiftcurrent Pass, it’s only because it’s overlooked by most people. If you still haven’t had enough of the mind-blowing scenery, I highly recommend taking the short and easy side trip out to Preston Park, located roughly 2.4 miles from your end point. I would have to rank this as one of the beautiful alpine meadows I’ve ever seen.

Upon returning to the Going-to-the-Sun Road simply take the shuttle to return back to your car.

The exceptionally beautiful views, the excellent opportunities for spotting wildlife, and the proliferation of wildflowers along most of the route, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember for the rest of your life.




The National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for Many Glacier includes the entire route described in this posting. The sectional maps series for Glacier National Park have a scale of 1:50,000, and provide much greater detail such as backcountry campsites, footbridges, stream crossings, water and snow hazard locations, points-of-interest, as well as shuttle stops. All Trails Illustrated Maps are waterproof and tear-resistant.






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, April 7, 2020

Firefighters Respond to multiple wildfires, Camp Daniel Boone Fire burning in Shining Rock Wilderness

High fire danger and windy conditions across Western North Carolina and the NC piedmont led to multiple wildfires this week. US Forest Service firefighters are responding to two significant wildfires, including the Camp Daniel Boone Fire that is now burning into the Shining Rock Wilderness on the Pisgah National Forest.

The Camp Daniel Boone Fire started on private property off Little East Fork Road in Haywood County Friday afternoon, April 3. The fire is now burning in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area on the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The fire is estimated at 50 acres and is located near the Art Loeb Trail west of Deep Gap. Approx. 40 firefighters are responding from the North Carolina Forest Service and US Forest Service. NC Forest Service helicopters and air tankers made multiple water drops yesterday to try to slow the spread of the fire. A US Forest Service helicopter is on scene again today. The northern Art Loeb and Little East Fork trailheads are closed due to the fire and hiking to Deep Gap or the peak of Cold Mountain is discouraged.

The Cals Creek Fire is burning in east of Highway 23/441 in Macon County near Otto, NC. The fire is estimated at 30 acres. The fire started on private property and is now also burning on US Forest Service land in the Nantahala Ranger District of Nantahala National Forest. Approximately 25 firefighters from the NC Forest Service and US Forest Service are responding. A NC Forest Service helicopter was used for water drops yesterday.

The cause of both fires is under investigation.

State and federal firefighters responded to multiple additional wildfire starts across Western NC yesterday. US Forest Service firefighters also responded to a small fire on the Uwharrie National Forest in the NC Piedmont.

Fire danger is expected to remain high through the weekend. The North Carolina Forest Service issued a ban on all open burning for 32 Western North Carolina counties due to hazardous forest fire conditions. The burning ban went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, April 3, and will remain in effect until further notice. For more information, visit https://ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2020.htm.

The US Forest Service urges the public to practice caution this weekend. The national forests are experiencing very high levels of visitation. Visitors are asked to follow guidance under the burn ban and to consider postponing their camping trips. Several Western NC counties have implemented overnight camping restrictions. Stay up to date on current national forest closures at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/currentclosures.







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, April 6, 2020

National Park Service Proposes Regulations Governing the Use of E-Bikes

The National Park Service is seeking public input for a proposed regulation regarding the use of electric bicycles, or e-bikes, in national parks. This regulation aligns with the existing National Park Service policy that encourages park units to consider e-bike use where traditional bicycles are allowed.

“From urban areas to natural landscapes, bicyclists flock to national parks to exercise and soak in the scenery,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “Allowing the use of e-bikes expands opportunities, especially to those with disabilities or other limitations, to access and enjoy the great outdoors.”

Currently, more than 380 national parks have evaluated e-bike use in response to the NPS policy. As e-bikes become more popular both on and off National Park Service managed lands, the agency has recognized the need to address this emerging form of recreation and active transportation in its regulations. The proposed regulation would define the term “electric bicycle” and allow superintendents to provide for e-bike use.

Visitors could use e-bikes in areas designated by the park superintendent where traditional bicycles are allowed, including public roads, parking areas, administrative roads and trails. Superintendents retain the right to limit, restrict or impose conditions on bicycle use and e-bike use in order to ensure visitor safety and protect resources.

The regulation would support Secretary’s Order 3376, from Aug. 29, 2019, that directed bureaus, including the National Park Service, to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the Department. The rule would also support Secretary’s Order 3366, issued April 18, 2018, that directed bureaus to increase recreational opportunities on public lands.

E-bikes have small electric motors (less than 1hp) that help to move the bicycle. The regulations would state that the operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion, except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic. E-bikes, like traditional bikes, would not be allowed in designated wilderness areas.

As an alternative to gasoline- or diesel-powered modes of transportation, e-bikes can support active modes of transportation for park staff and visitors. E-bikes would also decrease traffic congestion and reduce the demand for vehicle parking spaces.

After the proposed rule publishes, it can be found at www.regulations.gov by searching for “1024-AE61.” The public comment period will be open for 60 days.







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, April 3, 2020

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Requests Temporary Closure of the A.T.

On Wednesday, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and 29 of the 31 Appalachian Trail Maintaining Clubs formally requested the official closure of the 2,193-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) due to the growing risk of visitors spreading COVID-19 among other hikers, nearby communities and beyond. The ATC delivered a formal letter to the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture, the Deputy Director of the National Park Service (NPS) and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recommending the Trail’s closure effective immediately until April 30, 2020, with intermittent convenings of the cooperative managers of the Trail to determine whether it is safe to reopen it again.

The request for closure came after the ATC instructed all staff and volunteers, as well as all visitors (both day and overnight hikers), to stay off the Trail, and the NPS office administering the Trail closed all shelters and privies it manages. The ATC coordinated the planning and construction of the Trail and is currently responsible for managing and protecting it. The maintaining clubs of volunteers built the Trail and are currently responsible for the day-to-day management and maintenance of the footpath. The administration of the Trail statutorily belongs to the Secretary of the Interior.

The unprecedented request from the ATC and clubs comes on the heels of a surge in visitor use despite multiple social-distancing guidance issued by state and local governments. The Trail, which spans 14 states and passes through 88 counties, is within a day’s drive for half of the U.S. population. Crowding at iconic and well-known A.T. locations — such as Blood Mountain in Georgia, McAfee Knob in Virginia, and Annapolis Rocks in Maryland — became unsafe as many believed they could avoid COVID-19 by journeying to public lands. As the ATC and clubs explained in their closure request to the federal government, the threat to government and ATC/club employees, other visitors and residents of gateway communities along the trail was heightened, rather than lowered, by the Trail remaining officially open.

“Since its creation in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has always promoted the benefits of experiencing nature and hiking, both physically and mentally,” said Sandra Marra, President and CEO of the ATC. “However, the past few weeks have shown that the A.T. is no longer a place where effective social distancing can take place, and that drastic action must be taken to help limit the spread of this highly contagious virus both on and off the Trail.”

Several National Park Service units the Trail passes through have already closed as of the sending of the letter. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has closed all facilities and hiking trails, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park and Delaware Gap National Recreation Area have closed all buildings to the public. Shenandoah National Park is closed to all camping and is also seeking approval to close completely. Six of the eight national forests the Trail passes through had also closed their connecting Trails to the A.T. prior to the request, effectively removing access. The ATC’s guidance during this time is for trail users to stay at home and wait for it to be safe to no longer be socially distant, even in the great outdoors.

For more information on the guidance issued by the ATC and current park and business closures along the A.T., visit appalachiantrail.org/covid-19.







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, April 2, 2020

Update on seasonally-closed roads on Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Seasonally-closed roads on the Tusquitee Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest reopened today, April 1. On the Nantahala Ranger District all seasonally-closed roads reopened as normal on March 15.

The Cheoah Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest and all ranger districts on the Pisgah National Forest will delay the reopening of closed roads until at least April 30, 2020. Many of these roads have downed trees and other hazards that pose a threat to visitors.

Certain roads are seasonally closed to motorized vehicles to help protect wildlife habitat, decrease wildlife disturbance, reduce road maintenance costs, and in specific cases to protect public safety.

On all Forest Service roads, emergency closures due to weather or resource conditions can occur at any time. For current road conditions and status, contact the Ranger District.

Do not park vehicles in front of closed gates. Vehicles blocking gates may be ticketed and/or towed.

For more information, see the National Forests in North Carolina website at www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc and look for the Seasonal and Weather Road Closures under Quick Links.








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, April 1, 2020

Great Smoky Mountains Extends Closure to Support Regional COVID-19 Prevention Efforts

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that all park areas, except the Foothills Parkway and Spur, will remain closed until further notice. All access to the park, including trails and roads, were originally closed on March 24 through April 6, in alignment with efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 across the region. The park is extending the closure in response to Executive Order 121 issued by NC Governor Roy Cooper, Executive Order 22 issued by TN Governor Bill Lee, and ‘Stay at Home’ orders in local communities surrounding the park.

The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Park managers will continue to evaluate regional conditions and work with local communities to assess dates for an orderly reopening of park facilities in a manner that provides for the health and safety of employees, volunteers, partners, residents, and visitors. While park managers are prepared to act to reopen as quickly as conditions allow, the park is likely to remain closed at least through April 30. The park will notify the public when park operations resume through our website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm and social media platforms.

During the closure period, visitors can experience the park using digital tools including our social media platforms and website where near real-time views can be seen via park webcams at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm. Park rangers remain available to answer questions via email or phone during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 506-8620, or GRSM_Smokies_Information@nps.gov.








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

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

My Top 30 Hikes of All-Time

Looking back at my childhood, I would have to say that I was extremely fortunate to have grown up in a semi-rural area. Though it's more than likely you never heard of Mack, Ohio, you're probably well aware of our largest suburb just to our east - Cincinnati. The dead-end street that we lived on backed-up to a fairly large wooded area covering several hundred acres. No doubt this is where my love for the outdoors was ingrained into my soul. My friends and I spent countless hours in those woods; hiking, riding our Huffy bikes on trails created by us and older groups of kids, building tree camps, and camping around an open fire. After we learned how to drive we discovered the Red River Gorge in central Kentucky where we started taking our first real hikes. We later graduated to the Great Smoky Mountains where we had our first real taste of big mountains and expansive wilderness. Then in 1986, while enjoying a couple of beers in the basement of a friend, three of us came up with the wild-eye idea of taking a grand road trip out west. This trip took us to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, before reaching our ultimate destinations of Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain National Park. The die was cast at that point, and I was forever hooked on the outdoors.

I was also very fortunate to have found a wife that enjoys hiking as much as I do. Together we have explored dozens of national parks, monuments and forests over the years. As a result of the hundreds, probably thousands of miles of hiking I've done over the years, I wanted to put together a list of what I consider to be my favorite hikes. Though I've attempted to rank them in order of best/most favorite, you may not want to assume that this ranking is absolute. I should admit that there may well be a great deal of recency bias, as I have tendency to think that my latest hike was the greatest. Ultimately, I hope that this list will inspire you, or provide you with some new places to explore in the future. Here are my top 30 hikes:

1) Lake O'Hara (Yoho National Park): Parks Canada limits the number of people that can visit this pristine area. In addition to the epic scenery the area has to offer, Lake O’Hara is also famous for its alpine circuit, a loop hike that traverses precipitous ledges with frightening exposure to steep drop-offs. However, there are many other options that hikers can take to enjoy this truly spectacular landscape.

2) Skyline Loop Trail (Mt. Rainier National Park): "Oh, what a paradise!" was Martha Longmire’s reaction upon seeing the lush meadows and spectacular wildflowers of Mount Rainier’s southern valley for the very first time in 1885. The description would stick, as the most popular area in the park is now known as “Paradise”. Once you set your own eyes upon it you’ll understand why. This hike was so incredibly beautiful that it was the first time that I ever kept my camera in my hand for the entire trip. The amazing scenery just never ended!

3) Grinnell Glacier Overlook (Glacier National Park): This hike travels along the world famous Highline Trail for much of its distance. The incredible views, the wildlife, and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a trek you'll remember the rest of your life. Though hikers will have a couple of options for enjoying the Highline Trail, I highly recommend taking the steep side trail that leads up to the spectacular Grinnell Glacier Overlook atop the Garden Wall.

4) Wenkchemna Pass (Banff National Park): 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".

5) Swiftcurrent Pass (Glacier National Park): Although this is one of the toughest hikes in Glacier, it includes tons of spectacular scenery. You'll pass by three lakes and a waterfall while traveling up the Swiftcurrent Valley. Once above the valley floor the trail offers outstanding birds-eye views of six glacial lakes, as well as Swiftcurrent Glacier. At the pass you'll enjoy stunning views of Heavens Peak and Granite Park.

6) Iceline Trail (Yoho National Park): While ascending the avalanche path hikers will enjoy views of Takakkaw Falls across the valley. Once at the top the trail begins crossing over the broken terrain of ancient glacial moraines. From this point forward you’ll enjoy epic alpine scenery, including outstanding views of Emerald Glacier, several small tarns, as well as the spectacular surrounding mountains within Yoho National Park.

7) Mt. Ida (Rocky Mountain National Park): Hands down this is the best hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The views from the summit are simply epic. In fact, hikers will enjoy outstanding panoramic views along much of the route. Although the terrain becomes fairly rugged on the final leg to the summit, you'll have very little exposure to steep drop-offs. If this still sounds like this might be a little bit out of your comfort zone, you could simply end your hike atop Peak 12,150, a sub-peak along the ridge approaching the summit.

8) Siyeh Pass Loop (Glacier National Park): This one-way hike offers visitors the chance to take-in some of the best of what Glacier has to offer. Hikers will pass through the incredibly beautiful Preston Park, climb up to one of the highest maintained trails in Glacier, and then back down the Baring Creek Valley where you'll have a relatively close-up view of Sexton Glacier.

9) Static Peak Divide (Grand Teton National Park): Cascade Canyon gets all the accolades whenever outdoor media types discuss hiking in the Grand Tetons. However, in my humble opinion, the pundits simply haven't done their homework. I'll admit this is an extremely tough hike, but the alpine scenery is simply epic, and easily makes this the best hike in Grand Teton National Park.

10) Ice Lakes (San Juan National Forest): Ice Lakes just might have the most intense cobalt blue color I’ve ever seen in nature. Combine this extraordinarily beautiful alpine lake with outstanding mountain scenery and several thousand wildflowers, and you have one of the best hikes found just about anywhere.

11) Dragon's Tail (Glacier National Park)

12) Lake Solitude (Grand Teton National Park)

13) Blue Lakes (Uncompahgre National Forest)

14) Mt. Elbert (San Isabel National Forest)

15) Grinnell Glacier (Glacier National Park)

16) Hallet Peak (Rocky Mountain National Park)

17) Chasm Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park)

18) Mt. Rogers (Grayson Highlands State Park)

19) Lake Josephine Loop (Glacier National Park)

20) Gregory Bald (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

21) Emerald Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park)

22) Grassy Ridge Bald (Roan Mountain - Cherokee National Forest)

23) Rocky Top (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

24) Parker Ridge (Banff National Park)

25) Avalanche Peak (Yellowstone National Park)

26) Panorama Trail (Yosemite National Park)

27) Wheeler Peak (Carson National Forest)

28) Horsethief Trail (San Juan National Forest)

29) Gilpin Lake / Gold Creek Loop (Mt. Zirkel Wilderness)

30) Skyline Trail (Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia)








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, March 30, 2020

All Overnight Shelters and Privies on Lands Administered by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office Closed Until Further Notice

Effective immediately, the National Park Service is closing all overnight shelters (56 total) and privies (75 total) on land administered by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office in the states of VA (10 shelters, 12 privies), MD (1 shelter, 2 privies), PA (8 shelters, 6 privies), NJ (1 shelter, 1 privy), NY (5 shelters, 5 privies), CT (7 shelters, 16 privies), MA (1 shelter, 4 privies), and ME (22 shelters, 29 privies). These closures are consistent with and in concurrence of our state and non-profit partners. These modifications to operations are in support of federal, state, and local efforts to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local communities. These closures will be in effect until further notice.

All shelters and privies will be closed to all use on Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office lands to implement the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing and sanitation standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Closing shelters will prevent trail users from congregating in close proximity to one another and encourage proper social distancing recommendations. Overnight trail users are encouraged to use a tent, and tent usage is authorized in the area surrounding the shelters. Closing of privies will prevent trail users from entering confined spaces where disease spreads without proper sanitation, and will discourage visitors from using facilities that do not meet cleanliness standards. With privies closed, hikers should dig a cat hole more than 200 feet from water sources and camping areas. The use of tents instead of shelters, and cat-holes for human waste disposal, is a reasonable mitigation to help protect our visitors.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local communities is our number one priority. The CDC guidance for this pandemic includes social distancing. We are concerned that recent visitation patterns are in violation of CDC recommendations. While outdoor spaces remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest health guidance, we urge visitors to practice social (physical) distancing and to avoid impacts on park resources.

* Stay at least six feet away from people outside your immediate household.

* When encountering another party on the Trail, step aside and give a six-foot right-of-way.

* Seek out areas that are not crowded to allow for adequate social distancing.

* If you encounter a crowded trailhead, go elsewhere.

* We urge visitors to continue to practice "Leave No Trace" principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.

* Consider staying closer to home to enjoy fresh air and outdoor activity. Many local neighborhoods are walkable or have trails nearby accessed by foot or bicycle.

We are closely monitoring COVID-19 with the federal, state, and local authorities. For updates, visit 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

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Cherokee, Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests temporarily shut down trailheads, access points to Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina, and the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee are temporarily shutting down trailhead facilities and other access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to prevent groups from congregating and to protect public health and safety.

The decision aligns with state and local measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We realize our communities and our visitors value the recreation opportunities the forest has to offer," said JaSal Morris, Cherokee National Forest Supervisor. "A lot of consideration went into this decision. The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority."

The following popular access sites are affected by these changes:

Wayah Bald - Nantahala National Forest
Cheoah Bald - Nantahala National Forest
Hampton and Dennis Cove Trailheads (Laurel Falls) - Cherokee National Forest
Osborne Farm - Cherokee National Forest
Max Patch - Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests
Roan Mountain/Carvers Gap - Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests
Lovers Leap - Pisgah National Forest

Here is a complete list of access sites affected by these changes.

USDA Forest Service managers remind national forest visitors to recreate responsibly by avoiding gathering in groups of more than ten people and not engaging in high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Also note that law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19.








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, March 28, 2020

Outdoor Gear Retailers Offering Steep Discounts

Several outdoor gear retailers that we have affiliate relationships with are currently offering fairly steep off-season discounts on their inventory. By clicking/shopping from any of the banner ads below (including Amazon) you help to support our 4 hiking trail websites. As always, 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, March 27, 2020

National Forests in North Carolina temporarily shutting down all recreation facilities

To protect public health and safety and align with guidance from State of North Carolina health officials and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recreation facilities at recreation sites on the National Forests in North Carolina (NFs in NC) will be temporarily shut down effective March 26. This includes picnic pavilions, shooting ranges and all restrooms, including those at trailheads and other recreation sites.

These shutdowns are in addition to previous announcements about developed campgrounds, several large developed day use areas, visitor centers and Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail systems, which remain temporarily shut down. Forest visitors can still enjoy non-motorized trails and dispersed camping, as these activities support social distancing and small groups.

For a list of facilities on the National Forests in North Carolina that are temporarily shut down, visit: www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD715959

“We realize our communities and our visitors place high value on the recreation opportunities the Forest has to offer,” said Allen Nicholas, National Forests in North Carolina Forest Supervisor. “A lot of discussion and consideration went into this decision. The health and safety of our employees and the public remain our top priority. We believe people understand the serious risks posed by facilities that draw large numbers of people into close proximity to each other. We appreciate your patience and understanding of our efforts to mitigate those risks to protect public health and safety.”

The National Forests in NC asks members of the public to recreate responsibly by avoiding gathering in groups of more than ten people and not engaging in high-risk activities, like rock climbing, that increase the chance of injury or distress. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19. In addition, visitors can help mitigate resource impacts while recreation sites are shut down by bringing home their trash (pack it in, pack it out), and by appropriately managing human waste by burying it at least six to eight inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and recreation sites.

The National Forests in NC will continue to coordinate its COVID-19 response in alignment with all federal, state and local guidance. Visitors to 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: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.  

Visitors are also encouraged to review the National Forests in North Carolina website for updates and more information, at: Updates about the forest response to COVID-19 will be posted at www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc








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, March 26, 2020

Are Air Horns Effective as Bear Deterrents?

Almost ten years ago I posted a blog that explored the question as to whether air horns are effective as bear deterrents. My thoughts were that the high-decibel noise coming from an air horn might be more effective than bear spray for three reasons:

1) You don't have to worry about the direction of the wind (or rain)

2) You don't have to wait for the bear to get close enough before sounding the horn

3) Bears have much better hearing than humans, thus the noise would potentially bother them even more than humans

That posting has generated quite a bit of interest over the years - in fact, it's the most popular post on this blog of all time - generating almost 50,000 views. As a result, I decided to revisit the subject to see if there was anything new to report. Specifically, are there any new studies that provide hard evidence as to whether or not air horns actually work?

It seems that the idea of using air horns has actually gained some traction since the last time I visited this topic. However, I still couldn’t find any hard evidence on the effectiveness of them as a deterrent against black bears or grizzly bears.

Here’s what I did find:

In an “Ask A Bear” column (updated in 2017), Backpacker Magazine cited a test conducted on polar bears in the 1970s that found that "ultrasonic frequencies fine-tuned and blasted over large speakers repelled bears roughly 69% of the time from a testing perimeter that contained food. Of the testing pool of 74 bears, 51 were strongly repelled, but eight bears exhibited no response, and 15 polar bears actually chose to investigate the source of the sound." The article concluded that loud noise may act as a deterrent, but it can also act as an attractant. This conclusion is also essentially being communicated on several government websites, as we shall see further below.

The study cited by Backpacker was effectively the only research that I could find that was related to my question, but it really didn’t answer it. One, the test was conducted on polar bears, and two, air horns weren’t used in the test. I should point out that the column also states that bear guru Stephen Herrero believes that an ultrasonic bear repellent is worthy of further study and testing. There is one other study that I found that I should mention here. It was conducted by Gary D. Miller from the Zoology Department at the University of Montana. The study tested several potential bear repellents on 2 male grizzly bears and 2 female polar bears at the Churchill Bear Laboratory in Churchill, Manitoba. The study found that air horns did not repel either of the two bears tested. I have to take this result with a large grain of salt, however, given the extremely small sample size and the fact that the bears tested were not in the wild.

The Get Bear Smart Society, a Canadian organization that works to educate the general public as well as government agencies across North America, believes that air horns can be effective when used in conjunction with human dominance techniques to move a bear off (A guide to non-lethal management techniques). On their website they also state:
Noise deterrents work by making a loud, unpleasant sound that causes the bear to be uneasy and move away. Noise deterrents are advantageous if you are a long distance away from the bear. Furthermore, they cause neither harm nor injury to the bear when correctly used.

In some cases, noise deterrents do not work either because the bear has habituated to human noise or because it has no natural fear of the noise.
I found several governmental websites in the United States and Canada that offered similar advice. For example, the Kenai Fjords National Park website states that “It is a good idea to carry a non-lethal deterrent such as an air horn or pepper spray in case of a surprise encounter…”

As a result of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published Deterrence Guidelines in the Federal Register, which states that:
These guidelines…are appropriate for safely and nonlethally deterring polar bears from damaging private and public property and endangering the public. The use of commercially available air horns and other similar devices designed to deter wild animals…may be effective in deterring bears while causing no lasting or permanent harm to individual animals.
The Kluane National Park and Reserve in northwestern Canada recommends bear spray as your best deterrent, but also mentions that "Other tools can help you deter a bear: noisemakers such as air horns" can be used as well.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game links to information from several websites and brochures. This includes one from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which states that you should "Consider the range of actions you could take. Start with the least aggressive options, such as using noise makers, grouping together, yelling or clapping, or deploying air horns". Another links to a brochure from Park Canada that states that air horns may be effective in deterring a polar bear. Interestingly, the Fish and Game website also mentions using air horns as a defense against an aggressive wolf.

A brochure published by the British Columbia Forest Safety Council states that "Noises that cannot be reproduced in the wild, (e.g. a metallic noise), will let a bear know that you are approaching and give them advanced notice to move out of the area. However, noisemakers that startle a bear, such as an air horn, can provoke an attack. If you release an air horn too close to a bear hiding in the bush and it startles them, they may charge."

The Manitoba Wildlife and Fisheries Branch asserts that "When hiking, carry bear deterrent spray and also consider taking a walking stick and an air horn as further deterrents."

The Government of Alberta's website provides this guidance:
The two most effective bear deterrents are bear spray and noisemakers. Carry both when in bear country.

The most effective noisemaker in bear country is you. Talking or singing loudly can help prevent surprise encounters with wildlife. With enough warning of your approach, wildlife typically remove themselves and their young from the area.

When I see a bear, should I use a noisemaker or bear spray?

* Noisemakers are best used to deter a bear that is at a distance – one that sees you and continues to approach or one that's heading to your camp or settlement.

* Before using noisemakers, be sure to assess the situation. Make sure the surroundings are clear of people and the bear has an obvious way out. A bear that's been startled by a noisemaker may not be able to avoid groups of people as it flees the area.

* Remember, the noisemaker may not immediately deter the bear, especially if the bear has had previously experience with noise deterrents. Also, noisemakers may not prevent the bear from returning to the area.

* Bear spray is best used when you need to deter a bear at close range.
Finally, a brochure from the Nunavut Department of Environment states that "Noisemakers are a simple, first level deterrent. However, bears quickly become accustomed to sounds when no other negative effect is present. Have other deterrents or a lethal firearm present and ready in case the noisemakers are ineffective."

I think the bottom line is that there’s no 100% safe and reliable way to deter a bear. Each bear has a different personality, and each encounter is essentially a unique situation. Your best bet is to make sure that you make a lot of noise while hiking in bear country, and to practice bear awareness and avoidance techniques. If you do encounter an aggressive bear, and wish to use an air horn, my advice would be to have bear spray as a back-up in case the air horn doesn't work as intended. You can certainly make the argument that its probably best to have both in case one of the products fail for one reason or another.








Jeff
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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Smokies Closes to Support Regional COVID-19 Prevention Efforts

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that all park areas, except the Foothills Parkway and the Spur, will close at noon on Tuesday, March 24 through Monday, April 6, in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The park will continue to assess changing conditions in our region and work with local communities to extend or terminate closures, as appropriate to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local residents.

All access to the park, including trails and roads, will temporarily close in alignment with efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 across the region. This includes Executive Order 117 issued by NC Governor Roy Cooper, Executive Order 17 issued by TN Governor Bill Lee, Executive Order 6 issued by Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Graham County travel restrictions, Pigeon Forge, TN Safe-at-Home Advisory, and requests to close or partially close the park received from Swain County, Sevier County, and Bryson City, NC.

Despite park efforts over the last week to comply with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance for social distancing, approximately 30,000 people entered the park daily resulting in congested conditions at popular locations such as Laurel Falls, Newfound Gap, and Cades Cove. Visitors from across the country have flocked to the area due to Spring Break, wildflowers, and warm weather conditions. This two-week park closure allows the park to support local efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

During the closure period, visitors can experience the park using digital tools including our social media platforms and website where near real-time views can be seen via park webcams at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm. Park rangers can still help answer questions via email or phone during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 506-8620, or GRSM_Smokies_Information@nps.gov. The NPS is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19 and adjusting measures to control its spread. We will notify the public as we are able to resume operations and will provide updates on our website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm and social media.








Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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A Day Hike up to Hallett Peak

Back in 2014 David Socky and friends took a hike up to 12,713-foot Hallett Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. The video below shows some of the highlights from that trip - which happens to be one of my favorite hikes in the park. Round trip, the hike travels 10.3 miles, and climbs roughly 3240 feet. But as you can see from this film the spectacular views make it all worthwhile. You can find additional information on this hike from our website by clicking here.



In addition to Hallet Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park has many other outstanding hikes that take-in the best scenery the park has to offer. If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Monday, March 23, 2020

Cherokee National Forest Closing Camping and Group Recreation Sites

In response to guidance from State health officials and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all camping, cabins, group recreation sites, and restrooms in the Cherokee National Forest will be closed effective at noon today, March 23 2020. The closure will remain in effect until at least May 15, at which time it will be reevaluated.

This closure includes the Ocoee Whitewater Center, Chilhowee Day Use, Buffalo Mtn. ATV Trail, all campgrounds, cabins, beaches, shooting ranges, picnic pavilions and all restrooms. Boat launches, most trailheads, and the general forest area, including trails and river corridors, will remain open to hiking, biking, boating, dispersed camping, hunting, fishing, etc. The use of trail shelters on the Appalachian Trail is discouraged. Please follow social distancing guidelines and Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash and refuse.

By closing campsites and group recreation sites, the USDA Forest Service is taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of employees and the public. The health and safety of employees and the nearby communities is always our top priority at the USDA Forest Service. Please remember to review current recommendations from the CDC and focus on recreating safely while protecting yourself, Forest Service employees and our volunteers.

In addition to closing camping and group recreation sites, all Cherokee National Forest offices are operating virtually until further notice. This means many employees are teleworking and are no longer doing business in person. To protect the health and safety of employees and customers, no face-to-face meetings are being scheduled. However, continuing service to the public during this time is very important. Customers needing information, permits and maps are encouraged to visit the website https://www.fs.usda.gov/cherokee/ or call the nearest Cherokee National Forest office during regular business hours for assistance.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Big South Fork NRRA and Obed WSR Closes All Campgrounds through April 1

In response to guidance from the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Park Service (NPS) announced additional modifications to operations at Big South Fork NRRA and Obed WSR in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

All park campgrounds will be closed effective Wednesday, March 25, at 12:00 PM, through April 1. Reservations made through www.recreation.gov will be cancelled.

The trails of Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area and Obed WIld & Scenic River remain open. Park employees remain at work, and will be patrolling the park, assisting visitors, and enforcing all regulations. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces clean, safe and healthy.

The health and safety of visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Big South Fork and Obed is the park’s number one priority. The NPS is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19 and will notify the public via updates on the park website and social media channels when full operations resume.

For more information on the NPS response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, please visit the NPS Public Health Update webpage https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/news/public-health-update.htm







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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National Forests in North Carolina closes all campgrounds

The National Forests in North Carolina will close all campgrounds as of Monday, March 23, for the health and safety of visitors and staff. This includes all concessionaire operated campgrounds and all day-use areas associated with those campgrounds. Campgrounds will be closed until at least May 15, at which point they will be reevaluated.

The National Forests in North Carolina continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and evaluate potential impacts and adjustments to reservations and our reservation policies through Recreation.gov. Reservation holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages of any changes affecting their reservation. Visitors will receive a full refund for their reservation.

By closing campsites and group recreation sites, the USDA Forest Service is taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of employees and the public. The health and safety of employees and the nearby communities is always our top priority at the USDA Forest Service. Please remember to review current recommendations from the CDC and focus on recreating safely while protecting yourself, Forest Service employees and our volunteers.

Visitors are primarily responsible for their own safety. Keep in mind, trails and roads may be open for use, but please recreate responsibly and follow public health guidelines regarding social distancing while you recreate in National Forests. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing or motorized activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. For the most current and accurate information about COVID-19, contact your local health officials or visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov. Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is available at: www.usda.gov/coronavirus.

For an updated list of forest closures please visit our Alerts and Notices website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?aid=56853.







Jeff
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TetonHikingTrails.com

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

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Smokies Modifies Campground, Picnic Area, and Restroom Operations to Implement Latest Health Guidance

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that campgrounds, picnic areas, and restrooms will be closed on Monday, March 23 through Thursday, April 30, in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As conditions change in our nation and region, the park will continue to implement operational changes that help ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local communities.

Outdoor spaces including trails and roads remain accessible to the public. The National Park Service (NPS) encourages people who choose to visit the park during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.

The NPS is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm and social media.






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

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