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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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 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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Update: “Get on the Trail" Spring Schedule Postponed

Friends of the Smokies posted this information on their Facebook page yesterday regarding their “Get on the Trail" spring program:
Out of an abundance of caution, we're postponing in-person activities and events. For now, 'On the Trail with Friends & Missy' is scheduled to start April 15th and 'Classic Hikes of the Smokies' will resume in June. Be checking our website and social media channels for updates.


This year “Get on the Trail with Friends and Missy” is celebrating its 22nd year as a guided hiking series to raise funds to support Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The spring series features day hikes in the Smokies led by U.S. Olympian and personal fitness guru, Missy Kane, each Wednesday throughout April.

April 1 – Gatlinburg Trail (4 miles, easy)

April 8 – Jake’s Creek Trail (7 miles, moderate)

April 15 – Trillium Gap to Brushy Mountain (7.5 miles, moderate)

April 22 – Twentymile Loop Trail (7.5 miles, moderate)

April 29 – Abrams Creek Campground to Abrams Falls (10 miles, difficult)

Since 1998, Missy Kane has helped hikers of all ages explore the park, learn more about exercise and physical fitness, and experience the history, wildlife, and natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. To date, these hikes have raised more than $200,000 through the generous support of participants and sponsors to help fund critical park projects including wildlife conservation efforts and trail maintenance.

“It’s hard to believe we are starting our 21st year of Get on the Trail with Friends & Missy,” said Missy Kane.

To register for any of the upcoming guided hikes, hikers must pre-register by calling the Covenant Health Call Center at 865-541-4500. Space is limited and the hikes will sell out. The cost for each hike is $20 per person with proceeds supporting Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A complimentary Friends of the Smokies membership is provided with registration of the entire series.

Get on the Trail with Friends and Missy is presented by Humana and Knoxville News Sentinel, and sponsored by Home Federal Bank, Cabins of the Smoky Mountains, East Tennessee PBS, Farm Bureau Insurance, and LeConte Medical Center, with special thanks to Rocky Top Tours for logistical support.

If you do plan to do any these hikes, or visit the Great Smoky Mountains anytime throughout the year, don't forget to visit our Accommodations page to find the perfect cabin, chalet or lodge for your stay - this helps very much to support the sponsors of this website.



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 20, 2020

The Wonderland Hotel

Below is a short video from the Dan Traveling Series showing possibly some of the last footage ever shot of the historic Wonderland Hotel. Located in the Elkmont community in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the hotel served as a retreat for members of the Wonderland Club for 80 years before the National Park Service forced its closure, and ultimately having it razed in 2005.

The hotel was built on land formerly owned by the Little River Railroad Company, and was located just north of Elkmont. As the area became "logged out", Little River Railroad Company President Colonel W.B. Townsend began to recognize the benefits of tourism to the area. To capitalize on this budding industry, Townsend sold a 50-acre tract of cut-over land to Charles B. Carter in 1911, with the stipulation that he had to build on the land within a year. Carter immediately formed the Wonderland Club Company, and on June 11, 1912 opened the doors to the Wonderland Hotel. The hotel would remain open to the public for seven years before closing it to club members and their guests only.

The Wonderland Hotel was constructed as a two-story wood frame structure with boards cut from local chestnut trees. It featured a wrap around porch, and contained 26 rooms, none of which were the same. The hotel became a hub of outdoor activities during the daytime, which included fishing, horseback riding, swimming and hiking, while bands from Knoxville entertained guests on weekend nights.

Due to the popularity of the hotel, the club decided to construct an annex in 1920 to provide their members with more privacy. This building contained another 24 guest rooms, a common area, and a screened porch.

In 1923 the Wonderland Club and the Appalachian Club combined to form the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association. Led by Colonel David Chapman, this highly influential organization led the campaign for the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

On November 15, 1992 the Wonderland Hotel closed its doors for good. Three years later it was partially burned under suspicious circumstances. Some people suspect the fire was set by National Park Service employees as a means to remove the building. In 2005 the remnants of the hotel began to collapse, thus forcing the National Park Service to award a contract to begin the careful demolition of the standing portions of the building. Historically significant artifacts such as doors, windows and bathtubs were set aside for permanent preservation. In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, the annex hotel also burned down 11 years later.

Hikers can still see many of the vacation homes and cottages that remain and have been included as part of the preservation of the Elkmont historic district. Trails such as the Little River Trail and the Jakes Creek Trail feature several homes from this bygone era in the Smokies.

Here's the Dan Traveling video:



For more information on the efforts to preserve and restore the historic Elkmont community in the Great Smoky Mountains, please 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

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Smokies Modifies Permit Process for Group Events to Implement Latest Health Guidance

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials modified the permitting process for group events and reservations for group sites at campgrounds and picnic areas in a continuing effort to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing.

Effective immediately, reservations for group sites at campgrounds and picnic pavilions are canceled through April 30. At this time, campsites for parties of six people or less and individual picnic sites remain open. Special Park Use permits for events and gatherings of more than 10 people are canceled through March 31. Please note that as conditions change in our nation and region, visitors should anticipate further operational changes as the park continues to do our part in preventing the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

At this time, seasonally open park campgrounds, picnic areas, roads, trails, and restroom facilities located adjacent to Visitor Centers remain open and accessible to the public. The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.

The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about current conditions in the park, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.



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

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

Need a good book to read?

With virtually everyone around the world currently holed-up in their homes due to coronavirus, now would be a great time for a little light reading on our favorite past-time. My book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, is a great way to escape the constant drone of bad news, as well as the boredom of self-quarantining!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the 19th century, the first trails built specifically for hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel. It also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, such as Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you would like to read a short excerpt from the book on the "True Realities of Women’s Hiking Attire During The Victorian Era", please click here. You can also read published reviews from the Appalachian Mountain Club and the National Parks Traveler.

To order a copy from Amazon right now, please click here. Once 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

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Smokies Modifies Operations to Implement Latest Health Guidance

Great Smoky Mountains National Park continues to take steps to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing. As of Thursday, March 19, seasonally open campgrounds at Smokemont, Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Cosby will no longer accept fees on-site. All campers must reserve and pay for sites online at recreation.gov to minimize the exposure risk for park employees and visitors.

In addition, the park is suspending reservations for gatherings at the following park facilities through April 30: Appalachian Clubhouse, Spence Cabin, Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church, Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church, Cades Cove Methodist Church, and Smokemont Baptist Church. All requests for reservation cancellations for campgrounds, picnic pavilions, churches, and Special Park Use permits will be honored with a full refund without cancellation penalties.

At this time, seasonally open park campgrounds, picnic areas, roads, trails, and restroom facilities located adjacent to Visitor Centers remain open and accessible to the public. Effective immediately, backcountry campers and A.T. thru-hikers with reservations at one of the park’s 15 backcountry shelters are authorized to use a tent outside the shelter to provide for social distancing.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.

The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information about current conditions in the park, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.



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

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

National Park Service to Temporarily Suspend Park Entrance Fees 

After careful consideration, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt directed the National Park Service (NPS) to temporarily suspend the collection of all park entrance fees until further notice.

“I’ve directed the National Park Service to waive entrance fees at parks that remain open. This small step makes it a little easier for the American public to enjoy the outdoors in our incredible National Parks,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. 

Other states and municipalities have implemented similar policies waiving fees to parks in an effort to support social distancing.

“Our vast public lands that are overseen by the Department offer special outdoor experiences to recreate, embrace nature and implement some social distancing.” Secretary Bernhardt continued.

At a majority of park locations where it is currently possible to adhere to public health guidance, outdoor spaces remain open to the public, while many facilities will be closed.

The Department of the Interior and NPS continue to urge visitors to do their part when visiting a park to follow CDC guidance by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

Specifically, the CDC recommends high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, take extra precautions to be best protected against the spread of coronavirus.

Updates about the NPS response to the coronavirus will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.








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

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

The Rocky Mountain National Park "Grand Loop"

It's hard to believe but spring is only two days away! Many people have already made, or are in the process of making their hiking and backpacking plans for the upcoming summer. If you're planning a backpacking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer, here's a very challenging route to consider.

Backpacker Magazine has put together a video highlighting the so called "Grand Loop" in Rocky Mountain National Park. This historically inspired route includes a summit of Longs Peak from the Keplinger Couloir.

The route begins from Bear Lake and takes hikers up to Flattop Mountain. From the summit you'll descend down the west side of the Continental Divide via the Tonahutu Creek Trail as it makes its way to Big Meadows. From Big Meadows the loop makes a brief visit at Grand Lake before venturing back into the wilderness at the East Inlet Trailhead. After passing Lake Verna and Spirit Lake, the route goes off-trail and climbs over Boulder-Grand Pass, and then travels back down to Thunder Lake. From the lake the route ascends Thunder Ridge and the Keplinger Couloir to reach the summit of Longs Peak, the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park. From the top of the peak the trail descends back down the mountain via the Keyhole Route and the North Longs Peak Trail to return back to Bear Lake.

The Backpacker video provides a visual look at what you'll see and experience along this epic route:










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 17, 2020

Smokies Announces Temporary Visitor Center Closures

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, and Cades Cove Visitor Centers are closed until further notice. Following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health in consultation with NPS Public Health Service officers, these facilities are closed for the safety of staff and visitors. At this time, seasonally open park campgrounds, picnic areas, roads, trails, and restroom facilities located adjacent to visitor centers remain open and accessible to the public.

For more information about current conditions in the park, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.








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

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