Thursday, April 30, 2020

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Partial Reopening

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

Beginning May 9, the park will reopen many roads and trails. The health and safety of employees, partners, volunteers, visitors, and local residents remains the highest priority in park reopening decisions. Park managers will examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored. Park managers will also continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for all users.

“We recognize this closure has been extremely difficult for our local residents, as well as park visitors from across the country, who seek the park as a special place for healing, exercise, recreation, and inspiration,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are approaching this phased reopening with that in mind, as we balance our responsibility to protect park resources and the health and safety of everyone.”

Park managers are implementing new safety measures in facility operations and services to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as areas reopen to the public. Campgrounds, picnic pavilions, visitor centers, and many secondary roads will remain closed during the first reopening phase, which is expected to last for at least two weeks. Some of these measures will include disinfectant fogging operations for restrooms and public buildings, installation of plexiglass shields at visitor centers, personal protective equipment requirements for maintenance workers, new safety protocols for emergency services staff, and reduced group size limits.

While many areas will be accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. The park typically has more than one million visitors each month, May through October, from across the country. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

For the most up to date information about facility openings, service hours, and access, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, the park offers a wide variety of outstanding hikes that take-in the best scenery the Smokes has to offer. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your trip planning.




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

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

Time to Make Plans for Gregory Bald!

Although Gregory Bald is an excellent destination anytime of the year, mid to late June is the absolute best time to make the trek to its summit. In addition to its excellent views into Cades Cove, Gregory Bald provides for one of the best flame azalea shows in the entire world during this time frame.

In fact, azalea lovers from all over the world come here to visit perhaps the finest display of flame azaleas anywhere on the planet. According to the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, the various hybrids of azaleas atop Gregory Bald are so impressive and unique that the British Museum of Natural History has collected samples of them.

This isn't an easy hike, however, the Gregory Ridge Trail climbs over 3000 feet, and the roundtrip length is 11.3 miles. But it's well worth it! As mentioned on this blog in the past, I would definitely rank this as the number one hike on my list of the Top 10 Hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Here's a sampling of some of the sights you'll see at the top:


For more information on this outstanding hike, please click here.

If planning to make the pilgrimage to Gregory Bald this year, you may want to consider making Townsend your base of operations. If you've never had the pleasure of staying in the Townsend area, also known as the “Quiet Side of the Smokies”, you may want to note that it's much easier getting in and out of the park, and is fairly close to Cades Cove. If you need a rental cabin during your visit, be sure to visit our Townsend Accommodations page.







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, April 26, 2020

Blue Ridge Parkway Announces Paving Project in Asheville Corridor

National Park Service officials announced today that approximately 25 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the vicinity of Asheville, NC and between Milepost 365 and 392, will be resurfaced with thin-lift asphalt beginning April 27, 2020. Within scheduled project areas, park visitors can expect full, two-lane night closures and single-lane day closures and delays. Due to high traffic volumes in the area of this project, the following specific conditions will be in place:

* Night work may take place from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., Monday – Friday, with full, two-lane closures from Milepost 382.6 (just south of the US 70/Tunnel Road ramps) to 393.7 (just north of the NC 191/Brevard Road ramp).
* Day work with single-lane traffic control will occur accordingly:
* From Milepost 365.5 to 382.0 work may take place from 30 minutes past sunrise to 30 minutes prior to sunset.
* From Milepost 382.0 (Folk Art Center) to 393.7 (at the NC 191 ramp) work is restricted to the hours between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

This resurfacing project is expected to be complete by September of 2020. This project does not include a section of the Parkway between Milepost 388.8 and 392 due to the ongoing I-26 bridge construction. As with any road project, motorists and park users must exercise caution. In the interest of visitor safety, park visitors are asked to:

* Check the Parkway’s Real Time Road Map for regularly updated work zone information.
* Plan an alternate route around this area during night closures.
* Expect delays while work takes place Monday through Friday. Lane closures will be managed with flagging operations and a pilot car to lead traffic through work zones.
* Observe reduced speed limits in work zones, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; to maintain safe operations and allow for proper curing of pavement.








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 24, 2020

The Cracker Lake Mine and the boom town of Altyn

If you’ve ever had the chance to hike to Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park, it’s likely you’re aware of the remnants of the old mine located near the far end of the lake.

The mine was established after copper ore was discovered near the shores of the lake in 1898. Although the Blackfeet Indians owned all of the lands east of the Continental Divide, they sold their claim on the mountainous area to the United States in 1896 for $1.5 million. This parcel, which became known as the “Ceded Strip,” would eventually become part of Glacier National Park. By an Act of Congress the transaction officially took place on April 15, 1898. On that same day the area was declared open, and a "rush" to stake mining claims took place. At the appointed hour a volley of shots rang out and the rush began with a wild stampede of miners on horses, in wagons, and even on foot. Within a matter of hours hundreds of claims were staked in the Swiftcurrent Valley and in adjacent areas such as Rose Creek, Boulder Creek and Cracker Lake.

The Cracker Lake Mine was established on the southern end of the lake at the foot of Mt. Siyeh. According to legend the mine received its name when two prospectors, L. C. Emmonds and Hank Norris, after staking their claim, had a lunch of cheese and crackers on the site. Later in that same year the claim was sold to the Michigan and Montana Copper Mining & Smelting Company.

At the site, miners dug a thirteen hundred foot tunnel, built a sawmill, and erected a steam driven concentrator to process the ore.

According to Through The Years In Glacier National Park, Charles Nielson used a large freight wagon and twelve mules to transport the 16,000 pound concentrator on a 29-day trip from Fort Browning to the mine. Often the load was hauled with block and tackle up the bed of Canyon Creek to its headwaters at Cracker Lake. Although hauled in and installed, the concentrator never operated. A mining expert from Helena determined that the site wouldn’t be profitable and discouraged further development (and you thought the original boys on Gold Rush were the only ones that didn’t have a plan!).

The boom town of Altyn

One of the financial backers of the Cracker Lake Mine was Dave Greenwood Altyn. A town bearing his name was built near Cracker Flats, and was active from 1898 to 1902. During its peak it had an estimated population of 600-800 people, and boasted a store, post office, hotel, newspaper, several saloons, and many of the other establishments typically found in a boomtown. After the Cracker Mine went bust, however, so did the town. The former townsite was eventually buried under water after the Lake Sherburne reservoir filled the valley in 1921.

After the short boom most of the mining claims were abandoned. Unfortunately for the miners who staked their fortunes in this area, little or no minerals were found. With the exception of a few diehards, most of the claims were abandoned by 1903.

The land surrounding the Cracker Lake Mine changed hands several times throughout the following years. It was finally picked up on a tax deed from Glacier County by the Glacier Natural History Association on September 22, 1953. During the following month the land was turned over to the Federal Government for $123.96, the cost of acquiring the parcel and clearing its title.

Today hikers can still find many of the remnants from the old mine. In addition to mine tailings, you can still see several abandoned machinery parts, including the boiler. The tunnel entrance is also nearby, though entry into the mine shaft is prohibited by the park. For more information on the incredibly beautiful hike to Cracker Lake, please click here.


Glacier National Park: The First 100 Years details the astonishing changes the park has undergone since its designation in 1910, including the Great Northern Railway's Swiss-style chalets & lodges. It features more than 200 historical photographs, as well as some of the finest artwork of the region and its people, including Charlie Russell.








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 22, 2020

Smokies Announces Cancellation of Synchronous Firefly Viewing Event

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have canceled the synchronous firefly viewing event in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the Chinese coronavirus (COVID-19) and to adhere to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors from across the country gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. In 2019, 28,958 people from all 50 states and 19 countries entered the lottery for shuttle access to view the fireflies at Elkmont. Passes were distributed to people from 42 states, Canada, and the Federated States of Micronesia. An estimated 1,000 people view the fireflies each night, including participants from the lottery and campground users.

“The synchronous firefly viewing area at Elkmont simply isn’t spacious enough to safely allow hundreds of people to gather under the current health guidance,” said Superintendent Cash. “While disappointing, the safety of our employees, volunteers, and visitors continues to be our number one priority.”

Park officials also noted that the shuttle service to the event would not support current CDC guidelines, particularly the six-feet distancing requirement between individuals. Due to on-site parking limitations, the shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period, except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. At this time, Elkmont Campground remains closed. The National Park Service is working service-wide 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. 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.








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 21, 2020

Smokies Requests Transportation and Recreation Planning Feedback

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is seeking public feedback for multiple transportation and recreation planning efforts that will address visitor access, safety, transportation, and recreation associated with the Foothills Parkway, Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Spur, and Metcalf Bottoms area in the Sevier County portion of the park. The four planning efforts include the following projects: Wears Valley Mountain Bike Trail Network Feasibility Study; Metcalf Bottoms Access Improvements Feasibility Study; Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Spur Safety Improvements Planning; and Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Spur Greenway Feasibility Study.

The civic engagement period for the four projects opens for public comment on April 20 through May 22. After considering input received during this civic engagement period, the park will develop a range of concepts and preliminary alternatives for each project and determine if it’s appropriate to move forward with the formal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The NEPA process for each project would include more opportunities for public involvement, including a public scoping period held at the beginning of the NEPA process and a public comment period held for review of the NEPA document prepared by the park.

For more information about the transportation and recreation planning projects and to provide comments, please visit the park website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/GRSM where an informational newsletter can be viewed and comments submitted. Comments may also be submitted through the mail to Transportation and Recreation Planning Projects, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.








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 20, 2020

Storms Impacts Being Assessed in Cherokee National Forest

USDA Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest say National Forest System Roads (NFSR) were heavily impacted by recent severe storms. Crews continue to assess the widespread impacts.

Many NFSR’s throughout the 656,000 acre Cherokee National Forest were impacted in some way by severe weather. The Ocoee Ranger District and the Tellico Ranger District were the hardest hit. The impact of the storms has left numerous roads in these areas impassable with trees down, washouts and culverts damaged.

A number of National Forest System Roads are being closed for public safety. Assessments to date for the Ocoee and Tellico Ranger districts indicate at least 65 roads are affected with 343 damaged sites including 89 downed trees, 102 damaged culverts and 19 landslides. Currently only a portion of the roads have been assessed and more damage may be possible.

To address the situation, the Forest Service continues to conduct condition assessments and document all road damage, close roads that are not safe to drive on and continue to work on opening roads where possible.

If you must travel national forest roads extreme caution should be used. Many roads are rutted and may have been narrowed due to slides and slough offs. In addition, the risk of falling trees due to the wet conditions still exists.

Additional information regarding road conditions and closures will be made available when more assessments are completed.








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, April 19, 2020

The Beartooth Highway

Charles Kuralt (you remember Charles Kuralt, right?), once said that the Beartooth Highway is “the most beautiful drive in America”. It's hard to argue with him - the 69-mile National Scenic Byway is absolutely spectacular! The road travels from Red Lodge, Montana to Cooke City, located just outside of the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way it passes through the rugged Absaroka Mountains, and climbs nearly 5400 feet to reach Beartooth Pass, which sits at an elevation of 10,947 feet.

Below is short film the U.S. Forest Service produced a few decades ago. Though it's a little dated, it still provides a nice overview of what you'll see along the byway, a short history of the routing of the road, as well as plenty of great scenery:







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 15, 2020

Find Your Virtual Park During National Park Week April 18-26

Celebrate National Park Week from April 18 through 26 with fun and innovative digital experiences. While parked at home, journey to national parks through a variety of online activities including virtual tours, scavenger hunts, trivia contests and junior ranger programs.

“Although much has changed in recent weeks, an assortment of fun and engaging digital National Park Week events can help people connect to our shared heritage and natural landscapes,” said David Vela, National Park Service Deputy Director, exercising the authority of the Director.

To preview the celebration of National Park Week, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation will host a Twitter chat on April 16 at 1:00 PM EDT. Join the conversation and share favorite memories, tips and stories about national parks using the hashtags #FindYourPark and #NationalParkWeek. From April 16 through 26, a special limited-time park ranger emoji will appear with the use of these hashtags, in addition to #FindYourVirtualPark and #EncuentraTuParque on Twitter.

“Knowing that national parks can provide a source of comfort and strength, the National Park Foundation is focused on bringing the beauty and wonder of parks to people digitally during National Park Week,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth.

The Find Your Virtual Park page on NPS.gov provides resources that feature the sights and sounds of parks, games, videos, webcams and kid-friendly activities. The National Park Foundation offers a series of virtual escapes as well as suggestions for home-based park experiences.

In addition, each day of National Park Week will highlight a specific theme:

Saturday, April 18: Junior Ranger Day

Sunday, April 19: Volunteer Day

Monday, April 20: Military Monday

Tuesday, April 21: Transportation Tuesday

Wednesday, April 22: Earth Day

Thursday, April 23: Throwback Thursday

Friday, April 24: Friendship Friday

Saturday, April 25: Park Rx Day

Sunday, April 26: Bark Ranger Day

For more information, please visit www.NPS.gov and nationalparkweek.org.

I'll be taking part on Twitter all week if you wish to follow me.








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 14, 2020

Pilot survives small plane crash in Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers responded to a report of a small plane crash approximately 6 miles west of Clingmans Dome at approximately 11 a.m. on Friday, April 10. The single occupant of the plane, Georg Kustermann, 47, of Georgia, deployed the plane’s parachute north of Silers Bald and Buckeye Gap.

A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter unit located Kustermann at 1:06 p.m. The Tennessee Army National Guard extricated him from the site using a hoist operation at approximately 2 p.m. and flew him to the Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport located in Sevierville, Tenn.

Kustermann did not sustain significant injuries and departed the airport under his own care. Park Rangers received additional assistance from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and Sevier County Emergency Management Agency during the initial stage of the search operation. The park will work with the Federal Aviation Administration to complete an accident investigation. No additional details are available at this time.








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

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

Severe Storms Impact Cherokee National Forest

USDA Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest say that National Forest System Roads and trails were impacted by the recent severe storms. Extremely high water, numerous trees across roads and road damage has occurred in several locations.

National forest managers recommend postponing traveling forest roads until a full assessment has been done and hazardous areas have been marked or closed if necessary. Crews will be further assessing impacts to roads, trails and other facilities as soon as conditions are safe to do so.

If you must travel forest roads extra caution should be used. There are many roads throughout the 656,000 acre Cherokee National Forest that are rutted and rough and may have been narrowed due to slides and slough offs. In addition, the risk of falling trees due to the extreme wet conditions still exists.








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

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

Pisgah National Forest Temporarily Shutting Down Dispersed Camping and Several Roads and Trails

In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health and safety of its employees, visitors and volunteers, Pisgah National Forest will temporarily shut down dispersed camping and the roads and trails listed here effective April 13, 2020.

Forest order number 08-11-07-20-071 prohibits being on certain roads and trails, entering or using a developed recreation site, or camping on the Pisgah National Forest until August 13, 2020, or until rescinded.

Other recreation opportunities on the Nantahala, Uwharrie, and Croatan National Forests in North Carolina remain available to the public. To protect public health and safety all visitors to the forest are encouraged to:

* Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

* Follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene and social distancing before and during your visit to the forest.

* Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators.

* Please make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors.

* If an area is crowded, please search for a less occupied location. Also consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.

The USDA Forest Service continues to assess and temporarily suspend access to recreation areas that attract large crowds and cannot meet social distancing guidelines. 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: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.








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, April 11, 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, April 10, 2020

Fire restrictions in effect for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Fire restrictions are now in effect for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests due to high fire danger. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire is now prohibited. Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device is also prohibited.

The restrictions are in effect until August 8, 2020, unless rescinded earlier due to changed conditions. Commercially available fuel stoves (camp stoves) can be used at this time.

The North Carolina Forest Service issued a burn ban for 32 western counties on April 3. For more information, visit https://ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2020.htm.

Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Forest Service, and local volunteer fire departments have responded to multiple wildfires on federal, state, and private land. Many fires are being investigated for suspected arson. Please call your local law enforcement officials if you have information about persons setting fires or bragging about setting fires. If you see someone starting a fire, call 911.

Consider delaying visits and camping trips. Stay up to date on current 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

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
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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
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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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
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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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
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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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