Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Salida Ranger District receives funding to open trail with improved amenities near Agnes Vaille Falls

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) - Salida Ranger District is the recipient of a Colorado State Non-motorized Trails Construction/Maintenance grant. It was awarded to improve a popular recreation area in Chaffee County. The funds will be used in 2016 and 2017 to construct a family-friendly sustainable trail directly across from Chalk Lake Campground at the base of Agnes Vaille Falls in the Chalk Creek Canyon drainage.

With support from the community, the Salida Ranger District is proposing to construct an elevated wood boardwalk, create an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant trail segment and reconstruct a road segment that is currently impassible. The trail will provide a quality experience for families and may include picnic sites, interpretative panels, a waterfall viewing deck and rest benches throughout the trail system.

The Agnes Vaille Falls Trail (NFST #1443) was closed due to visitor safety concerns in September 2013 following a tragic, large rockslide event that took the lives of five individuals. The trail has been incorporated into USFS long-term trail management plans, and efforts to re-open this area of the San Isabel National Forest are a priority of the Salida Ranger District. The District will make improvements and additions to the trail system to provide a much desired recreation opportunity in this iconic area.

Support on the grant proposal came from the Chamber of Commerce, Historic St. Elmo and Chalk Creek Canyon Inc. (HSE&CCC Inc.), Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), Salida Mountain Trails (SMT) and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC). The work will be accomplished in partnership with USFS crews, community volunteers and partners, professional contractors and other groups that are interested in participating.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Doctors Warn that Hiking is Contagious

Doctors are increasingly writing new prescriptions for an old remedy- time in nature. As part of the burgeoning Park Rx movement, health care providers throughout the country are encouraging patients to use parks to reap the benefits of nature’s healing properties. On April 24, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, health care providers, and hundreds of people celebrated the first National Park Rx Day by participating in outdoor activities around the country.

“Nature is good for us - it is a great antidote to a variety of ailments, including obesity, heart disease, and depression,” said Jarvis at a National Park Rx Day event in Seattle. “A growing number of public health officials now prescribe time in parks for the overall well-being of their patients. In fact, it is becoming a standard medical practice to tell patients to take a hike.”

Nature-based applications to prevent and treat ailments are growing in popularity. In Washington, D.C., health care providers connect green space and park data to an electronic medical record to refer patients to parks for improved physical and mental fitness. In Miami-Dade County, Fla., children receive prescriptions to exercise in parks. And, in Marin City, Calif., the community’s new Park Rx program encourages residents to discover and use national park trails to stay active.

“We know that an average of 22 minutes a day of physical activity – such as brisk walking in a national park – can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes,” said Murthy. “The key is to get started because even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation.”

Looking for a place to hike? How about Grand Teton National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier National Park or the Great Smoky Mountains? All of these parks offer a variety of outstanding hikes that will appeal to anyone.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Arches National Park Seeks Graffiti Vandals

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people? Arches National Park recently discovered another act of graffiti vandalism, and posted this message on their Facebook page yesterday:
We need your help. Staff recently discovered new graffiti at Frame Arch, just off the trail to Delicate Arch. If you saw anyone carving or writing on the rock on the Delicate Arch trail, please contact the park via email or phone listed here:

Graffiti—marking, scratching, chalking, and carving on rocks—is unsightly and illegal. It damages the rocks and ruins other people's experience in this natural place. Rangers and volunteer groups spend hundreds of hours every year removing graffiti from the park. Help us protect your national park: if you discover graffiti in the park, please let us know.
No doubt, the two losers who did this, "Staten" and "Andersen", likely took congratulatory selfies after leaving their mark. By the way, this isn't an isolated case. This type of "tagging" seems to be a growing trend in parks around the country. Here's the photo Arches published on their FB page which shows the damage done:


Tips for Hiking with Kids

So you want to go on a hiking trip this summer, but you’re thinking that it might not be a good idea due to the young kids in the back seat. It’s likely you’re concerned that your children will be bored by the idea of traipsing through the woods. Although I hear this concern quite a bit, you really don’t have to hang up your boots until the kids go off to college.

Fortunately there are several things parents can do to make hiking enjoyable for their kids. The key is to keep them interested, motivated and, most importantly, make sure they have fun. Although that might sound easier than it really is, there are several things you can do to accomplish these objectives.

For very young kids you’ll have to keep the hike very short. As they get older and begin to build confidence and endurance you’ll be able to gradually increase the distance. Although we as adults enjoy expansive views, this really isn’t important to kids. Children much prefer things that are scaled down to their smaller world view. As a parent you should try to appeal to their sense of discovery and adventure, such as visiting a waterfall, a cave, large boulders, a hollowed-out tree, a gurgling stream, or a lake to possibly where they can skip rocks. In fact, water is usually a great motivator.

As you venture further down the trail during your hike try to point things out along the way. Perhaps playing a game similar to that of a scavenger hunt where your children try to find a variety of items such as certain trees, pine cones, wildflowers, boulders, insects, birds’ nests and various wildlife. National parks like Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains are all perfect for finding any of these items.

A few other important tips to keep children motivated are to let them set the pace, bring lots of snacks, take frequent breaks, be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, and maybe even consider allowing them to bring a friend along.

Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Glacier and the Great Smoky Mountains all offer many outstanding easy hikes that will appeal to both children and adults alike.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Major Water Line System Improvements Begin At Rocky Mountain National Park

Beginning on Tuesday, April 26, visitors may experience minor delays on Bear Lake Road between the Bear Lake Road/Trail Ridge Road junction and Moraine Park Discovery Center due to a water line improvement project. Work will take place Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through May 25. Traffic delays should be less than fifteen minutes.

This work is all part of a large project to improve and rehabilitate a water line and supply system that was installed in Rocky Mountain National Park in the 1950s. The improvements will cover the system from Moraine Park to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and park headquarters area. This overall project will include replacing thousands of feet of pipe, rehabilitating valves, improving its condition to greatly enhance its service life, insure greater reliability, reduce water loss, enhance fire protection and reduce operational maintenance costs of a system that is over sixty years old and in poor condition. Expected completion for this overall project is in October of 2016.

A roughly sixty-two foot wide and seven foot deep trench is anticipated. After the project is complete, restoration will be a top priority.

For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Canyon Lakes Ranger District Flood-Impacted Trails Update

Many trails across the Canyon Lakes Ranger District were impacted by the September 2013 Flood and a lot of great work by both staff and volunteers has taken place since then. Below is the status of these trails.

North Fork Trail: This trail is partially open to hikers and is anticipated to open more fully in June to hikers. Some additional work must be completed before the trail can be open to stock.

Crosier Mountain Trails: These trails are open but some additional work may take place this year or next to improve the temporary repairs made in 2014.

Hewlett Gulch Trail: Although this trail has been reopened to the public, early rains in 2015 did more damage. It remains open but some additional restoration work is needed.

Young Gulch Trail: One of the most heavily damaged trails by both the 2012 wildfire season and the flood, it remains fully closed. Analysis work for a rebuild has been completed and work will start taking place in 2016. Due to the extensive amount of work needed, it will not open this year.

Lion Gulch Trail: This trail was also heavily damaged and remains closed. Bridge work and trail restoration are both needed. The trailhead is also being used by the Colorado Department of Transportation during road repairs. It is anticipated to stay closed through 2016.

Homestead Meadows Trail: Portions of this trail were completely destroyed and is unstable. Analysis work for a new trail location will be needed before work can take place due to the extensive damage.

Over 600 hours of volunteer work took place on flood-damaged trails last season, in addition to work done by Forest Service trail crews. There will also be additional opportunities this season for the public to volunteer to make progress on the very popular Young Gulch Trail. Thanks to all the volunteers who have helped move us forward in getting trails restored and back open to the public.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Video Hike to Ramsey Cascades

Awhile back the Great Smoky Mountains Association published a video of the hike to Ramsey Cascades. Dropping roughly 100 feet over the course of multiple tiers, Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the Smokies. The popular trail takes hikers though the largest old-growth forest remaining in the Great Smoky Mountains, and passes the 6th tallest tree in the park. For more information on this beautiful hike, please click here.

© GSMA 2010. All rights reserved.

With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to Ramsey Cascades, the park offers many other outstanding hikes. 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 vacation planning.