When you think of Indiana, you probably think of corn and cows, not hiking. You are mainly right, many Hoosiers are involved in farming, with livestock, corn and soybeans near most urban areas. But hidden within all the agriculture is a real gem. You could drive by, and not realize what’s actually within Turkey Run State Park. It’s located in western Indiana near Bloomingdale, and I have spent numerous weekends there hiking the trails, enjoying the scenery, and enjoying friends and family.
The park itself is humongous, with 11 separate hiking trails to go on, canoeing, fishing, tennis courts and a swimming pool. Typically my family would go there on a Sunday afternoon, stay until the sun started to set and then head home. I would say that 90% of that time I would pass out on the way home from exhaustion after an action packed day. The entire park is wonderful, but I’ll stick to hiking and detail some of the trails that the park offers.
Continue Reading “Indiana Park Trail Review: Turkey Run State Park”→
Yosemite National Park has many hiking trails for one to explore and conquer. This well groomed hiking trail will take you to the top of Yosemite Falls and it makes for a great day hike. Yosemite Falls is a waterfall that is one of the tallest in the world. It is a moderate to strenuous hike that will take about 3-4 hours to make it to the top.
The trail head begins near Yosemite Loge and the 7.2 mile (round trip) trail is full of switchbacks that puts the trail in shade and sunny areas. There are several lookout points along the way that will give you memorable views of Yosemite Valley and many of its known landmarks. It is 3.6 miles of hiking trail that is pretty vertical, but worth the effort. Even a child, who is in good health and shape, will enjoy hiking this trail.
What! That’s what about 98% of the readers just yelled, and they’re right to first think this is a crazy idea. But it does make sense if you are a hiker that can’t get out of the city, a visitor that is in the city for a few days, or someone that likes to walk and wants something entirely different.
New York City is a very interesting place where every neighborhood offers something different and also happens to have one of the coolest parks in the world – Central Park. Everyone goes to Central Park, and that speaks volumes about the human need for nature. In a place that has the best museums, restaurants, theaters, music venues, conferences, and architecture, folks still go to Central Park. With everything New York has to offer, the natural world provided by the park is still one of the most popular attractions.
If you are looking for just one backpacking trip in Arkansas then the Ozark Highlands Trail is just what the doctor ordered. This 165 mile trail stretches across some of the most terrific sights and views the state has to offer. Add to this the fact that it is one of the south’s best kept secrets and you are going to be looking at a stretch of beauty and solitude seldom matched.
The Ozark Highlands Trail also serves as a spine of sorts to a host of smaller trails throughout the northwestern part of the state including many in the famous Ozarks. Covering so much scenery it is bound to be a draw for smaller day hikers from Lake Fort Smith, the Ozark National Forest, the Buffalo National River, the Ozark Mountains and the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area. Along with this wealth of beauty served up on this premier trail in the Natural State you will also find a lot of history from homesteaders to Civil War to American Indian and old west outlaws. Keep your eyes open for historical markers along the trail.
Be sure to plan your trip toward the White Rock Mountain lookout for the best sunset view in Arkansas and bring along your extra socks for more than 60 creeks, streams, rivers and a whole lot of waterfalls.
Continue Reading “Ozark Highlands Trail : Hiking in Arkansas”→
HORSESHOE MESA, HANCE CREEK, and THE COLORADO RIVER
It’s not a secret to many hikers that acquiring permits for backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon has become an intensely competitive process with thousands of requests arriving every month and many people leaving empty-handed. One of the reasons for this is the overwhelming focus by many on “The Corridor” which comprises the most moderate – and most popular – trails in the Canyon. For this hiking review, I’m going to focus on an equally beautiful area with much more solitude and one tenth the permit competition. We call it the Horseshoe Mesa, Hance Creek, and Colorado River Adventure.
Beginning at Grandview Trailhead, you’ll descend the Grandview Trail for 3 steep miles on a maintained trail. This trail is aptly named for it’s amazing views of a large expanse of the Canyon as well as distant view of the Colorado River snaking its way from the east.
This trail was built by Pete Barry, one of the Canyon’s original entrepreneurs. He began mining, but even after finding some of the richest copper ore in the world, the transportation costs of getting the ore out ate up his profits. He eventually turned to tourism, even building a small lodge on the rim (which is no longer there). Horseshoe Mesa still boasts some amazing relics from the Pete Barry era, including his old cabin and an array of old, rusty mining machinery.
At the Mesa, you’ll see a trail cutting to the right (east) and that’s the one you want to get down to Miners Spring and/or Hance Creek (2 of the 3 closest water sources). I recommend going all the way to Hance Creek the first day, which will take you another mile and a half past the Mesa, for a total of 4.5 miles of hiking that day.
The drop off the Mesa down to Hance Creek is steep and rugged and should be traveled with caution. There are some spots where tripping is not an option. Hance Creek is a beautiful oasis in the desert, with a perennial flow of spring-fed, clear water makes for excellent camping.
I recommend spending two nights here at Hance Creek and making a day trip to the Colorado River on your layover day, which is approximately 13 miles round trip. It’s a long day but totally doable. Hance Rapid is a breathtaking area of the Colorado River, decorated by the famous Red Canyon – one of the most beautiful layers in the Canyon.
From here you can exit via the New Hance Trail, but I recommend camping the last night on Horseshoe Mesa. Start by circling around beneath Horseshoe Mesa on the Tonto Trail to Cottonwood Creek. Fill up your water here, with plenty for the night and the next day because there’s no water on the Mesa. Set up camp and go check out Cave of the Domes, which is the only cave in Grand Canyon National Park that guests are allowed into. Hike along the western edge of the Mesa until you come to the point where the last major ridge coming down off the butte in the center of the Mesa meets the trail. Keep an eye out to your left for a thin path that leads to the cave. It’s at the end of one of the major gullies that drains off the Mesa on the western edge. Bring headlamps along and be sure to turn them off to experience some absolute darkness (can’t even see your hand waving in front of your face).
The last day will take you back up to the Grandview Trailhead at the South Rim, where you’ll fully deserve the shower and all-you-can-eat buffet that I’m sure will await you. Enjoy!
Thanks to Scott Cundy, owner of The Wildland Trekking Company, for this report. For more info on Grand Canyon hiking tours be sure to check out his company’s website. Then you can book your next adventure.
Hikers are always searching for new trails as uncharted terrain presents a novel challenge. If you’re a hiker in North Dakota, here are three trails you can try treading your hiking boots on.
Ackenbach Trail – Located in Southwest North Dakota
This trail is recommended for hikers who prefer scenic routes. As you tread the path, you get to see the famous Ox-Box. In addition, the terrain is rugged and steep and goes along the Little Missouri River. The river provides thirsty hikers a refreshing water break.
The geology of the trail itself is a mini-zoo with antelopes, buffalos and the occasional rattlesnake. It is definitely a natural feast for the discerning hiker’s eye.
When you finish this route, you will end up west of Lake Sakakawea and north of Medora. The trail is a 100 miles long.
Continue Reading “Three North Dakota Trails You Must Know About”→
Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation gain: 2,300 feet
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous
USGS Topo Maps: Wawona; Mariposa Grove
More information: www.nps.gov/yose
Directions: From the south entrance to the park (16 miles north of Oakhurst on highway 41), drive 4 miles on Wawona Road to the town of Wawona, and take a right on Chilnualna Falls Road. Drive 1.7 miles and park on the right side of the road. Cross the road and access the single-track trail.
The hike: Located in the southern part of Yosemite, Chilnualna Falls offers solitude not often found in the more popular areas of the park. The trail ascends parallel to Chilnualna Creek, and gives hikers great views of three different waterfalls. The first happens almost immediately. The trail ascends a steep staircase next to the cascade. Following this, it switchbacks to a meadow, half a mile in. Here, views of nearby Wawona Dome (elevation 6,897) open up. False trails lead to the left and right; the main path crosses the meadow (seemingly diverging from the main trail) into a grove of tall pines. If you find yourself descending, you have taken the wrong direction. (Guess how I know!)
The trail continues at a lesser grade through the pines, through another meadow and then begins some more switchbacks. At about two miles in, a clearing offers great views of Wawona Dome, and soon afterward, the lower tier of Chilnualna Falls can be seen. The trail continues along the south face of the ridge, with great views of the valley below, eventually climbing another stone stairway to reach the lower tier of the falls. From there, you continue to the ascent to a trail junction. Here, you can scramble down the rocks to Chilnualna Creek and see the upper tier of the falls, which cascade down a series of six drops into a clear pool. If you are careful, you can get close to the waterfall and enjoy great views of the valley as well.
About the author:
David Lockeretz is an avid hiker based in Long Beach, CA. He is the founder and chief author of L.A.’s newest hiking blog, www.nobodyhikesinla.com. When not found on the trails, he is a musician and music educator, founder of the music instruction networking site www.findmymusicteacher.com.
Every American (okay, every human for that matter) owes it to him/herself to head to Arizona and visit the Grand Canyon at least once in their lifetimes. It’s truly amazing to see how a little trickle of water eventually turned into the Colorado River, which eventually carved out the Grand Canyon.
You can approach your trip to the Grand Canyon in a couple different ways. One way is to stay within the park at one of the lodges on the South Rim and take the time to experience all the different things the park has to offer. The other way is to stay in one of the surrounding Arizona towns and take a day trip to the Grand Canyon for a “hit and run” view of the Canyon. Both have their plusses.
The part of the Grand Canyon The South Rim is the part of the Grand Canyon most people are familiar with. It sits on the Arizona side and can be accessed all year round. The North Rim is closed from mid-October to mid-May and is not as visited as the South Rim.
The benefit of staying within the park is the ability to take your time to view the magnificent Canyon from different viewing points, which you can access by walking the rim trail or taking a shuttle from point to point. For those of you staying for several days, a trip to the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon would be a lovely addition, though the drive is about 4 – 5 hours long. For those not wanting to drive, there is a shuttle which provides rim to rim service from mid-May to Mid-October.
For those staying on the South Rim, there are numerous trails down the canyon, as well as a trail along the top of the Canyon called the “Rim Trail.” If you’re staying in one of the lodges and are planning a day hike into the inner Canyon, just be aware that you probably cannot make it down and back in one day. As a matter of fact, each year around 250 people is rescued from the inner Canyon, the majority of whom are able-bodied young men between the ages of 18 to 40 who attempted to hike down and back in one ay. Don’t be one of them. A good day hike would be a couple hours down and then back up. The hike up will take longer than the hike down. Also, be sure to wear good hiking shoes as some trails can be very rocky.
Some people choose to hike down one day and either camp at the bottom or stay in the Phantom Ranch. Be aware, however, that you have to make arrangements well in advance of your trip if you choose to stay at the bottom. Campers require a backcountry permit, and Phantom Ranch is usually booked months ahead. Permits are sometimes available on that day, but why risk it? For reservations at the Phantom Ranch, you can call 888-297-2757.
Some people prefer to stay outside the park and visit the Canyon for a few hours and move on. There are numerous areas in Northern Arizona where one can stay and take a side trip to the Grand Canyon, such as Sedona and Flagstaff. While such locations are still lengthy drives (an hour from Flagstaff, two from Sedona), it’s still close enough for a day trip. Both Sedona and Flagstaff are lovely places to stay, with Sedona being the most ‘touristy” of the two towns. Flagstaff, to me, is the quirkier of the two, perhaps because it is a “university town,” home to Northern Arizona University.
Sedona and Flagstaff are also visually different. Flagstaff is surrounded by a pine forest while Sedona is in “red rock” country. Sedona abounds with numerous high-end resorts, galleries and expensive eateries. Flagstaff is cheaper all-around, with inexpensive lodging and restaurants. Both are close enough for a day trip to the Grand Canyon.
Of course, you can always opt for an even quicker bus tour, hopping from one tourist stop to the next. But, why not take a cue from that little trickle of water which started it all? Take your time and enjoy the view.