We managed to get out on some national park trails during 2011 -- not as many as we'd like, but still a few that brought smiles to our faces. Here's a look back at those trails.
The Smokemont Loop Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hike the Smokemont Loop in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the winter. The hike offers streams, a cascade, and plenty of history.
Off the Well-Trod Path: The Mayna Avent Cabin In Great Smoky Mountains National Park
While much is known and obvious to national park visitors, there are somethings that are not well-known and often remain secret unless you either stumble upon them or learn of them from a local. Such just might be the case with the Mayna Avent cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Five Favorite Summer Hikes At Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park might look small compared to the expansive Western parks, but that doesn't mean you can find some great hiking in the park.
Spruce Flat Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Spruce Flat Falls is one of the hidden gems of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike is about a mile each way, not too rugged, but with a bit of a climb. The trail passes through a thicket of Mountain Laurel, which will be in bloom the first week or two in May. It's also a wonderful spot for photography.
The Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park
While there are many long-distance hikes you can take in Joshua Tree National Park, sometimes the heat can just be too much. But even if it's the middle of the day, a stroll down the Cholla Cactus Garden path is well-worth your time to learn about these curious cacti.
Walking Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Though not mentioned as frequently as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in North Carolina is a worthy notch on any hiker's staff. Meandering some 1,000 mountains from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the footpath is still something of a work-in-progress, as more land acquisitions need to be made to move the trail off roads in some places. Contributing writer Danny Bernstein has been hiking the trail in sections. She recently completed it with a hike along Cape Hatteras. In a two-part series starting today, she describes what she found.
Read Part I.
[url=/2011/05/walking-cape-hatteras-national-seashore-part-28088]Read Part II.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Southwestern Virginia
The Appalachian Trail in southwest Virginia is a spectacular section, with open meadows and feral ponies. Meeting thru-hikers is a bonus.
Bass Lake Trail Along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The busiest weeks for the Blue Ridge Parkway—fall color season—are almost here. If a drive along the scenic roadway is on your calendar, here's a fine stop for an easy walk to stretch your legs and enjoy the view at a slower pace.
Little Cataloochee Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A walk on Little Cataloochee Trail offers a glimpse into life in this remote mountain community before it became part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This in-and-out hike, with a couple of diversions, takes you to two cabins, two cemeteries and a chapel.
Bechler River Trail in Yellowstone National Park
Thigh-deep in the strong, bracing currents of the Bechler River was not exactly what I expected when I set out to explore Yellowstone National Park's "Cascade Corner." But at least it was mid-September, and not mid-July, when the torrent surely would have been colder, deeper, and stronger.