Backcountry Science: Things That Scream Bloody Murder In The Night

It’s that time of year again: “cougar” season, where residents and visitors all across Appalachia report hearing a mountain lion, cougar, or panther scream out in the night. Tales like this are common across the mountains, especially from hikers spending the night deep in the woods only to be awoken by the sound of what…

Sand Mountain (Crystal Springs to High Rocks)

Length/Type: Approximately 4.6 miles (one-way, out-and-back); Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (well-maintained and signed trails throughout; moderate grades on Boundary Trail; difficult, steeper grades on the final climb to High Rocks); Other Considerations: Another, shorter route leads to High Rocks but climbs up through the Big Survey Wildlife Management Area, which requires a permit fee to hike (info here)….

What Does the Federal Budget Mean for the Appalachian Outdoors?

This past week, President Trump’s budget was released, causing all sorts of consternation across the rural Appalachian region. Why all the buzz? The president’s budget calls for sweeping cuts to many federal government agencies, including the outright elimination of the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, and a host of other groups. The Roanoke…

Lewis Hollow-Gap Loop (Cumberland Gap National Historical Park)

Length/Type: Approximately 7.0 miles, loop trail; Difficulty: Strenuous (well-maintained trail throughout, but contains occasional rough footing and long, difficult climbs up and down Cumberland Mountain); Other Considerations: The park’s trails are well-signed and well-maintained. However, since this route makes use of multiple trails and contains several junctions that involve multiple intersecting trails and/or roadways, it is likely best to…

Phillips Creek Loop Trail

Length/Type: Approximately 1.2 miles, lollipop loop; Difficulty: Moderate (easy grades but possible heavy undergrowth can obscure the trail in places during late summer/fall); Other Considerations: The trailhead is located at the back of the Phillips Creek Recreation Area, which may be gated in winter months. You can still park outside the rec area (do not block the gate…

Winter Wonderland: Trails to Try This Season in the Cumberlands

The winter hiking season is upon us, a time when many folks hang up their hiking boots and enjoy the warmth of the indoors. If you’ve never been hiking during what many hikers refer to as the “leaf off” season, though, you’ve been missing out. Views through bare trees are more expansive, skies are clearer…

What The Heck Is That Over There? Flag Rock Edition

Have you ever climbed a local mountain and wondered what in the world you’re seeing? What’s that mountain way in the distance? Is that a lake on the horizon? Which direction faces towards home? Distinguishing landmarks in the jumbled mass of mountains that is the Cumberlands can be a bit tough unless you have a…

Backcountry Science: Let’s Talk About Wildfires

If you live anywhere in the Cumberlands, it’s probably not shocking to hear that wildfires have become a serious issue over the past few days. A staggering number of fires – from small fires to large blazes – are currently burning across the region, particularly eastern Kentucky and adjacent portions of far southwest Virginia. News…

Fall in Southwest Virginia: 12 Hours in Wise County

Fall is here, and you’ve got one day to see it. OK, you probably don’t have just one day, but let’s pretend you do: where do you go, and what do you see? Southwest Virginia is one of the best places on Earth to see fall foliage, but knowing where to look is half the…

Fall in Southwest Virginia: 12 Hours in Dickenson County

Fall is here, and you’ve got one day to see it. OK, you probably don’t have just one day, but let’s pretend you do: where do you go, and what do you see? Southwest Virginia is one of the best places on Earth to see fall foliage, but knowing where to look is half the…

Backcountry Science: Leaf Peepin’

Fall is here. College football is underway. Local grocery stores are already jam-packed with Halloween gear. You’re starting to hear about pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. And…leaf season is coming. We all know that the Appalachians are famous for our fall color, but you probably didn’t know that we have one of the most vibrant and prolonged…