Jan 24

Hiking With Children

Hiking With Children: Hitting the Trail with Kids

family hiking trail

Family Hiking Trail

On a first glance going camping with children seems like a scary proposition. Everything goes wrong and the adventurous parents often end up looking like irresponsible idiots. But is that actually true? Is it actually that dangerous to go out on the open road and the forest trails with your kids?
Not if you do it correctly. Sure, there are a number of dangers out there, but then the city is full of them as well. The only difference is that we and they know one environment better than another. So, it can be done. You just have to make sure that you familiarize your kids with the safety procedures for the outdoors, as well as the dangers of the specific environment you’re at as well as following these easy tips.

Know what hikes your kids are capable of

The first thing you’ll want to know is in what kind of shape your kids actually are. Can they handle a grueling 10 hour hike or are they already exhausted by taking out the garbage? (Funnily enough, both are true for my kids).
If you’ve not gone hiking before, it’s a good idea to do a trail run somewhere nearby. Find a park or a green area where you can walk for a while together and see how long they last before their energy starts to wane. When they start asking how much further it is repeatedly, you know you’ve about reached their limit.
Going on a couple of these kinds of trail runs will prepare you and them for the real thing. You’ll know what’s possible and you’ll even start figuring out what you should bring and what isn’t really essential.

Carefully consider your pack

By packing carefully and cleverly you can make sure that emergencies are easily kept at bay. What’s more if you do get into trouble, these things can be real life savers. Some things that you should take include:
• First aid kit – this includes things for cuts, bruises and antibiotic ointments to make sure cuts don’t get infected. Some kind of painkiller that’s suitable for kids is also useful.
• Water and food – everybody should have at least an eight ounce bottle of water. It’s also a good idea to pack fruit and nuts as these can help keep the hangry at bay.
• Compass and maps – it’s always a good idea to let your kids learn how to navigate in forests and in the wild using just a map and a compass. Be sure to let them try. Just make sure you look over their shoulder so that they don’t lead you too far astray.
• Layered water-proof clothing – sometimes it gets surprisingly cold sometimes it gets surprisingly hot. Sometimes the sun shines and sometimes it rains. By wearing layered clothing with the top layers being waterproof, you’ll be prepared for it all. Don’t forget to take a plastic bag if you’re using a backpack that isn’t watertight so you can keep your things dry.
• Flash light and matches – you never know what happens. So best to be prepared. And as the wild can get both very cold and very dark, both of these will come in useful. Do note that it’s best not to let the little ones carry the fire-making devices.
• Bug spray and sunblock – yet more items that are essential, getting sunburned or becoming a banquet can put a serious dampener on a day out.

Have some trail games at the ready

Though us adults can sometimes be hugely entertained by silence and the echo of our own thoughts, that isn’t always enough for our kids. For that reason, be sure you have some good hiking games to call on in case of an emergency.
Some good ones are ‘I’m going hiking and I’m taking’ where the next player has to list everything that everybody has said so far and add their own item. Twenty questions is also a great one to keep them occupied (and teach them the power of categorization). Now, don’t for overboard. You don’t have to go into enough depth that you could become one of the professional college paper writers. A handful will do.

There are a lot of good trail apps

Okay, it’s definitely better when you don’t pull out your phone every five minutes. At the same time, having it there for emergencies is a good idea. There are plenty of apps nowadays that can use your GPS positioning to figure out where you are. In that way, if the compass and the map aren’t working out, you can get where you’re supposed to get to all the same.
In addition to Trailsnet.com, another useful online trail tool is AllTrails.com, which will give you access to free app that will point out where you are and where the trails are. That will make it a great deal easier to navigate and find your way back when you haven’t seen one of the trail markers for quite a while.
To conserve power and make sure you have the battery you need to actually make your way back, you may need to turn your phone off. That will make it far less tempting to check your work emails and miss the view.

Make an album

To make sure the experience is still there a few years or decades down the road, try making a physical album in which you stick photos, maps and other mementoes like leaves and flowers. Do check that you’re actually allowed to take the latter as some parks have a leave it where you found it policy.
The great thing about albums like this is that it will allow you to look back on hikes you did before so that the kids have positive memories associated with them (not just of the hike but also of what came out of it).
Similarly, when you’re on the hike you can always focus their attention on finding things that they can put into the album later on. This can become one of the activities that keeps them occupied as you go along.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2018/01/24/hiking-with-children/

Dec 01

Electric Bike Trail Etiquette

Trail Etiquette: E-Bikes

As electric bikes become increasingly durable, lighter in weight, and more powerful, they are becoming a popular form of transportation. Thanks to e-bike kits, riders have the chance to cross greater distances than ever before. While this is great for commuting to work and avoiding traffic, many riders are taking their e-bikes for outdoor adventures as well.

Off road trails and paths are a popular way for riders to exercise and enjoy nature. Traditional pedal bikes haven’t always been accepted on trails, and as people start to shift to electric bikes, it creates a new layer to the discussion of what should be allowed on trails. By following some common etiquette tips, you’ll be able to fully enjoy riding on a trail while making a good impression.

Check Your Local Ordinances

trail through the forest

Forest Trail

Not every trail is open to e-bike riders. Before you head out onto a local trail, you should check local ordinances and regulations regarding trail use. In some areas, e-bikes are considered a motorized vehicle, just like a moped. As a result, there are concerns about damaging nature and trail safety that are still being evaluated. It’s important to know if these concerns or any rules affect local trails before taking your e-bike out.


Be a Good Nature Steward

If you know your e-bike is allowed on a trail, then it’s important to check trail conditions before venturing out. Always avoid riding on wet trails. If your e-bike is leaving tire ruts they will cause erosion – ultimately damaging the trail for others. Also be sure to stick to marked trails as closely as possible to avoid disrupting sensitive habitats. Even cutting around other trail users isn’t recommended, as it can widen trails and damage them.


Show Courtesy to Fellow Trail Users

When on the trail you should always be alert to other people; whether they are hikers, horse riders or fellow cyclists. If approaching another trail user slow down and let them know you are coming up on them early. It’s also important to be patient and yield to hikers, horses, or anyone going uphill so as to not spook anyone.


Don’t Hesitate to Stop and Dismount

helmet for bike trail

Always Wear Your Helmet

Not every trail is ideal for e-bikes. There’s a list of dedicated trails available online. When using a trail that has a lot of activity you should be prepared to stop your bike and walk it in certain situations. Not only is this a good idea when passing other trail users, but also in areas where trails may narrow due to vegetation.


Protect Yourself and Others 

Finally, make sure that when on the trail you wear all of the normal safety equipment that you would when riding other bikes. This not only includes helmets and pads to protect yourself, but reflective gear to keep you visible. You want to make sure other users can see you as you approach or hit a crossroad to avoid accidents.

If you follow these simple tips you’ll be in good shape whenever using a trail. After all, you may be a person’s first experience with an e-bike. So you want to leave a good impression to encourage others to accept e-bike riders on trails in the future.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/12/01/electric-bike-trail-etiquette/

Sep 20

Opportunity to Improve Island Infrastructure

Time to Look at New Island Transportation Ideas

infographic for island transportation infrastructure

Island Transportation Infrastructure Options

Out of adversity comes opportunity. The damage suffered by island communities and entire islands as a result of recent hurricanes has been devastating. As always, our thoughts go out to those island residents who have suffered great losses. However, our thoughts are not enough. The entire world has an opportunity to help these islands rebuild even better than before. The old paradigms just won’t work anymore. One island at a time, we can make changes that will help not only the demolished islands, but the entire world.

Out With the Old Island Infrastructure…

It is time for action, not words. When it comes to rebuilding the destroyed islands, we should not waste time discussing the causes of climate change. No matter what the cause, it is a stark reality, and we must do something to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We need to help them pick up the pieces and build an infrastructure that is based on reality. The old system of petroleum based transportation is not appropriate for most islands. Cars are not the answer. Alternative, environmentally sound, economically feasible transportation is the only answer. To ignore that is folly. The residents cannot ignore it, local leaders should not ignore it, and the rest of the world must not ignore it. The most impacted islands now have an opportunity to rebuild from the ground up. They cannot squander this opportunity. It will likely be their last.

Avoid Making the Same Old Infrastructure Mistakes

There are plenty of arguments for phasing out the harmful petroleum-based transportation anywhere, but it makes even more sense on islands, big or small. Here are some of the reasons why it would be foolhardy to rebuild the islands using the same old model dominated by polluting vehicles:

  • Islands are compact and much better suited to alternative transportation.
  • Getting large vehicles to islands is expensive.
  • Getting adequate fuel to the islands is expensive.
  • Islands are not suited for heavy automobile traffic.
  • petroleum vehicles cause pollution which is part of the problem, not the solution.
  • Active transportation is much more healthy than petroleum transportation.
  • Alternative & active transportation promotes more resident/tourist interaction. island bike path near ocean
  • Active transportation infrastructure is much cheaper to build and maintain than roads.
  • Car-free islands are attractive to tourists in general and desirable/responsible tourists specifically.
  • Alternative transportation is MUCH safer than automobile transportation.

Unique Infrastructure Options For Unique Islands

There is no one right infrastructure option for all islands. As the chart above shows, there are numerous transportation solution possibilities. Depending on the island size, industry and resources, each island has the option to build an infrastructure that will suit their needs. However, the further you Bermuda island bike trail move down the chart above, the more expensive it is to build your infrastructure, the less environmentally friendly your infrastructure is and the less healthy your infrastructure is. If your island just utilizes the top two tiers from the chart above, you are an incredibly green, healthy, tourist-friendly and economically sound island. Moving on to level 3 (cargo trucks) allows for more movement of goods and can be fine if extreme limits (time, roads, destinations) are placed on the cargo vehicles. The next step down allows for mass transit. Once again, this could be a sound option, as long as infrastructure is designed to strictly limit where the buses/trains go and to allow for safe pedestrian/bicycle crossings. Below this level, the infrastructure becomes less environmentally friendly and less safe. Yes, even scooters are a big problem, especially when compared to pedelec bicycles.

Benefits of Car-Free Islands bicycle trail on island

Car-free islands have numerous benefits. In most cases islands are the perfect geographic locations for alternative transportation. Some of the benefits of car-free islands include:

  • Safety (Automobile accidents are one of leading cause of death & injury on islands & throughout the world.)
  • Less traffic (Islands are much more susceptible to traffic jams due to limited space & resources.)
  • Much less infrastructure costs (Building & maintaining trails is exponentially less expensive than roads.)
  • More healthy (Active transportation provides beneficial exercise for residents & visitors.)
  • Tourist attraction (Being car-free sets an island apart. It attracts tourists for all the reasons in this list.)
  • Less stressful (traffic jams = stress… nuff said)
  • Environmentally friendly (Bikes and electric bikes create almost no pollution.) Bermuda Railway Trail
  • Friendlier (Spend time on a road, then on a bike trail. See which one has happier, healthier & friendlier people.)
  • Better for wildlife (Cars kill!! Not only people but birds & other animals.)
  • Space saving (Cars & trucks take up lots of space. Not only on the roads, but also at homes, in towns & near businesses. Storing bikes is much more space-efficient than storing cars.)

Successful Car-free or Car-limited Islands

The idea of limiting automobiles on islands isn’t a new one. It has been successfully implemented on islands already. And these islands are often featured as best islands for visiting or living in major publications and lists. Some of these islands include:




Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/09/20/opportunity-improve-island-infrastructure/

Sep 13

Electric Bikes on Trails Update

Electric Bikes Becoming Popular on Trails…

island bike path near ocean

Trails in Paradise

The Trailsnet blog post entitled Electric Bikes on Trails is still the most commented on post in our decade-long history, and it is in the top-ten most viewed posts of all times. Electric bicycles on trails is a hot topic with Trailsnet viewers, and most of you seem to be in favor of them. But many things have changed since our last electric bike blog post. For one thing, more communities have begun to allow e-bikes on trails. Locally, the city of Boulder, CO has approved one of the more lenient electric bike rules and regulations among major trail-towns in the United States. Even more locally, the town of Louisville, CO has begun to allow electric bicycles on trails, but with a few more restriction than Boulder. I have also noticed a major increase in the number of electric bikes on the US 36 Bikeway that runs between Boulder and Denver.

… But More Consistency Needed Regarding Electric Bike Rules

installed OmniWheel electric wheel

OmniWheel on a Cruiser

You’ll notice that I didn’t say “more rules are needed.” I said more consistency is needed. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the e-bike rules were pretty similar whether you were in Montana or Maine? Wouldn’t it be nice if the electric bike rules were similar whether you were on a rail-trail, an urban trail, a paved trail or a rural trail? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one website you could visit where you could plug in a zip code or town name and get the e-bike rules for trails clearly spelled out with no ambiguity? It will happen and hopefully sooner rather than later. We shouldn’t have to worry about going to a community like Glenwood Springs, CO and getting a $1,000 ticket for riding an electric bike on the local trails. Electric bicyclists aren’t criminals. In general, they aren’t even fast or reckless. They’re are commuters and recreationalists who enjoy riding the trails, enjoying the outdoors and being responsible, environmentally-friendly citizens.

Electric Bikes on Trails Survey

It’s been awhile since we’ve surveyed Trailsnet readers about electric bicycles on trails, so I’ll be adding a Twitter e-bike survey soon. Remember to follow Trailsnet on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn & Instagram.




Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/09/13/electric-bikes-trails-update/

Aug 04

Coffee for the Trail

Stoked Coffee for the Trail

instant coffee photo

Stoked Stix Coffee

Outdoor coffee enthusiasts rejoice!! Now there’s a coffee company that caters to those of us who love drinking smooth coffee in the great outdoors. Stoked Coffee Roasters is headquartered in Hood River, Oregon and provides us with the perfect coffee for those of us who enjoy our caffeine while out on the trail.

What Makes Good Coffee for Outdoor Enthusiasts?

Whether you are a backpacker, bike-packer or car camper, you want coffee that meets the following criteria:

  • tastes good (duh)
  • easy and convenient to pack (doesn’t take up too much room)
    photo of dog, daypack & coffee

    Great Outdoor Coffee

  • easy to make (no electric outlets in the wilderness)
  • versatile (hot in the morning, cold in the afternoon)

Stoked Stix instant coffee meets all those requirements. A box of Stoked Stix comes with eight .12 ounce packets of instant coffee. The packets (sticks) of coffee are extremely easy to stow in a backpack or daypack without taking up much room or making a mess. I transferred my Stix to Ziplock bags as an added precaution and for easy access. Making coffee with Stoked Stix was about as easy as it gets. The instant coffee powder mixes easily with either hot or cold water. So I was able to enjoy hot coffee in the morning and cold coffee in the afternoon. And best of all, the coffee was delicious. I’m a cold-brew coffee fan because I like my coffee smooth and rich. I found Stoked Coffee Stix to make coffee that wasn’t bitter and could easily be mixed to whatever strength I desired.

Other Stoked Coffees

Stoked Stix Coffee review

Great Camping Coffee

If you’re about to hit the trail for a week of backpacking, then Stoked Stix is definitely the way to go. As mentioned above, they are lightweight and convenient for stowing in a backpack. But what about for back home or for car camping? Stoked also makes a line of Signature Series Coffee Blends that are great for brewing a pot of hot coffee or even whipping up a batch of bodacious cold-brewed coffee. So, my recommendation to all of you Trailsnet fans is to visit the Stoked Roasters website and add a box (or two) of Stoked Stix and at least one bag of Stoked coffee or espresso beans to your shopping cart. You love the great outdoors, so your coffee should be crafted with the outdoors in mind. Stoked coffee is going to be an essential supply on my backpacking list. Once you give it a try, I think you’ll feel the same way.


Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/08/04/coffee-for-the-trail/

Jun 16

Lost Coast Trail, California

Lost Coast Trail

Every once in a while, I find an interesting trail blog post that I’d like to share with Trailsnet subscribers. I hope you enjoy this post about the Lost Coast Trail.

UPDATE – King Range National Conservation Area: As of January 9th, 2017, all permits for backcountry camping within the wilderness area of King Range will be exclusively available through http://www.recreation.gov. Reservations are now $10 per permit. There is now a quota system attached to use of the area, which allows for 60 entries per day during […]

via Lost Coast Trail, California — besthike.com

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/06/16/lost-coast-trail-california/

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