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How is your life?  Busy, stressful, running from one thing to the next?  A new study says slowing down a little and enjoying one of the hikes on HikeTriCities.com can help relieve stress.

The study, published in the journal, Frontiers of Psychology shows that 20 minutes of exposure to nature can decrease the levels of cortisol in the body which is a stress hormone.  In the study, 36 urban dwellers were evaluated after they had a “Nature Experience” (NE) at least 3 times a weeek.  The duration of the optimal response and benefit was between 20 and 30 minutes but the benefits continue to grow after 30 minutes, just at a slower rate.  So, it appears at least 20 minutes is a great amount of time to help reduce stress in our busy life.

How can we take advantage of what many in the health care industry are calling a “Nature Pill”?  Just pick one of the hikes listed here on Hiketricities.com.  Make it a priority in your life to help you deal with stress and have a more relaxed and reduced stress life.

You can consider this a “Nature Pill Prescription” that I would recommend to each of us so that we can feel the real benefit of slowing down our day and enjoying the beauty that surrounds us!

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I haven’t hiked on Badger Mountain in quite a while so I decided to hit the Canyon Trail for the first time in over a year.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got to Trailhead Park and saw the improvements to the bottom part of the trail.

More gradual Canyon Trail route which bypasses the “steep stairs” section

Trail volunteers have been busy cutting out a brand new section to make for a more gradual climb up the Badger Mountain Canyon Trail.  A common complaint of the past was the difficulty and hazards posed by the steep stair section which climbs quickly out of Trailhead Park.

Climbing the steep, rough steps on the Badger Mountain Canyon Trail

It is a very nice addition to the collection of Badger Mountain Trails (Canyon, Sagebrush, Skyline, Badger Flats and Langdon (Orchard View)).  This makes the Canyon Trail hike a little easier but it makes the trail .2 miles longer.  I encourage you to go check out this new route and share with your friends.  You can click this link for directions and maps for the newly updated Canyon Trail!

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Well, it’s been several years since I’ve hiked the Wallula Gap journey.  You can click here for the updated hike information and directions.

At the Wallula Gap overlook

I was talking to a friend who said the original instructions ran him into several private property and no trespassing signs so I decided to see if there was another way to access this gem of an overlook into geologic history of the Columbia Basin.

Beautiful Hills and Valleys Along the Wallula Gap Hike

One thing was clear to me when I made the journey, it is a challenging hike!  With lots of scampering up and down STEEP terrain, I wish I had my hiking boots on.  The trip also took me through thick vegetation and some areas where sharp thorny plants grew thick and up to thigh high!  I came home with red, scraped up and irritated shins, knees, and thighs (I guess shorts weren’t the best idea!).

But, the journey was so worthwhile.  Not a soul in sight and very peaceful.  Rolling hills and valleys.

Wallula Gap Hike Wildflowers

Still, several wildflowers were blooming and adding a splash of color to the dried up grasses and plants of the desert.  Since I blazed a new route, there was different scenery than before and I came across a geologic marker.  No wildlife on this trip, though evidence they are around was plentiful.  Please enjoy this high with the utmost respect for private property and no trespassing signs as we definitely want to preserve access to this beautiful area!

Please practice good hiking etiquette to protect access for everyone, read more here.

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It is time to speak up about access to hiking areas in the Columbia Basin!  There is an opportunity to hike the highest peak in the Columbia Basin, one which has been closed to the public for more than 70 years.  Several years ago, Congressman Doc Hastings created legislation directing the opening of Rattlesnake Mountain to public access.  Since then, there have been delays and token bus trips to the top for a very select few.  Now, the Department of Fish and Wildlife are considering options for opening up the mountain to the public and we need to make sure our voices are heard.  Please take a minute and look at the options on the DFW website.  I would encourage you to support Alternative C as it allows the most access to bicycle and hiking use.  Rattlesnake Mountain has been home to an observatory (which was recently torn down), and is also claimed to be a sacred site for Native American tribes.  It has been largely untouched for over 60 years.  It is home to multitudes of coyotes, elk, deer and other wildlife.  It is also home to unique plant life which is adapted to survive the often brutal high winds which buffet the mountain.  It is a unique habitat which deserves to be protected but, which also provides a unique opportunity for the public to witness and marvel at the amazing beauty that surrounds us in this desert area where we live.  Please take a minute to read the report, or, at least send a brief email to hanfordreach@fws.gov.  You can also send your comments to: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Rattlesnake Unit Comments, 64 Maple Street, Burbank, Washington 99323

Please be respectful and civil as you send your comments on this issue.  In addition, please practice good etiquette as you hike the other trails around the Columbia Basin as this will help reflect the behavior FWS can hope for on Rattlesnake Mountain.  Here are a few key reminders about hiking etiquette:

  • Mind your own trash, don’t litter.  Pick up litter you may encounter
  • Curb your dog, keep on leash and pick up after them (don’t leave waste bags along the trail, dispose of them properly)
  • Stay on the trail, shortcuts only tear up the areas we’re there to see and they mar the natural beauty we have in our area
  • Smile and say hi to your fellow hikers
  • Yield to uphill traffic, step to the side of the trail to let uphill traffic pass (don’t step off the trail)

12 Trail Manners Tips You Should Share with Everyone, Hiking Etiquette!

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