Saturday, December 01, 2007

Best hiking trails in the West

American Hiking Society recently announced the best western trails on land protected by the federal Bureau of Land Management. Just think about the birding possibilities on these recommended excursions!

Many BLM lands are unique and wild, offering exceptional views, few people, and a rare opportunity to experience the "wild west" in the same way the pioneers did hundreds of years ago. But, because many of these fantastic landscapes aren't very well known, it's hard to find information about exceptional hikes on BLM lands. To encourage people to enjoy and steward trails on BLM lands, American Hiking Society launched a search in summer 2007 for the "Best BLM Hikes" in the west.

Winning hikes feature midnight sun, knee-deep wildflowers, petroglyphs and the opportunity to experience traditional western lifestyles. Best yet, most of these hikes are part of a new system of BLM lands known as the National Landscape Conservation System – 26 million acres of the best places to experience the history and wild beauty of the west.
(Click on the system map to see a larger version.)

Among the best hiking trails are Virgin Peak Hike near Las Vegas, Nev.; Paria Canyon - Vermilion Cliff Wilderness Trail near Lees Ferry, Ariz.; Continental Divide Trail near Rio Puerco, N.M.; Mill Creek Canyon Trail near Moab, Utah; Cow Creek Wilderness Hike near Great Falls, Mon.; and Little Blitzen Gorge Hike near Burns, Ore.

The AHS site includes a great hike checklist and a discussion of Leave No Trace principles. Good info for birders who venture outdoors!

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