These remnants of the Columbia River Highway’s history echoes a time of great adventure, slow travel, and mesmerizing views. The Columbia River Highway once came through these cliffs back in 1921. There were 2 tunnels that originally were built through this high rock point to allow for travel. It was a popular highway then turned byway, then turned trail. It gave fabulous views of the Columbia River and the Gorge. The architects of the tunnels took their inspirated from the Axenstrasse along Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. But regardless of the sound design, these tunnels were plagued with troubles, especially rockfalls and automobile accidents. In 1954 they build the replacement road at water level along the river, and these tunnels were abandoned and fell into disrepair. The replacement road became Interstate 84. In 1995 the tunnels were re-opened for tourist byway access, and then converted to the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail, completely restored. It was opened to hikers in 2000 as a 4 1/4 mile hiking trail. Panoramic scenic overlooks, picnic tables, and paved trails appease the regular day-visitors to this hotspot along the Columbia. Great views of 18 mile island can be seen very nicely from several vantage points along the trail. THere is an etching of a message scratched into the rock past the sencond window in 1921 by a hunting party that was trapped there from snow fall in the past.
Nogal Trail #48 to Tortolita Canyon Trail #54
* Sierra Blanca, Ruidoso, New Mexico, USA *
On November 2013 we went for a hike along Nogal Canyon Trail #48 to the peak overlooking the Valley of Fire on the Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 to spread the ashes of our family. If you’d like to read the Chronicles of that adventure, go here: . Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 is 9 miles long and begins off of Forest Road 400 through Private Land ending at the Crest Trail (T25). Its a popular trail for horseback riding and hiking. It’s a light hike. Midway along this trail it meets the 1 1/2 mile long Nogal Trail that rises gradually 600 feet in elevation. The trails’ highest point is 9,000 feet above sea level and is a very pleasant hike, moderately-used, with a gentle gradual incline at the base of Nogal Peak. The Nogal trail ends at Tortolita Trail and starts at the downfall shamble of a abandoned gold mine (which was flooded when we visited). Tortolita Trail follows the steep west faced slope of Nogal Peak towards the head of Nogal canyon, climbing above Dry Gulch and extending to the old trailhead in Nogal Canyon. It is not well used or maintained, thereby sometimes hard to follow. At this intersection, appears to be an archaeological site labelled PH 1 (or could represent Post Hole 1 atop the peak) just off center of the intersection of these two trails. It appears to be that of an old mine as rock piles abound and a deep cut in the peak looks mined.
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *
Our final tour location was Niagara Gorge which was full of hiking trails and overlooks to the Devil’s Hole (Giant whirlpool). The Gorge is an approximate 7 mile long gorge carved by the Niagara River separating the U.S. (New York) and Canada (Ontario) beginning at the base of Niagara Falls and ending at the Niagara escarpment near Queenston, Ontario. The falls originated at the escarpment 12,000 years ago and the river formed the gorge receding the falls upstream towards Lake Erie slowly eroding the Lockport dolomite sub-strata that the river runs along. This river and gorge is one of the world’s strongest river currents in existence. The Devil’s Hole Rapids and Whirlpool is one of the largest in the river. Devil’s Hole Ravine is located along the U.S. side of the Niagara River Gorge just north of the Niagara Glen. It is a deep bowl shaped basin formed from the Bloody Run tributary of the Glacial Lake Tonawanda. It gets the name “Bloody Run” after the massacre of British Soldiers here by the Seneca Indians in 1763. THe Devil’s Hole is believed to be the lair of the Evil Spirit who gobbles up souls of men and horses that enter his cave.
Merritt’s Nature Track
* Thredbo, New South Wales, Australia * http://www.wildwalks.com/bushwalking-and-hiking-in-nsw/kosciuszko-np-south/merrits-nature-track.html *
Just from the heart of Thredbo lies a splendid little hiking trail called “Merritts Nature Track” which works its way up the skiing and bobsledding trails of Mt. Kosciuszko. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to hike the trail from Thredbo Village and runs about 3.7 km through the Kosciuszko National Park. It consists of a 64 meter climb exploring the native bushland around the ski resort and slopes. You can hike it from the village up along the Kosciuszko Express chairlift line up the hill, near the Eagles Nest restaurant, winding through a snow gum forest, following ski runs and bush tracks back down the hill. It also walks alongside parts of the popular Thredbo Bobsled tubes and goes up around the back of the village’s tennis courts. Nice hike. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Glenariff Forest Park
Antrim, Northern Ireland
One of Northern Ireland’s enchanted woodlands … Glenariff Forest Park is full of myth and legends, faeries, and woodland creatures. It is home to a unique Waterfall Walkway that was introduced to tourists 80 years ago and significantly upgraded along its 3 mile length that passes through a National Nature Reserve. The park is a photographer’s paradise. It houses a visitor center, exhibition, interactive display, a gift shop, caravan/camping sites, and a seasonal restaurant complimenting the Park called “Gateway to the Glens”. The park is a 2,928 acre forest in County Antrim of Northern Ireland that is managed by the Northern Ireland Forest Service. The forest is also utilized for timber production centered around the clearfelling of coniferous plantation trees.
According to some myths and legends, the legendary warrior/poet Oisin (Ossian/Son of the giant Fin McCool) had once tried to outrun a band of Vikings in this forest. When they closed in on him, he climbed down a steep gully, as just as he was about to plunge to his death, a mysterious grey rope-like column appeared, he grabbed on to it, and climbed up to safety. When he reached the top he found it to be the tail of a white horse grazing in the field above. He thanked the horse and asked for its help. She turned into a mountain mist, falling to the ground as water, thereby washing away the Norsemen who pursued him. This is now the waterfall in the park known as the “Grey Mare’s Tail”. (myth as told from Causeway Coast and Glens Myths Tour).
Acorn Alley and Bobcat Way
Hiking / Biking Trails at Cheyenne Mountain State Park * Hwy 115 * Colorado Springs, Colorado * http://parks.state.co.us/Parks/CheyenneMountain/ *
( Read About Cheyenne Mountain State Park … Here )
Both of these brush to open range scrubland trails circle the new campgrounds at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Great for small hikes for easy footing and walking with some views of Cheyenne Mountain and the views of NORAD in the distance. Acorn Alley Trail is a small .53 mile hiking/biking trail along a gentle slope on a universally accessible pathway that circles the campground. Bobcat Way Trail is a .40 mile easy, gentle slope trail going through the beginning of the foothills. Both are not too scenic, but are easy walks with occasional sightings of deer and elk. Rating: 2 stars out of 5.