April 03, 2008

Are you a master backcountry chef?

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Throughout 2008 American Hiking Society will be searching for the best frontcountry and backcountry recipes for our new Volunteer Vacation cookbook. Submit your recipes with a photo and a short story about the Volunteer Vacation or outdoor excursion where you made your masterpiece (no more than 300 words please). Recipes will be tested throughout the summer and fall by volunteers across the country. Winners will be included in the cookbook to be printed in 2009 and the top camp cook will receive an Outback Oven from Backpacker's Pantry.

Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2008.

E-mail your entries to volunteer@americanhiking.org,
or mail to;

American Hiking Society Recipe Contest
1422 Fenwick Lane
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Good luck!

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2008

A New Year! A New Name!

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Jeffrey Hunter at one of his favorite vistas - McAfee Knob in SW Virginia

The weeks leading up to and after the New Year is a fun time for many folks. It's a time for celebration, college football, resolutions, renewal, sparkling beverages, friends and family, and change!

With that last item in mind - change - the time has come for a change here on this site. This blog needs a real name. Not some lame name like "American Hiking Society's Southeast Trail Program." I mean, what kind of name is that for a blog?

As I was hiking up Lookout Mountain yesterday morning on the Gum Spring Trail, I was thinking about possible names for the blog. That train of thought helped take the focus off the fact that I was freezing my tail off in 21 degree weather! And then it hit me! A tree branch square in the forehead! Ouch! It always helps to pay attention on the trail.

Moments later it came to me. As my destination - Sunset Rock - came into view, the new name for the blog just popped into my head. The Vista.

Why The Vista you ask? Easy! Vistas tell you where you've been and where you're going. They offer a view that can often change your perspective. Vistas also offer opportunities for photographs - like some that you'll find here. You also have to work to reach a vista. That means hiking. Any hike worth it's salt will offer a reward commensurate with the effort required to achieve it! That reward is often a vista. Vistas are also dynamic. A view one day will look totally different the next. That's part of the magic of hiking and immersing yourself in the great outdoors.

So there you have it! I always welcome suggestions for content, including photographs. Please send along your comments, suggestions and photos to me. And oh yeah. Have a Happy New Year! Get out there and hike! Be safe! And have fun!

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)

December 04, 2007

American Hiking Society's Special Gift Membership Bundle!
A Great Gift for that Special Hiker in Your Life!


The holidays are almost here. If you're looking for a gift idea for that special person in your life, American Hiking Society has exactly what you're looking for! Our Gift Membership Bundle includes a one year membership in American Hiking Society, a pair of top of the line commemorative Leki Super Makalu Antishock trekking poles (complete with rubber tips!), and a Nalgene water bottle. All for only $100! The gift membership also includes a one year subscription to Backpacker Magazine!

To order this package valued at over $200, please visit the American Hiking Society's Hiker's Store. Happy Holidays!

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2007

The National Trails Fund:
An Interview with American Hiking Society's Ivan Levin

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American Hiking Society's Trail Programs Manager - Ivan Levin

American Hiking Society is proud to administer the nation's only privately funded grant program dedicated solely to protecting America's hiking trails. Approximately $50,000 is awarded annually to trail and conservation organizations to support a wide range of projects. The trails fund is supported in part by generous donations from L.L. Bean, Therm-a-Rest and MSR.

On Friday August 31, I was in Silver Spring, Maryland where I sat down to chat with my colleague Ivan Levin. Ivan is American Hiking Society's Trail Programs Manager, and he oversees the National Trails Fund. To listen to this 7 minute 48 second interview, please click here (3.7 MB).

For more information about the National Trails Fund or to download an application, please visit the American Hiking Society website.

Download a copy of the 2008 National Trails Fund Guidelines.

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 08:25 AM

August 31, 2007


For Immediate Release
Contact Vanessa Vaughan, (301) 565-6704, ext. 204

August 13, 2007

American Hiking Society Accepting Applications for Trail Grants

National Trails Fund Supports Volunteer Projects Across the Country

Silver Spring, MD – American Hiking Society, the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience, announced today that it is currently accepting applications for 2008 National Trails Fund grants.

The National Trails Fund is the only national, privately funded grants program for hiking trails. Grants typically range from $500 to $5,000 per project and are awarded to dedicated local organizations such as volunteer-led trail clubs and land trusts that need the resources to build or repair new or existing trails, protect trail corridors, and support trail outreach and volunteer programs. Since creating the National Trails Fund in 1998, American Hiking Society has awarded nearly $340,000 in grants to 89 different trail projects across the country.

National Trails Fund awards are made possible by generous support from the program’s charter sponsors, L.L.Bean, MSR, and Therm-a-Rest, companies with a rich history of supporting volunteerism and environmental causes. Their support, along with private gifts from individuals and businesses, allows American Hiking Society to award at least $40,000 each year, providing a significant base to secure a future for trails and open space.

American Hiking Society will consider projects that meet one or more of the following criteria:

· Have hikers as the primary constituency; however, all human-powered trail uses are applicable.

· Build or maintain trails that result in improved access, improved safety and environmental sustainability.

· Include constituency building surrounding specific trail projects, emphasizing volunteer recruitment and support.

· Secure trail lands, including acquisition of trail and trail corridors and conservation easements.

Applications must be postmarked by November 1, 2007

"The National Smokejumper Association has provided the USDA Forest Service with large trail crews of volunteers made up of former Smokejumpers for the past 10 years,” said Jon McBride, trail maintenance coordinator for the National Smokejumper Association, a recipient of a 2007 National Trails Fund grant. “The grant we received from American Hiking Society allowed us to provide new and state-of-the-art equipment to our crews for the first time and, in turn, helped to reduce risks of injury and improve efficiency."

“Support from American Hiking Society helped the Arizona Wilderness Coalition (AWC) engage our members in trail maintenance, restoration and construction in the Granite Mountain Wilderness,” said Kevin Gaither-Banchoff, executive director for AWC, also a recipient of a 2007 National Trails Fund grant. “This type of stewardship work not only helps improve future visitors’ experiences at Granite Mountain Wilderness and other wild places in Arizona, but helps AWC build better collaborative relationships with managing agencies and personnel.”

For more information on the National Trails Fund and to download the 2008 National Trails Fund guidelines and application, visit AmericanHiking.org, or contact Ivan Levin, Trail Programs Manager, at 301-565-6704 x 208.


American Hiking Society

Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national, recreation-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience itself. To learn more about American Hiking Society and its programs, including the National Trails Fund, please visit www.AmericanHiking.org or call (301) 565-6704.

MSR & Therm-a-Rest

For more than thirty-five years, Seattle-based Cascade Designs®, makers of Therm-a-Rest® and MSR® products, has led the outdoor industry in the design and manufacture of innovative, reliable and useful gear including the first self-inflating camping mattress and the first multi-fuel stove. www.cascadedesigns.com.


Founded in 1912, L.L.Bean is a leading retailer of quality apparel, sporting gear and home furnishings for outdoor enthusiasts. The company partners with conservation and recreation organizations that promote conservation and stewardship of our natural resources. www.llbean.com

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 04:49 PM

July 27, 2007

Limited Edition Leki Trekking Poles on Sale

For a limited time only, American Hiking Society is offering custom made Leki anti-shock trekking poles for only $75 ($67.50 for American Hiking Society members). These poles have a suggested retail price of $110.

These Limited Edition trekking poles include cork grips and rubber tips to ensure that you impact on trail surfaces is minimized. To order your set of poles, please visit our Hikers Store today. But don't delay! Once they're gone, they're gone for good!

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 03:12 PM

Charity Navigator Recognizes American Hiking Society as a 4 Star Charity


Recently, American Hiking Society received a 4 star rating by Charity Navigator, which is a non-profit organization that independently evaluates the financial health of non-profit organizations. Recognized by Forbes and Time Magazine as one of the top independent evaluators of US charities, Charity Navigator does not simply toss around 4 star ratings.

Here at American Hiking, we feel gratified that an outside non-profit organization has recognized that we run our organization efficiently, and use our donor's resources wisely. We're also proud to join a select group of environmental charities who have received this prestigious 4 star rating.

American Hiking Society is also proud to be a membership-based organization and we invite you to join us in making your next hike begin your hike with us todayyour best one yet. Every member of American Hiking Society represents the commitment of individuals who are dedicated to beautiful places to hike, strong outdoor ethics, and the belief that the preservation of hiking trails and their environments is important and a worthwhile legacy to leave the next generation.

Our strength, on Capitol Hill and on-the-ground, is in the support we have from hikers from coast to coast. Hikers like you. We could never do individually what we are able to do together, so please, take a moment and begin your hike with us today.

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 10:56 AM

January 11, 2007

Great Eastern Trail presentation in Louisville, KY
planned for Saturday January 13 at 7 PM

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On Saturday evening January 13, American Hiking Society's Southeast Trail Programs Director - Jeffrey Hunter will be speaking at the Louisville Nature Center. The subject of his talk will be the Great Eastern Trail - a newly announced long distance trail system The event is being sponsored by Kentucky Trails Association. The talk is free, open to the public, and suitable for all ages.

To view an article that appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal about this talk, please click here.

On Saturday afternoon January 13 at 1 PM, Kentucky Trails Association will lead a hike along the Riverwalk. To learn more about this hike and future hikes, please take a look at the Kentucky Trails Association hike calendar.

If you can't make this weekend's hike, in February Kentucky Trails Association will be leading hikes on the Ohio River Levee Trail, Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, Mammoth Cave National Park, and Knobs State Forest.

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 09:03 PM

December 22, 2006

Non-Profit Job Opening:
American Hiking Society seeks
Marketing & Outreach Coordinator

Do you like to hike? Would you like to put your communications & marketing skills to use helping to promote and protect America's hiking trails? If so, please consider applying for the following position which is based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Marketing & Outreach Coordinator

American Hiking Society is the national voice for America’s hikers and fights to protect and preserve hiking trails, conserve the natural areas that surround them, and promote hiking itself. The Marketing and Outreach Coordinator is responsible for developing and implementing communications and media strategies, including identifying and responding to media opportunities, drafting releases, maintaining press lists, developing web copy, coordinating print materials, and other related duties. The Coordinator will provide corporate relations outreach and marketing support, develop and procure promotional products, and coordinate and present at outreach events. The position reports to the Director of Development and is based at the organization headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, with required travel to field programs and special events, as needed.


Communication & Media Relations

Event Outreach and Marketing

American Hiking Society Website Oversight

American Hiker Coordination

Hiker’s Store Management

Corporate Relations Support



American Hiking provides an exciting, creative, and professional yet relaxed nonprofit atmosphere with a strong outdoor ethic. Position requires a willingness to hike and share a love of the outdoors with all stakeholders. Occasional weekend and long hours required.

Send cover letter and resume to:
‘Marketing and Outreach Coordinator Job Search,’
American Hiking Society
1422 Fenwick Lane
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Or email same to Andrea Ketchmark. Visit www.AmericanHiking.org for more information.

American Hiking Society is an equal opportunity employer.

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 01:41 PM

December 11, 2006

Interview With Shirley Hearn -
Outgoing Volunteer Vacations Program Manager


Shirley Hearn

On Friday December 8, 2006 after a 19-year career with American Hiking Society, Shirley Hearn left American Hiking to move on to a new challenge and chapter in her life. Although she will be sorely missed by her friends and colleagues, Shirley has helped this great program grow to what it is today - a national model for volunteerism and stewardship. What a tremendous legacy!

To listen to a 12-minute interview with Shirley, and learn more about the American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacations program, please click here (5.7 MB).

After listening to this interview, please take a moment to visit the 2007 Volunteer Vacations schedule. We have some fantastic trips scheduled across the USA in the coming year, including projects located in Alaska, at San Francisco's Golden Gate National Park, in Baxter State Park in Maine, along the Florida Trail and much more! . It's a great way to give something back to the trails, and a fantastic way to make new friends and visit beautiful places.

If you have any questions about Volunteer Vacations, please contact our new Program Manager Andrea Ketchmark.

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 12:05 PM

October 05, 2006

Take a Hike! And Take a Child With You!

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Last Child In The Woods
by Richard Louv

Fall is finally here, and with it comes cooler weather, lower humidity, shorter days, and the best hiking of the year! Columbus Day weekend is almost upon us, and here in the southeast, places like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cumberland Island National Seashore, and the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area will be crawling with hikers. Tens of thousands of additional hiking enthusiasts will flock to their local county and state parks, city greenways, and nature centers to get out and stretch their legs.

While this might seem like a positive thing in a time when CNN, Time Magazine and other major news outlets constantly beat the drum about our nation's obesity epidemic, all is not as it seems. This morning I awoke and found an article in the Albany (NY) Times Union talking about how children are not getting outside like they once used to. A troubling trend is occurring out in the woods. This issue is the topic of a new book by Richard Louv entitled "Last Child in the Woods." Published in 2005, this book was recently released in paperback and has inspired a new term - "Nature Deficit Disorder."

Continue reading "Take a Hike! And Take a Child With You!"

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 08:51 AM

September 30, 2006

Announcing the new Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition Coffee Blend!

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Don't panic - it's organic!

Are you a coffee lover? Are you interested in protecting open space for current and future generations to enjoy? Now you can wake up in the morning and enjoy a fresh cup of fine coffee knowing that your purchase is helping to develop hiking trails in the southeastern United States.

American Hiking Society is proud to announce a partnership with the Alabama based company - Higher Ground - to help support American Hiking Society's work in the southeast. Higher Ground has developed a new blend of 100% organic, Fair Trade certified, shade grown coffee for your enjoyment. A portion of each purchase of the coffee will benefit American Hiking Society.

The Southeastern Foot Trail Coalition Blend is an exceptional medium roast with a rich taste and full flavor. This medium bodied coffee carries a taste of wild berries and a subtle dark chocolate

Please visit Higher Ground Roasters website today and pick-up some fresh roasted coffee for you or a friend!

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 07:30 AM

April 28, 2006

Trail Leaders to gather in Gainesville, FL May 5-7

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SEFTC Leadership Council in May '05 at South Carolina's Table Rock State Park

On the weekend of May 5-7, representatives from the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition (SEFTC) will meet in Micanopy, Florida to plan the next steps in the creation of our 5,000-mile interconnected trail network here in the southeast. To get an idea of the work that these clubs are doing, and to understand the effort required to construct a trail, please take a look at this video.

Continue reading "Trail Leaders to gather in Gainesville, FL May 5-7"

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 10:11 AM

February 28, 2006

What does American Hiking Society do?

So, somehow you've found yourself at the Southern Appalachians Initiative blog, and now you're scratching your head saying, "Who is American Hiking Society, and what the heck do they do?" Well, pull up a chair and let me tell you!

American Hiking has been around for 30 years. Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, we are the only National organization that advocates on behalf of the hiker and the hiking experience. Sounds good, right? But what does that really mean to you, the hiker?

We have several programs that are important to the hiker and the 240+ hiking and conservation organizations that are members of the American Hiking Society Alliance. The first program of interest is National Trails Day. Held the first Saturday in June every year, this event brings together trail enthusiasts to discover, learn about and celebrate trails while participating in educational exhibits, trail dedications, gear demonstrations, instructional workshops and trail work projects. This year's event will take place on Saturday June 3, 2006, and the event theme is "Experience Your Outdoors".

Volunteer Vacations is another of our signature programs. In 2006 over 100 service projects are planned in our National Parks, National Forests, state parks and natural areas. Participants sign-up and join a trail crew to help build or maintain trail, or remove exotic species, or rehabilitate a trail shelter. In 2006 in the Chattanooga area, Volunteer Vacations are planned with the Lula Lake Land Trust, the Cumberland Trail Conference, and the Tennessee River Gorge Trust. You can join trips planned in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, California, or any number of great destinations. The fee is $120, and includes a 1-year membership in American Hiking. Airport pick-up, camping fees and food are often included, and better yet, your travel expenses are tax deductible! Checkout our list of 2006 Volunteer Vacation trips .

Perhaps most importantly, American Hiking has a full-time Conservation Director who works on issues impacting hikers and the hiking experience. From ensuring funding for our Federal partners to advocating for clean air, American Hiking Society is your voice on Capitol Hill. Our annual “Trails Advocacy Week” took place earlier in February, and representatives from trail organizations from across the USA “Hiked the Hill” to visit with their Congressional representatives. While this work may not be sexy, it is vital to help maintain support and funding for trails, nationwide.

Our National Trails Fund gives out $40,000 in grants annually to trail clubs. These grants help to build bridges, purchase tools, or help to acquire land or the conservation easements that allow trails to be extended.

Our Public Lands Fellow Seth Levy works to ensure that the Bureau of Land management's (BLM) 26 million acre National Landscape Conservation System is protected for future generations.

And then of course, there is our first regionally focused program, the Southern Appalachians Initiative, which seeks to build a 5,000-mile trail network here in the southeast. That office is based right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I hope that gives you a little better understanding of who we are, and what we do. If you'd like to become a member of American Hiking, you can do so online, safely and securely! Your membership helps us carry out our mission of protecting hiking trails, and the natural areas that they pass through. So please give it some thought. We'd like to have you join today!

Happy Hiking!

Jeffrey Hunter

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 12:43 PM

February 26, 2006

What is the Southern Appalachians Initiative?

The Southern Appalachians Initiative is a project of the American Hiking Society that seeks to build a 5,000-mile interconnected network of hiking trails in a 9-state region that includes Tennessee. The effort is based in Chattanooga and is directed by Jeffrey Hunter, the Southeasteern Trail Programs Director for American Hiking.

Locally, the project involves the Cumberland Trail Conference, the Chattanooga Hiking Club, the Cleveland, Tennessee based Cherokee Hiking Club, the Georgia Pinhoti Trail Association, and twenty seven other trail & conservation organizations based in the Southeast.

The Lula lake Land Trust and Tennessee River Gorge Trust are also involved in this exciting project.

This BLOG will chronicle the effort by American Hiking Society to build, protect, and promote this grand 5,000-mile trail system, which will eventually run right through the heart of Chattanooga.

This coming week, Jeffrey Hunter will be hiking the 36-mile long Lakeshore Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This trail and the surrounding parklands are imperiled by a proposal to build a road inside our most beloved National Park. While this is a complex issue dating back to 1943, this blog will illustrate the beauty of the area, and try to explain what will be lost if the North Shore Road is developed.

So, if you like to hike or want to get involved in hiking or volunteering, please bookmark this site and visit it regularly. Happy Trails!

Jeffrey Hunter

Posted by Jeffrey Hunter at 09:10 PM