October is officially “wine month” in Charlottesville, but any of the 30 local vineyards can be enjoyed year-round. Part of the reason for the success of vineyards in this part of the state is the topography. The eroded mountains create wonderful growing conditions, which in turn, yield beautifully complex wines. Following are a few vineyards in and around Charlottesville that should be included on any wine tour.
Barboursville Vineyards (17655 Winery Rd., Barboursville, 540/832-3824) is a popular stop on the local wine tour scene on a beautiful 18th-century estate, less than a half hour from Charlottesville. They were the first in the region to seriously develop European wine varietals and offer daily tastings.
Blenheim Vineyards (31 Blenheim Farm, Charlottesville, 434/293-5366) was established in 2000 by Dave Matthews, of Dave Matthews Band fame. The vineyard is a family-owned and operated business 20 minutes southeast of the city. They have two vineyard sites and grow chardonnay, viognier, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and cabernet sauvignon. The timber frame tasting room ($5 per person) has cool glass flooring that allows visitors to look into the tank and barrel room below.
First Colony Winery(1650 Harris Creek Rd., Charlottesville, 434/979-7105) offers state, national, and internationally awarded wines. They produce chardonnay, viognier, merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. They have tastings, a gift shop, a beautiful 2,000-square-foot event room, and picturesque grounds for picnicking.
Jefferson Vineyards (1353 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy., Charlottesville, 434/977-3042) sits on the site between Monticello and Ash-Lawn where Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazzei of Italy first decided to establish a vineyard. The vineyard produces between 6,000 and 8,000 cases annually and makes wine entirely from grapes grown in Virginia. Daily tours and tastings are $10 and include a crystal Riedel glass.
Keswick Vineyards(1575 Keswick Winery Dr., Keswick, 434/244-3341) specializes in the production of small lots of wine. Their international award winners include viognier, verdejo, chardonnay, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petite verdot, syrah, norton, chambourcin, and touriga. Their wines are all produced from their own fruit. Tastings are available daily.
Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard (5022 Plank Rd., North Garden, 434/202-8063) is a boutique winery and vineyard, just outside Charlottesville. It is relatively new to the Charlottesville winery scene and offers a sustainable viticulture program, an exquisite event space, and landscaped gardens. The tasting room features their signature wines and food pairings ($6) which can be enjoyed at a beautifully hand-carved bar or out on a stone terrace.
The culture and lives of indigenous people have powerfully defined the identities of both Montana and Wyoming. Both states offer tremendous opportunities for those interested in learning about and experiencing Native American history, traditions, and contemporary life.
Blackfeet Cultural History Tours
Led by Blackfeet tribe member, historian, and well-known artist Darryl Norman, Blackfeet Cultural History Tours offers step-on guided trips of the Blackfeet Reservation. Darryl takes guests to buffalo jumps, tipi rings, and medicine lodges. Tours often include visits to the Museum of the Plains Indian.
Big Hole National Battlefield
This moving historic site bears witness to the battle between Chief Joseph’s band of Nez Perce and the U.S. Army.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is where thousands of Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho warriors fought under such legendary figures as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and more than 200 men from his 7th Cavalry died in the brief battle.
Held the third week in August every year since 1904, Crow Fair is considered the largest outdoor powwow in the world. More than 12,000 people camp out in more than 1,500 tipis erected on the banks of the Little Bighorn River.
Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark
This mysterious carved stone wheel has spiritual but unexplained significance to many Native American tribes. Interpretive tours are offered by local Native American guides.
This iconic rocky sentinel, the first national monument in the country, is considered sacred by numerous tribes, all of whom have unique origin stories for it. A voluntary climbing closure is in effect each June out of respect for various Native American ceremonies.
Wind River Reservation
Wyoming’s only reservation is home to about 5,000 Northern Arapaho and some 2,500 Eastern Shoshone Indians. Sights of interest include the Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center and the grave sites of the two most prominent Shoshone Indians, Chief Washakie and Lewis and Clark’s guide, Sacagawea.
The best time to visit is during the annual three-day powwows. The largest Shoshone powwow is the Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Powwow and Rodeo, held the fourth weekend in June. The largest Arapaho powwow is the Ethete Powwow in late July.
Named rather inauspiciously for a cannibalistic mountain man who allegedly got rid of his wives year after year by, ahem, eating them, Gardiner (population 875, elevation 5,314) is actually a cute little town with plenty of places to stay, eat, and stock up, and has ideal proximity to the park. The only year-round entrance to Yellowstone for automobiles, this scrubby little tourist town has a charm and an identity all its own.
The Yellowstone River cuts a canyon beside the main drag, which allows for plenty of river-runner hangouts. Few other places in the world have elk congregating in the churchyard or on the front lawns of most of the motels in town. And where else do high school football players have to dodge bison dung as they’re running for a touchdown? The town’s architecture is a combination of glorious wood and stone “parkitecture” buildings alongside old-school Western-style buildings complete with false fronts. The towering Roosevelt Arch, built in 1903 and dedicated by Yellowstone champion Teddy Roosevelt himself, welcomes visitors to the park with its inspiring slogan, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” Yes, Gardiner is built around its proximity to the park, but the town has maintained its integrity by preserving its history and making the most of its surroundings.
Halfway between Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs, straddling the Montana-Wyoming border and the 45th parallel, the halfway point between the equator and the north pole, is the Boiling River, one of only two swimmable thermal features in Yellowstone. From the clearly marked parking area, visitors amble upstream along a 0.5-mile rocky path running parallel to the Gardner River. Where the trail ends and the steam envelops almost everything, a gushing hot spring called the Boiling River flows into the otherwise icy Gardner River. The hot and cold waters mix to a perfect temperature that can be enjoyed year-round. The area is open during daylight hours only, and all swimmers must wear a bathing suit. The Boiling River is closed each year during spring runoff, when temperature fluctuations and rushing water put swimmers at risk. Alcohol is not permitted.
Kids and adults alike marvel at the floating Day-Glo green algae. The water should not be ingested. Bison and elk frequent the area, and despite the frequent crowds of people (note that 20 people constitute a crowd in this part of the West), this is one of the most unique and unforgettable ways to enjoy a few hours in Yellowstone.
Festivals and Events
The biggest event of the year in this gateway community is the Annual NRA Gardiner Rodeo (406/848-7971, $7 adults, $3 children 6-12, free for children under 6) held in mid-June (call for this year’s dates). The rodeo is held in the Jim Duffy arena at the northern end of town off U.S. Highway 89 and includes the usual competitions such as bull riding and bareback bronc riding. Women and juniors compete in barrel racing and breakaway roping. The first night of the rodeo is followed by a dance at the Gardiner Community Center, and the following day the chamber of commerce hosts a parade downtown. This is a great small-town rodeo.
But Gardiner is far from a one-event town. The Annual Chomp & Stomp (406/848-7971) in late February is a chili cook-off with live bluegrass music that benefits the Gardiner Community Center. Also in late February, the Jardine Ski Run is a 5-mile groomed track race where outlandish costumes are appreciated as much if not more than speed. Another worthwhile pursuit for the active is the Park to Paradise Triathlon in early May, which includes an 18-mile bike, a 5-mile run, and an 8-mile river paddle. The much less demanding and very family-friendly Annual Brewfest (406/848-7971, $10 entrance pays for 2 free tastings, $2 each additional tasting) happens in mid-August and raises money for the local chamber with live entertainment, food, crafts, microbrews, and fun kids’ activities like soda-tasting, face-painting, horseshoes, and kites. For more information on these events, contact the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce (406/848-7971).
Fishing and Boating
The Yellowstone is the longest free-flowing river in the Lower 48, and as such it offers excellent boating and fishing opportunities. With the river plunging through town on its way to Yankee Jim Canyon, Gardiner is home to several outfitters that can whet your appetite for adventure, trout, or both. The Flying Pig Adventure Company (511 Scott St., 406/848-7510, May-Sept.) is a full-service outfitter offering guided white-water rafting, horseback rides, wildlife safaris, and cowboy cookouts. Yellowstone Raft Company (111 2nd St., 406/848-7777 or 800/858-7781, May-Sept.) was established in 1978 and has an excellent reputation for experienced guides and top-of-the-line equipment. For adrenaline junkies, Yellowstone Raft Company offers sit on-top kayak instruction and adventures.
For anglers eager to wet a line in or out of the park in search of native cutthroats or brown trout, Park’s Fly Shop (202 2nd St. S., 406/848-7314) is the best place to start. They offer half-day trips for two people starting around $340, and full-day trips for two from around $440. Anglers can pick up their licenses and any supplies in the retail shop, which stays open year-round. And since Park’s has been serving the area since 1953, their guides are keenly aware of the spots where the fish greatly outnumber the anglers.
Yellowstone is a hiker’s paradise, and unless you have a pet that needs to stretch its legs, hiking just outside the park is like spending the day in the Disney World parking lot. Not that there isn’t stunning country in every direction, but there is something particularly alluring about hiking within the boundaries of the park.
That said, some 4.7 miles south of the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs, on the left-hand side after the Golden Gate Bridge, is the Glen Creek Trailhead and a small dirt parking lot. There are a range of wonderful hikes that start from this point. Across the street on the west side of the road, a trail leads through The Hoodoos, massive travertine boulders that look otherworldly in this setting, and down the mountain 3.8 miles back to Mammoth. If you cannot arrange either a drop-off at the trailhead or a shuttle, the return trip, another 3.8 miles, climbs constantly for nearly 1,000 vertical feet. Another more ambitious hike is the 9.2-mile round-trip to Osprey Falls. The first 4 miles are easy and flat, following an abandoned roadbed popular with mountain bikers. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spur trail off the south side of the road leads hikers down into Sheepeater Canyon and the remaining 0.6 mile to the mesmerizing 150-foot falls. Relax, have a snack, and save your energy for the 800-vertical-foot climb back up to the road. Bunsen Peak offers hikers an interesting walk through an entirely burned forest and all of its colorful rebirth, as well as a stunning view from the 8,500-foot summit. The climb is steep: 1,300 vertical feet over 2.1 miles. Try to ignore the hum of the radio tower near the summit, easily accomplished when the summit view fills your senses.
Arizona’s incessant sun can quickly become a dangerous threat to your health. Stay in the shadows, covered from head to toe. If you’re not willing to do this, then at least wear a hat with a wide brim, use high-number sunscreen, cover your neck, and wear long sleeves. This applies not only to backcountry desert adventurers and hikers; mere sight-seers, especially children, are susceptible to sun- and heat-related health issues—more so, in fact: The less fit you are, the higher the danger.
[pullquote align=”right”]Hikers, shoppers, sightseers, golfers, and anybody else exerting themselves under high-heat conditions should watch out for dehydration.[/pullquote]If you get a sunburn, stay out of the sun, and try to keep cool and hydrated. There are dozens of over-the-counter balms available, but simple aloe also works well. A popular home remedy is to gently dab the burned areas with vinegar. The best way to avoid sunburn is to stay out of the sun; barring that, cover up and follow common sense. Children and those with fair skin should be even more cautious.
Hikers, shoppers, sightseers, golfers, and anybody else exerting themselves under high-heat conditions should watch out for dehydration. When your body becomes depleted of fluids, you’ll notice first that you are not urinating regularly and your saliva has dried up. You may become irritable and confused; your skin may turn gray and your pulse race. Children can become dehydrated quickly. The best way to avoid dehydration is to limit your exertion during the hottest part of the day and to drink a lot of water. If you feel the symptoms of dehydration coming on, get to a cool, comfortable place, take in fluids, and rest.
Hikers should take along a few packets of electrolyte powder—these can be lifesavers. If you exert yourself in the heat and sun and fail to replace the fluids flowing out, your body can become depleted of both electrolytes and fluids. Such is the path to heat exhaustion, a dangerous condition that can turn fatal if not treated. You begin to feel nauseated, dizzy, and weak, and your muscles cramp. If you experience any of these symptoms, get to a cool, comfortable place quickly and drink water and something with sodium and potassium in it.
Heat stroke, sometimes called sun stroke or heat hyperpyrexia, is a severe, dangerous health threat that is frequently fatal and changes a victim’s health significantly and irrevocably. Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature-regulating capacity fails; this can be caused by either relatively short exposure to extremely high heat—like, say, a short, strenuous run on a 105-degree July afternoon—or prolonged exposure to relatively high temperatures, as in a 15-mile hike in 90-degree heat. And that’s only if you’re in good shape; it would take far less to cause heat stroke in most of us. The first and most important sign of heat stroke is a lack of sweating. If you stop sweating in a situation where you should be sweating, take notice. Your heart rate will speed up noticeably, and your skin will become dry; you’ll get a headache and become confused. At its worst, heat stroke leads to unconsciousness, convulsions, and death. Once you notice you’re not sweating, you must get help immediately: Get to an emergency room as soon as possible.
In addition to heat, be aware of altitude. The mountains in Southern Arizona reach up to 10,000 feet. A few of the state’s mountain towns sit between 5,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. Lowlanders in relatively good shape may get headaches, a little dizziness, and shortness of breath while walking around Mount Lemmon or other mountains in the region, but very few will experience serious altitude sickness—the result of not getting enough oxygen, and therefore not enough blood flow, to the brain. Take it easy in the higher elevations if you begin to feel tired and out-of-breath, dizzy, or euphoric. If you have heart or lung problems, you need to be more aware in the higher elevations; the best thing to do is to get a prescription for oxygen from your doctor and carry it with you if you plan on spending a lot of time in the mountains.
Looking for the best crab in Baltimore? Baltimoreans dine on this famous crustacean in four ways, and crab houses like Phillips Seafood in the Inner Harbor and Bo Brooks in Canton usually offer all of them. Try as many preparations as possible to see what you like best.
Also note that much of the crab served in Baltimore is no longer from the Chesapeake Bay. This prompted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to start the True Blue campaign in 2012, which recognizes restaurants that serve only Maryland blue crab. If eating local crab is important to you, check the website Maryland Seafood for a list of dining options.
Cracking open a dozen steamed crabs crusted in Old Bay is a Baltimore tradition. If you want to try it, be prepared to work for your food (though it’s work that Baltimoreans love). After you arrive at a crab house like L.P. Steamers (1100 E. Fort Ave.), a platter of crabs will be poured on your brown paper-covered table and served with wooden mallets, knives, and paper towels or wipes. Break them open, feast on the delicious white meat, and, to dine like a true local, wash it all down with a “Natty Boh,” or National Bohemian beer.
Those who want to eat the whole crab (except the lungs) will love soft-shell crabs. They’re made during the brief period of time between when a crab molts, or loses its hard outer shell, and when the shell grows back a few hours later. Around late May, many restaurants like The Black Olive (814 S. Bond St.), Regi’s American Bistro (1002 Light St.), and Fleet Street Kitchen (1012 Fleet St.) offer specials to kick off the short season, while restaurants like Nick’s Oyster Bar (1065 S. Charles St.) and Mama’s on the Half Shell (2901 O’Donnell St.) usually offer soft-shell crabs throughout the summer.
Crabs cakes come broiled or fried, either served simply with crackers or dressed up with accoutrements. For a simple fried version for lunch, try Faidley Seafood (203 N. Paca St.). Woodberry Kitchen (2010 Clipper Park Rd.) and Heavy Seas Alehouse (1300 Bank St.) serve more dressed up versions. To taste a different preparation, try Pierpoint (1822 Aliceanna St.), where the crab cakes are smoked.
Maryland crab soup is made with a tomato or beef broth, vegetables like peas, carrots, and corn, and tons of Old Bay seasoning, but many restaurants also carry a rich, creamy crab soup, too. One-Eyed Mike’s (708 S. Bond St.) has a good spicy version, Nick’s Fish House (2600 Insulator Dr.) has well-received cream-of-crab option, and Ryleigh’s Oyster (36 E. Cross St.) does both.
In a country surrounded by bountiful oceans, food from the sea is a big part of the diet, from seaweed to fish and whales (although there is mounting international pressure to cease killing the latter). After the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear accident in 2011, the government set strict guidelines on the amount of radiation (cesium) allowable in seafood, vegetables, and fruit. You can be assured that restaurants and stores follow these guidelines.
[pullquote align=”right”]When you arrive in Japan, you may be surprised to find vending machines supplying sake and beer.[/pullquote]Seafood seasoned with soy, along with rice and vegetables, is the main ingredient for a traditional meal. Sushi (which means “vinegared rice”) is squeezed (nigiri), rolled (maki), or hand-rolled (temaki) and combined with strips of seafood (raw or cooked), vegetables, or eggs. Other kinds of food—Western, Korean, Indian, Nigerian, and more—are equally popular and available. You can have pizza with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, or ika (squid), nori (dried seaweed), and corn, or have your spaghetti in a bread bowl. Order cake or cream anmitsu (sweet bean à la mode) for dessert or a snack.
Meat consumption has increased, as can be witnessed at any Makudo (McDonald’s), MosBurger, or yakiniku (Korean barbecue) establishment. McDonald’s offers non-American fare such as teriyaki burgers and melon shakes. MosBurger is famous for its rice burgers—two grilled rice patties with strips of meat and vegetables in between. Eating more meat has resulted in rising cholesterol levels and higher rates of heart disease.
As far as alcohol, hot or cold sake (pronounced “SA-keh,” not “SA-kee”) is a favorite accompaniment to traditional meals. When you arrive in Japan, you may be surprised to find vending machines supplying sake and beer. Signs warn youth under age 20 not to purchase the product, and the machines shut down after 11 P.M.
Ocha (green tea) holds an honored place in the tea ceremony and in everyday life, but coffee is extremely popular. Doutor was the first discount coffee shop chain to open in Japan. They revolutionized the market by selling coffee for ¥180 ($2.25) a cup, instead of the typical ¥400 ($5) or ¥500 ($6.25). Starbucks has expanded rapidly, and specialty gourmet coffee is becoming popular. Coffee is brewed by the cup and served in a fancy cup. While you’re in Tokyo, try Cafe Bach. Where there is coffee, you will likely find smokers, although their number is decreasing. If you don’t care for smoke, ask for a ki’n-en-seki (nonsmoking seat). Then enjoy the caffeine rush—decaffeinated coffee is unknown in Japan!
The first African American artist to have a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York was Nashville-born sculptor William Edmondson (1874-1951).
Edmondson was born in the Hillsboro area of Nashville. He worked for decades as a laborer on the railroads, a janitor at Women’s Hospital, and in other similar jobs before discovering his talent for sculpture in 1929. Edmondson told the Nashville Tennessean that his talent and passion were God-given:
“God appeared at the head of my bed and talked to me, like a natural man, concerning the talent of cutting stone He was about to bestow. He talked so loud He woke me up. He told me He had something for me.”
A prolific sculptor, Edmondson worked exclusively with limestone, and he created angels, women, doves, turtles, rabbits, and other “varmints.” He also made tombstones. Edmondson never learned to read or write, and he called many of his works “mirkels” because they were inspired by God.
In the 1930s, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, a photographer for Harper’s Bazaar magazine, brought Edmondson and his work to the attention of Alfred Barr, the director of the Museum of Modern Art. Barr and other trustees of the museum admired what they termed as Edmondson’s “modern primitive” work, and they invited him to display a one-man show at the museum in 1938. In 1941, the Nashville Art Museum put on an exhibit of Edmondson’s work.
Edmondson continued to work until the late 1940s, when he became ill with cancer. After his death in 1951 he was buried in an unmarked grave at Mount Ararat Cemetery in Nashville. The city park at 17th Avenue North and Charlotte Avenue is named in honor of Edmondson.
Mount Rainier National Park is a hiker’s paradise, boasting 300 miles of hiking trails and the tallest mountain in the continental US. And late summer is the perfect time to visit, offering both the most sunny days and the least rainfall all year. Almost all of the snow on the trails will have melted by the end of July, allowing a brief window of access to the higher elevations. By October, the snow will begin falling again.
Here are some perfect routes for those looking to explore Mount Rainier in August and September.
Tolmie Peak Lookout: 6.5 mi
The best job in the United States is a summer spent staffing the Tolmie Peak Lookout. The job description includes: a 3-mile commute through pristine subalpine forest, picturesque Eunice Lake surrounded in parkland meadows, and panoramic views from the office, encompassing The Mountain and miles of national forest. Ready to sign up?
Tolmie Peak Trail begins at Mowich Lake, a spectacular setting itself. The trail leaves the large, forested lake and rises gently to Ipsut Pass (1.5 miles), a junction with Carbon River Trail. Stay to the left and continue climbing to Eunice Lake (2.3 miles), where meadows reach to the lake’s edges. The trail then climbs steeply 1 more mile to Tolmie Lookout (elevation 5,939 feet) atop the windswept peak. Mount Rainier is the obvious attraction, but Mount St. Helens and the North Cascades make appearances as well. Talk about your prime picnic spots. If the final steep climb to the lookout sounds unappealing, stopping short at Eunice Lake is a good hike as well. In late July, wildflowers fill the meadows bordering Eunice, and views of Mount Rainier are still to be had.
Spray Park is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on Mount Rainier. Meadows measured by the square mile cover the upper reaches of this trail, dominated by the imposing stature of The Mountain. Wildflowers erupt and blanket the high country in late July, while black bears in search of huckleberries roam in late August. The trail is one of the greats in the
national park and receives heavy use.
Spray Park Trail leaves from Mowich Lake. The trail meanders through the forest to Eagle Cliff (1.5 miles), where the trail follows the precipitous slope. A side trail wanders over to Spray Falls (1.9 miles) before making a steep ascent on switchbacks. The reward for the effort is a breakout from forest into open meadow. Spray Park Trail wanders through this open country, past tarns and rock fields to a saddle (elevation 6,400 feet) with views of even more meadows. The saddle is a good turnaround point, as the trail drops beyond it to Carbon River. Be sure to bring ample water, a rarity beyond Spray Falls. And remember, the meadows here are very fragile; please stay on established trails.
One of Mount Rainier’s best day hikes, Burroughs Mountain is also one of its most challenging. Many hikers set out on this hike only to be turned back by snowfields that linger well into August. It’s best to check in with the ranger at Sunrise and get a trail report. Snow or not, there’s definitely lots to see along the way. You’ll find meadows of flowers and marmots before reaching the tundralike expanses atop Burroughs Mountain. Add to it a lake for a lunch break and views of glaciers, and Burroughs Loop seems to have it all.
Burroughs Mountain Trail makes a 5-mile loop up to the high, rocky plateau of Burroughs Mountain. A clockwise direction is best, especially if the north side is still snowy. From the visitors center, the trail crosses over crystal streams and colorful meadows to Shadow Lake and an overlook of Emmons Glacier and the White River (1.4 miles). Hikers start dropping off as the trail climbs 900 feet to First Burroughs Mountain (2.8 miles). Guaranteed: Mount Rainier has never looked so big in your life.
Burroughs Mountain Trail wanders the wide, flat plateau and drops to Frozen Lake (3.6 miles). Snowfields like to linger along this northern half of the loop. These steep slopes can be crossed when snowy, but an ice ax is highly, highly recommended. The well-signed trail heads back to the visitors center.
Mount Rainier may be known best for the immense glaciers covering its slopes. More than two dozen massive ice sheets radiate from the mountain’s summit, sculpting entire valleys and ridges. Glacier Basin Trail provides a close look at two of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, Emmons Glacier and Inter Glacier, hard at work. If you find glaciers boring, then shift your attention to the hillsides and look for mountain goats among the meadows. Here’s a little geology lesson first. Glaciers are massive sheets of ice produced over thousands of years. Snowfall slowly accumulates through the years and becomes compacted into a sheet of ice. Enter gravity, which slowly pulls the glacier down the valley, scraping and sculpting the terrain as it moves. It may take a while (millennia), but glaciers are heavy-duty landscapers. When glaciers retreat (melt faster than they form, as happens now), they leave a denuded valley filled with moraine (piles of rock and dirt), which you’ll see here. Got it? You’re ready for Glacier Basin Trail.
The trail has two forks: Glacier Basin Trail (7 miles round-trip) and Emmons Glacier Trail (3.8 miles). The trail departs White River Campground and gently climbs to the junction (0.9 mile): Head left for Emmons Glacier (the largest in the lower 48 states), right for Inter Glacier. Both trails provide great views of the glaciers. Being a glacier is dirty work, apparent from the enormous piles of rock and mud covering the ice. Glacier Basin is most popular with mountaineers seeking a summit of The Mountain.
A rarity in this national park, Laughingwater Creek Trail forsakes mountain meadows and views of Mount Rainier. Instead, this lightly used trail makes a grand trip through oldgrowth forest to Three Lakes, set among open subalpine forest. The trail provides a quiet reintroduction to the Cascade Mountains after the crowds of Mount Rainier’s visitors centers. The only sounds around these parts are the noisy rumbling of Laughingwater Creek and the bellows of elk.
Laughingwater Creek Trail gains more than 2,500 feet between the trailhead and Three Lakes. Most of the climb is spread moderately along the route, easy enough for hikers young and old. The trail sticks close to the creek and passes within view of a waterfall at 2.5 miles. Western hemlocks give way to mountain hemlocks and subalpine fir replaces Douglas fir as the trail nears the crest of the hike.
Three Lakes lie in a small basin atop the ridge. A wonderful backcountry camp is situated here with an aged shelter. This is an out of-the-way section of the national park (if any remain these days), with few visitors spending the night at Three Lakes Camp. If you have an itch to see The Mountain, continue on the trail past Three Lakes toward the PCT and meadow vistas.
The Land Between the Lakes region is one of the state’s premier recreation areas, especially for water sports enthusiasts. Encompassing two large lakes—Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley—and the national recreation area that separates them, the Land Between the Lakes area offers excellent waters for fishing as well as lots of wide open space for sailing, skiing, tubing, swimming, and simply cruising. Despite the immense popularity of the lakes, they never feel crowded. On land, recreational opportunities are just as abundant. Hiking, camping, biking, and wildlife-watching are among the most popular pursuits off the water.
Elk and Bison Prairie
The Elk and Bison Prairie (dawn-dusk daily, $5 per car) provides a home for about 50 buffalo and 30 elk, animals that were once native to the region. A 3.5-mile paved road with three interpretive stops loops through the prairie, allowing opportunities for visitors to observe the animals. Although the area is enclosed, this is not a zoo. At 700 acres, there is plenty of space for the animals to roam—and to hide, should they choose. Sightings are not guaranteed. To increase your chances of seeing the elk and buffalo, aim to arrive at dawn or dusk. The route is one-way, but you’re welcome to make as many loops you like. The prairie is located one mile north of the visitors center on The Trace.
Woodlands Nature Station
Take a loop through the backyard at the Woodlands Nature Station (10am-5pm daily, April-October, Wednesday-Sunday only in March and November, $5 adults, $3 youth 5-12) to encounter wildlife native to the region. Among the animals that live here are deer, coyotes, red wolves, bobcats, groundhogs, wild turkeys, vultures, bald eagles, owls, and hawks. Accompanying the backyard is an indoor learning center with exhibits on plants, reptiles, amphibians, and habitats. A number of hiking trails depart from the Nature Station, allowing for additional opportunities to spot wildlife. Woodlands Nature Station is located on Mulberry Flat Road, which connects to The Trace about eight miles north of the visitors center.
Experience life on an 1850s farm on a visit to The Homeplace (10am-5pm daily, April-October, Wednesday-Sunday only in March and November, $5 adults, $3 youth 5-12), which is located just across the Tennessee border. Sixteen log structures make up the farm, which was built on a Revolutionary War land grant. At the farm, you’ll find animals such as horses, oxen, pigs, and chickens that would have been on such a farm, as well as a vegetable garden, tobacco barn, tool barn, wood shed, smoke house, and family home. Costumed interpreters demonstrate farm tasks from the mid-19th century and help bring the farm to life. The last tickets are sold at 4pm. The Homeplace is located 12 miles south of Golden Pond Visitors Center on The Trace.
Sports and Recreation
Hiking trails are plentiful in Land Between the Lakes, with distances and difficulty levels to suit any taste. The granddaddy of trails is the North/South Trail, a 58-mile trail that runs the entire length of Land Between the Lakes. The trail is divided into two halves. The northern half (31 miles, from Northern Welcome Station to Golden Pond Visitors Center) stays close to the shore of Kentucky Lake, although it also runs through the forest and up ridges, and is primarily single track. Eight springs and three backcountry shelters are located along this stretch of trail. The southern half (27 miles, from Golden Pond Visitors Center to Southern Welcome Station) remains inland for most of its length, traveling through mature forest and wildlife clearings, and is primarily old logging roads, 11 miles of which are shared with equestrians. An additional eight springs can be accessed on this portion of the trail, and there are two backcountry shelters. Those wishing to do the length of the trail on a multi-day trip need to purchase a backcountry camping permit.
The Fort Henry Trails System, located in southwestern Land Between the Lakes (in Tennessee) offers nearly 30 miles of hiking that can easily be broken down into smaller loops perfect for day hikes. The Devils Backbone Trail, a 1.5-mile stretch that can be accessed from the Telegraph Trail, makes for a popular hike, with the trail following a ridge between two hollows. The 2.2-mile Pickett Loop is a good choice for a short outing, with the trail passing historic home sites and running, in parts, along the shores of Kentucky Lake. History buffs may want to hike the 3.2-mile Artillery Trail, which follows the route General Grant and his Union troops took on his way to Fort Donelson.
The most recent trail to be added to the collection is the Central Hardwoods Scenic Trail, an 11-mile trail spanning the width of Land Between the Lakes, connecting Kentucky Lake with Lake Barkley. It runs just south of U.S. 68. Access is in Fenton on the Kentucky Lake side and in Cumberland on the Lake Barkley side, with multiple other access points on Land Between the Lakes.
Five hiking trails are located in the vicinity of the Nature Station, ranging in distance 0.2-4.5 miles. The 2.2-mile Hematite Trail and the 4.5-mile Honker Trail both circle lakes, allowing for multiple opportunities to spot wildlife, especially waterfowl. The 0.3-mile Center Furnace Trail is an interpretive trail that leads to an old iron furnace. The 0.2-mile Long Creek Trail and the 1-mile Woodland Walk Trail focus on forest habitats.
Although the Canal Loop Trail is also open to hikers, it is mostly known as a mountain biking trail. The trail system is made up of one 11-mile loop and four connector trails ranging in distance 0.5-0.8 mile, allowing bikers to create many different routes. A trailhead is located at the North Welcome Station. Mountain bikers are also welcome to travel the northern 31 miles of the North/South Trail, between the North Welcome Station and the Golden Pond Visitors Center, and the entirety of the Central Hardwoods Scenic Trail. Road bikers are a common site along The Trace, the main paved road that runs the length of Land Between the Lakes and from which multiple side roads lead to campgrounds, picnic areas, beaches, and scenic viewpoints. Adult and youth mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, and cruisers can be rented at the Hillman Ferry and Piney Campgrounds.
Equestrians love Land Between the Lakes thanks to its Wranglers Campground, a beautiful camp designed especially for horses and their riders. More than 70 miles of riding trails radiate out from the campground. The trails run along the shore and through meadows and forest, leading past beautiful wild areas and to historic sites. If you don’t have your own trusty steed, Rocking U Riding Stables (270/924-2211, 9am-4pm daily April-October), which is located at the campground, offers 45- ($18) or 90-minute ($30) guided trail rides that leave on the hour. Wranglers Campground is just south of the visitors center and can be accessed by a five-mile road that runs right from the center. An additional access road is located right at the Kentucky-Tennessee border.
Boat ramps are located up and down Land Between the Lakes, providing access to both Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. You must have your own boat, as there are no marinas or rental facilities for motorboats in the area. You can, however, rent a canoe or kayak ($10 per hour) from the Nature Station or at Energy Lake Campground.