Charon’s Garden Trail – Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Woman sitting cross-legged overlooking the Valley of Boulders in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

I’d seen so many hiking blog posts, comments and videos surrounding the difficulty of the Valley of Boulders portion of Charon’s Garden Trail, by the time we’d reached the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma I’d almost completely psyched myself out.

On the other hand, I had also seen photos of children navigating parts of the boulder field with ease, so how hard could it be? We’d know for sure if we could cross it the moment the “Apple and Pear” rock formation on the west side of Elk Mountain came into view. I’d given us a 50/50 chance of making it through.

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39 Perfect Gifts for Hikers – 2020

Woman hiker displaying gifts for hikers Zomake backpack PowerTalkie off grid communicator in Wichita Mountains.

What gift do you get for the hiker in your life who has everything?

Well … nothing I guess. I mean, if they have everything already, maybe they should be buying things for you.

But for those with hiking friends and loved ones who don’t have everything, this hiking gifts guide is perfect for the holidays and special occasions!

So what are the best gifts for hikers? Here are our field-tested favorites we use ourselves.

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Brum Woods, Batesville, Indiana

Woman hiking in autumn wooded area, Brum Woods, Batesville, Indiana.

Brum Woods is a small network of well-maintained multi-use trails on the southwest side of the city of Batesville in Indiana.

Lena Brum (1900-1993) was opposed to Batesville development and denied many offers for her land, and she left the property to the city upon her death. In turn, the city honored her wishes for preservation and created a fine park for the public to enjoy.

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Cowles Bog Trail – Hiking Indiana Dunes National Park

A woman in a colorful dress walks a sandy path in a grassy plain with Lake Michigan in the background.

A nearly private beach and stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyline await on this 4.5 mile hike through the charming forested dunelands in one of the United States’ youngest national parks.

Cowles Bog at Indiana Dunes National Park features diverse habitats and was one of the sites used in botanist Henry Chandler Cowles’ study of ecological succession — one of the driving factors behind efforts to save the dunes from commercial development.

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The Perfect Hiking Route at Indiana Dunes

Woman hiker standing atop sand dune overlooking Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park.

If you’re visiting Indiana Dunes, you probably already know about the 3-Dune Challenge, but did you also know that the less-trekked Trail 9 (pictured above) was named best hiking trail in Indiana by USA Today? (Well, kind of — more on that later)

Our curated hiking route combines both experiences as well as the gorgeous shoreline with an easily-customized map for those wanting to hike shorter or longer distances.

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Awesome Eats and Historic Streets In Charleston, South Carolina

Folly Beach, South Carolina

A beloved cousin of mine finally convinced the woman he’s been smitten with for years to marry him, so we were off to a mid-June destination wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. We stayed South of Broad in a historic home bed and breakfast. This area is a prime location if you like being able to walk everywhere downtown, and we arrived a few days early so we could explore.

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An Unintentional Solo Hike In the Dark

Craggy Gardens, Asheville, North Carolina

Traveling light. Too light.

Before I met Andrew, I’d gotten comfortable taking long day hikes solo — partly to enjoy the peace and quiet of my own experience and partly because I had a hard time finding others who were willing to hike more than 2 miles at a time (thank you German thighs).  I’d head off on my own for hours, typically sending my friend Foz a “127 Hours text” saying where I was heading off to hike — a couple bread crumbs in case something went wrong.  Other than that text, my preparation was extremely minimal. I’d bring my cell phone and PERHAPS a bottle of water.

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