Travelers will find a number of improvements to their favorite national parks as the National Park Service celebrates its centennial.
The National Park Service turns 100 on Aug. 25, and to celebrate, the parks and a number of organizations have partnered to rebuild trails, improve vistas, and create new youth programs.
Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove
Among the most significant changes will come to the popular Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias at Yosemite National Park. The $5.2 million project includes reconfiguring the Mariposa Grove Road near the South Entrance, adding two miles of trails, and installing 21 new parking spaces. Restoration work will continue through the year at the grove, which includes such famous sights as the 29-story Columbia Tree, the 1900-year-old Grizzly Giant tree, and the California Tunnel Tree.
Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail
Another major project rehabilitates the opening mile of the 8.5-mile Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon National Park. The segment of the trail to the Mile-and-a-half Resthouse, which descends 1063 feet into the canyon, is a popular day hike despite the steep route. Cost of the improvement is $1.3 million.
Great Smoky’s Alum Cave Trail
Youth crews this past year repaired two damaged sections of this popular trail off of Newfound Gap Road (U.S. Hwy 441), the major highway through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail boasts log bridges in an old-growth forest and reaches a narrow tunnel of Arch Rock in a 4.6-mile round trip. The project ran $231,000.
Grand Teton’s Jenny Lake bridges
The Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point Bridges on Grand Teton National Park’s Jenny Lake Trail are slated for replacement. The national park’s most visited destination, the trail at the base of the mountains heads to a 200-foot waterfall and a stunning vista at 7200 feet elevation.
Cuyahoga Valley’s new East Rim Trail
Nearly 10 miles of off-road single track bike and hike trails are planned for the areas of Cuyahoga Valley National Park flanking the areas north and south of Interstate 80. The routes will head through dense woodlands and open meadows. About 2.3 miles of trail already are complete with the rest under construction through 2017; it’s the park’s first mountain bike trail.
Glacier’s Highline Trail
Glacier National Park plans to improve the first mile of the popular Highline Trail beginning at its Logan Pass trailhead. The trail, accessible from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, offers incredible vistas as it follows the Continental Divide along a high rock cliff known as the Garden Wall.
Acadia’s Deer Brook Trail
The Deer Brook Trail, which heads up Penobscot Mountain at Acadia National Park, will receive new tread and drainage improvements to keep the route from washing out. Resurfacing also is planned for other historic trails and carriage roads, including the Ocean Path, Jordan Pond Path and the Ship Harbor trails.
Mount Rainier trails
Those visiting the Washington national park will find improvements on several trails, including the Skyline, Pebble Creek, Golden Gate, Glacier Vista, and Dead Horse Creek trails. Many of those trails offer great views of Mount Rainier, which is the fourth highest peak in the United States.
Voyageurs’ Cruiser Lake Trail
Located at the top of Minnesota, the Cruiser Lake Trail heads over scenic ridges, passing lakes and a beaver pond on its way to the Canadian border. The project improves the trail’s tread, repairs rock stairway surfaces, and removes brush.
Rob Bignell is the author of several hiking books, including the bestselling “Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks.”