If you’re like me, hiking and backpacking are amongst your favorite pursuits. But, did you realize that some of the most iconic trails in the world are facing some major challenges. Between environmental issues, political infighting, encroaching commercial entities, natural disaster, and even war, these routes could potentially be altered or closed forever. To highlight these challenges, National Geographic has put together a list of 10 of the best trails that are currently at risk.
Most of the trails that earned a spot on this dubious countdown are ones that you’ve heard before. Each entry comes with an explanation of what is exactly at risk, and what the threat to the trail actually is. For instance, the first entry on the list is Arch Trail in Utah, which faces a number of threats that included ATV usage and the potential for public lands to be transferred to the public sector. The trail happens to be home to archaeological sites for former Native American villages, and it is seen as a treasure trove of knowledge on how those tribes lived in the distant past. Just how endangered the trail truly is is spelled out in the accompany paragraphs, with a final prognosis on its future too.
Some of the other trails that make the list include Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii (erosion, budget shortfalls), Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon (commercial development), and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (climate change). I’ll leave the rest of the list for you to discover on your own, but rest assured that each of the hiking routes are spectacular, and each is facing an uncertain future.
They say that the first step towards solving a problem such as the threats that are facing these trails, is to raise awareness of the situation. That’s exactly what this article from Nat Geo is doing. By getting the word out to those of us who actually care about such issues, perhaps it isn’t too late to save some of these natural wonders before they are lost to us all. Climate change is a difficult problem to solve on our own of course, but preventing over development of the lands and protecting the trails from misuse are all things that we can help prevent now. Maybe that will ensure that future generations will be able to hike these same routes too.
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