10 Must-Do Adventures for Any Lake Tahoe Bucket List

10 Must-Do Adventures for Any Lake Tahoe Bucket List

Fact: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who’s ever bored in Tahoe, you’re doing something wrong. The Lake Tahoe region offers a dizzying amount of recreation opportunities with thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails, hundreds of square miles of crystal clear water, and a winter backcountry with seemingly endless choices for exploration.

The bottom line? No matter what time of year it is, adventurous types will have plenty to choose from. Whether you’re a longtime local or just visiting town for the weekend, these adventures are sure to please—and should be on any Lake Tahoe bucket list. (Note: They’re listed in no particular order, because they’re all equally awesome.)

1. Hike Mt. Tallac

Sunrise over Lake Tahoe from the summit of Mt. Tallac.
Sunrise over Lake Tahoe from the summit of Mt. Tallac. Aaron Hussmann

Rising prominently from Tahoe’s southwest shoreline, Mt. Tallac’s jagged summit dominates vistas from any vantage point around the lake. As impressive as the peak looks from lake level, the views from the top provide captivating views of sparkling Lake Tahoe that will last a lifetime. This strenuous 9.0 mile roundtrip hike ascends 3,300 feet through steep sun-exposed terrain. Hikers should be prepared with plenty of water, food, sunscreen, and sturdy shoes. The classic route up Mt. Tallac can be started from the Mt. Tallac trailhead across from Baldwin Beach.

2. Bike and hike the Tahoe Rim Trail.

There’s no better way to experience one of the most pristine alpine watersheds in the world than to traverse its 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. Weaving through dense forest, alpine lakes, and stunning ridgeline trails with Tahoe’s cobalt-blue waters shimmering thousands of feet below, the Tahoe Rim Trail is the perfect opportunity to hone your hiking and biking skills. Consider joining the Tahoe Rim Trail Challenge hosted by the nonprofit Tahoe Rim Trail Association every year. (Mountain bikers should note that some sections of trail are closed to bike users.)

3. Kayak or paddleboard to Emerald Bay.

Kayaking to Emerald Bay is one of the best paddles in the region.
Kayaking to Emerald Bay is one of the best paddles in the region. Aaron Hussmann

Emerald Bay is the most photographed area in Lake Tahoe, but the majority of those snapshots come from Highway 89 a few hundred feet above the bay. For a new perspective on this iconic destination, try paddling your kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Baldwin Beach to the turquoise waters of Emerald Bay. This 6-mile roundtrip paddle along Tahoe’s rocky southwest shore yields stunning views of Mt. Tallac and even the occasional glimpse of a bald eagle or osprey.

4. Trek Tahoe’s tallest peak.

Looming like a giant sand dune on the Sierra horizon, Freel Peak holds the honor of Tahoe’s highest summit at 10,881 feet. This rewarding peak deserves a spot on every Tahoe hiker’s bucket list. With multiple options for approach, Freel Peak can range from a 7.8-mile jaunt to a 15-mile slog, with each route requiring several thousand feet of elevation gain. The ambitious hiker can also attempt the “trifecta” by attempting to summit nearby Job’s Sister (10,823 feet) and Job’s Peak (10,633 feet). Find out more in this local guide book .

5. Mountain bike the Flume Trail.

Biking the technical Flume Trail is a jaw-dropping experience.
Biking the technical Flume Trail is a jaw-dropping experience. Jonathan Fox

Named for 19th-century wooden flumes that transported Tahoe trees to their ultimate interment in Nevada’s silver mines, the Flume trail on Lake Tahoe’s East shore is easily one of the most scenic and hair-raising mountain bike rides on the west coast. Beginning at Spooner Lake State Park and ending near Incline Village, NV, this 14-mile adventure will test one’s fear of heights with jaw-dropping vistas perched on the steep mountain hillside. Reward your ride with a cold beer at the Tunnel Creek Cafe before catching the paid shuttle back to Spooner Lake.

6. Have an adventure under the full moon.

During the full moon, the shining waters of Lake Tahoe act like a 191-square-mile mirror, reflecting the moon’s brilliant white light onto the surrounding mountains. With six more full moons to go in 2016, opportunities abound to snowshoe, ski, hike, kayak, SUP, and bike under the lunar glow.

7. Backpack Desolation Wilderness.

The Tahoe Rim Trail passes through jaw-dropping terrain in Desolation Wilderness.
The Tahoe Rim Trail passes through jaw-dropping terrain in Desolation Wilderness. Aaron Hussmann

8. Strap on some Nordic skis.

Embrace your inner Nordic nerd (or “nordork”) and experience the hundreds of miles of thigh-burning cross-country ski trails surrounding the Lake Tahoe Basin. Resorts like Royal Gorge, Tahoe Donner XC, and Tahoe XC hold down the fort on North Shore, while Camp Richardson, Lake Tahoe Community College, and Kirkwood represent the South Shore. For an off-trail experience, consider renting from mom and pop Lake of the Sky Outfitters and exploring one of the trails outlined by Tahoe author and artist Jared Manninen in this stunning high resolution map .

9. Ski to a backcountry hut.

The Bradley Hut is part of the Sierra Club's network of winter backcountry huts around Lake Tahoe.
The Bradley Hut is part of the Sierra Club’s network of winter backcountry huts around Lake Tahoe. ilya_ktsn

Tahoe’s network of ski huts operated by the Sierra Club and Clair Tappaan Lodge provide opportunity for epic first dibs on some of Tahoe’s best backcountry lines. Centered primarily between Tahoe City and Truckee, the four huts offer sleeping space for 12-15 people with basic amenities like woodstoves, cut firewood, and an outhouse. Hut space is allocated by a lottery drawing every November, with any remaining spaces operated on a reservation basis that fill up fast.

10. Protect where you play.

There’s no better way to repay Lake Tahoe for a lifetime of adventure than chipping in to volunteer with one of the many nonprofits dedicated to the environmental health of the region. There are literally hundreds of year-round volunteer opportunities in the Tahoe basin, including beach cleanups and restoration with the League to Save Lake Tahoe (the group behind the well-known Keep Tahoe Blue campaign), tree plantings with with the Sugar Pine Foundation , or winter bald eagle surveys with the Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences .

Written by Aaron Hussmann for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Aaron Hussmann

Help Avoid Runner’s Knee With These Exercises And Expert Advice

Help Avoid Runner’s Knee With These Exercises And Expert Advice

Strength and flexibility are your allies in the battle against this common running injury, and overtraining is your sworn enemy

It doesn’t matter if you’re a new runner preparing for a big event like the London Marathon, or a regular pavement-pounder accustomed to training every other day throughout the year – picking up an injury can be a disaster.

As the name suggests, Pure Sports Medicine, it can account for up to 30% of running injuries and the cause is usually a sudden change in training.

“This injury is usually from overtraining caused by increasing the volume, speed or intensity of the sessions,” says Harrop. “For example, it’s often seen in runners who rapidly change their training when preparing for a big event such as a marathon.” Or, let’s say, starting to run every day to fend off the lockdown blues.

Runner’s knee is an umbrella term for pain at the front of the knee, which is more accurately labelled Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). It’s easy to assume any pain that arises in the knee is runner’s knee, but it’s worth getting a proper diagnosis before starting your treatment.

“Different conditions can also present in a similar way,” says Harrop. “So getting it diagnosed by a physiotherapist or sports and exercise medicine doctor is essential to ensure you correctly manage the problem.” Before you dismiss the idea as impractical under current lockdown conditions, Pure Sports Medicine and other practices are holding virtual consultations.

Once you do know that it’s runner’s knee you’re dealing with, Harrop recommends following these five-steps to treat it.

De-load. “Reduce stress on the irritated tissues by decreasing your running volume to the level that your pain starts to settle.” Re-load gradually. “Research from Australia recommends not increasing the training load more than 10% per week in elite level athletes. Returning too fast and too hard will lead to injury, so recondition yourself slowly and allow your body time to adapt.” Technique. “Good running form does a lot to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles. Getting a professional to assess your form is important.” Stretch. “To reduce muscle tension and uneven forces across the joints.” Strengthen. “Glutes, calves and quadriceps. Like good technique, strong muscles also help reduce joint loading.”

Runner’s Knee Workout

To help strengthen and condition your body so it is better prepared to deal with the demands of running, and thereby protect against runner’s knee, follow this seven-step workout. Harrop recommends doing two rounds of the following seven exercises three times a week.

1 Roll down

Sets 1 Reps 10

Why “Runners get stiff lower backs and hamstrings. This exercise stretches them both,” says Harrop.

How “Stand tall and curl your head, chest and trunk down, slowly and steadily reaching towards your toes. When you reach your limit, gently tighten your glutes and slowly reverse the direction to curl back up. Think of stacking each segment of your spine on top of one another.”

2 Bulgarian split squat

Sets 3 Reps 8 each leg

Why “This improves single-leg balance while strengthening your glutes, quads and hip muscles,” says Harrop.

How “With one foot on a low bench, hold a weight in your opposite hand and slowly squat up and down. Keep your shin near vertical and your knee in alignment with your foot.”

3 Fire hydrant

Sets 2 Reps 15 each leg

Why “This activates your gluteus medius, helping to stabilise your pelvis and reduce rotational forces on your knee,” says Harrop.

How “With a resistance band around your knees stand on one leg with a slightly flexed knee and lift your other leg out to the side slowly, then bring it back again.”

4 Bent knee heel raise

Sets 3 Reps 15 each leg

Why “Bending your knee activates the soleus muscle, which is essential for shock absorption as your foot lands on the ground,” says Harrop.

How “Stand on one leg with your fingertips lightly against the wall for balance. Bend the knee on your standing leg slightly, then raise and lower on your toes, keeping your knee bent. To make it more difficult, hold a weight in your hand.”

5 Dead bug

Sets 2 Reps 15 each side

Why “This will strengthen your abdominals without over-activating your hip flexors and compromising your lower back,” says Harrop.

How “Lie on your back holding your legs and arms up, legs bent at 90°. Keep your spine neutral. Slowly stretch one arm above your head and the opposite leg out straight, and then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Keep your abdominals engaged and controlling the movement, and do not allow your back to arch.”

6 Elevated single-leg glute bridge

Sets 3 Reps 15 each leg

Why “This helps strengthen and switch on your glutes. This drives hip extension, which is essential for efficient running,” says Harrop.

How “Lie on your back with one foot on a low bench holding the opposite leg straight out. Driving through the heel, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up as high as possible without arching your back. Hold for one second then slowly lower.”

7 Hip flexor stretch

Sets 3 Reps 40sec each side

Why “This stretches the quadriceps and hip flexors unloading pressure on the patella kneecap,” says Harrop.

How “In a high kneeling position (on your knees with your body vertical and back straight), place one foot on a low bench in front of you and a pad under your knee. Keep your pelvis tucked under your body to focus the stretch on your anterior thigh.”

Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

Pro Tips for Cycling Training

Pro Tips for Cycling Training

As Tour season starts, pro cyclist Chris Opie explains how it’s done.

Double up

No time to do sprints and a long session? “I often build sprint intervals into four-hour rides to sharpen up for a race,” says Opie, who rides for the Canyon Eisberg team. “You can use a turbo trainer for short, hard sessions which will pay off on the road.”

Go aero

“Minimise your surface area on windy roads. Aerodynamic or ‘aero’ positions can feel uncomfortable at first but you get used to it. Simply tucking your head down and getting low over the bars will let you get the benefit.”

EZFit QF Snow

Kit carefully

“If you often average more than 15mph [24km/h] on your rides, it is likely you will benefit from aerodynamic equipment, such as deep-section wheels. If your rides are hillier, it makes more sense to invest in a lighter frame or wheels.”

Be consistent

“If you’ve got a favourite route, change your pacing to see what works. Often, riding at a more consistent effort, both up and downhill, may well mean that you complete your ride faster. You’ll feel better in the second half, too.”

Written by Coach for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

Try This Cycling Recovery Routine After Your Next Long Ride

Try This Cycling Recovery Routine After Your Next Long Ride

Work through this series of exercises to relax your muscles after a day in the saddle.

Every keen cyclist knows that they should commit some time to recovery work after a long ride, but it’s fair to say that most skimp in this area. It’s understandable – after a few hours in the saddle, taking another 15-30 minutes to stretch and foam roll your aching muscles feels like a big commitment when you could be lounging on the sofa instead.

However, your muscles really won’t thank you for skipping recovery work and you’re liable to feel twice as tight the next day, as well as putting yourself at greater risk of injury over the course of a tough training regime. We spoke to Phil Burt, former head physiotherapist at British Cycling, about the importance of stretching and other recovery work, and asked him for a simple routine to do after your long rides.

Why is it important to stretch after a ride?

“You’ve got tight muscles, and as you try and move them towards their full length you either meet resistance or pain. That’s why we stretch – so we have more muscle length available to us that’s restriction-free. That’s especially true after a long ride, because it’s a forced postural position set by the parameters of your bike set-up.”

How long should you spend on your recovery work?

“Everybody is time-poor – even athletes. I remember Bradley Wiggins coming up to me once in 2007 or so. He’d been assessed by a California outfit and they gave him 26 different exercise and stretches to do each day. He said, ‘I did these yesterday and I didn’t have any time to ride my bike.’ Every one of those stretches was valid, but what I preach is golden bullet exercises, where you’re stretching different things at the same time.

“Do the exercises [recommended below] three to five times, for 30 to 60 seconds. If you get to 60 seconds you know you’re getting a good stretch, but you might find that too hard to do at first, so do it for 30 seconds and build up to a minute, knowing you’re doing it well.”

When should you stretch?

“I don’t think anyone needs to do it before a ride – unless they have specific reasons to, like an injury or restriction – but after the ride it’s very important. Nutrition is key in the first hour, so sort that, shower and clean yourself up, then ideally do the stretches straight after you’ve showered, when you’re still warm. Do it then and again later on that evening if you want to.”

Post-Ride Recovery Routine

You’ll need a trigger point massage ball and a foam roller for this routine, which Burt has designed to target all of the areas of the body most likely to be stiff after a long cycle.

Rectus femoris, hip flexors and lower back

“The rectus femoris is the middle quad muscle and it’s really important in cycling. If that gets tight then it glues down your hip and your kneecap, and it can be the muscle responsible for kneecap pain when cycling. You don’t use the hip flexors in cycling unless it’s an all-out sprint, but they are important because they connect to your lumbar spine. So when you stand up they pull your back into an extended and maybe painful position.

“You can stretch your rectus femoris and hip flexors with a modified Bulgarian stretch. Stand on one leg with the other behind you on a chair. Squeeze your glutes as tight as you can and push through your hips, and then squat down on the standing leg.

“For people who have very poor flexibility through the pelvis and lower back, the modified Bulgarian means your pelvis can move where it wants to and it decreases the load on your lumbar spine. If I asked you to touch the floor now and I blocked your pelvis you’d have to do it all through your lumbar spine, so you’d feel more of stretch there and maybe some pain. It’s the same on a bike – you want your hips, pelvis and lower back sharing the workload.”

Glutes

“Glute stretches are great but I suggest using a trigger-point ball on your glutes. Get the ball up against a wall and lean right into it around your glutes. It’s really easy to get a good release on your glutes. You’ll feel great afterwards!”

Iliotibial band (ITB)

“Cyclists’ ITBs can get very tight because of the forces the knee has to deal with from pedalling, and this can be a major cause of knee pain. Foam roll the ITB [which runs down the outside of the thigh], because it’s very hard to stretch. All I can say to you is that whatever the foam roller actually does, and there is controversy about the mechanism, it works! It’s eye-wateringly painful, but if you do it every day for two weeks, three minutes each side, it stops hurting. Vibrating foam rollers are really good for this, because they make it less painful.”

Thoracic spine

“When cycling, the thoracic spine [the upper part of the spine] is in a similar position to when you’re looking at the ceiling when you’re painting it. Foam rolling the thoracic spine will pay big dividends in your neck and decrease the workload for your lumbar spine. Often people don’t feel like the thoracic spine is painful, but foam rolling that area can help with problems in your neck and lower back.”

Lats

“Problems arise here because you’re holding the handlebars for ages. The lats come all the way from your neck down to the bottom of your spine. They’re a big stabilising muscle. Put a trigger-point ball against your armpit to roll them, either lying on your side or against a wall. This can really help your thoracic spine to move, and therefore your lumbar spine and neck. Again it’s a muscle that itself isn’t painful but if restricted will cause aches, pains and restrictions elsewhere.

Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

What Is Running Power And How Can It Help You Improve?

What Is Running Power And How Can It Help You Improve?

Running with power requires a mental shift, but it can help you pace your training and race efforts to perfection.

There are three traditional methods that runners use to pace their training sessions and races. The simplest of these is to run on feel, gauging your effort based on your perceived rate of exertion. The most common is to run according to pace, especially in races when you know the target pace to achieve a PB. Finally, as heart rate monitors have become standard on running watches and fitness trackers, heart rate zones have also become a useful method to judge your efforts.

All three have their merits and all can work for any runner, but all have their faults too. We’re all liable to misjudge our efforts and overdo it when running on feel, while a raw pace number doesn’t take into account hills or weather conditions. Heart rate is better on this front, but wrist devices can suffer from accuracy problems, and your heart rate can vary based on things like stress and how much you’ve slept.

All this brings us to running power, which is a measurement that advocates claim is a better way to judge your efforts in all conditions, regardless of variables like terrain and the weather. To learn more about it, we spoke to Angus Nelson, co-founder of Stryd, which makes a power meter.

What is running power?

“Running power represents the intensity you’re running at,” says Nelson, and getting the intensity right is key when following a training plan.

“For pure runners, using pace as a training metric works fine if you’re running on a treadmill, track, or other very flat surface with no wind or temperature changes. You can keep an even pace and your pace represents your intensity. But when you run outside and you hit hills, or it’s windy, or the temperature or humidity changes, you’re going to be working a lot harder to keep a consistent pace.”

On those occasions, keeping your power output steady means your effort will be consistent, whereas trying to hold a certain pace could mean the training run is too hard, because you’re overdoing it up hills, or even too easy, if you have a tailwind pushing you along all the way. Either way, you won’t be getting as many benefits from that run as if you had stuck to the effort specified in your plan, and if you have worked too hard to hold a pace in unfavourable conditions it could affect the quality of the rest of your week’s training.

“Instead of trying to guess the right pace value as the conditions change, it’s easier to run on your energy expenditure directly – to run based on a power number,” Nelson says. “So you’re not trying to keep to seven minutes per mile, you’re trying to keep the energy expenditure that correlates with that speed. You might be given a power target of 300 watts, which correlates to seven-minute paces on flat ground, but when you start running up hill the pace changes. The power target doesn’t.”

EZFit QF Universal

What factors combine to produce the power number?

There are various power meters out there that use different factors to produce the wattage number you are given, but generally the idea is to take into account your speed plus external factors like hills, and in the case of Stryd conditions like wind, temperature and humidity.

“The Stryd pod connects to laces on the shoe,” Nelson says. “It can understand the effort you’re putting in because it measures the motion of the foot, and then it measures the environment you’re in and how that’s affecting you.”

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Coach

How can power help you improve as a runner?

“If you’re following a structured plan, you’re going to be doing some easy runs, some hard workouts, some racing,” says Nelson. “There is an ideal intensity to get the maximum benefits from training and run as fast as you can on race day. The most important thing is to establish the targets you should be training and running at. If you can do that you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of other runners.”

How do you establish those power targets?

It takes time to get used to power as a runner, and devices like Stryd also need some time to calibrate themselves to you and set your target power zones.

“[With Stryd] this is done through a system called auto calculated critical power,” says Nelson. “This takes all of your running data, profiles you as a runner and works out those targets. In the first few weeks you have the device, you have to tell the system what you’re capable of. You need to do three types of runs in the first few weeks – a short, fast sprint effort, a 10- to 20-minute tempo effort and an endurance effort. Stryd will then have a very good idea of what kind of performance you’re capable of, and that will determine what zones you should be training in and what effort you should be racing at.”

How does power help on race day?

“This is really the breakthrough moment for a lot of people who try running with power,” says Nelson. “Folks have a tendency to do a lot of strange things when racing – like start too fast, or push the hills too hard. It’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and stick with people who they consider to be of the same ability as them. But when folks start running with Stryd they have the confidence to run to the power value. They see those packs of runners push up the hill too hard, start too hard, surge mid-race – all these things are not optimal behaviour if you’re trying to produce a max-effort evenly paced race. People realise they weren’t taking control of their pacing strategy, but with Stryd they can.”

Power meters are especially useful for trail and cross-country races, or road events where you can expect undulating terrain or rough weather conditions.

“If you’re a trail runner, a cross-country runner or a road runner who loves challenges, you’re going to get a greater benefit from this technology,” says Nelson. “You’re going to be able to run faster in these difficult conditions.”

Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

The 10 Most Gorgeous Solo Hikes

The 10 Most Gorgeous Solo Hikes

Because sometimes, you just want to get away from it all.

Heading out on an adventure and knowing that you are solely in control of where you camp, when you stop, and what you eat can be a thrilling feeling. “Solitude is so rare in this day and age that it can be really powerful if you seek it out purposefully,” says Amy Rathke, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator for the National Outdoor Leadership School. “Gear preferences, food preferences—ultimately, the trip is yours. If you want to sit by an alpine lake and sit in the sun and read your book in the middle of the day, you don’t have to answer to anyone else. ” These ten perfect hikes, from a few miles to a few weeks long, are waiting for you.

How to Safely Hike Alone

A solo hike can also lead you into dangerous situations, so prepare for the worst. “The top thing when you are considering any trip, but especially when you are going out alone, is to have good first aid training because you are going to be handling any emergency situations by yourself,” says Rathke. Along with first aid, know the area that you are going to. Are there grizzlies? What’s the weather supposed to be like? Have a solid understanding of the place before you embark, Rathke says. Unfortunately, there’s a human factor, too. Rathke warns to be wary of any fellow hikers that are simply creeping you out. If your gut is telling to you to be cautious of someone, play it safe and pitch your tent among other campers or hike alongside new friends.

Before you head out, leave a detailed trip plan of where you are going, and when you will be back. “I like to set a freak out time,” Rathke says, “so if whatever that time is approaches, and whoever you left your plan with haven’t heard from you, they know specially what to do at that point, whether it is to contact search and rescue or drive to the trailhead and retrace your steps.”

Sometimes, getting over the mental hump of being alone for days at a time is a challenge of itself. Rathke recommends bringing a book or an iPod and savoring the uninterrupted hours to read or listen to music. You might also consider taking a few items you might normally take on a group hike, like a GPS device for any challenging situations.

Once you’ve taken appropriate precautions, the benefits of solitude and ultimate freedom will become apparent. In the end, you might like the alone time or you might not, but it’s well worth a try. “To realize that you can execute an adventure like that from start to finish on your own, can be its own reward,” Rathke says.

1. John Muir Trail

Said to be the finest mountain scenery in the US, this 211-mile trail should definitely be on your bucket list. It runs mostly in conjunction with the Pacific Crest Trail, and often has mild, sunny weather. You will need a wilderness permit, but it’s worth it to venture through Yosemite, John Muir Wilderness, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Park.

2. Lost Lake Trail, Seward, Alaska

If you’re new to solo backpacking, opt for a one- or two-night stay at Lost Lake. The 14-mile roundtrip hike starts in a spruce forest that opens up into lush meadows, followed by hemlock groves and mountain views. There are off-trail hiking opportunities if you feel like exploring further, but use common sense: there may be no other hikers for miles, and snow can linger until July.

3. Fall Canyon, Death Valley, California

Don’t be scared off by the name. Instead, let Death Valley’s key features entice you—it’s the driest, hottest, and lowest place in North America. The trails are rough and unmanaged, so definitely take a GPS device and bring plenty of water. If you want true isolation, avoid the weekends, but target April and October for prime weather. Fall Canyon offers a wealth of exploration possibilities near Titus Canyon.

4. Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

If you are ready for a longer solo adventure, the 37-mile, six-day Teton Crest Trail is one of Rathke’s favorites. It’s one of the park’s signature hikes and delivers alpine lakes, views of the famous craggy summits, and a trip over Hurricane Pass where you can see all three Tetons in perfection. This is a moderate backpacking trip, but can easily be done solo—park at the Leigh Lake Trailhead and take the tram to start at the Granite Canyon trailhead.

5. Timberline Trail, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

For a multi-day solo backpacking trip, take the 36-mile trek around Mt. Hood. You start and end at Timberline Lodge trailhead, and do need a permit in the summer, though they are free. This is a more strenuous hike that will test your limits, but you’ll get a good variety of solo hiking as well as some populated areas and campsites, if you’re in need of some emergency socialization.

6. Lake Katherine, Pecos Wilderness, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Start at Ski Santa Fe, follow the Windsor Trail up to the well-marked path leading to Lake Katherine, and don’t forget your fishing pole. It’s the largest and deepest lake in the Pecos and sits just below Mount Baldy, which you can veer off and climb, too. There are plenty of trails to make this a loop hike as well, offering connections to the Windsor to Lake Peak, Deception Peak, and Raven’s Ridge.

7. Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

On some hikes, you just want to take in the beauty without being rushed by co-hikers. Wilcox Pass provides views of the Columbia icefields along with the Athabasca glacier, and the glaciated Mount Andromeda, Snow Dome, and Mount Kitchener. Take your time viewing the glaciers, then continue to the open meadows to spy bighorn sheep.

8. Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Not only are all of the hikes in this area highly recommended, the small-town of Moab is friendly and welcome to all adventurers. Canyonlands National Park is nearby, but Arches is easier to navigate with better marked trails. Both are popular with hikers and mountain bikers, but you can still easily get away to appreciate the solitude. The Delicate Arch hike is only 3 miles roundtrip, but can take about two to three hours. There is no shade, so make sure you pack plenty of water and sunscreen.

9. Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

The 185-mile Cabot Trail covers the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, consistently rated one of the top destinations in North America. With more than 25 trails to explore, you can easily do a variety of hikes and spot plenty of wildlife, too.

10. Springer Mountain to Three Forks, Appalachian Trial, Ellijay, Georgia

This southernmost, 8.6-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail covers a variety of terrain, like mossy creeks, pine, rhododendron, and plenty of wildflowers before heading to the summit of Springer Mountain. The out-and-back trail has parking lots on both ends and isn’t very strenuous—you can take the time to reflect and enjoy a lush hike by your lonesome.

Written by Mattie Schuler for Backpacker and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Backpacker

A Quick & Dirty Guide to the Best Biking in East Bay

A Quick & Dirty Guide to the Best Biking in East Bay

In the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Concord boasts a wealth of biking opportunities for all styles, from scenic road rides to technical singletrack to cruiser afternoons on urban trails. To help you get the lay of the land, we’ve highlighted some of the East Bay’s best biking spots along with some local tips for getting everything you need to start pedaling around Concord.

Cycle Trails Around Concord

For the casual cyclist simply looking to get out and about on a sunny day, there are several easy bike paths in Concord and the surrounding towns. The Contra Costa Canal Trail traverses Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, and Martinez in a 14-mile-long horseshoe shape as it follows along the namesake canal. This paved, mostly flat trail provides easy access to a collection of local parks, commercial centers, and public transportation, while also connecting to several other cycle paths such as the Iron Horse Regional Trail.

Spanning a total of 32 miles, the Iron Horse Regional Trail travels a north-south route from Concord to Pleasanton and offers a safe, fun way to explore shops, restaurants, and parks in the seven towns it connects. Together, these two cycle paths form the main arteries of a thriving multi-use trail system in the East Bay as they intersect with other trails like the Briones to Mt. Diablo Regional Trail and the California Riding and Biking Trail.

For those cruising on the Iron Horse Trail, enjoy a relaxed lunch at one of the restaurants alongside the trail in Concord, like Eureka! Burgers or Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar.

Mountain Biking at Mount Diablo State Park

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The Oyster Point Trail is one of the best options for those who love singletrack in Mount Diablo State Park. Miguel Vieira

Less than 20 miles south of Concord, this sprawling state park encompasses the namesake peak along with the surrounding woodlands and boasts some of the best mountain biking in the East Bay. Bikers of all levels can find worthwhile trails with some seriously stunning views, though the majority of the singletrack caters to strong intermediate or advanced riders. Of the more than 60 miles of trail open to mountain bikers in the park, the Mount Diablo Summit Trail, Oyster Point Trail, and Diablo Ranch Trail stand out as some of the most fun and rewarding rides.

After pushing it out on the singletrack, head back to Concord for a well-deserved pint at the Hop Grenade taproom downtown or Epidemic Ales, the offbeat, dog-friendly craft brewery at the north end of town.

Mountain Biking at Briones Regional Park

A quick 15-minute drive from downtown lies the peaceful open space of Briones Regional Park, where mountain bikers will find more than 35 miles of trails. Most of the trails are on old fire roads, and feature steep, scenic climbs, especially when the hillsides take on their picturesque green color from January to April. The park offers primarily intermediate to upper intermediate trails, with the Briones Crest Trail Ride, the Lafayette Ridge Trail, and Old Briones Road Trail taking the cake as the must-do rides.

After smashing the trails, knock back a few cold ones—and a burger to reward all that climbing—at E.J. Phair brewpub right by Todos Santos Plaza.

Popular Road Rides Near Concord

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Smooth, wide-open roads make the area around Concord a favorite spot for cyclists. Oleg Shpyrko

Those heading out for a spin on thinner tires will have no shortage of scenic roads to ride around Concord. The undisputed crown jewel of road rides in the East Bay starts just a 20-minute drive from downtown: the summit of Mount Diablo. This 12-mile climb ascends nearly 3,600 feet to the top of one of the Bay Area’s highest peaks via the park’s South Gate Road. Meanwhile, the lesser-known Morgan Territory Road ride offers a gentler climb which starts at the northern edge of Mount Diablo State Park and crosses through Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. This quiet, winding road clocks in at 15 miles (one way) and climbs 1,460 feet before offering up a thrilling descent (cyclists can ride one way and use BART to get back to Concord).

Another local favorite, the Carquinez Loop travels 24 miles around the Carquinez Strait with two long bridge crossings over the water and incredible views the entire way. Several portions of the loop take advantage of car-free cycle paths making for an even more peaceful experience.

Insider Tips for Biking in Concord

Visitors can get acquainted with the city’s grassroots cycling organization, Bike Concord, as a local resource for the bike community. As advocates for safe, enjoyable biking in Concord, the organization hosts a year-round calendar of community and fundraising events and operates a free bike repair tent at the Todos Santos Plaza farmers’ markets.

Those in need of a quality local bike shop can check out the Encina Bicycle Centers Concord location, which offers repairs, bike and accessory retail, and professional coaching along with rentals for mountain, hybrid, and road bikes. For one-on-one or group mountain bike coaching in the area, reach out to Ian Massey of Trail Technique and put those new skills to the test on some Mount Diablo singletrack.

So whether you want to test yourself on serious singletrack or just want a quick ride to get ice cream, hop on that bike and discover for yourself why Concord has become one of the region’s top cycling destinations.

Written by Jenna Herzog for RootsRated in partnership with Visit Concord and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Harris FS

12-Week Beginners Half Marathon Training Plan

12-Week Beginners Half Marathon Training Plan

While it’s a long way to run, pretty much anyone can run a half marathon with the right plan – this plan.

Some people sign up for a marathon without being a regular runner and while it’s possible to get round on the day with a lot of hard work, it can end up being a bit grim. Half marathons are a smarter choice for the occasional runner who’s keen to tackle a big challenge. And if you follow a good training plan, you may even get around the course with a smile on your face – a training plan like this one by Justin Reid-Simms, UK Athletics-qualified running coach at Alamer Athletic.

Bear in mind, however, that this plan is designed for people who can already run for 20-30 minutes – it’s not a couch to half marathon plan. On the other hand, if you take a look at the plan and decide you could tackle something more demanding, try this 12-week training plan by Reid-Simms which aims to get you to the finish line in under two hours.

Unlike other training plans that ask you to cover a certain distance each session, this one just asks you to run for a certain amount of time and a particular piece. “Running by time allows you to plan out your day,” explains Reid-Simms. “It helps avoid rushing through runs because you’re trying to have a life!”

Speaking of lives, you’ll notice there are six sessions a week, but three are optional. “I’d advise people to do as many sessions as they can,” says Reid-Simms, “but plans change so don’t beat yourself up if you skip the optional workouts. Just be consistent with the key sessions.”

Those key sessions are a 20- to 30-minute run on a Tuesday, a run on Thursday that gradually increases in time up to 45 minutes, and a long run on Sunday that tops out at one hour 15 minutes. Not too bad, right?

The optional extras are an easy run on Saturday which will help get your body used to spending time on your feet, plus two strength training sessions on Wednesday and Friday.

You’ll also notice that on some of the Thursday and Sunday runs, Reid-Simms has included the option to walk if you need a quick break. “At that stage it’s all about time on your feet. There’s no need to push really hard, so just take a little bit of a breather, but after a while you want to be able to run consistently.”

How the plan works

The plan is split into three four-week blocks. The first builds a base of fitness, the second increases your endurance and the third starts with the hardest week of the plan before winding down to make sure your body’s well rested and ready for race day.

You’ll notice there’s a pattern to the first two blocks. The time you spend running builds gradually for three weeks, before dropping slightly in the final week to give your body a chance to recover from the increased workload.

The final block is different because it’s when you taper off your training. “It’s vital to listen to your body throughout this block,” says Reid-Simms. “The most important thing is to feel strong when you get to the start line, so if you feel that an extra rest day would be beneficial, then take it.”

Types of run

You’ll notice there are three types of run in this plan: aerobic, endurance and recovery. Each corresponds to the amount of effort you should put in, with the aerobic being the greatest amount of effort, endurance after that and recovery the least. The easiest way to work out the right amount of effort is to use the talk test. On the aerobic runs you should be able to get two or three sentences out, while during the endurance run you should be able to carry on a full conversation. During the recovery run you should be able to rant at length. We’re sure you can judge it without talking to yourself out loud if you’re running alone, but Reid-Simms does recommend running with someone else if possible “because you can both be a check on each other”.

Block 1: Base Building

Week 1

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 20min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 30min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 30min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Week 2

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 20min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 30min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 35min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Week 3

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 20min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 35min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 40min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Week 4

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 20min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 30min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 35min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Block 2: Endurance

Week 5

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 30min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 35min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 45min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Week 6

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 30min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 40min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 55min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Week 7

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 30min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 40min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 1hr 5min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Week 8

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 30min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 35min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 55min endurance, walk for periods if you need to |

Block 3: Race Ready!

Week 9

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 30min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 45min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 1hr 15min endurance |

Week 10

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 30min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 35min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 60min endurance |

Week 11

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 30min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 25min aerobic, walk for periods if you need to | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (optional) | | Sunday | 45min endurance |

Week 12

| Monday | Rest | | Tuesday | 20min aerobic | | Wednesday | Strength training (optional) | | Thursday | 30min aerobic | | Friday | Strength training (optional) | | Saturday | 20min recovery (shake-out run) | | Sunday | Race day |

Written by Jonathan Shannon for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

How To Avoid Injury When You First Start Running

How To Avoid Injury When You First Start Running

Running is very good for both your physical and mental health, and if you decided to take up the sport then congratulations! It’s a whole lot of fun once you get past the first few runs, which can feel really tough as you awaken muscles you’ve not used in a while.

However, you do need to ease into running slowly, to reduce the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and allow your body to adapt to the demands of a high-impact sport. If you go in all guns blazing and run every day for a week, you risk injury, not to mention the fact that you’ll probably start to hate running because of this over-intense approach.

For advice on how to start running safely, here’s Laura McKay, musculoskeletal (MSK) therapies lead for Bupa Health Clinics.

How often should you run when you’re starting out?

Your body needs to adapt to your new training plan, so start slowly. Doing too much too soon will be difficult to maintain and put you at greater risk of getting an injury. You should increase the number of miles you’re running each week gradually, if you feel comfortable doing so. Running two to three times a week should improve your fitness, but make sure you also get enough rest. Give yourself at least a day between runs to allow your body to adapt to your new routine.

Remember to listen to your body and don’t run through pain. If you don’t feel 100% or think there’s a reason you shouldn’t run, then don’t. Hold off until you feel fully fit.

What kind of injuries can crop up for new runners?

Shin splints is one of the most common running injuries, especially for beginners who aren’t used to running. The term refers to lower leg pain below the knee and is often a result of muscle overuse, wearing worn-out shoes or running on hard surfaces.

To help prevent shin splints, make sure you build up your mileage and fitness slowly, and combine running with other exercises. Yoga is a great exercise to combine with running because it stretches and strengthens your muscles.

It’s also important to check you have the right shoes to run in and replace them every 300 miles. If you already have shin splints, stretch or foam roll your shin regularly to aid recovery.

Runner’s knee is a catch-all term which describes several injuries that cause pain around the kneecap. To help avoid runner’s knee, take a similar approach to preventing shin splints: make sure you build up your mileage slowly and that you’re running in the right shoes. Warming up and down properly is essential, and this should include stretching the muscles around the ankles, knees and hips.

Achilles tendonitis is a result of the overuse of the achilles tendon – a band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone. It typically happens when runners quickly increase the intensity or duration of their runs.

To help reduce the risk of achilles tendonitis you should, again, increase the intensity and the amount you are running gradually. Make sure you stretch your calf muscles before and after exercising.

Plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of the foot around the heel. This is often a stabbing pain that is particularly painful when you take your first steps in the morning. The pain can return after sitting or standing for long periods of time.

How can you go about reducing your risk of injury?

To prevent new running injuries, it’s important to choose shoes that offer good support; not only for running, but in your day-to-day life as well. Take the time to gently warm up before you begin your run. Exercises like lunges, squats and high knees will help to warm up your muscles. It is also useful to start your run a bit slower and build up to your running speed gradually. Cooling down after your run with some light stretching is essential too. Setting time aside for a proper warm-up and warm-down can reduce muscle tightness and maintain your flexibility.

Written by Nick Harris-Fry for Coach and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Coach

11 of the Nation’s Best Hikes

11 of the Nation’s Best Hikes

By no means an exhaustive list, here are 11 hikes across the country that simply have to be on your radar. From the rolling mountains of the southeast, to the jagged peaks of the west, to the canyons, waterfalls, and old-growth forests of the Pacific Coast, these trails are ones for the bucket list. Happy hiking!

1. Roan Mountain Highlands | Asheville, NC

Criss-crossing the Tennessee-North Carolina border for 14-miles, this section of the Appalachian Trail is easily one of the most beautiful stretches along the entire route from Maine to Georgia. The views from these ethereal highlands are stunning and constant, and bring to mind visions of Scotland and Wales.

2. Baxter Creek Trail | Knoxville, TN

In truth, almost every trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is eligible for your hiking bucket list, but one particular route that highlights the very best of this park is the Baxter Creek Trail- a 12 mile roundtrip with 4,000 feet of climbing, sweetly smelling spruce trees, and a lush rainforest understory.

3. Enchanted Rock | Fredericksburg, TX

Enchanted Rock is a 425-foot pink granite dome that shoots up from the flat Texan landscape and offers hikers an amazing place to explore. With its Native American folklore, fascinating geological formations, and sweeping views, this place is truly enchanted.

4. Superior Hiking Trail | Minneapolis, MN

Located in northern Minnesota, the Superior Hiking Trail is a 296-mile route that affords an epic adventure on the banks of Lake Superior. Whether thru-hiking or day-hiking, this trail, with its dense forests, deep gorges, and fast-flowing rivers (not to mention lovely views of the largest Great Lake) is an absolute must-experience.

5. Indian Peaks Wilderness Area | Boulder, CO

With over 75,000 acres of wilderness, plenty of towering peaks, and 133 miles of trails, visiting the Indian Peaks Wilderness of Colorado is an adventure that every hiking enthusiast should have. The Mitchell Lake Trail is one particular route that features high-altitude forests, breathtaking views, and a pristine alpine lake.

6. Paint Mines | Colorado Springs, CO

Located in the prairies of Colorado, the Paint Mines are a geological and archaeological wonder to behold. Sculpted over millions of years, these gulches now form a clay and sandstone labyrinth of butterscotch yellows, burnt oranges, and ruby reds, reminiscent of South Dakota's legendary Badlands National Park.

7. Sleeping Indian | Jackson Hole, WY

The 12-mile roundtrip up Sleeping Indian is quite possibly the best hike in all of Jackson Hole- which is saying something. What makes it so great? Well, aside from the pristine pine forests and wildflower meadows, Sleeping Indian has the best views of the Tetons that you can find anywhere in the area, and it's not even in the Tetons.

8. Oneonta Gorge | Portland, OR

Though not much of a hike, and more like a .6-mile scramble over slippery and wobbly logs, Oneonta makes the list because it is truly one of the most stunning gorges in the country. Carved into a little cranny of the Columbia River Gorge, this picturesque canyon features lush green mossy walls and a wonderful swimming hole and waterfall at the end of the tunnel.

9. High Rock Lookout | Seattle, WA

The view from this old fire tower yields some of the most unbeatable views of Mt. Rainier that you can find anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. While it's only a 3-mile roundtrip, this hike is not for the faint of heart, as it features quite a bit of elevation gain as well as dizzying, vertigo-inducing heights. But the views… wow.

10. Big Basin Redwoods State Park | San Francisco, CA

Located in California's oldest state park, the Pine Mountain Trail, in Big Basin, is a thigh-burning journey that leads hikers through a dense forest of scented pines, ancient oaks, and towering redwoods until they reach the spectacular viewpoint known as 'Buzzards Roost.'

11. Tequepis Trail | Santa Barbara, CA

The best part about the Tequepis Trail isn't the smooth single track, or the 2,000 feet of elevation gain over 9-miles, or even the gorgeous views of Cachuma Lake. The best part about the Tequepis Trail is that it's the closest trail to the Cold Spring Tavern – a rustic restaurant hidden in a sycamore forest offering blues music, craft brews, and delicious Tri-Tip sandwiches.

Written by RootsRated for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Paxson Woelber