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Day 3 – 2:00pm – Below Georgia Pass

I’m worried about the next pass. Thunderstorms loom over the mountains that line the horizon in every direction. The thin trail winds between wildflowers and grass. I’m atop a small hill, looking over the enormous prairie that sits between mountain ranges. Soaring 14,000-foot mountains tower before me. After two days of biking through lodgepole pine forests and aspen groves, the mountains seem enormously far away. But in the next ten miles I’ll need to climb above treeline to cross between two distant peaks. It will be the first time I’ve been above treeline with a bicycle.

I lose myself staring across the prairie until a crack of thunder reminds me I need to find shelter. I drop down the tight singletrack, riding through sudden hail and rain. The storm is ferocious, drenching me almost immediately. The trail is suddenly a small creek. Once I’m in the forest again, I jump off my bike and pull it beneath a pine tree. I pitch my tarp and wait out the storm.

The Basics

A technical, rocky, and fog-shrouded summit along the Colorado Trail—expect it all!
    Richard Forbes
A technical, rocky, and fog-shrouded summit along the Colorado Trail—expect it all!
Richard Forbes

The Colorado Trail (CT) stretches over 486-miles between Denver and Durango and encompasses a landscape home to everything from high elevations and exposed summits, to alpine meadows studded with wildflowers, to dense spruce forests and raging waterfalls.

I think everyone who loves the outdoors should do the Colorado Trail. I don’t think everyone should bike it.

Anyone who has biked the CT knows one thing: it was not designed to be biked. Sure, it’s possible to get a bike from Denver to Durango (or the reverse) using the Colorado Trail, but you will not be riding the bike the whole way. Instead, you’ll be pulling, pushing, cajoling, and carrying it. In fact, you’re not even allowed to bike the entire 486-miles of the CT, because bikes can’t enter the six wilderness areas located along the trail. Instead, you’ll have to go around them using forest roads, and depending on your choices, you might bike closer to 500-miles before you’re finished.

With that said, the Colorado Trail is perfect. It is one of the best bikepacking trips in the United States. It is certainly the best for its combination of high altitude, length, and technicality. On the CT, I found 3,000-foot descents, incredible solitude, and the most beautiful views imaginable. The CT changed everything about how and why I bike. Here are some things that might be helpful to know if you’re interested in bikepacking this legendary route.

The Gear

Spruce sap dripping over CT signage. 
    Richard Forbes
Spruce sap dripping over CT signage.
Richard Forbes

If you’re going to bike the Colorado Trail, you ought to have some backcountry experience under your belt already. I’m not going to provide a complete gear list, but I’ll suggest some general ideas.

Go Light: If you aren’t already into ultralighting, you don’t need to change your whole setup, but certainly prioritize lighter gear, because there’s roughly 70-80 thousand feet of vertical gain and loss along this trail. Try leaving the stove and only bring cold food—you won’t miss the extra weight, fuel management, or long cooking times. And I’d highly recommend a tarp and/or bivy sack instead of a tent.

The Bike: Bring what you’re comfortable on. The trail ranges from beautiful flow trails and thin alpine tracks through tundra, to brutally difficult trails littered with babyheads (term for baby-head-sized rocks). You won’t be able to ride the whole trail due to a variety of un-bikeable barriers, but different types of bikes will definitely change your experience. You can do it with a rigid, hardtail, or full suspension, and I have friends who’ve used each on the trail. I chose to ride my hardtail, so it was neither light on uphills nor comfortable on downhills. Instead, it split the difference and made everything equally uncomfortable.

Bike Repair: You’ll be fine if you don’t know anything about bike repair. I knew next to nothing before I started my trip, and I learned as I went. Get ready to get to know some bike mechanics. I learned almost everything I know now from standing in the corner of bike shops watching mechanics and asking questions. There are great bike shops along the eastern half of the trail (which means hopefully you’ll know what you’re doing by the western half).

You can’t prepare for every possible eventuality, so be ready to walk your bike out if anything catastrophic happens. My rear derailleur snapped off midway through one particular segment, and I was forced to walk and coast on my bike for 30 miles to the nearest bike shop. A broken bike is a great excuse to get a huge dinner in town.

Rigging your Bike: Put as much as you can onto your bike. It will handle strangely, but it’s far better than having that weight on your back (where it will slowly crush your will to continue). I used a 14-liter seat bag combined with a 40-liter pack. My base weight (without food or water) was roughly 13 lbs, not counting the bike.

If I did it again, I’d use a frame bag, handlebar bag, and seat bag, and only keep snacks and water in a light daypack. While there are a variety of bikepacking gear designers, I’d highly recommend Revelate Designs.

Layers: Layers are the only way to prepare for the enormous range of temperatures you’ll experience. I brought only one “change” of clothes, but I had five layers for my top half and four for my bottom half. You’ll want, at the very least, a light base layering system, a puffy top, and a solid rain shell. I also highly recommend cheap rain pants, as they’re so terrible at breathing that they’re perfect for keeping your legs warm in windy conditions.

A thin slice of the CT stretching into the ethereal glow created by fog and sun. 
    Richard Forbes
A thin slice of the CT stretching into the ethereal glow created by fog and sun.
Richard Forbes

I find the Colorado Trail in my dorm room, in a coffee table book my roommate brings home. I spend late nights daydreaming through the pictures and researching specifics. I’m certain I want to bike the trail, even though I’ve only been seriously mountain biking for a few months. I want to go farther and faster than I can on foot and to spend as much time as possible on a bike. I want a goal that I’m not sure I can complete.

On July 12th, 2013, my brother and I start the trail. He’s on foot, and I leave him behind immediately. I cruise up the dirt road for six miles. After all the anticipation and planning, I’m finally on the trail. My bike is heavy, but the road is gently graded, and I feel great…. Until the road ends.

A thin track climbs up into the forest, clearly marked by a CT trail blaze. I stand up on my bike, cranking as hard as I can. The pack sits heavy and sweaty on my back. I’m panting, glad that no one’s around to see me. Just minutes before, I’d felt so proud of myself, cruising past day hikers, my stuffed bags showing how badass I thought I was. And now I can’t even climb my first real hill.

Exhausted, I spill off the side of my bike, barely landing on my feet, and I immediately drop my pack and sit on a log. I’d been training for two months with a pack, but I’d only just gotten the seatbag, and my bike consequently handles completely differently. This is going to be impossible, I think, and I repeat this mantra in my head endlessly over the next 17 days.

The Trail

It may be a bluebird day now—but 3:00pm thunderstorms along the CT are incredibly common, and you do not want to be stuck in one.
    Richard Forbes
It may be a bluebird day now—but 3:00pm thunderstorms along the CT are incredibly common, and you do not want to be stuck in one.
Richard Forbes

The trail can be ridden in either direction (Denver to Durango or the reverse). Due to acclimatization and trail intensity, I believe it is far better to bike from Denver to Durango. Staying on the trail is not hard. The CT is extremely well marked. If you are confident with backcountry navigation, you do not need more than the Colorado Trail Databook. If you’re a bit shaky on navigation, you can buy detailed maps for the entire trail or bring a GPS.

The hard part is actually riding the trail. While the terrain is extremely varied, it is typically loose, techy, and has an incredible amount of elevation gain and loss. One particularly gruesome segment has six 12,000-foot passes in a row. Which leads us to the next section:

Timing: The Colorado Trail is all about timing. There are three main variables you need to juggle: Snow, Water, and Thunderstorms. You’ll have to decide which to prioritize. For me, I chose to start in mid-July to make sure there would be as much water as possible.

Snow: Snow on the trail is a real issue. While the elevation range is from 5,500 to 13,200 feet, the average elevation is just over 10,300 feet. So, for eight months out of the year, there’s significant snow on the trail. The trail typically clears in early to mid-July and is doable through early October—though if you wait this late, you’ll almost certainly see heavy snow in the San Juan Mountains.

Water: If you’ve ever carried over 4 liters of water, you’ll know that water availability is essential. The amount of water near the trail varies through the season, due to snowmelt and rainfall (more on this in a second). July typically has the most accessible water, and during my July thru-bike the longest section without reliable water was around 25 miles. Water availability typically falls off after July, so if you’re biking in September or October, seasonal springs may be dry. Of course, water in Colorado is incredibly difficult to predict, so nothing is guaranteed.

Thunderstorms: Colorado has a monsoon season, which means through July and early August, there are almost always thunderstorms every day between noon and 3pm. You do not want to be at high altitudes during these storms. These storms make alpine passes extremely stressful. The monsoon season usually ends by mid-August, and September typically has perfect weather.

Weather: Prepare for every weather event. You will experience temperatures from 20° to 90° (F) as well as snow, sleet, sun, rain, fog, thunder, lightning, and high winds. The biggest issue is thunderstorms. They’re inevitable, regardless of when you’re on the trail. And they must be taken seriously. Nothing else on the trail is as dangerous as a high altitude thunderstorm. Do not take them lightly. Remember that you are riding on a large chunk of metal, and try to avoid being above treeline in the afternoon.

However, at some point you will almost certainly get caught above treeline in a thunderstorm, so stay calm and find shelter or get to a lower altitude as fast as possible.

A wonderfully smooth stretch of singletrack slithering through a spruce forest. 
    Richard Forbes
A wonderfully smooth stretch of singletrack slithering through a spruce forest.
Richard Forbes

Pace: Biking the trail can take between 4 and 20 days. The record is 4 days 4 hours and 17 minutes, during the Colorado Trail Race (during which riders bike through storms and darkness to compete in a race with no prizes). If you’re sane, it’ll probably take you between 15 and 20 days, if you’re averaging 25-35 miles per day, though backpackers regularly take upwards of 30 days, so it really depends on how long you want to be out there.

Food: You will not be able to eat enough food on the trail. In towns, it’s not uncommon to eat three dinners in a row, and it’s a constant struggle to eat enough on the trail. I didn’t bring a stove, so I ate an incredible amount of summer sausage, cheese, and pita bread, supplemented with vegetables and snack bars. It’s not hard to restock on food, though some people (mainly hikers) choose to do food drops. I don’t think this is necessary, as wilderness areas force bikers to go through more towns. Biking, you’ll go through five towns on the trail and you’ll come near at least four others.

The People: There won’t be many other bikers, but every day you’ll pass hikers, whether they’re just out for a dayhike or doing the whole CT. I met some amazing people along the trail, and I often camped near others to swap stories and to hear about the trail ahead. There are a number of Trail Angels who provide food stashes and transportation to trail towns, and rumors about these Trail Angels often stretch a hundred miles in either direction along the trail. I don’t know if the legendary Trail Angel named Apple is still around, but he used to give out root beer floats at random trailheads. It was incredible.

A microcosm of summer weather in Colorado. 
    Richard Forbes
A microcosm of summer weather in Colorado.
Richard Forbes

I finish the trail after 17 days. My legs are covered with cuts, my bike is scarred and barely hanging together, and I’m filled with more joy than I’ve ever felt before. I’d ridden through fields of wildflowers, run out of food twice, and fallen off my bike countless times. I’d slept in a new place every night, and fallen wholly in love with Colorado.

Thinking back on that trip, the trail taught me so much. I learned how to handle the immensity of being alone in the backcountry, how to ride (pull, push, cajole, and carry) my bike through some of the most technical terrain Colorado has to offer, and why I, personally, need to spend as much time as possible in the backcountry.

The hardest part of the trail was finishing. After 17 days, I never wanted it to end. But while every trail comes to an end, there will always be another adventure just around the next bend.

Day 3 – 4:00pm – Below Georgia Pass

Explosions in the sky along the Colorado Trail.
    Richard Forbes
Explosions in the sky along the Colorado Trail.
Richard Forbes

The sky is clearing and everything feels washed and clean. Hail lies piled in the hollows between tree roots. I’m warm, huddled in my sleeping bag. I can’t decide if I should camp or attempt the pass. I’m only three days in, but something is already pulling me along. As in all decisions on the trail, I’m alone, which is both paralyzing and freeing. A shaft of sunlight reaches through the clouds and pine branches, and I decide that’s enough of a reason to hope the storms are finished for the day. I pack my bags for the pass.

Four hours later, I’m in dense fog at 12,000 feet. I can see the trail in front of me but not much more. I’m above treeline. The fog built slowly, almost imperceptibly, until now it’s almost complete. I can’t even tell if I’m at the top of the pass. I keep struggling on. The light is changing color, growing warmer. I realize I’m inside a sunset. A cairn looms out of the fog, marking the top of the pass, and suddenly the fog rips away in front of me. Peaks line the horizon as far as I can see, and the sun is enormous and orange. For the second time today, I lose myself in the mountains. The growing chill reminds me that night is almost here. I bike down below treeline in the gathering darkness and find a small campsite. I rig my tarp between two trees, eat a quick meal, and fall asleep already dreaming about the next day ahead.

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

Featured image provided by Richard Forbes

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From the Smokies to the Rockies, and the Everglades to the highest point in Maine—and everywhere in between—the United States is full of world-class hikes. Whether you’re a hardcore peak bagger, out for an ambitious day hike, or are obsessed with the panoramic views for your Instagram feed, there’s always something thrilling to lace your hiking boots up for. Here, we tapped RootsRated editors for intel on some of the best hikes in the United States. Use them as inspiration for your next outing—or as a reason to plan a trip.

Teton Crest Trail, Wyoming

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The Teton Crest Trail epitomizes the splendor of the West.

John Strother

There are a lot of really great hikes on this list, but Wyoming’s Teton Crest Trail might just take the cake as being the most epic. For 35-45 miles (depending on your route), this slender singletrack path cuts a dwarfed, serpentine figure as it slices through the heart of one of America’s most stunning mountain ranges, linking together its very best features along the way. Over the course of two to five days, hikers will pass through wildflower-filled meadows, over airy mountain passes, past glacially-fed tarns, and across expansive basins that swallow up hikers and spit them out as tiny, inconsequential specks against the jagged backdrop of the Tetons. In short, this trail will skew your perception of what constitutes a bucket-list worthy hike. Pro tip: Permits are hard to come by, but because the trail weaves in and out of national parklands and national forestlands, if you camp in national forest designated areas, obtaining a permit isn’t necessary.

Roan Mountain, Tennessee

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The 14-mile traverse of the Roan Mountain Highlands is one of the best hikes in the Southeast.

Joe Giordano, mods made

Ask any Southeastern backpacker what the best overnight trek in the region is, and the majority will tell you: the 14-mile traverse of East Tennessee’s Roan Mountain Highlands via the Appalachian Trail is a true standout. Not only is it home to one of the most unique shelters on the entire A.T. (the Overmountain Shelter, better known as "the barn" because it’s, well, a two-story barn), but it also offers up some of the best grassy “bald” hiking in America. Think of it almost like the Southeast’s version of ridgeline hiking: You’re above the trees, surrounded by a sea of billowing grasses in the foreground and a sea of bluish-gray mountains sprawling into every direction in the background, with nothing in the way to obstruct these views. The only downside? Cameras rarely do Roan justice.

Buckskin Gulch, Utah

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Buckskin Gulch highlights the beauty of slot canyon hiking in Utah—just make sure to do your homework before venturing out.

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In a region as labyrinthine and loaded with slot canyons as Southern Utah, it’s difficult to say that Buckskin Gulch is the definitive best slot canyon hike in the region. But it’s certainly the longest and the deepest … and, yeah, probably the best, too. For 13 miles, these narrows snake through a mazy tunnel of towering red rock walls, often no more than a wingspan’s width apart and so tall that they block out sunlight. Some hikers choose to link up with nearby Paria Canyon for an overnight 20-mile trip, but for day hikers, it’s just as rewarding to park at the Wire Pass Trailhead and embark on an out-and-back distance of your choosing. The important things to remember with this hike are largely water-related: First, flash floods are a very real threat, so be sure to check the forecast and plan accordingly. Second, bring more water than you want to carry; the dehydration creeps up quick in the desert.

Mount Katahdin, Maine

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A lucky hiker summits Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain Maine, on a rare day without fog.

Foxcroft Academy

The tallest mountain in Maine and the North Star, northern terminus of the famed Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin is truly legendary. It juts upward out of the sprawling expanse of lakes, ponds, and deep woods that define Baxter State Park and towers over the land with a commanding presence. The most iconic way to reach the summit is via the vertiginous spine of the 1-mile Knife’s Edge Trail. Along its impossibly narrow and serrated saddle, hikers scramble from Pamola Peak across Chimney Peak to South Peak and finally to the 5,267-foot summit of Katahdin. Once the (likely fog-shrouded) summit photos have been snapped, a roughly 5-mile descent via the Appalachian Trail will take hikers back to the Katahdin Stream Campground trailhead 4,100 feet below.

Grayson Highlands, Virginia

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Wild ponies will be your companions on a hike in the Grayson Highlands of Virginia.

Virginia State Parks

In a word, the Grayson Highlands of Virginia are breathtaking. In 19 words, they are an almost make-believe land of high mountain meadows, 5,000-foot peaks, thick rhododendron tunnels, and mystical wild ponies. Like most state parks, there’s a large variety of activities to pick from (camping, bouldering, fishing, and horseback riding), but arguably the best way to get a comprehensive taste of the park’s character in a condensed snapshot is to hike the 8.5-mile out-and-back to the summit of Virginia’s highest point: Mount Rogers. The route starts out from the Massie Gap parking area along the Rhododendron Trail. It links with the Appalachian Trail, traveling through grassy pastures sprinkled with boulder outcroppings, and then eventually connects to the Mount Rogers Spur Trail, which twists through a lush, mossy forest to the summit.

Clouds Rest, California

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Clouds Rest backs up its dreamy name with views to go along with it.

John Strother

The 14.2-mile round-trip hike to the Clouds Rest summit offers an exceptional taste of what Yosemite National Park is all about. As you’re standing atop its 9,926-foot perch, high above Yosemite Valley from a less-witnessed vantage point than the famous Half Dome buttress, with a giant sea of granite and coniferous pines and sequoias below, it’s hard to feel anything but utter awe and respect for your surroundings. The trailhead is located in the northeast corner of the park. From here, it’s a 7-mile mostly uphill trek whose elevation chart vaguely resembles a healthy year in the stock market—a few spikes up steep ridges here, a few dips into gullies there, but with a pretty consistent uphill hockey stick growth toward the summit. What the chart won’t illustrate, however, are all the glorious intangibles along the way—babbling snowmelt streams, sequoias so stout you’d need a group of five to fully hug them, ever-expanding panoramas as you ascend, the tranquillity at the summit, and of course, the icy plunge in Tenaya Lake as a refreshing reward once you return to the trailhead.

Wheeler Peak, New Mexico

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Wheeler Peak will challenge your quads, but the panoramic views at the summit make it worth it.

Jake Wheeler

It’s weird to think that the tallest peak in New Mexico would be overshadowed by anything within the immediate vicinity. But with Southern Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park some two hours to the north, and the cultural hotspot of Taos about 45 minutes to the south, that’s kind of what happens to Wheeler Peak. Don’t let this lack of regional recognition fool you, though: The 8.2-mile round-trip hike to this lofty summit in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is one of the best in New Mexico and a true lesson in uphill slogging. Averaging about 800 vertical feet per mile, this trail takes hikers through lung-expanding evergreen forests and then up lung-crushing climbs above treeline. What you’ll remember other than the impressive summit panorama will be the near endless collection of switchbacks that seem to pinball you back and forth, side to side, and up-and-up through a seemingly infinite sea of scree. Patience—and quad-strength—are both virtues on this hike.

Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

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Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a thru-hiker, the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies is an unforgettable hike.

Kevin Stewart Photography

For Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, the 72 miles of the A.T. within the Smokies represent one of the most revered sections of the entire 2,200 mile route. For long-weekend backpackers, this stretch represents one of the most efficient and spectacular ways to get an intimate taste of America’s most visited national park. Whichever way you slice it, the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies is a spectacular hiking experience teeming with old-growth forests, incredible biodiversity, challenging climbs, sprawling mountain vistas, and a booming population of fearless and curious black bears. You can’t go wrong with any day hike section you choose along this route, but to really maximize the experience, a 4-5 day excursion that covers the entire 72 miles is your best bet. Overnight permits are required, so make sure you plan in advance.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

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You’ll almost certainly be in a long line waiting to officially hike Half Dome. And yes, it’s worth it.

John Strother

You don’t need climbing skill or equipment to scale Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome. Using steel cable handrails, hikers can ascend 400 feet up the backside of this granite monolith to reach its summit of 8,840 feet, with panoramic views of the Sierra Mountains in all directions. From the Yosemite Valley floor, Half Dome is a strenuous, 12- to 14-mile round-trip hike. Break up the journey by hiking 4.7 miles to Little Yosemite Valley to camp. Then, hike 3.5 miles to Half Dome and hit the cables early before they’re super crowded. Usually, the cables are accessible May through October, and permits are limited, so set a reminder to snag one as soon as they open on March 1. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water and bring sturdy gloves.

Rae Lakes Loop, Kings Canyon National Park

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The 41.4-mile Rae Lakes Loop is a popular hike in the High Sierras, with stellar lake views.

Kirk Y.

The 41.4-mile Rae Lakes Loop showcases some of the most stunning scenery in the High Sierra. Beginning at 5,041 feet in a forest of pines, cedars, and cottonwoods, the trek requires nearly 7,000 of climbing for hikers to visit emerald meadows and cobalt lakes surrounded by mammoth granite towers. While the hike includes the heart-pounding, 2.1-mile ascent of Glen Pass at 11,998 feet, grades are generally moderate and water is plentiful along the way. To avoid several intense climbs, do this hike clockwise. Due to high demand for permits, book as early as possible to March 1, when permits are released, and hike in May to avoid summer crowds.

Appalachian Trail, Georgia section hike

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The Georgia section of the AT stretches for nearly 80 miles and is an eye-opener for many would-be hikers about the challenge ahead.

Alan Cressler

Northbound AT thru-hikers begin their 2,200-mile journey in Georgia, where the trail climbs high, exceeding 4,000 feet of elevation, to offer epic views from rock outcrops and sublime walks through emerald forests of rhododendron, mountain laurel and moss-covered boulders. Stretching 78.6 miles, the Georgia portion of the AT is not only beautiful but also challenging, with steep, rugged terrain that strains less-seasoned hikers and causes some to abandon their dreams of hiking to Maine. If a thru-hike is a little too ambitious for you, the Georgia AT includes many access points, so several day hikes and short trips are possible. If you begin at Neels Gap you can visit the Mountain Crossings gear store to mingle with thru-hikers and see the only point where the AT passes through a manmade structure. From there, make the steep climb to the summit of Blood Mountain to explore a unique stone trail shelter and enjoy a remarkable view of Appalachian ridges rolling to the horizon.

Florida National Scenic Trail

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The Florida National Scenic Trail runs from the state’s Panhandle through its southern reaches.

National Forests in Florida

One of the most iconic trails in the Southeast, this 1,300-mile route stretches from the state’s Panhandle all the way to Big Cypress National Preserve at the southern end of the state. But you don’t have to tackle the whole thing to savor some of its highlights, from serene marshland to spectacular wildlife viewing. Take your pick from a number of excellent section hikes: A few recommended routes include the 11-mile stretch from Clearwater Lake to Alexander Springs, one of the trail’s oldest sections, and hikes around Hopkins Prairie, where you’re likely to see sandhill cranes and eagles. Campgrounds, both primitive and traditional, are interspersed along the way, so you can easily turn your day hike into an overnighter.

The Dipsea Trail, Marin County, California

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The Dipsea Trail in Marin County, north of San Francisco, is home to the oldest trail run in the country.

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Don’t let this trail’s whimsical name fool you: The approximately 7-mile stretch is a doozy, with nearly 688 steps—in the first mile—and long uphill stretches for nearly 2,000 feet in total elevation gain. Even so, doing the Dipsea is a must for any Bay Area hiker or active-minded visitor, with forests that look like they’re lifted from a fairytale book, flowy single-track through majestic redwoods, and a finish at the Pacific Ocean. The trail is also home to one of the most infamous trail races in the country (and the oldest): The Dipsea Race, which has drawn hardy runners to battle its roots, ruts, and other ankle-twisting obstacles since 1905. Whether you run it or hike it, you must do it.

Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, Santa Cruz, California

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The Skyline-to-the-Sea trail is net downhill, making for an especially rewarding finish at the Pacific Ocean.

Miguel Vieira

You can hike its sections separately, but to really experience the essence of this 31-mile trek, one of the best in the San Francisco Bay Area (if not all of California), it’s best to make a true adventure of it, with two overnighters on trailside campgrounds. Built over seven years by a local nonprofit, the trail treats hikers to roaring waterfalls and towering coastal redwoods and passes through two excellent state parks, Castle Rock and Big Basin, before culminating at the Pacific Ocean. Another big plus? With a start in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the trail is all net downhill. No surprise, then, that reservations fill up fast, so plan ahead and be patient—it’s well worth the effort.

Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, New Hampshire

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This eight-mile round-trip hike to the summit of Mount Washington is a year-round favorite in New England.

Annes Travels

The iconic 6,288-foot Mount Washington in the White Mountains is a challenging and worthy summit, especially in the winter. While many are drawn to its eastern slopes to ski Tuckeman’s Ravine, a select few hike the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail on the western side to the mountain’s peak. This demanding, approximately eight-mile round-trip route challenges hikers with steep and exposed sections, icy scrambles, and the threat of erratic weather and strong winds. But the stunning views, frozen waterfalls, and exhilaration of standing atop New England’s highest peak make the cold toes, burning lungs, and treacherous trek worth it.

Longs Peak, Colorado

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Navigating the famous boulder field is just one part of the adventure of this iconic Rockies hike.

Katie Dills

Longs Peak’s 14,255-foot summit looms over Colorado’s northern Front Range, a mountainous beacon summoning the adventurous. A journey to the top of Longs is a truly epic undertaking—even for fit hikers. The standard ascent route via the Keyhole is a 15-mile outing with more than 5,500 feet of elevation gain and is usually done in a single 10-to-14-hour push. Most begin in the darkness around 2 am, catching the sunrise above treeline about five miles in at the famous boulder field. Crossing through the Keyhole dramatically changes the character of the hike from a steady, class-2 cruise to a wild, exposed, class-3 scramble along well-marked ledges. A tough push up a loose gully called "The Trough" grinds up to 14,000 feet, where there is still work to do. A steep scramble through the “Home Stretch” exits atop the surprisingly flat, broad summit block. After all that work, there’s still the challenge of getting down safely. Big, bold, and tough, Longs is one of the most amazing adventures in the Rocky Mountains.

Mount Frissell, Connecticut/Massachusetts

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Mount Frissell is one of the most stunning hikes in New York’s Taconic Mountains.

Morrowlong

At 2,454 feet, Mount Frissell stands in the heart of southern New England and New York’s rolling Taconic Mountains. When the full force of the changing seasons paints the trees in hues of red, yellow, and orange, this hike makes a strong case as the most beautiful in the region. A modest, 1-mile trail start from Mount Riga Road in Massachusetts and gently climbs through scrub oak to the summit of 2,289-foot Round Mountain before continuing to the top of Mount Frissell. Unlike most hikes, however, you’ll get the best views beyond the summit. Passing into Connecticut, hikers come across the highest point in Connecticut at 2,380 feet on the south slopes of Mount Frissell—keep going! At 0.5 miles past the highpoint pin is the Connecticut-New York-Massachusetts tri-point marker, and roughly another mile past that are the panoramic views of rolling farmland and distant Appalachian mountains from 2,311-foot Brace Mountain. Return the way you came for excellent views of neighboring mountain domes to the north.

Peak One, Colorado

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The challenging hike to the summit of Colorado’s Peak One includes spectacular views.

Todd Powell/ Frisco

At 12,933 feet, Peak One is more than 1,400 feet lower than Colorado’s highest peak, but what it lacks in elevation it makes up for in unmatched views. Access is easy, with the trailhead located right off highway I-70. Hikers climb past the ruins of an old mining town before breaking treeline. A class-2+ ridgewalk reveals the depth and beauty of Colorado’s high country. Dillon Reservoir sits at the foot of the peak to the east, where the mighty Front Range 14ers stand in the distance. The northern views are dominated by the mysterious and challenging Gore Range, while far-off Sawatch Range mountains decorate the western horizon. A fun, brief scramble ascends the summit. Turn around at that point for an 8-mile out-and-back with more than 3,000 feet of elevation gain—or keep traversing along the Tenmile Range to Tenmile Mountain and beyond. Hiking from Peak One to Peak Ten is one of Colorado’s big point-to-point testpiece adventures.

Humphreys Peak, Arizona

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Arizona’s highest point, Humphreys Peak boasts fascinating history along with its views.

Coconino National Forest

The highest point in Arizona, 12,633-foot Humphreys Peak is an ambitious peak to bag, with an impressive history to ponder as you conquer it. Geologists speculate this strato-volcano once stood much higher until it experienced a Mount St. Helens-style eruption that resulted in its trademark bowl and diminished height. The Arizona Snowbowl ski area is set on the flanks of the peaks San Francisco Peaks, of which Humphreys is the tallest. A hike to the top travels through pine forests and out of treeline along a well-maintained trail through chunky volcanic rock. Admire the power that shook the land as you take the final steps to the airy summit, where views span out into the lowlands that transform into far-off deserts and canyons. It’s about nine miles round-trip, with 3,000 feet of elevation from the standard route on the Humphreys Peak Trail.

Greenstone Ridge Trail, Isle Royale National Park

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Greenstone Ridge Trail, Isle Royale National Park.

Ben W

Located on an island in Lake Superior that’s 45 miles long and just nine miles wide, this national park is so remote you’ll have to take a ferry or seaplane to access it. But once you do, you’ll have your pick of 165 miles of hiking trails that cover spectacular terrain, including the ruins of an old copper mine and a lighthouse that dates back to the late 1800s. Many hikers flock to the Greenstone Ridge Trail, which runs along the spine of the island, but the Minong Trail is a 52-mile trek that’s slightly harder, but with far fewer people and just as stunning views, wildflowers, and up-and-close wildlife viewing. Choose from several out-and-back routes, or make it a point-to-point overnight trip (there are 36 first-come, first-serve campgrounds) and you just might catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

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 Jake Wheeler

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When it comes to two-wheeled adventuring, sometimes self-guided exploration is part of the thrill. Other times, you’d rather leave the wayfaring to an experienced guide so you can focus on soaking up the scenery as well as the eats (and drinks) along the route.

Whether you’re a hardcore cyclist looking to press your daily mileage or just out for a Sunday cruise with plenty of stops for Instagram photos, there’s an offering that’s just your speed. In recent years, operators have expanded their offerings to include a wide range of interest and skill levels, from ambitious tours of California’s coast and wine regions, to food-centric cruises to Denver’s food halls, to historic rides through Maine’s lighthouses—and everywhere in between. In honor of National Bike Month in May, here are 10 of the best bike tours in the U.S.

1. Denver for Fantastic Food Halls

Denver has become a food-hall capital as of late, thanks to five destinations dotting the Mile High City and its suburbs with a mouthwatering array of restaurants and artisanal food shops. Take a bite out of all five spots over 10 miles of urban road riding, from Avanti Food and Beverage in the LoHi neighborhood to Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, home to 50 local businesses housed in a former airplane hangar in Aurora. Get rolling at The Source, a hotel/market hall hybrid in a former iron foundry with 25 indie food vendors and bike rentals.

2. Albuquerque for Chiles

This kicky little veggie, whether in its red, green, chopped, and sauced forms, is ubiquitous in New Mexico. The crop is the basis of the state’s signature regional cuisine—and one of Albuquerque’s most popular outings from Routes Bicycle Tours. The 10-to-12-mile tour cruises along the Rio Grande’s cottonwood forests to six of the city’s top foodie hotspots, like Golden Crown Panaderia for green chile bread, and Pop Fizz, home to red chile chocolate popsicles.

3. Austin for Live Music

During Austin's thriving festivals—and there are plenty of them—ditch the car and make like the locals, opting for a bike instead, which gets you past the inevitably snarled traffic to the stage way faster. And you’re sure to stumble across live music venues on the Austin Icons tour offered by Austin Bike Tours and Rentals. The two-hour outing pedals past Sholtz’s Beer Garden, the oldest operating business in Texas that’s had a grand influence on local culture and music.

4. Santa Barbara, California for Beaches and Wine

It’s hard to decide which is more relaxing: the beach or wine country. But California Bicycle Tours’ multi-day rides from Southern California up the Central Coast promise the best of both. Riders pedal along scenic coastlines, past quaint seaside towns, and along the scenic vines of Santa Barbara’s wine country. Tours vary based on itinerary; however, they cover 22 to 40 miles per day, so they’re better suited to riders who are accustomed to being in the saddle.

5. Los Angeles for Tacos

La La Land’s taco scene is spicy, and an outing from LA Cycle Tours wraps up some of the city’s best known and off-the-beaten-path spots. The nine-mile tour through several L.A. neighborhoods and past historic sites helps justify that extra side of guacamole.

6. Portland, Oregon, for Craft Beer

Portland has earned the nickname "Beervana" for good reason—it’s home to more than 70 breweries, at last count. Get a sampling of what’s on tap with Pedal Bike Tours, which guides thirsty riders along the five-to seven-mile route past 11 of the city’s sudsy spots and inside a handful of them to see the brewing process and—of course—taste.

7. New Orleans for Cuisine

You probably won’t come close to pedaling off the calories you consume, but who doesn’t come to the Big Easy to overindulge a bit? The Confederacy of Cruisers’ New Orleans Culinary Bike Tour itinerary changes with the seasons, but you can expect a sampling of NOLA classics like gumbo, po’boys, crawfish, Cajun pork boudin, and jambalaya, as well as a few off-the-tourist-track surprises from the city’s Italian and African influences. This caloric cruise follows six- to 10-mile routes (but don’t count on your pedaling to offset the feast).

8. Atlanta for Neighborhood Gems

The Atlanta Beltline will ultimately encircle A-Town, connecting 45 in-town neighborhoods along trails built on former railroad corridors. That neighborly spirit prevails on free weekly tours, organized by the Atlanta Beltline Partnership. Saturday morning rides follow the 16-mile Eastside Trail or the 11-mile Westside Trail; routes alternate each weekend.

9. Oak Park, Illinois, for Architecture

Architecture aficionados will find their match in the summer tours (June through September) of the world’s largest collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The outing begins and ends at the iconic architect’s home and studio, and cruises through a picturesque neighborhood filled with 21 Wright-designed structures.

10. Portland, Maine, for Lighthouses and Lobster Rolls

Summer Feet Cycling’s Lighthouse Bike Tour follows the scenic shores of Casco Bay by bike to five of the state’s picturesque lighthouses, with guides sharing Portland’s history along the way. along the 10- to 12-mile tour, you’ll work up an appetite for lunch, which features the city’s best lobster roll. Or, for the foodie-centric cyclists who prefer their tour with more lobster rolls than lighthouses, Summer Feet also has an offering exclusively devoted to taste testing one of New England’s signature dishes.

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

Featured image provided by Tim Mossholder

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In 1968, Congress created the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System to preserve sections of America's rivers with exceptional natural, cultural, and recreational value. Little more than one-quarter of one percent of the nation's rivers earn the Wild & Scenic designation, protecting them from dams and development, and—in some locations—securing them for whitewater rafting and other recreation. With man-made dams altering 17 percent of America’s rivers, experiencing the free-flowing beauty of a Wild & Scenic river provides a unique adventure and a tangible reminder of the places worth protecting. Here's a sampling of some of the West's best for rafting.

Tuolumne River – California

Flowing from the High Sierras of Yosemite National Park down to California’s Central Valley, the 149-mile-long Tuolumne River courses through the heart of the state. Since there are several dams and aqueducts along the Tuolumne, often referred to simply as the “T”, only 83 miles of the river are designated as Wild & Scenic.

To experience some of California’s best whitewater rafting, take a trip down the remote 18-mile stretch of the Tuolumne River just outside of Yosemite. This stretch offers technical, boulder-strewn rapids ranging up to Class IV+ as it winds through rugged Sierra foothills that come alive with California poppy blooms in the spring. It’s possible to raft the full section in one long day, or extend the trip with one or two nights of camping to earn more time fishing, hiking and relaxing by the river. Popular outfitters for commercial trips include All-Outdoors and ARTA River Trips, while private boating trips require an experienced rower and a permit.

Rogue River – Oregon

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SUP-ing Oregon's Rogue River.

Zachary Collier

Starting in the Cascade Mountains of southwestern Oregon and flowing over 200 miles to the Pacific Ocean, the Rogue River features nearly 85 miles of designated Wild & Scenic River. Most rafting trips down the Rogue explore a 40-mile stretch full of Class I to Class IV- rapids, relaxing flat sections, historic sites, impressive rock canyons, waterfalls, pristine forests, and abundant wildlife. In fact, the wildlife viewing may be one the main draws to a trip on the Rogue River, with frequent sightings of mule deer, black bear, bald eagles, osprey, otter and blue heron.

The Rogue is popular for three- to five-day rafting trips with plenty of opportunity for fishing, exploring side creeks, and visiting the historic sites along the river. Permits are required for private boating trips, while commercially guided tours are available through companies like Momentum River Expeditions, O.A.R.S., and Northwest Rafting Co.

Middle Fork of the Salmon River – Idaho

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Rafting the Pistol Creek Rapid on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Zachary Collier

Flowing 104 miles through Idaho’s high country, the Middle Fork of the Salmon was one of the original eight rivers to earn the Wild & Scenic designation with the signing of the Act in 1968. Thanks to its remote location 20 miles northwest of Stanley, Idaho, the Middle Fork of the Salmon has seen very little intrusion from people and thus remains one of the only free-flowing tributaries in the Salmon watershed.

As the one destination on our list where the entire river is navigable by raft and protected as Wild & Scenic, a trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon makes for an unparalleled experience. The river features over 100 rapids ranging up to Class III and IV+ as it flows through the Salmon-Challis National Forest, complete with granite canyons, rolling hills of wildflowers, and picturesque waterfalls. Aside from the challenging whitewater and mountain scenery, the Middle Fork of the Salmon is unforgettable for its abundant wildlife, multiple hot springs alongside the river, and Native American pictographs painted on the canyon walls. Local outfitters like Canyons River Company and Sawtooth Adventure Company offer five- to six-day trips down the river, while experienced boaters can purchase private river launch permits.

Klickitat River – Washington

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Rafting the Little Klickitat at 1200 cfs.

Zachary Collier

Flowing from Mt. Adams to the confluence with the Columbia River Gorge in southcentral Washington, the Klickitat River offers a true wilderness rafting experience. Of the river’s 21 miles, the last 10.8 miles were designated as Wild & Scenic in 1986 for recreational use. Most commercial rafting trips take guests down a 15- to 18-mile stretch of continuous Class II-III rapids, which includes the Wild & Scenic section.

Floating down the crystal clear water of the Klickitat River brings you up-close and personal with towering basalt cliffs, cascading waterfalls and the dense green foliage that the Pacific Northwest is known for. Because the Klickitat River is fed by glacial meltwater from the north, the rafting season lasts only a few months—April through June—and the water levels fluctuate naturally, affecting the difficulty of the rapids. Some of the biggest providers of commercial rafting trips on the Klickitat include Wet Planet Whitewater and Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys.

Snake River through Hells Canyon – Idaho

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The Snake River as it slithers through Hell's Canyon.

Baker County Tourism

Home to North America’s deepest gorge at nearly 8,000 feet, Hells Canyon offers a spectacular setting for rafting. This 67-mile-long Snake River forms the border between Idaho and Oregon, with the towering Seven Devils mountain range to the east and the rim country of Oregon to the west. The majority of the river canyon is protected wilderness and the river itself was designated as Wild & Scenic in 1975 due to the scenery, wildlife, recreational opportunities, and its Native American history.

The Snake River features several Class III-IV rapids and plenty of flatwater sections. Commercial rafting opportunities range from three- to six- day trips, depending on the water flow and the distance traveled. Taking a longer trip (five to six days) during the slower summertime flows affords rafters more time for hiking, fishing, and exploring Native American homesteads in the canyon. Some of the best-rated whitewater tours on the Snake River are available through O.A.R.S. and Hells Canyon Raft, while private river launch permits are required for non-commercial trips.

Honorable Mention Rivers

  • White Salmon River – Washington
  • Owyhee River – Oregon
  • Merced River – California
  • Main Salmon River – Idaho

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

Featured image provided by Zachary Collier

You’re extra-cautious to protect your prescription eyeglasses from misuse and damage.  But, what about your sunglasses?  Many people rub their sunglasses like that annoying BBQ sauce stain on your white shirt at the company picnic.  Yet, mistreatment of your shades can lead to damage, which may void their warranty.  Common abuses to never do to your sunglasses:

1.NEVER use household glass or surface cleaners, ammonia, bleach or vinegar on your sunglasses. These chemicals will damage the lenses and will strip the anti-reflective and mirror coatings off your lenses.

2. NEVER rub your lenses with your t-shirt, sweatshirt, button-up, shirttail, etc., especially when the lenses are dry. All those tiny particles of dirt and dust hiding in your shirt may cause micro-scratches in your lenses.

3. NEVER launder your microfiber cloth with fabric softener. Definitely clean your lens cloth to remove oil build-up, but the addition of fabric softener is a bad idea. It will destroy the effectiveness and durability of the fibers, and the fabric softener will leave a residue on your lenses. 

4. NEVER wipe, clean, dry, or rub your lenses with a paper towel, tissue, or any other form of paper product. Paper is made from trees. When’s the last time you encountered a soft tree? That tissue may feel soft, but it contains little particles of rough pulp, which will scratch your lenses. 

5. NEVER wipe your lenses that have been exposed to salt water; rinse them in fresh tap water or distilled water, first, before cleaning them.

6. NEVER use saliva to wet your lenses.

7. NEVER use paper towels, napkins, tissues or toilet paper to clean your lenses. These can scratch or smear your lenses or leave them full of lint.

8. NEVER try to “buff away” a scratch in your lenses. This only makes the situation worse.

You are your sunglasses worst enemy. All sunglass lenses will get a few scratches over time from normal use and exposure to the environment. (And from occasionally getting dropped or misplaced.) Sunglass lenses are scratch resistant, not scratchproof.  It’s up to you to care for them properly in order to extend the life of your sunglasses.

Cleaning: For optimum performance, rinse your sunglasses daily in warm water.  Use a mild liquid dish soap (clear dishwashing soap such as Dawn works best) to wash each lens surface.  Dry using a clean, soft, absorbent cloth.  Do not use paper-based products to clean your lenses.  Do not use abrasive cleaners, soaps or detergents that may leave a deposit on the lens.  Do not use tissues with added lotions, lanolin, silicone or other cleaners; they will leave a film on your lens.  Do yourself a favor and make this cleaning routine a regular event. A few minutes every few weeks will keep your sunglasses from accumulating so much gunk, and will extend the life of your sunglasses.

Chemicals: Certain household chemicals will react negatively with the frame material and the metal oxides used on the coatings of your lenses.  Avoid contact with acetone (nail polish remover), caustic solutions (such as glass or ammonia-based cleaners), hair sprays containing methylene (listed on label), chlorine (from swimming pools or unfiltered water) or glue.

Hard Water: Hard water on your lenses will leave visible spots that are difficult to remove and may be damaging to your lens coatings.  Clean and thoroughly dry your lenses immediately if hard water such as pool, unfiltered sprinkler or ocean water comes into contact with your sunglasses.

Scratches: The multiple coatings on your lenses are resistant to light scratching; however, heavy, abusive scratching can break through the coatings and cause visible marks.  Removing dirt and other particles with good cleaning practices and keeping your sunglasses in their case when not in use will significantly help prolong the life of your lenses.  Good cleaning practices will help minimize scratching.

Heat: Excessive heat may deteriorate your lenses or mis-shape your frame.  Avoid placing your sunglasses where you might expect excessive heat, for example, on the dashboard of your car.

We know that the most important benefit of wearing D•CURVE Optics sunglasses is that they protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light can have harmful effects on the eyelid, cornea, lens and retina.

Do you only wear sunglasses on sunny, summer days? If so, you’re doing your eyes a disservice. Quality sunglasses are necessary year-round.  Whether it’s winter or summer, cloudy or sunny, you’re always subject to ultraviolet exposure.

Eye protection is especially important if you’re on or near a body of water.  Not only do you get direct sun exposure, but you also get reflected light from the water.

Snow can also reflect sunlight, so, if you’re hitting the ski slopes this winter, don’t forget your sunglasses. Excessive UV exposure can lead to a corneal burn.

Do you want your skin around your eyes to look healthy?  Here’s a helpful hint: Wear sunglasses!  Sunglasses also help protect delicate skin around the eyes from aging.  Eyelid skin is the thinnest skin on our body and it’s more at risk for sunlight damage. 

Do you know there’s a beauty benefit of wearing sunglasses?  Less squinting and eyestrain: when you’re constantly squinting, you’re also constantly straining your eyes. This results in “tired” eyes, and may even lead to earlier wrinkles around the eyes and “crows feet”. Wearing sunglasses allows you to not squint, and will help you see more clearly during whichever outdoor activity you decide to participate in.

Yes, you heard it right – your sunglasses are basically anti-wrinkle cream, only SO much more attractive.

Looking cool is just one of many excellent reasons to wear sunglasses.

You slather on SPF 50 to shield your skin from the sun. But what about your naked eyes? In a 2012 survey, less than half of 10,000 Americans polled recognized the health benefits of sunglasses, and 27 percent of respondents reported never wearing them. Yet this simple and stylish accessory* can protect your eyes from a host of conditions caused by ultraviolet rays:

1. Skin Cancer
Up to 10 percent of all skin cancers are found on the eyelid.

2. Cataracts
The World Health Organization reports that, worldwide, approximately 900,000 people are blind because of cataracts—cloudiness in the lens of the eye—triggered by UV exposure.

3. Macular Degeneration
Over time UV light may play a role in damaging the macula lutea (an area of the eye with millions of light-sensing cells, which allow us to see fine details clearly), potentially leading to blurriness and vision loss.

4. Pterygium
This abnormal growth of tissue—also called surfer’s eye—may progress slowly from either corner across the white part of the eye, possibly leading to inflammation or disturbance of vision.

5. Photokeratitis
Essentially a sunburn of the eye, it’s temporary (healing within 48 hours) but can be painful, causing blurred vision, light sensitivity, and the sensation of having sand in your eye.

*Just not the $5 pair for sale on the corner. Those can do you more harm than good. Our pupils dilate behind dark lenses, meaning cheap shades will actually let more damaging rays into your eyes than if you weren’t wearing any sunglasses at all. Shop for a pair that’s designed to block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB light.

When it comes to sunglasses, we all know that there are many benefits to wearing them, especially since they protect our eyes from damaging radiation and ultra violet rays. We may not notice, however, that there are many other benefits to wearing shades outside.

Think you know why sunglasses are great for your eyesight? Check out some of the added benefits that you may not know about!

Sunglasses Decrease Dry-Eye Problems – Many people suffer from dry-eye syndrome mostly because of environmental factors. Windy environments, especially those that occur in dry climates, can easily dry out both the skin and the eyes, causing dry-eye syndrome. Sunglasses help protect against dry-eye syndrome by blocking the wind and dust that could gain access to your eyes. This can help prevent you from experiencing the symptoms of dry-eye syndrome, especially if said sunglasses are of a wrap-around style.

Glare is Reduced with Sunglasses – Sunglasses are awesome when it comes to reducing the sun’s garish glare. Why is that important? It allows for proper vision when you’re taking part in a high-risk task such as driving. If you wear sunglasses when you drive instead of squinting through the sunlight, you will cut down a huge amount of risks to your life and the lives of others. Keep in mind that more than 100 people die each year due to drivers who couldn’t see because of glare.

You’ll Experience Less Squinting and Eye Strain – Do you find yourself constantly squinting and straining to see? Did you know that squinting is not only detrimental to your eyesight but that it can also lead to wrinkles around your eyes earlier in life? When you wear sunglasses, you will decrease the amount of squinting you will do, which will allow you to see more clearly and will help your eyes to feel less tired.

Your Eyes Will Be Safe From Debris – Protective glasses and goggles are worn in several professions. Why shouldn’t you wear sunglasses on your adventures outdoors? They will aid in protecting your eyes from any harmful debris that could be flying around. Remember, injuries to your body can heal over time, but sometimes, physical damage to the eyes may never heal!

Sunglasses Can Help You Look and Feel Good – Sunglasses tend to be associated with some degree of “coolness” or Hollywood celebrities. They tend to suggest that you’re confident about who you are. And of course, sunglasses can really help pull together any sort of outfit or style that you’re aiming for!

Need sunglasses? Ready to show your eyes some love? Shop D•CURVE Optics sunglasses now.   

Many of us think of sunglasses as a fashion accessory.  It’s hard to imagine Jackie O. or Jack Nicholson without their signature shades.  But, all sunglasses are not created equal, and when choosing your next pair it’s important to remember that their primary function is to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays.  Here’s the scoop on UV radiation and protection.

7 Things to Know About UV Protection

1. UV, or ultraviolet radiation, is part of the invisible light spectrum that falls between 100 and 400 nanometers (nm).  UV is divided into three ranges: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C, the range below 280 nanometers, which is not considered a threat because most of it is filtered by the earth’s protective ozone layer (although air pollutants are degrading the ozone, thus increasing UV exposure).  Prolonged exposure to the higher-ranged UV-A and B rays, however, can cause significant eye damage, ranging from temporary discomfort to long-term vision problems such as cataracts.  All D•CURVE Optics sunglasses offer 100% protection against UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays.

2. UV radiation is most intense between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and is stronger at high altitudes and closer to the equator.

3. The reflective qualities of snow, sand and water amplify the effects of UV radiation, harming unprotected eyes in less time. Thus, it’s especially important to wear sunglasses while skiing, boating, or while hanging out on the beach or in the desert.

4. While clouds block solar brightness, they can still allow up to 80 percent of UV light to reach your eyes and skin.  So, don’t forget your shades on those cloudy days.  Protecting your eyes with D•CURVE Optics sunglasses will keep you smiling on a cloudy day.

5. Dark lenses that don’t block UV light can actually cause more damage than wearing none at all because they dilate your pupil, allowing more light in, without blocking the damaging rays.

6. In addition to UV-blocking shades, wear a brimmed hat.  Fifty percent of sunlight comes from directly overhead and can reach your eyes over the top of your sunglasses.

7. Babies and young children have more translucent corneas and lenses, and thus are particularly susceptible to UV damage.  Protect them with hats and sunglasses.

How much UV protection is enough?

Sunglasses and/or sunglasses packaging should carry an American National Standards Institute label telling how much UV light they block.  For optimum protection, look for lenses that block 99 to 100 percent of ultraviolet rays.  (Some labels say “UV absorption up to 400 nanometers”, which means the same thing.) If the sticker on the sunglasses doesn’t make either claim, or is worded vaguely (“Reduces UV exposure”), keep looking. 

All D•CURVE Optics sunglasses offer 100% protection against UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays.