2016 was another banner year for the outdoors. Here at BRO we covered topics that ran the gamut from record-setting thru-hikes and in-depth profiles to pressing news stories about wildfires in Southeast, human-black bears encounters, and crime along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are the stories that generated the most buzz in 2016.
1. Concerns Grow in the Face of Impending Development on Cumberland Island National Seashore
One of our most recent news stories has also become one of the most popular of the year. It arose when a new 10-lot subdivision was proposed and ultimately approved less than a quarter-mile from Sea Camp on Cumberland Island, a national park and wilderness along the Georgia coast.
2. Wildfires Ravage the Southern Appalachians
In the late fall and early winter of 2016, wildfires took hold of Southern Appalachian forests in a way that has rarely been seen before. We were there to cover this rapidly unfolding tragedy every step of the way.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the Southeast’s most treasured resources. From end to end it carves a 469-mile path along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, acting as a regional corridor for outdoor adventure. Next time you head to the mountains with a fly rod in tow, use this guide to fly fishing the Blue Ridge Parkway to help you along the way.
We consulted a 2016 thru-hiker for insider tips and directions to some of the most impressive views along the Appalachian Trail.
2016 brought a lot of unusual news stories that related to the outdoors in one way or another. Few if any of those stories were as bizarre as the events that unfolded when a missing hiker was found tied to a tree near a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina.
Western North Carolina’s DuPont State Forest is something of a mecca for mountain bikers. But a successful day on the trails of DuPont requires some thorough research. Our 2016 guide to 25 of the best trails in DuPont is a great place to start.
7. Karl Meltzer Set Appalachian Trail Speed Record
Some of our most popular stories in 2015 involved the historic, record-breaking A.T. speed hike of famed ultra runner Scott Jurek. Few of us here at Blue Ridge Outdoors thought we would be diving head first back into the A.T. speed record game in 2016, but we were proven wrong by none other than Karl “Speed Goat” Meltzer.
The prospect of mountain lions, one of nature’s most majestic and formidable predators, roaming the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains like they did in early American history, has long frightened and fascinated Southern Appalachian residents and visitors alike. In 2016 we took another look at the possible existence of this elusive megafauna in our Blue Ridge backyard.9. The Pioneers Project
In 2016 we published a long-form digital feature profiling some the most important movers and shakers in the Blue Ridge outdoor scene, from early explorers and Native Americans to modern day mountain bikers, climbers, and hikers. It garnered a ton of attention among the readers of BlueRidgeOutdoors.com.
2016 was another big year for our 48 Hour travel guides. These guides profile some of the best towns in the Blue Ridge and beyond. From hiking hotspots to the area’s best breweries, they have all the beta you’ll need for your next weekend excursion.
48 Hours in Lexington, Virginia was one of the most popular guides of 2016.
2015 saw the untimely, tragic, and mysterious death of legendary Smokies hiker Jenny Bennett. In 2016 we dove deeper into the story of her disappearance and ultimate death in a remote corner of the Smoky Mountains that she loved so dearly.
“Wanderers, nomads, vagabonds, van dwellers; the names for the lifestyle are as diverse as the means by which it is accomplished. However, there is only one qualifying factor: your home has wheels and it follows you wherever the road may lead.”
For this popular 2016 travel guide, we dug out our maps and looked for towns large and small that have the right mix of city amenities (food, beer, and a shower) and outdoors thrills (no explanations necessary).
As interest in the outdoors and black bear populations continue to rise simultaneously, it seems there are more and more encounters between bears and humans in the Blue Ridge. One of those encounters ended tragically this year when the wrong bear was euthanized by wildlife technicians in Great Smoky Mountains National Park after an attack along the Appalachian Trail.
Every year Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most heavily visited parks in the entire National Park System, and every year readers turn to BRO to help guide them during the planning phases of their exciting Smoky Mountain adventures. In 2016, hiking in the Smokies was a popularly searched topic, and this article on 10 of the best hikes in GSMNP topped the charts.
2016 was a big year for BRO readers in the backcountry of Shenandoah National Park, and this informative piece on 10 of the best backcountry excursions in the Virginia park was one of our most frequently viewed articles.