Tag: Guide

  1. Park Announces Spring Opening Schedule

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials finalized the 2019 spring opening schedule for park facilities. Most campgrounds, picnic areas, and roads will open this Friday, April 19, in time for Easter weekend. The remainder of the facilities will open between now and Memorial Day weekend in preparation for the busy summer season.  

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  2. Back of Beyond, new Kephart biography from Great Smoky Mountains Association, invites readers to truly 'know the man'

    Back of Beyond book cover

    An icon of the Southern Appalachian region known for the seminal books Camping and Woodcraft (1906) and Our Southern Highlanders (1913), Horace Kephart was instrumental in efforts to establish the Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

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  3. Exploring Laurel Falls again, 15 years later

    Exploring Laurel Falls

    By Elise Anderson

    Kemp Writer in Residence

    After attempting Ramsey Cascades as my first hike in the Smokies this year and turning around just ¾ mile shy of the top (wisely, or I’d have never made it back down), I decided to re-visit a classic for my second hike of the year: Laurel Falls. The 1.3-mile trail up to the waterfall is much easier than Ramsey Cascades, ranking at a difficulty level of 2 compared to Ramsey’s 12.

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  4. Gearing up, Branching out

    Roaring Fork early spring photo by Gary Wilson

    Every spring people flock to the Smokies to view our park’s spectacular displays of wildflowers that begin blooming at the lower elevations and creep uphill as the temperatures warm and days grow longer.

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  5. Looking towards tomorrow: memories of a holiday hike in the Smokies by Elizabeth Giddens

    Winter in the Smokies

    When I was in grad school at the University of Tennessee in the 1980s, I usually came back to Knoxville from the Christmas break before New Year’s. Doing so gave me a week to get ready for the next quarter at school, plan for classes I would be teaching, clean my drafty and dusty Ft. Sanders apartment, get groceries in, and goof off some. Even so, my hiking friends and I usually found time for a day hike, an all-day one—an extravagance that would not come often once the pressures of classes took over our lives. Another draw was that the park was quiet in January—it was not leaf season, not wildflower time, no rhododendrons blooming. Few folks were on the trails, so we could get a long hike in and be away from care as well as traffic and, well, people.

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  6. My Ten-Mile Memory – Alum Cave Bluffs

    Whether you’re doing an out-and-back day trip, a car drop to incorporate more than one trail experience or planning a one-night backcountry trip, at some point, Alum Cave Trail falls into your lap as a must-do trail in the Smokies.

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  7. Balsam Mountain Trial

    Balsam Mountain Trial

    After traversing its lower section three times, I dreamed for the next three years of finally hiking the upper section of Balsam Mountain Trail. I finally got my chance this past July.

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  8. Hazel Creek Trail – Gentle and Wild

    Hiking Hazel Creek Trail

    A lot can be said about hiking the easy grade of Hazel Creek, so named for the abundance of hazel trees that line its banks. But first you have to get there. Hiking Hazel Creek Trail requires equal parts planning, execution and trust. Planning is easy. You and your fellow hikers just need to agree on a date and time to commence your adventure. With that minor detail settled, execution begins when you catch the boat shuttle for the 30-minute ride across the western edge of Lake Fontana.

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  9. Gunter Fork Trail – A Very Long Haul

    Gunter Fork Trail

    I looked up the weather, phoned a friend, and planned our vehicle shuttle for a pick up at Balsam Mountain Trail. We were about to embark on 15.9 miles of backcountry hiking to complete 4.1 miles of trail that is notorious for difficult water crossings in the spring. Knowing our mileage would be long, we hit Big Creek Trail at dawn and started a fast pace along the gently ascending Big Creek Trail 6.1 miles, passed Low Gap Trail in the blink of an eye and left Camel Gap Trail in our dust.

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  10. Winter hiking tips

    Hiking in Winter at Appalachian Trail

    A Little Sluice of Heaven originated when Dana Murphy and I – on separate days, as it turns out – did the same hike only in different directions right around New Year’s Eve. She prefers uphill climbs, so she started at Kephart Prong just off U.S. 441 and climbed to the shelter. From there she took Grassy Branch to Dry Sluice, and that’s where things started to get icy. From the Dry Sluice intersection, it’s a rather grueling 1.3-mile climb to the Appalachian Trail, which she followed past Charlies Bunion, ending up at Newfound Gap. The next day, I did the same, only in the opposite direction.

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