Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guided Hikes Friday in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This Friday, November 27th the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (#GSMNP) is offering park visitors to chance join 3 different ranger led hikes, 2 of which are in Tennessee, Elkmont and Cades Cove and the third in Little Cataloochee North Carolina.

The guided hikes with Rangers, park volunteers, and Friends of the Smokies staff are all free and allow visitors to learn discover and learn about special cultural and natural resources along the hikes.

Beside the guided hikes offered, there are more than 800 miles of other hiking trails in the GSMNP as well as short nature walks that most everyone can take advance of. There are only 2 trails in the park where dogs are allowed, the Gatlinburg Hiking Trail and the Oconaluftee River Hiking Trail. Plan to hike elsewhere? Please leave the dog at home while you are hiking.

If you plan on hiking on any of the guided hikes be sure to wear comfortable but sturdy shoes, dress in layers and bring along enough food and water for everyone in your group.

All of the guided hikes are subject to cancellation in bad weather.

Hike #1: Hike to Abrams Falls in Cades Cove Tennessee

Take a 5-mile 4 hour moderate hike with several steep, rocky sections to one of the largest waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains national park in the back end of Cades Cove.

Meet at the Abrams Falls trailhead, halfway around the Cades Cove Loop Road at 10:00 am. Expect to enter the Cades Cove area by 9:00am to be there on time. For more information, call Cades Cove at (865)448-4104.

Hike #2: Hike to Cucumber Gap Trail in Elkmont Tennessee

Enjoy an easy 4.8-mile, 4 mile round-trip hike along the Little River and a beautiful, cove hardwood forest. A small creek crossing may be required (a hiking pole will help).

Meet at the Little River trailhead at 9:00 am which is the back of Elkmont 7 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center. For more information, call Sugarlands Visitor Center at (865)436-1291.

Hike #3: Hike Little Cataloochee near Cataloochee North Carolina

Learn about history and nature on a moderate 5-mile, round-trip hike on the Little Cataloochee Trail and see the Hannah cabin, the Little Cataloochee Church and cemetery, and the Cook cabin as well several former homesites along the way.

Meet with the ranger first by 10:00 am in the information parking area on the left just after entering Cataloochee Valley where the road becomes level. If you go past the Campgrounds you went a little too far. From this location you will follow the ranger to the trailhead.

The best route into Cataloochee is Cove Creek Road which is accessible from Hwy. 276 near its intersection with Interstate 40. Participants driving to the area on I-40 should use Exit 20 (Hwy. 276 exit) and immediately turn right on to Cove Creek Road. The drive from Hwy. 276 into Cataloochee is 10 miles. Cove Creek Road is a winding, two-lane road and includes a four-mile section that is unpaved. For more information, call the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at (828)497-1904.

"I hope you have the chance to Find Your Park over the Thanksgiving holiday," said Superintendent Cassius Cash. "The park offers the perfect place to take a stroll with your family or find a quiet place for reflection. I encourage you to spend some time in your park and am thankful for our dedicated staff, volunteers, and partners for making these special hiking opportunities available."