Biodiversity Inventory Reaches 1,000 New Species Mark at GSMNP

Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its non-profit partner, Discover Life in America (DLIA), recently celebrated the 20th year of the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) with the announcement of a major milestone of the project – 1,000 new species to science! Over the last 20 years, many species have been documented in the park for the first time, but the...

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The Year That Fall Never Arrived – A Photo Essay

Like a child anticipating Christmas, this year has had us waiting… waiting… waiting for the leaf peeping season to begin. Combine a very wet summer with a September where the warmth never ended, and it’s like the year that fall never arrived. This day, October 12, 2018, was the first day all autumn where the overnight temperature dropped into the...

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Smokies Park Hosts Stargazing Event at Purchase Knob

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a stargazing event at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center beginning at 7:00 pm on Friday, October 5, 2018. Located on Purchase Knob, the learning center provides one of the clearest views of the sky in the park and in Haywood County, NC. The Astronomy Club of Asheville will lead an exploration of the night sky...

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Ramble On: A History of Hiking

How did hiking evolve from the upper-class European sport of alpinism and the publication of an English travel guide into an activity that now has millions of participants all over the world? Who built the thousands of miles of trails that now crisscross America? What did early hikers wear, and what were some of the key inventions and innovations that led to our modern...

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Fall into Volunteerism with Smokies Service Days

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announce upcoming Fall “Smokies Service Days” volunteer projects. These unique opportunities allow community members and park visitors to get involved and become stewards of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Individuals and groups are invited to sign up for any of the scheduled service projects that interest them...

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Gabes Mountain Trail to Hen Wallow Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Cosby section of the Smokies park is mostly known for its long, arduous treks to high country destinations like Mt. Cammerer and Inadu Knob. But there is another trail there that is more moderate in difficulty. A good day hike on Gabes Mountain Trail is the 4-mile round trip to Hen Wallow Falls, a 90-foot, multi-tiered cascade. This is cool, dense forest, some of it...

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A Day with the Azaleas at Andrews Bald – A Photo Essay

Andrews Bald is the highest bald in the Smokies, standing just under 6,000 feet. Every year in the month of June, the flame azalea and rhododendron show arrives for all those willing to hike a couple miles to see. You start at Clingmans Dome and take the Forney Ridge Trail to reach Andrews Bald. Here is a complete trail report that describes the hike. In addition to the...

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Best of the burden: Smokies mules make backcountry operations possible

In popular culture mules get a bad rap, cast as stubborn, ornery and even mischievous. But Danny Gibson, animal packer for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spends more time with mules than just about anybody around, and he’s quick to jump to their defense. “They have that notorious reputation of being stubborn, but they’re not really stubborn — they just don’t...

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Smokies Celebrates 20 Years of New Species Discoveries

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating 20 years of conducting biodiversity inventories. Park managers, biologists, educators, and non-park scientists initiated an effort to discover all life in the Smokies through an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) on Earth Day in 1998. The non-profit partner Discover Life in America (DLIA), created in 1998,...

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Cruisin’ Little River Road for Wildflowers – A Photo Essay

What to do if you’ve got half a day to kill on the Tennessee side of the Smokies? Well, if it’s April, the obvious conclusion is a wildflower hunt along Little River Road between Sugarlands and the Townsend-Y. On Saturday, April 21st, I had an invitation to the annual Great Smoky Mountains National Park Volunteers Appreciation Banquet, but it wasn’t to...

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Bradley Fork and Cabin Flats Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This is one of my new favorite Spring wildflower hikes in the Smokies. The flowers are brilliant along both the Bradley Fork and Cabin Flats Trails. The Smokemont region of the Smokies is one of the most convenient, located just a short few miles northwest of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center off Hwy 441. It is four miles up Bradley Fork to Cabin Flats Trail, then another...

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Smokies Park Recruits Trail Volunteers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced several volunteer workdays beginning April 5 through April 28, 2018 along heavily-used trails and nature loops as the park prepares for the busy summer season. These opportunities are ideal for people interested in learning more about the park and the trails program through hands-on service alongside experienced...

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Elkmont rehab work resumes next week in Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park crews will remove 10 buildings from the historic Elkmont site beginning today. The work marks the end of major demolition that began in 2010. The road along the site of the former Wonderland Hotel will be closed to pedestrians during demolition. Officials hope to have the work finished by April 30. Crews plan to preserve the buildings...

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GSMNP prepares for thru-hiking season after record year

After another record year in 2017, backcountry managers with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are asking visitors to consider ways to enjoy the park while minimizing their impact. With overall park visitation and Appalachian Trail hiking both growing, the number of people entering the park has grown significantly. “2017 in terms of thru-hikers, we saw the...

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‘Friends’ groups provide vital support for public lands

We all need friends, and public lands in Western North Carolina increasingly receive care in the form of “Friends” nonprofit groups. In an era of shrinking federal budgets for parks and forests, these organizations are stepping up to preserve and maintain public spaces. “Friends groups used to be the margin of excellence; now they’re the margin of survival,” Sally...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Recruits ‘Adopt-a-Plot’ Volunteers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt a monitoring plot in areas throughout the park. In an effort to track nature’s calendar, or phenology, volunteers will collect information as part of an important research project tracking seasonal biological data such as plant flowering dates and the presence of migratory birds. Previous...

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41st Annual Festival of Christmas Past Program in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces the 41st annual Festival of Christmas Past celebration scheduled on Saturday, December 9, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN. The event, sponsored in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, is free to the public. The festival will include old-time mountain music,...

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Appalachian Unsolved: Trenny Gibson, Lost in the Smokies

High school girls don’t just vanish in a national park, never to be found again. Unless you’re Trenny Gibson of Knoxville, TN. Hiking in the Smokies one minute. Nowhere to be found the next. That’s all anyone knows about the last moments of 16-year-old Trenny Gibson. Where she ended up – fatally injured in a fall, taken by a kidnapper, whisked...

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Smokies Park invites public to #OptOutside after Thanksgiving Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites visitors to join a park ranger for a guided hike on Friday, November 24, 2017 or a service opportunity on Saturday, November 25. Hikes will be offered near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Elkmont Campground, providing an outstanding opportunity for people of all ages to #OptOutside and enjoy the park. Rangers and park...

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Old Sugarlands Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the more enjoyable trails I have hiked recently in the Smokies, Old Sugarlands follows West Prong of Little Pigeon River for a mile and a half, then turns to the east and ascends the western flank of the LeConte Ridge another 2.4 miles to a pastoral setting known as Cherokee Orchard. This trail receives surprisingly little use despite being surrounded by a hub of...

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Join Park Rangers for Smokies Service Days

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has extended the “Smokies Service Days” program into December 2017 with the addition of three new opportunities. These single-day volunteer projects help complete much needed work across the park and are ideal for people interested in learning more about the park through hands-on service. Launched in July 2017, this program engages...

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Stevens Creek land protected near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently purchased 147 acres at Stevens Creek, a quiet cove on the eastern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The acquisition permanently protects important habitat and water resources near the remote Cataloochee Valley area of the park. “Wrapped on three sides by publicly owned land, this pocket of prime forest...

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In Search of Fall Color in the Smokies – A Photo Essay

There is no denying 2017 has been a disappointing year for fall foliage in the Smokies — so far. That’s why I titled this essay In Search of… you really have to look hard to find much beyond a few patches of yellow. The oranges and reds have been nonexistent. I started the day before dawn from Cades Cove driving toward Gatlinburg on Little River Road,...

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Rich Mountain Loop at Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This was the first trail I hiked in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was back in 2008 or so, well before I started this website. So I thought it must be time, nearly 10 years later, to do it again and tell you about it. Rich Mountain Loop is a combination of three trails: Rich Mountain Loop Trail, Indian Grave Gap Trail, and Crooked Arm Ridge Trail. Most people...

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How to not die in the Smokies

When you think about the Great Smoky Mountains, you might conjure grand vistas, verdant forests or majestic elk. Your thoughts might not immediately jump to death and destruction. But that is exactly what adventure travel writer David Brill of Morgan County, Tenn., dives into with his new book, Into the Mist: Tales of Death and Disaster, Mishaps and Misdeeds, Misfortune...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Reopen Chimney Tops Trail October 6

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will open the Chimney Tops Trail to a newly developed observation point starting Friday, October 6, 2017. The entire trail has been closed to the public since the Chimney Tops 2 Fire event occurred in late November 2016. “We are excited to complete the work on the Chimney Tops Trail in time for the fall color season in Great...

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Cabin restoration completed at Smokies historic Elkmont

  It still takes imagination to envision sitting among the suit-and-dress crowd listening to the orchestra on a Saturday night at the Appalachia Club House in the Elkmont Historic District of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Thanks to a National Park Service project, however, at least a part of what it was like during those 1910 glory days is being...

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Park Hosts Volunteer Trail Opportunity for National Public Lands Day

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a volunteer trail maintenance workday on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in celebration of the 24th annual National Public Lands Day. Participants are invited to participate on a trail rehabilitation project along the Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers will perform trail maintenance including...

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Report: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Staff Not Negligent In Battling Deadly Chimney Tops 2 Fire

The deadly fire fed by kindling-dry forests and whipped out of control by hurricane-force winds at Great Smoky Mountains National Park “overwhelmed” the park staff’s ability to fight it, according to an independent review of the blaze that killed 14 in neighboring communities in November, 2016. Extreme drought conditions and heavy ground fuels –...

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Volunteers are Vital Component to Rainbow Falls Trail Rehabilitation Project

Earlier this summer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials recruited for volunteers to assist the Trails Forever trail crew with a rehabilitation project on the Rainbow Falls Trail. Citizens from across the region responded and their volunteer effort has significantly helped in moving the project forward these past few months. In order to maintain the momentum,...

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Clingmans Dome Tower Rehabilitation Project Begins

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower will be closed beginning Wednesday, August 23 through the remainder of the 2017 season to complete rehabilitation work thanks to funding received from a Partners in Preservation (PIP) grant. The $250,000 grant was awarded last summer to Friends of the Smokies on behalf of...

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Friends of the Smokies Turns 25 with $2.5 Million Emergency Radio Upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary next year, Friends of the Smokies is delighted to announce a milestone capital campaign to fund a critical radio system upgrade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). The total cost of the radio system upgrade is $2.5 million. “Our target for this campaign is to raise $1.25 million by this time next year,...

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