Smokies park rangers need citizen science volunteers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are recruiting volunteers to adopt and monitor tree plots. The volunteers will collect information at tree plots throughout the park as part of an important research project tracking phenology, or cyclic and seasonal biological changes. For each plot of trees, volunteers will record when trees leaf out and when leaves start to...

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National Park Service monitoring new growth after Smokies fire

A team of scientists has been studying the plant and animal life as regrowth happens following the November 2016 Chimney Tops 2 fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The team has investigated 100 different areas and developed detailed maps of the impact by the fire. “The thing that stands out is the red areas. This is around the Bull Head trail area that a...

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Elkmont cabin preservation underway; some to be demolished

The evolution of historic Elkmont soon should be taking another step forward. The historic former logging/resort community in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been in an evolving state since 2009 when the National Park Service announced a plan to preserve part of the community after conducting an environmental impact study from 1992 through 2008. The plan has...

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Little River, Cucumber Gap, Jakes Creek Loop at Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Elkmont is a nice area of the Smokies to visit in winter. It’s quiet, historic, alive with waterways, and offers views of the surrounding mountains through the leafless trees. Little River is beautiful as always, the climb up and over Cucumber Gap is invigorating, and the timeless cottages of Daisy Town along Jakes Creek harken back to a simpler time in the...

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Smokies sets visitation record for 2016

Despite a late fall wildfire that shut down the park for nearly two weeks and scorched 11,000 acres, Great Smoky Mountains national park drew a record number of visitors last year. Park spokeswoman Jamie Sanders said more than 11.3 million people visited the Smokies in 2016, helping increase a healthy connection to the outdoors while boosting the economy. The visitation...

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New Year’s Eve at Cataloochee – A Photo Essay

Cataloochee Valley in the Smokies is of course most popular during the green seasons. People come from far and wide to experience the wildflowers in Spring, the myriad of hiking trails in Summer, and the exciting elk rut and colorful foliage in Fall. But Winter too has its appeal. Perhaps the best reason to go to Cataloochee in winter is the solitude. The crowds are...

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Great Smoky Mountains Natioanl Park Reopens Several Trails

Several trails that were closee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to the Chimney Tops 2 fire have been reopened effective December 17, 2016. Hikers are reminded to stay on established trails and to be cautious of overhead limbs and trail hazards throughout the area. The following areas are now open: Gatlinburg Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Huskey Gap...

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Fire restrictions on Appalachian Trail lifted; ban remains in Smokies

The National Park Service and Appalachian Trail Conservancy on December 7, 2016 lifted fire restrictions on 27.7 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Virginia, from Newport Road (Va. 624) north to Mountain Pass Road (Va. 652). This section of the AT includes the popular viewpoints of McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. Although fire hazard conditions have become...

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Solar grid proposed for the Smokies

A plan to replace a 3.5-mile overhead power line with a solar array to deliver energy to communications equipment atop Mount Sterling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open for public comment through Dec. 13. The existing overhead line extends from the park boundary at N.C. 284, Mount Sterling Road, to the Mount Sterling Fire Lookout Tower in Haywood County....

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Gatlinburg And Smokies Area Fire Update: 10 Fatalities and 700 Structures Lost

As reported by Incident Information System (InciWeb) Incident Summary: The Chimney Tops 2 Fire was reported in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at approximately 5:20 p.m. The wildfire began burning in a remote location (Chimney Tops) of the park in steep terrain with vertical cliffs and narrow rocky ridges making...

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Black Friday Hiking At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers are suggesting you take a break from spending on Black Friday and take a hike with them instead. The hikes will be offered near Smokemont Campground and Sugarlands Visitor Center and provide an outstanding opportunity for people of all ages to #OptOutside and enjoy the park, a park release said. “The Thanksgiving holiday...

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Hiking 500 Miles in the Smokies

The first time I went to Great Smoky Mountains National Park more than 15 years ago I knew it was someplace special. But it took me nearly 10 more years before I ever set foot on one of her trails. Work kept me busy and I had different recreational interests, but when I got serious about hiking around 2008, you couldn’t hold me back. Most of my early hikes were...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces temporary ban of backcountry campfires

Due to extremely dry weather conditions and fresh leaves, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced a temporary ban on campfires in the park’s backcountry. The fire ban applies to campers using the park’s backcountry sites and shelters. It does not affect campers at the park’s frontcountry campgrounds or people using fire grills at picnic...

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USGS releases new maps covering Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Newly released topographical maps of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are now available online from the United States Geological Survey. For the first time, the maps covering the Park display trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, boundaries and other visitor information. The maps can be found here. “The nationwide similarity in the look and feel of the maps, as well...

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Hiking the Smoke Ring Trail Around the GSMNP

“It won’t rain on me,” said Travis “Shepherd” Hall, the long-distance hiker as he descended the Smokies’ Chestnut Top Trail. Hall, who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2000 (north to south), has made this same claim to fellow hikers who were worried about the weather. When he left a shelter, he says, they would watch in amazement as the rain stopped. The Smoke Ring Trail...

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Annual Mountain Life Festival At Great Smoky Mountains National Park This Weekend

The history and culture held in the mountains and hollows is intriguing. You might want to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park this weekend for the annual Mountain Life Festival. A fixture at the park’s Mountain Farm Museum for more than three decades, the festival brings you face-to-face with the traditional fall activities of those who lived in the Smokies...

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Balsam Mountain Trail to Laurel Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This remote corner of the Smokies isn’t easy to get to, but your efforts will be rewarded with solitude, quiet, peaceful 2nd growth forest, and a pensive wandering. The Cherokee lived on one side of the ridge. The Cataloochee settlers on the other. They met in the middle to graze their cattle on “The Ledge” between the two. The bald knobs are reforested...

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Long Bunk Trail at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The forest north of Cataloochee Valley in the Mt. Sterling watershed has recovered nicely from logging activities a century ago. It is dense, rich and diverse… a verdant testimony to Nature’s ability to reinvigorate herself. This hike starts at the north end of Little Cataloochee on Mt. Sterling Road and meets Long Bunk Trail a mile later. Long Bunk is a near...

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A Refuge in the Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park creates space for wildness, adventure, and imagination. When you think of the Smoky Mountains, think of refuge. The Smokies are a refuge for dreams of freedom, of unimpeded rambling, adventure, and of the faraway that was contained within the nearby, a refuge for magic, for wildness, for the imagination. Wilderness is like that. It...

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Temporary Closure of Ramsey Cascades Trail @ GSMNP

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the temporary closure of the Ramsey Cascades Trail due to a damaged foot log caused by a fallen tree that is blocking access along the route. The foot log spans a section of Ramsey Prong which is too swift and deep to allow hikers to safely rock-hop across river. The popular, four-mile trail is located in the...

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Smoky Mountains National Park releases new biodiversity web application

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has partnered with the University of Tennessee to create a new web application that locates more than 1,800 plant and animal species according to their suitable habitats. Everyone from park managers to school groups are expected to benefit from the new biodiversity web application. The “Species Mapper” uses locations...

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Life In The Park: Finding Meaning In Park Service Work

There’s a popular refrain among National Park Service employees, one that doubles as a reminder, of sorts, after a long, wearisome day: “We get paid in sunrises and sunsets.” For many park employees, the pay is seasonal and not great. The hours are long. The question is usually the same (“Where’s the bathroom?”). And no matter how many...

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Appalachian Trail from Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina can get pretty warm and muggy in mid-summer. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not exempt from that. So when I hike in July and August I like to head for the high country… and there’s nowhere higher in the Smokies than Clingmans Dome. In fact, it’s the third highest peak in the East and the highest point...

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Smokies superintendent taking steps to educate latest generation

On a recent summer morning a group of middle schoolers joined Cassius Cash, superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for a short hike along the Porters Creek Trail in the park’s Greenbrier district about six miles east of Gatlinburg. It was a gentle trail — at least by Smoky Mountains standards — that allowed plenty of opportunity to savor the...

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Little River and Goshen Prong Trails at Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Little River headwaters region of the Smokies was heavily logged in the early 20th century. As a result, a community called Elkmont sprung up in the valley below to support the lumberjacks and their families. Elkmont eventually became a mountain resort for the well-to-do of eastern Tennessee with its rustic cabins along the river. These days those quaint cottages...

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Smokies’ Balsam Mountain Road closes temporarily

Great Smoky Mountains National Park maintenance crews will perform road maintenance along the gravel Balsam Mountain Road on Monday, June 27, 2016, Wednesday, June 29 and Wednesday, July 6, from 6-11 a.m. each morning. The work will require a full road closure during these time periods to allow crews to place new gravel on the roadway. The one-way, 15-mile Balsam...

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Hemphill Bald Trail from Polls Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I have hiked to Hemphill Bald from the east along the Cataloochee Divide many times. However, this was the first time approaching from the west on the Hemphill Bald Trail from Polls Gap. This made my second foray into the Heintooga region of the Smokies in recent weeks, another beautiful piece of the national park that doesn’t get enough attention. This trail would...

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How to Avoid the Crowds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place of absolute wonder, featuring forests filled with vibrant wildflowers, old-growth forests, cascading waterfalls, winding trails, and vast 360 degree views of the misty mountains. Because of the area’s immense beauty and easy access to outdoor adventure, it’s unsurprisingly a pretty popular place. In fact, the Smokies bring...

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Flat Creek Trail to Heintooga, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This delightful forested trail in the Heintooga section of the Smokies follows Bunches and Flat Creeks up Overlook Ridge to a perch high above Cataloochee Valley and Cherokee, NC. Few short trails in the Smokies are as memorable. The pathway is carpeted with a charming wispy grass that waves in the breeze and tickles your legs as you pass by. What’s not to love? My...

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LeConte Lodge Donates Hiking Books to Every Sevier 4th Grader

In honor of the National Park Service Centennial, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, LeConte Lodge, and Great Smoky Mountains Association partnered together to provide the popular “Day Hikes of the Smokies” guide book to all 4th grade students in Sevier County. This generous donation, made possible by Leconte Lodge, is in recognition of the National Park Service’s...

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