Retirees wanted a place to hike, so they built their own trails

When it comes to being young at heart, the residents at Tellico Village are trailblazers. In 2017, a group of residents wanted hiking trails, but the cost would have been too substantial to take on. They decided to build trails themselves. “As retirees, it’s great when you accomplish something like this,” said Jim Lilley, a resident and athletics...

Learn More

Chestnut Mountain: A Gift for All of Tennessee

Alex Wyss vividly recalls his first visit to Chestnut Mountain in 2013. “I was struck by how spectacular this property was,” says the Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. “A very large forested property—nearly 6,000 acres. In great condition. Gorgeous scenic views. We already knew it was in a biologically rich area and in close proximity or...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

New hiking trail to open in Chattanooga this weekend

  A new hiking trail climbs the eastern edge of Prentice Cooper State Forest, ascending more than 1,000 feet with two main water crossings and several smaller ones sprinkled throughout. The climax of the rocky hike comes in the final mile: a 30-foot waterfall that rains down before the trail connects to the Cumberland Trail System’s Pot Point Loop. The...

Learn More

Outdoor Chattanooga Offers Guided Hiking Series On The Cumberland Trail In 2018

Outdoor Chattanooga’s experienced guides will lead participants on short, section hikes (four to seven miles each) along the Cumberland Trail to explore unique geological formations, discover seasonal flora and fauna, trek over creeks and across suspended bridges to the tops of ridges with waterfalls and scenic overlooks. Along the way, participants will get hands on...

Learn More

Playing in the Snow at Roan – A Photo Essay

There was a major snowstorm over the Great Smoky Mountains on December 8-9, 2017, particularly on the Western North Carolina side. Seeing Roan Highlands covered in a blanket of snow has always been a goal of mine ever since the first time I walked the Appalachian Trail across Round, Jane, and Grassy Ridge balds. With that in mind, I set out for the Highlands on the...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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,...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

The Crew Building the Next Great American Thru-Hike

In eastern Tennessee, 70-year-old trail builder Peter Berntsen is laying segments of the Cumberland Trail. The path will wend more than 300 miles through deep hollows, spiraling waterfalls, and diverse flora in the heart of Appalachia, at the mountainous edge of the Cumberland Plateau. He lugs an axe and mattock up a rocky and root-riddled stretch meandering through...

Learn More

An American Legend – Horace Kephart – His Life and Legacy

Horace Sowers Kephart (September 8, 1862 – April 2, 1931) was an American travel writer and librarian, best known as the author of Our Southern Highlanders about his life in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and the classic outdoors guide Camping and Woodcraft. Kephart’s vision helped to establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park. His life as...

Learn More

Just Another Day at Stunning Roan Highlands – A Photo Essay

Ho. Hum. Just another day at Roan Highlands. Now, obviously I’m being facetious. Roan Highlands is probably my favorite place to go in all of Western North Carolina, especially in mid-June when it is catawba rhododendron and flame azalea time. It’s exciting to hike on the iconic Appalachian Trail, the views of Tennessee and North Carolina on either side of...

Learn More

Middle Prong Trail at Tremont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Perhaps the finest creek side trail in all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Middle Prong Trail actually follows Lynn Camp Prong. Lynn Camp and Thunderhead Prong join to form Middle Prong just below the trailhead. You will walk alongside Lynn Camp Prong for the entire length of this hike, passing dozens of swift cascades and two exciting waterfalls. Look for a wide...

Learn More

Abrams Falls Trail at Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the most popular hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Falls at the west end of Cades Cove has the full Smokies package all in one. Here you can find rich, bountiful forest with a floor of colorful spring wildflowers, a rushing creek that provides refreshing nourishment for all the plants and wildlife, good exercise as you climb up and over...

Learn More

Conservation Partners Add 1,058 Acres Near Fiery Gizzard Trail To Tennessee’s South Cumberland State Park

The Conservation Fund and The Land Trust for Tennessee, in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Open Space Institute (OSI), announced the addition of 1,058 acres to South Cumberland State Park in Marion County. The acquisition connects more than 7,000 acres of protected public and private land, conserves forestland and...

Learn More

Tennessee Smokies on My Mind – A Photo Essay

Every April I like to make a two-day trip to the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I usually stay overnight at the Cades Cove Campground. It is a glorious time in the Smokies. The spring ephemeral wildflowers are busting out all over. The weather is warming and the days are getting longer. The rivers, creeks and streams are usually full of cool,...

Learn More

Cougars confirmed in Tennessee

At least nine cougar sightings have been confirmed. Tennesee Wildlife Resources Agency said they will be monitoring the natural expansion of the cougar. All of the confirmed sightings listed are in Middle or West Tennessee. There are several possible reports in East Tennessee, but none confirmed by the TWRA. Zoo Knoxville Director of Animal Care Phil Colclough said it...

Learn More

Friends of South Cumberland State Park kicks off 2017 hiking challenge

For the past several years, Friends of South Cumberland has presented a hiking challenge each year, designed to encourage visitors to explore South Cumberland State Park’s over 25,500 acres scattered across four counties. Last year’s challenge was called Hike Into History and focused on historical aspects of the park. This year’s challenge, Hiking in Mack’s Tracks, is...

Learn More

Roan Mountain State Park named Tennessee ‘Park of the Year’

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) recognized Roan Mountain State Park, located off TN Hwy. 143, as the 2016 Park of the Year for its demonstrated excellence in innovation, sustainability, interpretation, resource management and fiscal responsibility. “All 56 Tennessee State Parks strive and succeed in achieving our mission to preserve and...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

Discover Chattanooga-area trails with local hiking groups

One of the major attractions of living in the Chattanooga, TN area is the abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, which includes many miles of hiking trails close to town. As a new year gets underway, you may be thinking you’d like to get started or do more in the way of hiking some of those trails. Or you may already be an avid hiker who’s recently moved to...

Learn More

Fire burns in Tellico Plains area; Trail of Tears a concern

A fire in the Tellico Plains, TN area near Cherohala Skyway is threatening structures as well as a part of the historic Trail of Tears, said Nathan Waters, assistant district forester with the state Division of Forestry. Terry McDonald with the U.S. Forest Service said the fire was reported around 2 a.m. and was covering 30 acres but would likely grow before it is...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

Key segment of unfinished Foothills Parkway to receive final funding

Good news for Smokies lovers. A 16-mile section of the Foothills Parkway in Blount and Sevier counties in Tennessee is a big step closer to final funding thanks to a $10 million federal transportation grant. The unfinished section includes the “Missing Link,” an infamous 1.65-mile stretch that will require nine bridges to span a series of ravines along the...

Learn More

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...

Learn More

Appalachian Trail from Yellow Mountain Gap to Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains

You can see them from Roan Highlands. They appear when viewed from Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain too. The long, green balds that comprise Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains stick out like limes in a grapefruit basket. And, you can see all those other landmarks from the Hump Mountains. The iconic Appalachian Trail (AT) arrives from the Highlands of Roan to...

Learn More

Walking the Cades Cove Loop Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Perhaps the most popular feature in all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is a throwback to 19th century living. Think of it as an outdoor museum. Cades Cove is a wide, verdant valley surrounded by mountains that today is teeming with wildlife and spring floral beauty. The 11-mile Loop Road around the valley provides an opportunity for motorists,...

Learn More

SAHC helps Rocky Fork State Park acquire tract for public access

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy helped celebrate Earth Day with the closing of an exciting new project which will enable more people to learn about and enjoy the incredible Rocky Fork region. They worked with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to purchase a 1-acre tract to facilitate public access for Rocky Fork State Park. “This 1-acre...

Learn More

Schoolhouse Gap Trail to Whiteoak Sink, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Without a doubt one of the most popular wildflower hikes on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Whiteoak Sink is a basin surrounded by steep hills. In April each year this natural botanical garden comes alive with more than 30 varieties of native wildflowers right alongside the trail for all to enjoy. The name “Sink” comes from the...

Learn More

Spring Comes to the Smokies – A Photo Essay

The Smokies can always be counted on for fulfilling the promise of spring renewal. One of the best spots for finding early blooms of exotic native wildflowers is on Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section of the national park. Along the pathway is a diverse array of flowery goodness including the multi-acre mystical fringed phacelia garden, seemingly home to a host...

Learn More

‘Missing Link’ bridges on Foothills Parkway on schedule for completion in 2017

Over the past three decades a 1.65-mile section of the Foothills Parkway known as the “Missing Link” has come to epitomize the setbacks and delays that have beset the project as a whole. When completed, the Foothills Parkway will stretch 72 miles between Cosby, Tenn., to the east, and U.S. Highway 129 to the west. Congress authorized the project in 1944, but...

Learn More
Page 1 of 3123