by Julie Dodd
Now is a great time of year for hiking in the Smokies.
If you are new to hiking or new to the area, you may not be sure if you’re ready to hike. Do I have the right gear? What would be the best hikes for me? Can I find others to hike with?
Friends of the Smokies and FOTS partners can help you solve those issues and enable you to get on the trail.
Hiking 101 – Tennessee
Blue Ridge Mountain Sports is hosting Hiking 101 with Friends of the Smokies on Thursday, March 26, at the Farragut location, 11537 Kingston Pike.
This free workshop is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., and light refreshments will be served.
The workshop focuses on day hiking basics and will include layering techniques (why certain fabrics work and others don’t), essential gear, how to pack your pack, local hiking groups and local hikes.
After the presentation, participants will be able to try out gear. A 10 percent discount will be given to Friends of the Smokies members who show their membership cards. The discount may not apply to all purchases.
Sarah Weeks, Friends of the Smokies Development Director, will be attending the workshop and will be available to answer questions about Friends of the Smokies and to talk about hiking options that Friends of the Smokies support, including the Classic Hikes of the Smokies and Get on the Trail with Friends & Missy. You can purchase a Friends of the Smokies membership for $35.
Registration is not required but suggested. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-675-3010 or Sarah Weeks at email@example.com or 800-845-5665.
Hiking 101 – North Carolina
For our Friends in North Carolina, REI Asheville will be hosting Hiking 101 with Friends of the Smokies on Thursday, April 9.
This free workshop is from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. and is expected to fill up, so please register in advance. REI is located in the Biltmore Park Town Square shopping center at 31 Schenck Parkway, Asheville, NC 28803.
Group Hiking Opportunities
Get on the Trail with Friends & Missy is a group hiking opportunity with Missy Kane, U.S Olympian and health promotions coordinator at Covenant Health who leads a variety of fitness programs. She will lead five different hikes in April:
- April 1 – Twin Creeks Trail to Bud Ogle Cabin – easy, 4 miles
- April 8 – Little Brier Gap Trail to Little Greenbrier Trail – easy, 4.5 mile loop
- April 15 – Porters Creek Trail to Campsite #7 – moderate, 7 miles
- April 22 – Appalachian Trail to Sweat Heifer to Kephart prong Trail – Moderate, 7.4 miles
- April 29 – Big Creek Trail to Campsite #37 – moderate to difficult due to distance, 10.2 miles
The cost of each hike is $20 per person, with the proceeds going to Friends of the Smokies. A complimentary Friends membership is provided with registration for the entire series. To register, call Covenant Health Call Center at (865) 541-4500. For more information, contact Sarah Weeks – firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-845-5665.
Classic Hikes of the Smokies is a group hike guided by author, blogger and hiking enthusiast Danny Bernstein. Her hikes are the second Tuesday of the month:
- April 14 – Caldwell Fork – 9.4 miles
- May 12 – Lake Shore Trail – 9.4 miles
- June 9 – Hemphill Bald – 8.8 miles
- July 20-21 – Overnight at Mt. Le Conte – Boulevard Trail – 8 miles, Trillium Gap Trail – 6.5 miles
- This hike is SOLD OUT but you can add your name to the waiting list here.
- August 11 – Big Creek – 10 miles or 4 miles
- Sept. 8 – Boogerman – 7.2 miles
- Oct. 13 – Purchase Knob – 7.5 miles
- Nov. 10 – Chimney Tops & Elkmont – 4 miles
- Dec. 8 – Noland Creek – 4 miles
Donations for the guided hikes support FOTS Trails Forever program. The cost is $35 per hike, which includes a complimentary membership to Friends or the Smokies or $10 for current members. Members who bring a friend hike for free. To register for any of the hikes, contact Anna Lee Zanetti – AnnaLee@friendsofthesmokies.org or 828-452-0720.
Both of the group hike programs have a limited number of spaces, so you must register in advance to secure a place in the group.
If you’d like to learn more about these hikes or other hikes in the Smokies, Hiking Trails of the Smokies is a helpful resource.