5 Great Smoky Mountain Fathers Day Ideas!

Smoky Mountain Fathers Day!

There is no end to the fun on Fathers Day in the Smokies!

5 Great Smoky Mountain Fathers Day Ideas!  Fathers Day in The Great Smoky Mountains is right around the corner on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The Great Smoky Mountains offer so many ways to celebrate Dad’s special day. If your Dad prefers, hiking, biking, fishing, great food or a cold brewski, the forests, towns and valleys located around the park have you covered.

Mountain coasters are a great way to get his adrenaline flowing. The fun begins with a tow to the the top of a mountain and then the rest is up to you and gravity! You control the speed and intensity of your ride. There are multiple coasters in Sevier County for your dad to choose from. Goats On The Roof is easy to find on Wears Valley road in Pigeon Forge and so much fun. If the entire family is not feeling the need for speed they will find spending time with  friendly goats is not too “baaaaaaad!”

Does your dad have a hearty appetite? The Smokies are a great place to sit down for a delicious meal. One of the most sought after foods in the mountains is Rainbow Trout. The iconic Smoky Mountain Trout House has been serving up good eats for decades and is easy to find on the strip in Gatlinburg. Trout can be fried crispy, baked with lemon or anyway you can imagine it. The HeySmokies trout eating team loves the trout almandine with a couple of slices of lemon on the side. No matter what your taste buds have a hankerin’ for you won’t leave hungry!

Satisfy Dad’s sweet tooth in the Smokies. Sooner or later we all need a little sugar pick me up and the selection of sweet treats in the Smokies is sensational. Take a stroll down the strip in Gatlinburg to the Ole’ Smoky Candy Kitchen. The entire family will enjoy watching the vintage taffy stretching machine roll out sweet treats that have brought a smile to families faces for decades.

Saddle up for some Smoky Mountain trail riding! What better way to experience the Smokies than riding a trail with a personal guide. Jayell Ranch in Sevierville has miles of trails and the expert guides you need to have a safe and exciting equestrian experience. The view from the saddle is like no other in the mountains and those that give it a try, return to ride again and again.

Take a hike! When it is time to stretch your legs the possibilities are limitless in the Smokies. With over 900 miles of trails you can choose from a walk in a lush hardwood cove forest in Greenbrier or a high elevation hike on the the famous Appalachian Trail. Many say that hiking is the perfect way to celebrate with dad. You never know what you will find when you step into the wild lands of the Smokies. It is not unusual to see bear, turkeys or maybe even an elk or two. Remember to take only photographs and leave only footprints.

Bonus tip: After spending an awesome day in the Smokies, when the sun is setting low and you want to make sure your dad knows how important he is to you take a moment to give him a great big HeySmokies bear hug! They are free and possibly the best Fathers Day gift ever invented.

 

 

 

 

 

Second Annual Appalachian Bear Fest

Appalachian Bear Fest

Second Annual Appalachian Bear Fest is scheduled for June 2, 2018 from 11 a.m. til 3 p.m. at the ABR Visitor and Education Center, 121 Painted Trillium Way in Townsend, TN. This family friendly event benefits the Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR) in Townsend.

Many fun activities are planned for the event including live music performed by Pistol Creek Catch of the Day, wildlife exhibits, artists nook, kid’s play area and a petting zoo! Charles the pig will make a special appearance and representatives from the American Eagle Foundation will be on hand to share their knowledge of America’s national symbol, the bald eagle. Smoky mountain hiking icon, Mike Maples, will share his adventures roaming the hills we call Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Everyone is encouraged to bring a lawn chair, kick back and enjoy a lovely afternoon of fun and fellowship in foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Your participation will benefit the amazing and beautiful symbol of the Smokies, the black bear.

The idea for ABR began to percolate after a severe black bear food shortage in 1989 forced bears to forage in highly populated areas. Leaving the shelter of the mountains the bears had many unfortunate conflicts with humans which resulted in a large number of orphaned cubs. A concerned group of volunteers banded together with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Great Smoky Mountains National Park obtaining a corporate charter in early 1991 to make a difference in the lives of orphaned bears.

Since it’s founding ABR has received bears from numerous

Appalachian Bear Rescue's Clementine Bear

Clementine Bear gains confidence at ABR.

national parks, states and the wild lands surrounding the Smokies. Orphaned bears lucky enough to make it to ABR receive a second chance at life in the wild. To date ABR has taken in 269 cubs and yearlings. Current residents include Clementine Bear and Viola Bear. Volunteers work diligently improving the facility to provide the best possible care for each bear needing a new lease on life.

Recent improvements include constructing two new Wild Enclosures and a Cub house for transitioning cubs from the nursery to the outdoor areas. Each Wild Enclosure can support up to ten cubs or yearlings. The oldest building on the property is known as the Red Roof Recovery Center and has recently been upgraded from storage space to a recovery center for injured cubs that are unable to climb.

ABR’s mission is to educate the public on living safely with bears and how to keep them wild. School programs and the Townsend Education Center are vital tools used in accomplishing this mission. ABR offers regular classes and a detailed schedule is available at ABR.org.

ABR is grateful to all of it’s generous supporters without whom this important work would not be possible. Be sure and join us June 2, 2018 and show your support for the Black Bear and ABR.

For more information on Black Bears in the HeySmokies region check out this short, informative video with retired Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranger Butch McDade.

Five Great Smoky Mountain Fishing Spots

Smoky Mountain fishing is fun for the whole family.

Cast your line in the Smoky Mountains for the catch of a lifetime!

Five Great Smoky Mountain Fishing Spots. Smoky Mountain Fishing is one of the most popular activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies have over two thousand miles of streams and rivers within the park boundary.  If you are ready for the challenge, fishing opportunities abound in the Smokies.

Anglers from around the globe visit the park to test their skills in our pristine waters. If you are a novice or a seasoned pro you will be hollerin’ “Fish On” before you know it.  Folks often ask HeySmokies, “What kind of fish do you have in the Smoky Mountains?” The five most common game fish in the Smokies are Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Rock Bass, and Smallmouth Bass. Each of these beauties are a thrill to catch. The HeySmokies fly rod squad agrees that the most beautiful fish we ever caught is the one on the end of our line right now!

The HeySmokies fly rod squad has trekked across the Smokies from end to end over the years and we know where the fish tend to be biting. For those who are unfamiliar with the park here are a few fishing destinations you will want to explore. If you are after Smallmouth bass and Rock bass a couple of good places to begin would be the Big Pigeon River on eastern edge of the park. The Pigeon is easily accessed in Hartford, TN via Interstate 40. The Waterville road I – 40 exit, five miles south of Hartford near Big Creek, is another spot with easy access. If you are after trout you can’t go wrong in Big Greenbrier five miles east of Gatlinburg. Porters Creek and the middle prong of the Little Pigeon river are popular spots in “Big G.” If you plan to visit the North Carolina side of Smokies make plans to cast a line in Cataloochee near Maggie Valley or Deep Creek near Bryson City. Both places offer solitude and a sense of immersion in the mountains.

Brook Trout is the only species of trout native to the Smoky Mountains. This fish is known as “spec” or “speckled trout” by Smoky Mountain natives and is one of the most elusive and difficult to catch. Many anglers are not aware that spec is not a true trout but a “char.” The historic range of char stretches from Canada to north Georgia. “Brookies” in the Smokies usually have a life span of less than three years and rarely grow larger than 8 – 9 inches.

Brown Trout are the largest game fish species in the national park. Primarily found in the

Trout fishing in the Smokies!

Deciding which stream to fish may be the most difficult thing about angling in the Smokies!

lower elevation streams, they thrive in slow moving water with good cover and lot’s of hiding spots. “Brownies” were brought to the the United States from Europe and compete with other species in the Smokies. They are long lived and it is not uncommon for them to survive up to twelve years. The majority caught in the Smokies are six to twelve inches in length and have been known to become thirty inches long weighing eleven pounds. Can you imagine the feeling of reeling in one of those bad boys?

Rainbow Trout are the most common game fish in the Smokies and are highly prized by anglers. Rainbows are found in almost every stream in the national park and are recognized by their familiar pink-toned stripe on their side. Like Brownies, Rainbows are not native to the Smokies, they were introduced from stock in the Northwestern United States. They were released into our mountain streams by logging companies in the early 1900’s. Most Rainbows reeled in by anglers are six to ten inches in length with an average age of three to five years. It is extremely rare to find rainbow trout over twelve inches in length.

Smallmouth bass and rock bass inhabit the lowest elevation streams and rivers in the Smokies on the borders of the park. They prefer cool deeper pools and shaded areas near the banks of the river. These species are native to the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi river. Smallmouth bass are the largest of the two and are usually six to fourteen inches in length. Their lifespan is five to seven years and a five pounder is considered a trophy fish. Rockbass are smaller in size ranging from four to eight inches in length but occasionally reach up to ten inches. Their typical life span is six to eight years.

Bonus angler tip: Did you know only one fishing license is required to fish Great Smoky Mountains National Park? With roughly half the park in North Carolina and the other in Tennessee a valid license from either state gives you total access to over 500,000 square miles of fishing heaven. As if you needed another reason to come fish with us!

Blue Ghost Fireflies Near Asheville

Blue ghost fireflies

Blue Ghost Fireflies of North Carolina. Photo credit – CFAIA

Blue Ghost Fireflies Near Asheville just minutes off the Smoky Mountains sister national park, the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Blue Ghost Fireflies cast an eerie spell in the mountains south of Asheville, N.C. in late May.

It is a naturally occurring phenomenon that attracts hundreds of visitors each year. Unlike other fireflies which flash an off and on yellow signal to attract a mate, the Ghost Firefly, indigenous to the region, hovers close to the ground and illuminates the forest floor with an ethereal blue glow.

This natural attraction lures hundreds of visitors to the Blue Ridge each year. Last year, anticipating an additional

Pink Beds Blue Ghost Fireflies. Photo Credit - Jonathan Farber

Pink Beds Blue Ghost Fireflies. Phot Credit – Jonathan Farber

surge of interest in the event, the Pisgah Field School launched a program entitled “In Search of the Blue Ghost” and offered nighttime tours during late May and early June. The School, an educational division of the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association, which also manages the Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site in the Pisgah National Forest, continues the nocturnal treks again this year and has upped the number of visitors to 100 per night.
Tours fill quickly and if you would like to attend we suggest that you make your reservations now. For more info, or to make reservations, visit www.PisgahFieldSchool.org.

While in the area be sure to visit the Cradle of Forestry, (located in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains near Brevard and Asheville, N.C.) the birthplace of science-based forestry management and a living legacy of George and Edith Vanderbilt, famed owners of “America’s Castle” Biltmore House in Ashville.

The Biltmore School of Forestry, the first school of its kind in North America and dubbed institute of “practical forestry,” was founded by Carl A. Schenck in 1898. Once part of the massive Biltmore estate the land was acquired by the National Forest Service when Biltmore’s widow sold some 87,500 acres in 1914. Nestled in the mountainous valley known as “The Pink Beds,” the land became part of the Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County and in 1968 Congress earmarked 6,500 acres as a National Historic Site in order to “preserve develop and make available to this and future generations.”

Open mid-April to November, the site provides information on past, present and future environmental sustainability practices through interpretive trails, films, music, drama, guided tours, interactive exhibits and other special events. Guided trails lead to historical buildings, a 1915 Climax logging locomotive and a vintage sawmill.
The Cradle of Forestry, located within Pisgah National Forest, can be accessed from Hwy. 276 North, just 4 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Marker 412 and 3.5 miles from Sliding Rock.

Cades Cove Car Ban

Cades Cove Car Ban - Heysmokies

If you have never experienced the serenity of Cades Cove without the noise and exhaust fumes of cars you are in for a treat!

Cades Cove Car Ban begins Wednesday, May 9, 2018. Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed to motor vehicles from sunrise until 10:00 a.m. on both Wednesday and Saturday mornings to allow bicyclists, runners, and walkers time to enjoy the cove without having to worry about heavy traffic. This special experience on the 11-mile paved loop road will last until late September.

During the season, bicycles can be rented at the Cades Cove Campground Store. For pricing info, give them a call at 865.448.9034. Of course, you can bring your own bikes and helmets to enjoy the scenic ride through this historic landscape. Be mindful that Tennessee law requires cyclists under the age of 16 to wear a helmet. HeySmokies and the GSMNP recommend anyone of any age wear protective head gear…just sayin’!

You won’t find any mountain biking trails within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are only 3 trails in the National Park that allow bicycles:

  • Gatlinburg Trail
    Begins at Sugarlands Visitor Center and travels 1.9 miles one-way toward the outskirts of Gatlinburg along the West

    Deep Creek biking in the Smokies

    You will love the remote beauty of Deep Creek ranger district in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

    Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail.

  • Oconaluftee River Trail
    Begins at Oconaluftee Visitor Center and travels 1.5 miles one-way toward the outskirts of Cherokee along the Oconaluftee River. Leashed pets are allowed on this trail.
  • Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails
    From the Deep Creek Campground, cyclists can access both Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails. Bicycles are allowed on both trails until the point where the old roadbed ends and the hiking trails begin. Pets are not allowed on this trail.

Bicycles are allowed on most roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so drivers need to be alert of cyclists when driving through the park. Due to the narrow, steep, curvy conditions of park roads the HeySmokies cycling team recommends avoiding biking park roads in the interest of the safety of all park visitors.

Bonus Biking Tip! – Tsali Recreation Area has over 40 miles of mountain bike trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Tsali is located on the Southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the southern shore of Fontana Lake near Bryson City, North Carolina.

For more information on bicycling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and adjacent National Forests, please visit NPS.gov.