Trails Forever Volunteers Needed

Trails forever volunteers needed.

Trails forever volunteers needed.

Trails Forever Volunteers Needed

A group of dedicated volunteers has spent the last five years making much needed trail improvements in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Working in tandem with experienced trail building staff, they are using sustainable materials to preserve the trails while also protecting the trail corridor. Smokies Trails Forever teams first-time volunteers, as well as those who have donated time and skills with previous trail restoration projects or volunteered in other capacities within the park, will be teamed with experienced trail builders. This is your chance to make a lasting positive impact in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Trails forever volunteers needed.

Help maintain your favorite trails in the Smokies!

REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) has funded trail reconstruction along Forney Ridge and Chimney Tops Trails and also provides a Trails Forever equipment trailer.

For more information on how individuals and groups can help, go to or call 828-452-0720.

Eighth Annual Bear Necessities Event

Bear Necessities will be a great evening for a great cause!

Bear Necessities will be a great evening for a great cause!

Eighth annual Bear Necessities event on Sunday, September 23, 2018 will be a night to remember.

The event will be held in Gatlinburg at the new Gatlinburg Event Center.  The festivities will feature a delicious meal prepared by local chefs so come hungry. A small silent auction will have amazing Smoky Mountain items for the discerning bear lover. A bear-themed performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will create music to soothe the savage beast in you.

Denali National Park Wildlife Biologist Patricia Owen will provide an update on management efforts for all of our North American bears and bears in Denali National Park, Alaska.

Mark your calendar for September 23, 2018 and make your reservations for this “Black Fur (not Tie!) and  Blue Jeans” event. Reservatons  are available for $125 per person and include dinner catered by the Barn Event Center of the Smokies and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performance.

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Joe – Pye Weed: Summer Ends

Joe Pye Weed, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Joe Pye Weed, one of our favorite wildflowers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Joe – Pye Weed: Summer Ends, as it must. And you can tell its end is near and autumn’s arrival close at hand by what is happening in the fields of Cades Cove. The plants that bloom now are the tall ones. Like Ironweed and Goldenrod and Joe-Pye weed. Plants that, out of necessity, tower over their neighbors in order to get their share of the sunlight, now lessening each day. Although they are present in the meadows and woodlands all summer long, they remain inconspicuous until they begin to bloom in late July or early August. Moreover, their flowers differ from those of the spring and summer plants with colors that are deeper and darker.

Most often found in low-lying moist meadows near woodlands, Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) is more than a harbinger of summer’s final weeks. It is an excellent wildflower, worthy of domesticating in our own gardens. Because of its height (5 to 7 feet), it creates a perfect backdrop for borders of flowers and shrubs, blooming when many other plants have stopped.
Joe-Pye weed loves full sun but tolerates partial shade, though it may not grow as tall. It does require a moist to wet humus and so is not very drought tolerant. Maintaining a thick mulch helps solve this problem, however.
Its dusky pink flowers develop as whorls of tiny blossoms atop a strong pinkish stem that, conveniently, requires no staking, despite its height. Also the flowers give off a rich vanilla-like scent and are much loved by a wide variety of butterflies, making Joe-Pye weed a perfect addition to a pollinator garden.
It has no insect enemies but is susceptible to powdery mildew and rust, especially when air circulation is blocked by neighboring plants. Therefore, proper spacing, typically 2 to 4 feet, is important.
Whether you watch for it in our wild meadows or in your own backyard, Joe-Pye weed is a wildflower well worth knowing.
For more on Joe-Pye weed see the Missouri Botanical Garden website:
Joe – Pye Weed.

Carl Parsons HeySmokies

Carl Parsons is honored to have Carl Parsons as a contributing writer. Carl is Deputy Editor for Storyteller Magazine, a member of the Writers’ Guild of Sevier County, TN, and a Tennessee Master Gardener.

Third Annual Bruce Street Brewfest

Bruce Street Brewfest in Sevierville

Third annual Bruce Street Brewfest is a Smoky Mountain special event you will not want to miss! Over 50 professional and home brewers will be there along with live music, friends and good eats! The suds will be tapped Saturday, September 15, 2018 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Bruce Street Brewfest is for guests 21 years of age and older. General admission tickets are $40 per person with tickets for designated drivers priced at $25 per person. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite. Be sure to check out Bruce Street Brewfest on Facebook!

The Bruce Street Brewfest is sponsored by the Smoky Mountain Home Brewers and the Sevierville Commons Association. Proceeds from the event will go to various charities in the local community.

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The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival

great smoky mountain hot air balloon fest

The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Fest is more than a bunch of hot air! Photo credit –

The Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival will light up the Smokies on Saturday August 18, 2018. Beginning at 3 p.m. and culminating with a spectacular glowing extravaganza, the second annual Great Smoky Mountain Balloon Festival is scheduled at The Townsend Visitors Center at 7006 SE. Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend, Tennessee.

Although the balloons will not be launched, short tethered rides (weather permitting) will be available. A short-aside here; hot air balloons cannot fly in rain because the heat from inside the balloon would cause the rain water to boil thus melting the balloon – not an adventure you want to encounter. Rides are scheduled from 6 pm – 8 pm and last approximately 5 -7 minutes rising to a height of about 30 feet. Tickets, for ages 8 and above, are $20 per person.

Visitors will also enjoy an up close look at the colorful and often whimsical balloons, the mechanism involved in launching them, and the huge wicker passenger baskets.

Balloons which glow for more than an hour, beginning about 8pm and lasting until 9:30pm, will provide a dramatic focal point for Tennessee’s famed sunsets. If inclement weather occurs, balloonist will perform a candlestick glow.

No outside food or beverages are permitted but there will be plenty of food vendors to satisfy every palate. A craft beer tent will offer a variety of regional brews and Nine Lakes Wine Country Wine Tasting is scheduled from 3pm-9pm. Tickets for the wine sampling (which includes a commemorative wine glass and wine tote) are $10. Wines will also be available for purchase by the bottle or case during the event. The wine garden opens at 3 p.m. and closes at 9 p.m.

Additional family friendly activities include live entertainment, arts and craft vendors; face painting; Eurobungy; a rock climbing wall; a trackless train, and a fun-filled water balloon war for the more intrepid.

Bring your camera-take your best shot and enter the GSM Hot Air Balloon Photo contest. Photos can be submitted to and should be accompanied by your name, phone number and a brief description of where it was taken.

Parking passes may be purchased online at for $20 and guarantees a parking spot. Cost to park on the day of the event is $25. There is no handicap parking but shuttles will be provided for anyone needing assistance. The parking lot opens at 2:30 p.m.

This is a rain or shine event and parking passes are non-refundable. Pets are welcomed but must be leashed and poop bags are required. Be warned: inflating balloons is a noisy process and may frighten four-legged friends.