10 Essentials for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains

Packing the 10 Essentials for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains is like your insurance policy for a back country emergency. Ninety-nine percent of the time you will not need them but when you do, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The 10 Essentials were originally conceived in the 1930’s by The Mountaineers club based in Seattle, WA. For over eighty years the 10 Essentials were the standard until 2003 when the group updated the list to a “systems” approach instead of an individual items list. This systems approach categorizes necessities allowing a more thorough level of preparedness.

10 Essential Systems for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains:

1    Navigation (map/compass/GPS)
2    Sun Protection (sunscreen/sunglasses)
3    Insulation (extra dry clothing)
4    Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
5    First-aid Kit/Supplies
6    Fire (waterproof matches/lighter)
7    Repair Kit and Tools
8   Nutrition (extra food)
9   Hydration (extra water/water purification system)
10 Emergency Shelter (Mylar blanket)

Here are the many advantages to the systems approach to the 10 Essentials for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Navigation – Map and compass are viewed as a single necessity. Know how to use them. Unless you plan to walk an impossible to miss footpath, invest in a quality topographic map for the area you plan to explore. A GPS is great as long as the batteries last and you know how to operate it.

Sun Protection – Especially at the higher elevations in the National Park, this can be critical. There is nothing worse than a nasty sun burn after a great hike. Even on a hazy day, your skin is at risk for overexposure.

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Discover Sevierville’s Best Kept Secret! Burchfiel Grove and Arboretum is a Dog Friendly Trail in the Smokies!

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Majestic Mt. LeConte covered in snow as seen from the Arboretum’s walking trail.

Discover Sevierville’s Best Kept Secret! Burchfiel Grove and Arboretum is a Dog Friendly Trail in the Smokies! But it’s so much more than that; it’s an integral part of the city’s expanding Memorial Greenway system. The Arboretum boasts a 2.22-mile long, paved walking trail. The trail is pet friendly and is a favorite among joggers, cyclists, and fishermen.

The  riverwalk trail meanders along the banks of the West Fork of the Little Pigeon River and affords opportunities to view waterfowl and other wildlife. A fine view of Mount LeConte and the crest of the Great Smoky Mountains is front and center when looking southward along the path. 

A free brochure guides visitors to over 70 unique trees in the Grove. Each tree has an identifying sign providing information on the specimen’s scientific name, common name, and growth habit. The Grove has proven to be a valuable resource to businesses and homeowners interested in learning which trees, shrubs and other plants are best suited for their landscapes.

Burchfiel Grove and Arboretum is managed by the professional staff of the City of Sevierville Department of Parks and Recreation with assistance from the Trees/Trails and Beautification Committee.

Group tours are available at the Arboretum. To arrange a tour call 865-453-5441 or email bparker@sevierville.org.

The Burchfiel Grove and Arboretum is located just off Hwy. 411 (Chapman Highway) at Hardin Lane in Sevierville.

Fire on the Mountains! Gregory Bald is in Flames!

flame-azalea-gregory-bald-heysmokiesThe fire on the mountains in the Smokies seen in June and July can be deceiving. Those fiery bright patches of orange, red, and white are actually Native Azaleas! Flame Azaleas (Rhododendron calendulaceum) are the prominent bright orange blooms. Flame Azaleas are native to the Appalachian Mountains with ranges from southern New York to Alabama and as far west as  southeastern Ohio. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gregory Bald is one of the best places to see a spectacular display of native azaleas.

There are four known varieties of native azaleas on Gregory Bald; and due to the perfect combination of the right elevation (4,950), an open grassy area, and an abundance of pollinators like bees and butterflies, these native azaleas hybridize to produce an unparalleled variety of colors in shades of orange, red, pink, yellow and white. You can find Sweet Azalea (Rhododendron arborescens) that is white, Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum)  also white and smells like honeysuckle hence it’s also known as Honeysuckle Azalea. And the Cumberland Azalea (Rhododendron cumberlandense); it blooms orange and is often confused with the Flame Azalea, but it blooms in late June through August. These boisterous, deciduous shrubs create amazing displays of color on the high mountain ridges in the summer.

Hiking To Gregory Bald

Gregory Bald may be accessed via trail only. Drive half-way around the Cades Cove loop and turn right onto Forge Creek Road just past the turn to the Cable Mill Visitor Center. At the end of the road turn onto Parson’s Branch Road (a one-way road) and continue approximately 7 miles to the trailhead. The trail stretches 4.5 miles to reach Gregory Bald and climbs slightly over 2,000 ft. to an elevation of 4,950 ft. above sea level. In June, on the hike up, you will see the evergreen Catawba Rhodendron in bloom with its enchanting pink blossoms. In addition to these spectacular flower displays there are beautiful unobstructed views of Cades Cove! If you undertake the climb to the Bald be sure bring water and your 10 Essentials for hiking. The water source on this trail is often dry so be prepared. Gregory Bald is comprised of 14 acres for you to wander, so consider the time spent hiking around the bald in addition to the 9-mile roundtrip hike. It’s a good idea to begin your hike early in the day.

Native Azaleas on the Blue Ridge Parkway

If you’re not up for the 9-mile roundtrip hike to Gregory Bald, you can also enjoy the beautiful displays of Flame Azaleas along the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is easily accessed at its southern terminus in Cherokee, NC. Beginning here at Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Post 469 (MP 469) you can drive along the mountain high country to Mt. Pisgah at MP 408 and see some exquisite displays of flora. This 61-mile trek will take around 2 hours one-way to drive since the speed limit on the Parkway is between 35-45 mph and there are many interesting sites to stop and see along the way. Be sure to visit the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center and Richland Balsam which is the highest point on the Parkway at 6,047 ft. elevation. For Blue Ridge Parkway Weather and Road Information, call 828-298-0398. For more info visit BlueRidgeParkway.org.

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The Jeff Jopling Band Perform at the All Paws Concert & Dinner on November 6 in Sevierville!

The Annual All Paws Concert & Dinner on Friday,  November 6, 2015 will feature great entertainment from The Jeff Jopling Band! The main fundraiser for the year for Pets Without Parents will be held at the Sevierville Civic Center from 6:30 until 10:00 p.m.

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Not only do you get to enjoy some great Country Rock by The Jeff Jopling Band, you also get to enjoy a fabulous Spaghetti Dinner with cash bar and Silent Auction.

One of this year’s great Silent Auction items include a signed Fender guitar by the band Journey!

Other awesome items include a full year of doggie daycare at the Barker Lounge, spa and golf packages, artwork, bi-plane ride, a beautiful hand-carved bear and more!

Tickets for the event for $20 per person. Call Lory at 865-771-3738 to get yours today!

To learn more about the area’s only no-kill animal shelter, visit Pets Without Parents or call 865-286-9411.

4th Annual One Stop Christmas Shopping Event in Sevierville on November 7th

The 4th Annual One Stop Christmas Shopping Event at the Sevierville Civic Center on November 7, 2015 is fast becoming one of the most popular events to support local small businesses this holiday season!

one stop christmas shopping event sevierville TN