Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway Hiking Event. Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to walk approximately two miles along the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley Thursday, November 8, 2018. Park officials expect this to be a great community day celebration. This special opportunity for pedestrians to experience the series of bridges that connect the 1.65-mile section known as the ‘Missing Link’ will be a treat. The road will open to motorists and cyclists on Saturday, November 10, 2018.
Participants will be shuttled to the site from Townsend, TN between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon weather permitting. Construction activities may be ongoing along sections of the roadway requiring coordinated transportation to the event space. Participants should be prepared to walk at least two miles along a 10% grade. At the event space, the GSMNP will host a variety of interactive educational and artistic activities for the public to enjoy.
“While the parkway is designed as a scenic driving experience, we wanted to provide one special opportunity for people to experience it by foot before it opens to motorists,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We hope the public will join us for this Community Day celebration as we enjoy the beauty of the parkway and the new recreational opportunities it provides for our local residents and visitors.”
Participants will be shuttled from the River Rat parking lot in Townsend, TN (8435 State Highway 73, Townsend, TN 37882) at approximately 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., or 12:00 noon. The shuttle ride will take approximately one hour to reach the event space. Participants will have the opportunity to spend one to three hours on site depending on which departure time they choose. The Friends of the Smokies are sponsoring the free shuttle service to the public utilizing charter buses. Participation is available on a first come, first serve basis with anticipated service for approximately 1,000 people.
29th Annual Gatlinburg Chili Cook Off Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Grab yourself a bowl off red at 715 Parkway in Gatlinburg from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. This delicious event is presented by Bush’s Chili Beans. If you like it mild, medium or blowtorch hot these mouth-watering recipes will twang your buds!
Great entertainment is planned for the event with Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier performing at 5:15 on the Bush’s Best Stage. For the adventurous eaters who like fire in their belly the Hot Chili eating contest will be held at the All Sauced-Up stage from 5:30 p.m. till 6:30 p.m. The Petty Hearts will take the stage following Jimbo at 6:16 p.m. and if you are a Tom Petty fan you will not want to miss this special performance! Considered the National Tom Petty Tribute Show the Petty Hearts are a nationally touring band that celebrates the life and legacy of Tom Petty’s forty year run as an American Rock-n-Roll icon. Attendees will enjoy faithful covers from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers extensive musical play list with plenty of deep cuts to round out the performance. The Petty Hearts have thrilled audiences in major venues like the House of Blues and Hard Rock Cafe. They were honored to be the only Tom Petty Tribute band invited to play the prestigious national Beatles fan convention, Abbey Road.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens Popular Trails! Bullhead Trail and Sugarland Mountain Trail are set to reopen after extensive fire damage in 2016. The trails will reopen Friday October 26, 2018. These are two of our favorite trails at HeySmokies.com. They offer amazing high altitude vistas with the Smokies hallmark forest diversity. Both trails are fantastic walks for viewing fall color.
These trails have been closed since November 2016 due to damage resulting from the wind event and fire damage associated with the Chimney Tops 2 Fire. Park trail crews spent several weeks this year repairing over 500 feet of trail tread, cutting 758 downed trees, removing over 20 large rootballs and boulders, and repairing and replacing 53 trail drainage structures.
Bullhead Trail begins on the Cherokee Motor Nature Trail near Gatlinburg at the intersection with Rainbow Falls Trail. The trail climbs 3,500′ steadily for 5.9 miles towards the historic LeConte Lodge on the summit of Mt. LeConte. Spring wildflowers are prolific on this hike as well as fantastic winter views. If you have never visited Mount LeConte we urge you to add it to your bucket list.
Sugarland Mountain Trail begins on the Appalachian Trail near the road to the Clingmans Dome and ends in the Laurel Falls parking lot on Little River road west of Sugarlands Visitor Center. This 11.9 mile hike has many ups and downs and generally drops close to 4,000′ so plan on doing some climbing even if you hike high to low. The fall color and winter views are two great reasons to put this hike on your list but remember it is a great walk any time of year!
Great Smoky Mountains Foothills Parkway Opens. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announce the long-awaited section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley, TN will finally open Saturday, November 10, 2018. The 16-mile roadway will be drivable for the first time since construction began in 1966. The route will include the 1.65-mile section known as the ‘Missing Link’ which is now connected by a series of nine bridges.
“We are grateful to the visionaries in the 1930s who conceived the idea of a parkway and to the countless people who have tirelessly worked since then to complete this spectacular section,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We can’t wait for people to experience the unparalleled views offered along this new Smokies destination.”