The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating Black Friday #OptOutside on November 25, 2016 with 2 Hikes led by Park Rangers. Visitors to the national park in Tennessee and North Carolina have an opportunity to enjoy an autumn hike and explore the Smoky’s fascinating history.
This time of year, when trees are shedding their leaves, you can really see some amazing artifacts in the forest like stone walls, chimneys, and foundations from early settlers’ homes. Each of the free, guided hikes begins at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 25, 2016.
“The Thanksgiving holiday weekend offers a perfect opportunity for people to build memories with friends and family along a trail,” said GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Take some time to enjoy the serenity of these special mountains to recharge on your own or to reconnect with your loved ones.”
Since the weather can be quite unpredictable in autumn in the Smokies, remember to dress in layers, bring a rain coat or poncho, and wear sturdy shoes. Park Rangers recommend that hike participants bring a sack lunch, snacks and plenty of water for either of these adventures:
Smokemont History Hike near Cherokee, NC
Meet at Smokemont Baptist Church Parking Area @ 10:00 am*
Join a Park Ranger for a visit to the historic Smokemont Baptist Church before you begin a walk along a bit of the Oconaluftee Turnpike, once an 1830’s wagon road over the mountains used by troops during the American Civil War. The walk includes a stop at the Bradley Cemetary. Learn more about Smokemont’s rich history of farming and commericial logging in the days before the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with photographs and stories during this free, guided tour.
*The Smokemont Baptist Church is near the entrance to Smokemont Campground which is located on Newfound Gap Road 3 miles north of Oconaluftee Visitor Center and 5 miles north of Cherokee, NC. Turn at the sign for Smokemont Campground. The parking area is on the right after crossing the bridge.
Old Sugarlands Trail near Gatlinburg, TN
Meet at Sugarlands Visitor Center @ 10:00 am
4.5 miles round-trip (approximately 4 hours)
Join a Park Ranger for an out-and-back hike on Old Sugarlands Trail which meanders through the once bustling Sugarlands Community, so named for the abundance of Sugar Maple trees that once grew there. Hikers will pass an old rock quarry that was used to build the first paved roads through the mountains. You’ll also get to explore the ruins of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp while enjoying the natural wonders of these historic mountains.