Ramsey Cascades

Ramsey Cascades in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the tallest waterfalls accessible by trail in the park!

Ramsey Cascades in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the tallest waterfalls accessible by trail in the park!

Ramsey Cascades is a difficult hike with an amazing destination.There are many waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains and a personal favorite is Ramsey Cascades which covers the surrounding area with an ethereal spray of mist as it plunges some 100 ft. over tiers of massive rocks into a dark pool below.

Ramsey Cascades, located in Greenbrier is the park’s tallest waterfall and is often named as one of the 50 best hikes in the Smokies.

The trail to the falls follows the Ramsey Prong of the Little Pigeon River which is fed by streams from the 6,621 ft. Mt. Guyot, the Great SmokyMountains second highest peak.

The last two miles provides hikers an opportunity to enjoy an old growth cove hardwood forest. This is one of the few sections that escaped the logging industry which decimated much of the Smokies before the formation of the National Park. According to the Eastern Native Trees Society, the area includes the third tallest red maple in the park and the second tallest white oak along with a myriad of other native trees. HeySmokies’ favorite “The Twins,” are pair of giant tulip poplar trees which are only a few feet apart. A memorable photo opportunity for all hikers.

The 4-mile one way trail, which rises more than 2,200 feet in elevation, begins along an old gravel road before narrowing into a foot path some one-and-a-half miles later. Hikers will encounter extremely rugged terrain that includes several sections of steep rock steps and must maneuver around large roots and boulders and also traverse a narrow footbridge that crosses some 20-feet above the creek (perhaps not for the faint of heart.)  The last one-third of the trail is extremely difficult. The eight-mile roundtrip, which takes from 5-7 hours to complete, is rated strenuous and is not recommended for novice hikers.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces New Chief Ranger

New Smoky Mountain chief ranger Lisa Hendy is hired. Photo credit - GSMNP.

New Smoky Mountain chief ranger Lisa Hendy is hired. Photo credit – GSMNP.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces New Chief Ranger. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials tapped Lisa Hendy as the Park’s first female Chief Ranger. When she assumes her new position in April, Hendy will oversee employees in the Resource and Visitor Protection Division who perform law enforcement duties, wildland fire operations, emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, backcountry operations, and staff the emergency communications center.

Hendy is well qualified for the job and brings a wealth of experience. She has served at several parks with complex ranger operations including Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Arches National Park, and Rocky Mountains National Park. She is currently the Chief Ranger at Big Bend National Park.

Lisa has demonstrated incredible leadership in managing law enforcement, fire, and search and rescue operations at some of the nation’s busiest parks,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “She’s built strong programs by investing in local partnerships with neighboring agencies to help make areas safer for visitors and residents. She is going to be a great addition to the park’s management team.”


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Healthy Black Bear Returns Home.

Freed black bear returns to Smoky Mountains.

Freed black bear returns to Smoky Mountains.

Healthy black bear returns home. Willow Bear returned to National Park by Appalachian Bear Rescue. Willow Bear (named upon arrival at ABR) was returned safely to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after several months of rehab at Appalachian Bear Rescue.

Willow arrived at the rescue facility on June 5, 2018, after a man from Cocke County discovered two cubs that had been hit by a car. After placing a call to ABR, the man waited at the scene for two hours hoping the cub’s mother would return. When she did not (and given the condition of the two small bears) he took them home. ABR contacted the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, TWRA,  which dispatched an officer who transported the cubs to the University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine.

Unfortunately Willow’s sibling did not survive and doctors held out scant hope

Willow bear weighed less than nine pounds upon arrival to ABR.

Willow bear weighed less than nine pounds upon arrival to ABR.

for little Willow who was judged to be about four months old and weighed only 8.8 pounds. Willow was so unresponsive it seemed unlikely she’d survive the examination. But Drs. McEntire and Cushing, and their entire team were determined to try and save her.

Suspecting a skull fracture, the vets sent her for x-rays which revealed that at some point in her short life, Willow had suffered a broken rib, since healed. There was no evidence of damage to her skull and an ultrasound found no fluid in her abdomen. The doctors administered a saline solution to hydrate her…and almost immediately she was able to stand. Severe dehydration will often render a cub immobile and all it takes is fluid to revive them. The vets advised the curator they wanted to keep Willow overnight for observation.

This precaution proved unnecessary. The curator had no sooner arrived back at the facility when he got a call informing him that Willow was active and ready to relocate to ABR.

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New Foothills Parkway Raises 2018 National Park Visitation

New foothills parkway raises Smoky Mountain attendance.

New Foothills Parkway Raises National Park Visitation In 2018.

New Foothills Parkway Raises 2018 National Park Visitation. Great Smoky Mountains National Park reported 11,421,203 visitors in 2018. The 0.7% increase over 2017 is attributed to the opening of the new section of the Foothills Parkway between Walland and Wears Valley in November. Nearly 200,000 visitors experienced this new park opportunity which resulted in record-setting visitation in both November and December.

“The new section of the Foothills Parkway is a spectacular scenic driving destination and we’re pleased that so many people have already enjoyed it,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We hope that people take the time to explore it across the seasons.”

Great Smoky Mountains Foothills Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains Foothills Parkway

Park visitation across the park remained relatively stable compared to 2017. The highest visitation occured in July, followed by June and then October. Monthly visitation records were set during June, September, November, and December. Visitors spent approximately 400,000 nights camping in the park,  down 3% from 2017, but still within the 5-year average. The park offers 9 front country campgrounds and 100 backcountry campsites for visitors to enjoy. The most popular campgrounds include Cades Cove, Elkmont, Smokemont, and Cosby.

Smoky Mountain Paving Project Slows Traffic

Smoky Mountain travel advisory

Smoky Mountain Travel Advisory.

Smoky Mountain Paving Project Slows Traffic. Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin paving on Little River Road between the Townsend Wye and Sugarlands Visitors Center Tuesday, February 19, 2019.  A thin pavement overlay will be applied to the entire length of the 16.5-mile roadway including pull-offs and parking areas. The 1.5 -mile Elkmont road leading to the campground will also be paved. The work is projected to be complete by September 20, 2019. Locals know the finish line for a project of this size always depends on many factors like weather.

Visitors may experience weekday, single-lane closures and traffic delays from February 19, 2019 through June 14, 2019 and again from August 19, 2019 through September 20, 2019. Single-lane closures are permitted from 7:00 a.m. on Mondays through 12:00 p.m. on Fridays. The lane closures will be flagged. Parking areas and pull-offs will be closed as necessary for paving. No lane closures will be allowed during the peak summer months, weekends, or holidays including the week before and after Easter from April 12, 2019 through April 26, 2019.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded $6.5 million to implement the project. The park is also overseeing tree removal work along various roadways in the park including Little River Road between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, Elkmont Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and the Gatlinburg Bypass. Motorists will experience delays due to single-lane closures associated with this work through April, 2019.

For more information about temporary road closures visit www.nps.gov/grsmor or follow SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.