Smoky Mountains Need You! Volunteers are needed for Ramsey Cascades and Little Cataloochee trail rehab. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are recruiting volunteers to help the park’s trail crews with rehab projects on the Ramsey Cascades and Little Cataloochee trails. Volunteers are needed every Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. anytime through September 2023. Volunteers must register in advance.Continue reading…
Cades Cove Car Ban began May 4, 2023 and lasts through September 28, 2023. Cove visitors are encouraged to arrive in the afternoons and early evenings to spread use out throughout the day. Parking is limited and parking lots often fill to capacity during morning hours.Continue reading…
Synchronous Fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains June 2023. These aren’t your average backyard lightening bugs; these particular bioluminescent beetles (Photinus carolinus) perform an extraordinarily silent symphony of lights in the warm, dark forest evoking images of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s truly a sublime experience.Continue reading…
The Cosby Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is perfect for those who are looking for somewhere a bit off the beaten path and away from the big crowds in the park. Nestled on the northeastern side of the Smoky Mountains, Cosby is a great destination for hikers, cyclists, campers, horse lovers, and the locals!
Great Hikes in Cosby
Cosby Nature Trail – 1 mile roundtrip
This is a terrific one-mile long nature trail beginning at the Cosby Campground near the outdoor amphitheater. A great little walk through a bit of old-growth forest, which Cosby Creek runs through, is magical any time of the year.
Hen Wallow Falls – 4.2 miles roundtrip
Hike to Hen Wallow Falls on Gabes Mountain Trail which begins across the road from the Picnic Area just before the entrance to Cosby Campground. One of the main highlights of this trail is the big trees of the old-growth forest. A spur trail steeply descends to the right at mile 2.1 to lead to the base of the waterfall. Use extra caution when stepping on the slippery rocks.
Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower – 11 miles roundtrip
This strenuous hike begins on Low Gap Trail located near the designated parking lot for hikers near the Cosby Campground Picnic Area. Low Gap Trail, which is horse-friendly, climbs steeply for 3 miles before intersecting with the famous Appalachian Trail (AT). Take a left on the AT towards the Mt. Cammerer Trail. At almost the 5-mile mark, you’ll find the spur trail that leads the summit of the 4,928 ft. tall mountain. From here, it’s about seven-tenths of a mile to the historic fire tower with views of the beautiful Pigeon River Gorge.
Sutton Ridge Overlook – 3 miles roundtrip
The hike to Sutton Ridge Overlook begins on Low Gap Trail for about four-tenths of mile to intersect with horse-friendly Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail. At about mile 1.4 mile you’ve reached the overlook. Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail continues on to access backcountry campsite #35 and then on to intersect with the Appalachian Trail.
Poet Laureate of the Smokies & WWII POW Ella V. Costner Gravesite – less than 1 mile roundtrip
The graveyard is accessed via Snake Den Ridge Trail that begins near Campsite B-55 at Cosby Campground. The trail begins as an old road and after three little creek crossings you’ll see the small graveyard on your right. Costner (1894-1982) was born in Cosby and grew up on Crying Creek near the Gabes Mountain Trailhead. After her stint as an Army nurse in Pearl Harbor and Guam, she returned to Newport, Tennessee and published several books of poems and essays. For more information on Ella V. Costner, check out her Facebook page!
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.