Lost Hound Dog Strikes Gold on Mount LeConte

A lost bluetick hound dog has been found safe on Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mount LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smokies with an elevation of 6,594′. There are several trails leading to the summit but the nearest road is over five miles away. The slopes of Mount LeConte are considered some of the most rugged terrain in the Eastern United States. The dog was found near the summit at the historic LeConte Lodge.


Mount LeConte has the highest vertical rise of any mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“The dog had been hanging around LeConte Lodge for almost a week,” said one lodge staffer, “We tried to catch him but he was always too quick. Bears hang around here, and bears and dogs aren’t a good mix.”

One evening, the lodge staff noticed the dog crawl under the dining hall building and realized this was a good opportunity to corner him with a leash. The hikers and guests looked on as some staff members crawled under the structure after the dog. The gathering crowd was alarmed when a staffer let out a scream and the dog began to yelp. “With all the commotion going on,” said one hiker, “we thought they may have found a bear napping under there!” Instead the staff found the  hound dog busy digging away. However, he wasn’t after a buried ham bone. This hound dog had found the largest gold nugget ever discovered in America!

“Gold is not uncommon in the Smoky Mountains; the Appalachians are the oldest on the planet and consistently yield the purest gold ever found,” said Park Ranger I.B. Lyon, “We need to remove this gold before every American comes seeking a modern-day gold rush!”  Ranger Lyon explained that the Park plans to move the historic lodge building until an excavation is complete. Local historic preservation societies are in an uproar over disturbing these cultural landmarks.

Despite the growing controversy, an expert team of dwarvish miners from the Blue Mountains are en route to the Smokies to oversee the excavation. Due to the immense size of the nugget, environmental impact concerns preclude removal by traditional methods. To resolve this problem three Vietnam-era Sikorsky Skycranes or “Jolly Green Giant” helicopters have been been commissioned to lift the nugget and transport it to nearby Fort Knox, Kentucky.



Vintage photo of Sikorsky Skycrane airlift.

The owner of the hound dog has been identified as local D. Ude, “Old Blue was always a good dog but does get lost quite a bit.” D. Ude added, “We never knew he had a nose for the finer things in life.” When asked what he would do with the reward, the D. Ude replied, “Blue is getting older so I plan to get his teeth fixed and

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Color Me Mutt 5K Run/Walk and Pet Parade on May 14th in Sevierville! Bring Fido and Join the Fun!

The inaugural Color Me Mutt 5K Run/Walk and Pet Parade will be held on Saturday, May 14, 2016 in Sevierville at NASCAR SpeedPark! The Color Me Mutt 5K Run/Walk will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the Pet Parade beginning at 9:15 a.m. It’s a festival for Fido complete with awesome vendors catering to all your canine and feline friends!

Color Me Mutt 5K Run/Walk May 14, 2016 Sevierville TN

All participants will receive a t-shirt and goodie bag with commemorative pet tag/charm, packet of color, and an unlimited ride wristband for NASCAR SpeedPark on event day!

The Color Me Mutt 5K Run/Walk and Pet Parade is a great day for dogs and their people to get out and spend some fun time together! Registration for the 5K Run/Walk is $30 and includes the Pet Parade.

For the Pet Parade only, the cost is $10. Be sure to get dressed up in your best parade outfits because there’ll be some fantastic prizes for the best and most creatives costumes!

Register Today for the Color Me Mutt 5K Run/Walk and Pet Parade! Visit www.colormemutt.com!

This event will raise money to help fund Pets Without Parents’ new building facility on Chapman Highway in Sevierville as well raise money for the PARC Foundation’s (the charitable arm of NASCAR SpeedPark) mission of strengthening the families and positively impacting the communities in which they operate.


Bears in the Smokies with Ranger Butch!

With Springtime right around the corner, the sleepy bears will soon begin to awake! Retired Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ranger Arthur “Butch” McDade met with HeySmokies in Elkmont to talk about the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus), the iconic symbol of the Smoky Mountains.

Bear cubs are usually born in January. Right now, the cubs are in the den fully awake and completely dependent on mother who will rouse herself every now and then for a tender lick or two. The cubs will continue to be nourished and warmed by mama bear until at some unknown cue, when the cubs are about three months old and weigh between four and eight pounds, they will all leave the den and begin their new lives in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Chat with Ranger Arthur “Butch” McDade @ Smokies Guide on Facebook!

Spring Break 2016 in the Smoky Mountains! There’s Fresh Air and Fun in the Sun in the Smokies!

Spring break at the beach? Yeah, been there done that! Find out why the Great Smoky Mountains are the hippest spring break destination in the country. Families and college kids love these mountains and with more things to do than ever, it’s the place to be!

Spring Break 2016 in Great Smoky Mountains, Charlies Bunion

The view from Charlies Bunion on the Appalachian Trail (photo: Andrew Eames/Independent)

We’ve compiled a list of the Top Activities for Spring Breakers in the Smokies! What will you do this year?

Hit the trail – the Appalachian Trail! 
Sure hiking is great fun year round but springtime is a real treat. The views during spring are second to none in the Smokies’ high country with visibility over one hundred miles (weather dependent, of course!) We suggest driving to Newfound Gap and walking along the famous Appalachian Trail (AT). The leaves are off the trees which afford striking views of the National Park and nearby mountain ranges like the Stecoahs. The hike from Newfound Gap to the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower puts you at the highest elevation on the entire Appalachian Trail! Clingmans Dome is the second highest peak in the Eastern United States at 6,643′ above sea level. The hike from Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome is a rocky 7.9 miles one-way, so you’ll need to park an extra car at Clingmans Dome or arrange for a pick-up to take you back to Newfound Gap. The hike from Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion is 8 miles round-trip and offers panoramic vistas along the way to one of the most spectacular bluffs in the Appalachian Mountains. Use caution when exploring the craggy cliffs of the Bunion. Be sure and prepare for the hike with our 10 Essentials for Hiking in the Smokies suggestions. A little nervous about hitting the trails alone? Hire an expert guide to lead the way and enjoy the journey. Our friends at The Wildland Trekking Company can help you out!

Hit the Rocky Top Wine Trail and More!
Almost every group of spring breakers has a party animal in the bunch who will love the diverse choice of wineries, breweries and moonshine distilleries that have exploded in the Smokies. The Rocky Top Wine Trail offers a tour of five wineries in a 12-mile area within the Pigeon Forge/Sevierville TN area. You can sample over 60 varieties of vino and tour the wine cellars and tank rooms of some of the wineries. Pick up your passport and wine glass at your first stop and receive a special free gift upon completing the trail.Rocky Top Wine Trail Map Smoky Mountains

Or perhaps you came to sample some good ol’ Mountain Dew – that’s hillbilly talk for moonshine! It’s legal now and with so many flavors to choose from you could spend all night at the sample bar but save room for some great locally-crafted brews at Smoky Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg and Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler in Gatlinburg and Ole Smoky Moonshine Barn at The Island in Pigeon Forge offer live music concerts from popular performers. If you’re over on the North Carolina side of the Smokies, be sure to check out the Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson City for the awesome Trail Magic  Ale.

Grab a Paddle!
If you’re craving some waves this spring break, no worries! There’s waves of fun on a Big Pigeon River Whitewater Rafting adventure! You can choose a wild ride with Class III & IV rapids on the Upper Pigeon or take it slow and easy on your raft on the Lower Pigeon, either way our friends at Smoky Mountain Outdoors can hook you up with a Spring Break adventure you’ll never forget! Be sure to check out Hey Smokies Rafting for more info.

Mountain Bike Trail at CLIMBWorks Gatlinburg TN

Biking in the Mountains! (photo: CLIMBWorks Gatlinburg)

Grab a Rope! Jump on a Mountain Bike!
Your feet won’t touch the ground for 2 1/2 hours on a high-flying Zipline Tour with CLIMBWorks in Gatlinburg. And for a one-of-a-kind mountain bike experience, you don’t even have to bring your own bike! ClimbWorks has everything you need to explore the mountains in a whole new way!

Pitch a Tent!
Camping is always a great way to spend time with your friends and make memories that will last a lifetime. Smoky Mountain memories don’t make themselves they need your help. All you need is a tent, a campfire, s’mores, and a rushing mountain stream and you’re in heaven! It’s often said that camp life is where authentic Smoky Mountain memories are made, and it is so easy to do!  Some favorite Campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Cades Cove, Big Creek, CataloocheeCosby, Elkmont,  Abrams Creek, and Deep Creek. You can reserve your campsite on line at Recreation.gov. For campgrounds outside of the park, visit Hey Smokies Campgrounds.

If camping isn’t your thing, HeySmokies a great selection of recommendations for Cabins, Condos, and Hotels. Whatever you do this Spring Break…have fun, and remember to Spring Break Responsibly because Smokey is watching!

Discover America’s Largest Underground Lake, The Lost Sea, in the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains

In the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is America’s largest and the world’s second largest underground lake, The Lost Sea. The lake is located in an extensive cave system known as Craighead Caverns, a National Park Service National Natural Landmark, located in Sweetwater, TN.

The Lost Sea America's Largest Underground Lake

America’s Largest Underground Lake is The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN (photo: The Lost Sea Adventure)

The caverns are named after their former owner Cherokee Chief Craighead and were used by the Native Americans as a tribal council meeting place. In 1939, 20,000 year-old bones and footprints of a giant Pleistocene jaguar were discovered in Craighead Caverns and are now on display at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. There are markings on the walls of the cave left by Confederate soldiers who mined saltpeter in the cave during the Civil War.

The underground lake was discovered in 1905 by 13-year-old Ben Sands. At 220 feet wide and 800 feet long, The Lost Sea has made it into the Guinness World Records. The Lost Sea is second only to Dragon’s Breath Cave as the world’s largest, non-subglacial, underground lake. That cave is located in Namibia, a country in southern Africa.

HeySmokies’ own intrepid reporter Laurie Crater Battles, recently visited The Lost Sea for a first-hand account of this amazing adventure deep under the mountains:

Go underground at The Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, Tennessee for a land and water experience that’ll have your family talking for years! I love caves. I suppose that makes me a cave woman (who reads an awful lot). I was not surprised to find myself relishing every minute of a recent tour of this fabulous attraction. It’s basically a wide-open cavern, complete with twists, turns, ups and downs, and eons of history that also features a 4-acre lake you can traverse by glass-bottomed boat. What could be better for the urban adventurer? Nothing, I submit to you!

America's Largest Underground Lake The Lost Sea

A yellow tunnel takes you into and out of the caverns at The Lost Sea (photo: The Lost Sea Adventure)

Though visiting in winter means you don’t get to tour the attraction’s village of historical shops and sites (more about that later), what it does mean is that you are not sandwiched into the throng (up to 1,000-person-a-day strong) that passes through the doors of this place every summer. You get to hop into a tour with a handful of others and meander through the place at a leisurely pace. You’re not crowded. You get good pictures and, best of all, you can savor this unique and wonderful natural phenomenon.

As soon as you enter the caverns, you’re treated to a vista that’s fairly expansive. You can see bends in the path, lit by recessed illumination that was added to give you a feel for the nooks and crannies that give the cave character. Your tour guide will fill you in on where to spot crystals and formations (like the larger one that resembles giant slices of bacon) and regale you with stories of Indians meeting in secret (See the smoke stains?) and Confederate soldiers using stalagmites for target practice.

Calcium deposits on the ceiling produce a substance that has “Neosporin”-like healing properties. Plants in the caverns grow due to the spores brought in by people like me. There is a secretive world underground here, and it’s fun to explore it.

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