Volunteer in the Smoky Mountains National Park
If you’re in the Smokies June 2nd, 2018, celebrate National Trails Day in the park! This special day endorsed by the American Hiking Society and other groups invested in the outdoors is meant to connect people everywhere to the beautiful resource that is the 200,000 miles of trails in this great country.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect venue for your own personal observance of this holiday. Since summers are warm here, why not try a beautiful waterfall hike? If you hoof it up to Grotto Falls via the Trillium Gap Trail (a nice, moderately difficult 2.6 mile round-trip hike), you can walk behind the twenty-five-foot waterfall. So soothing, and cool, too! It’s the only place in the park you can get behind a waterfall. Don’t miss it. Turn at traffic light #8 in Gatlinburg and follow the Historic Nature Trail into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (a narrow, one-way road that is closed in winter) to stop number five.
Cades Cove boasts another very beautiful waterfall. Abrams Falls is accessed through a lovely trail that is a bit steep at times. Most age levels can handle this hike, but you’ll have to pace yourself! You can put your feet in the water when you reach the waterfall. Be sure to take lots of family pictures in front of it! Lovely experience in the Smokies. Plan a picnic in the Cove for later!
Laurel Falls is accessed via a super-easy hike on a paved trail. You’ll stop along the way to take photos of mountain views and then enjoy a lovely, two-tiered waterfall.
Slightly more experienced or adventurous hikers may want to celebrate National Trails Day by conquering the Alum Cave Bluffs trail. Ranked by the park website as “moderately difficult,” this 4.6 mile round-trip hike (or 5.1 miles if you go as far as LeConte Lodge) will treat you to some interesting scenery and prove well worth the effort. Arch Rock and the Alum cave bluffs along with beautiful sweeping mountain views will mean great photo ops!
The most important underlying reason for National Trails Day is to get people interested in investing in our trail system. Many hands means the trail system lives on! The Annual GSMNP Appalachian Trail Workday will take place on June 2 in observance of the holiday. If you would like to participate in this trail maintenance and stewardship project lasting from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m — originating at the Sugarlands Visitor Center — email your required RSVP to ntdsmhc @ aol.com.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act. This act meant that our country would forever build, protect and shore-up trails that connect the public with beautiful, sacred spaces that will never be, as long as we are vigilant, profaned by the noise of hammers. They will belong to all of us, and we will have ready access to them. This is the best year yet to celebrate National Trails Day!
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