Steve Pierce is one of the leaders of our monthly hiking series, Classic Hikes of the Smokies, which includes several of the 100 Favorite Trails. The guided hiking series offers hikers an opportunity to explore the park in new ways and support Trails Forever, an endowment that funds a full-time trail crew to reconstruct and rehabilitate some of the park’s most impacted trails.
by Steve Pierce
In the 1960s the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC) produced a map of the 100 Favorite Trails of the Great Smokies and Carolina Blue Ridge. The map was developed by the CMC under the guidance of Bernard Elias.
The map proved to be popular and was in print into the early 1980s. Several CMC members have original copies. My own copy is dated 1978.
The CMC began talking about revising and publishing an updated version of the map a decade ago, and a committee began revising the list of 100 Favorite Trails from the original map.
Trails change, old ones are decommissioned, and new ones are built. Private land and public land sometimes change and new areas open up for hiking.
CMC and GSMA collaboration
The project languished for several years until several CMC members reached out to the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA). An agreement was reached – the CMC would author the 100 Favorite Trails and the GSMA would publish it.
Several CMC hike leaders hiked the trails, wrote trail descriptions and directions to trailheads, and recorded GPS tracks for each of the 100 trails.
The GSMA and CMC edited copy, and the GSMA produced the map and descriptions.
In late 2020, the map was published and made available to the public through visitor centers in the park and on the GMSA website. It is also available at several outdoor-oriented stores in the region.
Not long after the publication of 100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge, the CMC added hiking all 100 trails to its challenge series. Details are on the CMC Challenge page.
The map has proven to be popular, and sales are strong.
There are hikes for all levels of hikers with a variety of hikes with vistas, waterfalls, iconic sections of the Appalachian Trail, and many areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park rich in cultural and natural attractions.
Get your copy of the 100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge from our park partners at Great Smoky Mountains Association HERE.