by Julie Dodd
The Classic Hikes of the Smokies 2017 hiking season begins on
March 14 March 28, with a hike on Mingus Creek Trail to the Mingus Family Cemetery.
The Friends of the Smokies hiking series provides guided hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with interpretation of the trail, history and park projects supported by FOTS.
Hikers register for the hike in advance and receive an email the Friday before the hike with carpool information and directions.
March 14 rescheduled to March 28: Mingus Creek to Mingus Family Cemetery
This hike was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
4.0 miles, 700 ft. ascent, easy
Features: historic mill and cemetery
Highlight: Water Quality Monitoring
April 11: Big Creek
10.0 miles, 1,100 ft. ascent, moderately strenuous
Features: wildflowers, cascades
Highlight: Treatment of Ash Trees
May 9: Caldwell Fork
9.4 miles, 1,650 ft. ascent, moderate
Features: historic Cataloochee Valley, wildflowers
Highlight: Elk Bugle Corps
June 13: Charlies Bunion
8.0, 1,650 ft. ascent, moderately strenuous
Features: view & Appalachian Trail
Highlight: A.T. Ridgerunners
July 11: Alum Cave to LeConte Lodge
10.0 miles, 2,600 ft. ascent, strenuous
Features: views, historic lodge
Highlight: Trails Forever project
Aug. 28-29: Overnight Fontana Lake Experience
Experience the scenic beauty and notable history of this remote area of the park
More info available here
Sept. 12: Boogerman Trail
7.5 miles, 1,150 ft. ascent, moderate
Features: historic Cataloochee Valley, elk
Highlight: Cataloochee Valley Historic Preservation
Oct. 10: Purchase Knob
7.5 miles, 1,500 ft. ascent, moderate
Features: views, Appalachian Science Learning Center
Highlight: McNeil Endowment
Nov. 14: North Shore Road Loop
9.4 miles, 1,350 ft. ascent, moderate
Features: historic tunnel
Highlight: Brook Trout Restoration
Dec. 12: Little River/Cucumber Gap Trails
7 miles, flat, easy
Features: Historic Elkmont
Highlight: Parks as Classrooms
Each guided hike is $20 for FOTS members, with funds going to toward the Trails Forever program for major trail restoration projects. New or renewing annual members pay $35, which includes a one-year FOTS membership and the hike. The Overnight Fontana Lake Experience is $350 for a single registration and $500 for the couple/partner discount. Registration at May 22 is non-refundable.
Master hiker Danny Berstein leads many of the guided Classic Hikes. Thanks to Danny for sharing photos from previous Classic Hikes that were posted on her blog.