by Julie Dodd
Join other Friends of the Smokies for a special “Overnight Experience,” which will take place on June 25-26 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
This two-day event includes guided hikes, opportunities to learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and lodging and meals at The Buckhorn, East Tennessee’s classic country inn, with views of Mt. Le Conte.
Participants will be treated to a surprise guest who will speak about the current state of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This event is part of the FOTS Classic Hikes of the Smokies, a series of hikes held every month from March through December.
Day one of this special event features a guided experience of the Twin Creeks area of the Smokies, home to diverse park treasures like the Twin Creeks Science Center and Ogle Homestead. The afternoon will be topped off with an easy hike.
Day two offers a choice between two guided hikes, one moderate and one strenuous.
The moderate hike is a 5.4 mile hike on the Rainbow Falls Trail. Hikers will be able to see the recently completed restoration work of the highly-skilled Trails Forever crew and see the 80-foot Rainbow Falls.
The second guided hike will combine three trails — Laurel Falls (photo at top of this post), Little Greenbrier and Roundtop. The 15-mile adventure will take hikers to a section of the Smokies that few visitors ever experience.
FOTS funds GSMNP critical projects
Since 1993, Friends of the Smokies has helped fund critical projects and programs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Projects include environmental education for schoolchildren, trail rehabilitation, and protection against invasive species.
The proceeds from the Gatlinburg Overnight Experience will further these efforts by supporting suppression of the hemlock woolly adelgid infestation. The effort uses a multi-pronged approach, including treatment of 30,000 trees and the release of 570,000 biological control beetles.
The overnight experience also will raise money for the park to treat trees in high-use areas that are at risk of the emerald ash borer, another invasive species.
The cost to attend is $300 per person.
Those who register should be prepared to hike at least six miles and climb more than 1,500 feet on challenging terrain.
Visit hike.friendsofthesmokies.org for more information and to register.