Meet the Trails Forever Hike Advisory Team

June 25, 2024

Meet our hike advisory team! These volunteers make the Trails Forever Hikes happen by helping lead and sweep the hikes.

Danny Bernstein

Danny is a hiker, Trails Forever Hike Leader, outdoor writer, and a Smokies 900-miler! Danny started and led a hiking series for Friends of the Smokies called ‘Classic Hikes of the Smokies’ in 2010 through 2023. She’s also a longtime hike leader for the Carolina Mountain Club. Before retiring in western North Carolina, Danny worked in Computer Science way before computing was cool – first as a software developer, then as a professor of computer science. 

Missy Kane

Missy has long had a passion for fitness! She ran track at the University of Tennessee, ran the 1,500-meter in the 1984 Olympics, earned a master’s in exercise science, and later coached Lady Vols distance runners. Missy has led hikes for Friends of the Smokies since 1998. She loves exploring trails and helping others find the joy of hiking. When she isn’t on the trails, you can see her on television in Tennessee. She inspires people each morning to exercise on “Fit & Fun with Missy Kane” on East Tennessee PBS. She is married to Jim Bemiller. They have two daughters and two grandsons.  

Sam Curtis

Sam started hiking with the Friends of the Smokies in 2004 with the Missy Kane series. Living in Townsend, he has the pleasure of enjoying the hiking trails daily. Sam is proud to have hiked more than 22,000 miles in the last three decades. He is looking forward to another year in the park with the Friends of the Smokies. 

George and Nancy Dailey

Both George and Nancy retired from Department of Energy facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Nancy has hiked with Friends of the Smokies since 2008, while George has been hiking with the group since 2015. Both hike with Retired Citizens of the Smokies and do volunteer work in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Lynda Doucette

Lynda grew up in rural New England exploring the woods, creeks, and streams around her home. Family vacations spent camping strengthened a love of the outdoors that continued to grow over the years. She earned a BS with a double major in outdoor education and park management at Lock Haven University. Lynda forged a 30-year career as a ranger in the National Park Service with stints at six different park units across the country, the last 16 years at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She is an avid hiker and loves to share her joy of the outdoor environment with people she meets.  

Kevin Fitzgerald

Kevin has been an avid hiker since the mid 1970s. During his 35-year career with the National Park Service, he has covered many a mile in national, state, and local parks across the United States.  He has been a volunteer with the Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park since 2014.

Ed Fleming

Ed was born and raised in Gatlinburg and has six generations of ancestors who lived on various parts of the lands that became Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He started hiking in these mountains in the early 1960s and still does so regularly. He has been a member of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club since 2006 and served as President in 2011-2012. For more than a decade, Ed has enjoyed helping Missy Kane lead hikes for the Friends of the Smokies.   

Billie Green

In her free time, you can find Billie exploring the great outdoors or road tripping to her next adventure! She enjoys fly fishing, hiking the many trails of this region, running at Lake Junaluska, and simply taking a breather on her front porch. She has been an active realtor for more than 20 years. Billie is dedicated to serving the community. As an avid hiker and lover of the outdoors, it is important to her to devote time to caring for the mountains she loves. For that reason, she currently volunteers with Friends of the Smokies. 

Rob Howard

Rob has been hiking the hills of Western North Carolina since moving to the area in 2010. Job assignments some years ago in Norway and Scotland kindled his interest in mountain hiking, and he’s taken advantage of the great opportunities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding areas.

Regina Kinton

Regina got involved with hiking in the Smokies in 2004 with Missy Kane’s hiking series, “Get on the Trail with Friends and Missy.” After volunteering in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 15 years as a Cosby Campground host, she stays involved every year by volunteering with Friends of the Smokies and hiking a trail every month. 

Steve Kloster

Steve retired from the National Park Service in 2018 after serving for more than 35 years. He has worked at several parks across the country including Yellowstone, Shenandoah, and Great Smoky Mountains. Steve spent 30 years as a ranger in the Smokies, starting out as the Abrams Creek Area Ranger and retiring as the park’s Chief Ranger. 

Mike Knies

Mike is a backcountry explorer with extensive knowledge of the history and lifestyle of the former settlers in the park. He has a particular interest in the Cataloochee area of the Smokies. After earning his law degree from the University of Tennessee and a 34-year career in the banking industry, Mike became an avid off-trail hiker, marking more than 1,200 home sites in the park. He maintains the Appalachian Trail section near Davenport Gap, frequently leads hikes for the Carolina Mountain Club, and has written numerous adventure stories about the park. 

Dolly McLean

Dolly, winner of REI’s Anderson Award, has covered hundreds of Smokies miles and other trails across the Southeast’s public lands. She is a longtime Friend of the Smokies, a horticulturist, trail runner, a grandmother, and the biggest University of Georgia fan in the area. Dolly has made the trek up Mt. Le Conte many times and previously volunteered with the Trails Forever crew on the Alum Cave  and Rainbow Falls trail rehabilitation projects.  

Steve Pierce

Steve is a retired educator and avid hiker. He has hiked all the trails in the Smokies twice, walked a couple of Caminos in Portugal and Spain, and hiked in Peru. He is currently section hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail across North Carolina. He serves on the boards of the McDowell Trails Association and the Friends of the Fonta Flora State Trail.  

Beth Ransom

Beth is an accomplished Southern Appalachian and global hiker. She completed the Smokies 900-Mile Challenge, the South Beyond 6,000 Challenge, the Pisgah 400 Challenge, and several Caminos. She also enjoys road biking and mountain biking around the area. She shares her hiking experience with others as a volunteer leader for Carolina Mountain Club and Friends of the Smokies. 

Karen Schultz

Karen enjoyed a long career as the Executive Director of Human Resources for Whole Foods Market in the Midwest Region. After retiring in 2020, Karen and her husband left Chicago for Asheville, an area aligned with their passions and interests. They hiked with the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC), making wonderful friends and learning about the incredible mountains and trails in Western North Carolina. She became the CMC Vice President in January of 2024 and is thrilled to be a member of the Friends of the Smokies Hike Advisory Team!

Steve Winchester

Since most of Steve’s early life was spent growing up in Western North Carolina, he considers this region of the world his home. Steve and his wife Judy currently live on the family farm in Waynesville, North Carolina, so he has been hiking this region most of his life.  He completed all the trails in the Smokies a few years ago and spends as much time there as possible.  He hopes to continue for many years to come.