Park Area Maps Here....
hiker should be prepared for a wide range of temperatures and
conditions. The temperature on this hike can be 10 degrees cooler
than when you left the lower elevation. Combine this with the
fact that the Smokies are also the wettest place in the South,
and you have the possibility for great discomfort in the event
of a sudden storm. The higher elevations in the park can receive
upwards of 90 inches of precipitation a year.
Don't judge the complete day by the morning
sky. In summer the days usually start out clear, but as the day
heats up, clouds can build up, resulting in a heavy shower. Winter
is a great time to be in the Smokies, but also represents the
most challenging time as well. Frontal systems sweep through the
region, with alternately cloudy and sunny days, though cloudy
days are most frequent in winter.
When traveling in the Smokies, it's a good
idea to carry clothes for all weather conditions.
Footwear should be chosen with care. Though
tennis shoes may be generally appropriate for some day hikes,
boots should be worn on the uneven trails in the Park. They support
the ankles from sprains and the foot from cuts and abrasions.
Stay on the designated trail, because most
hikers who get lost do so when they leave the path. If you get
temporarily lost, try to retrace your steps until you cross the
trail again. Then its just a matter of guessing which way you
were headed when you left the trail. You will either continue
the way you were headed or go back to your starting point--either
way, no harm is done.
Always bring rain gear and a wool sweater.
They don't weigh much and might make the difference between being
miserable or not in the event it rains. As mentioned earlier,
the Smokies get approximately 90 inches of rain a year. This is
good. Its what makes the Smokies such a wonderful place to be.
Don't start a hike if thunderstorms threaten--some of the most
devastating damage ever to the Park has been from great storms
which can be upon you with little warning.
Cross streams carefully. Getting wet, even
in summer, could lead to hypothermia, which leads ultimately to
disorientation, poor decision making and, in extreme circumstances,
death. Having said that, don't let a fear of hypothermia, getting
lost, or bears prevent you from the enjoyment to be had by trekking
the trails of the Park.
When we questioned a Park Ranger about how
to react to meeting a bear on the trail, he smilingly told us
the most likely sighting of a bear will be its tail disappearing
over a ridge. Most "incidents" occur when an ignorant
visitor feeds or otherwise harasses a bear. Our own experiences
with bears have proven this to be true.
To avoid crowds, hike during the week; avoid
holidays; go during the "off" season. Also, go in the
morning before most folks are through eating breakfast; this is
a good time to see wildlife and morning light is great for photography!
You can also avoid crowds by using the outlying trailheads such
as those found at the Cosby and Wears Valley entrances. I'm embarrassed
to say we didn't know these existed for our first 18 visits to
the Smokies. But to our delight, we found new vistas, trails,
and landscapes to "discover for the first time".
a little care and planning, your trip to the Smokies can be much
more rewarding and repay you with more great memories. You can
enjoy not only the visual splendor of the Park, you can view it
without counting out-of-state license plates, and you can get
more fit in the bargain.
[ Back to Top