In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, Superintendent Cassius Cash has committed to hike 100 miles in Great Smoky Mountains National Park during 2016 and is challenging the public to do the same. The 100-mile goal is part of the “Smokies Centennial Challenge-Hike 100” program. This program aims to inspire all potential hikers—young and old, new and skilled—to experience and gain a new appreciation and stewardship for their national park.
“I invite people of all ages and backgrounds, including millennials, to join me on this journey as we discover and explore the Smokies,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The Hike 100 challenge allows me to have a personal role in ensuring that the next generation of park users, supporters, and advocates carries on the legacy of the National Park Service for the next 100 years. The lifeline of any legacy is to ensure that our voices are not only heard by the next generation, but also shared in a manner that inspires them to pick up the torch from the previous generation and carry it forward."
To complete the Hike 100 challenge, participants must hike any 100 miles of maintained trail within the park boundaries between January 1 and December 6, 2016. These miles can include everything from the front country nature trails to the extensive backcountry network of trails. Participants can choose to hike the same trail repeatedly or choose to hike many different trails to accumulate a total of 100 miles. Participants who reach the 100-mile goal will earn a commemorative “Smokies Centennial Challenge - Hike 100” pin and be invited to a park celebration hosted by Superintendent Cash.
The Superintendent is also providing a unique opportunity for the general public to hike alongside him on his way to reaching the 100-mile goal through a series of four hikes open to the public. Two front country hikes in August and December will be completely open to the public, while two backcountry hikes in June and October will be limited to 20 people each. Information about the dates, trails, and how to sign up for one of these public hikes is provided on the park website on the Hike 100 page.
In addition to information about the public hikes, the Hike 100 page on the park website provides opportunities for the Superintendent and hikers to share their experiences and reflections about their journeys towards their 100 miles, and a hiking log that participants can use to track their miles. You can visit the park website for additional information.
For a comprehensive list of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains, please visit HikingintheSmokys.com. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.