Earthquake Recorded in Great Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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As if the snow and ice in recent weeks hasn't been enough, the Great Smoky Mountains is reporting on their Facebook page that an earthquake was recorded in the park this morning:

The National Earthquake Information Center has confirmed that a minor earthquake (2.1 magnitude) occurred in the park at 4:14 a.m. this morning. The epicenter was 5 miles deep on Goshen Ridge (elevation 4,700'), near Clingmans Dome. Earthquakes are more common to the west of the park in the Tennessee Valley, but since the 1970s, only three have been recorded as having epicenters within the park's boundaries.

A 2.0 - 2.9 quake is considered minor — people may be able to feel it, but it causes no damage to buildings.

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Backcountry Skills: How To Cross a River

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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Spring hiking season is just around the corner for many areas in the lower 48. This means that snow in the higher elevations is beginning to melt, which usually results in high water in the creeks and streams along the slopes and valleys below. In many cases hikers won't have the option of crossing a stream via a footbridge, which means you'll have to get your feet wet. This can be a very dangerous situation for hikers, so you'll want to know how to do this without putting your life on the line. In this short video Backpacker Magazine offer several tips on how to cross a stream safely:

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2015 Classic Hikes of the Smokies Schedule

Monday, February 23, 2015

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Friends of the Smokies has recently published their schedule for the 2015 Classic Hike of the Smokies. This year's installment of guided hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will feature interpretation and leadership by author and hiking expert, Danny Bernstein. Each hike highlights an achievement or cause Friends of the Smokies has supported in the Park. The following is the schedule for all hikes this year, which occur on the 2nd Tuesday of each month:

March 10: Smokemont Loop
6.2 miles, 1,400 ft ascent, moderate
Features: Historic chapel and cemetery
Highlight: Public Safety Treatment of Ash Trees

April 14: Caldwell Fork
9.4 miles, 1,650 ft ascent, moderate
Features: Union graves, Woody house and wildflowers
Highlight: Artist in Residence Program

May 12: Lake Shore Trail
9.4 miles, 1,370 ft ascent, moderate
Features: Tunnel and history
Highlight: Equestrian Leave No Trace Training Program

June 9: Hemphill Bald
8.8 miles, 1,900 ft ascent, moderate
Features: Masonic marker and flowers
Highlight: Feral Hog Control

July 20-21: Overnight at Mount Le Conte
Boulevard Trail: 8 miles, moderate
Trillium Gap Trail: 6.5 miles, moderate
Features: LeConte Lodge, waterfalls, sunrise, park program, Spruce-fir forest and Balsam wooly adelgid
Highlight: Reduce Backcountry Bear Problems

August 11: Big Creek
Moderate hike: 10 miles, 1,100 ft ascent
Easy hike: 4 miles, 600 ft ascent
Features: Swimming hole and waterfalls
Highlight: Suppress Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

September 8: Boogerman Loop
7.2 miles, 1,600 ft ascent, moderate
Features: Stone walls, creeks and elk
Highlight: Elk Bugle Corps and SCA Interns

October 13: Purchase Knob
7.5 miles, 1,500 ft ascent, moderate
Features: Science Learning Center and ridgeline views
Highlight: Parks as Classrooms

November 10: Chimney Tops and Elkmont
4 miles, 1,300 ft ascent, moderate
Features: Trails Forever project, views and history
Highlight: Trails Forever Program

December 8: Noland Creek
4 miles, 800 ft ascent, easy
Features: Historic home sites, Bryson City
Visitor Center and Museum
Highlight: Water Quality Monitoring Program

To register for any 2015 Classic Hike of the Smokies, contact or 828-452-0720. To support the Smokies Trails Forever program, a donation of $10 for members and $35 for non-members is requested. Non-members receive a complimentary 1-year membership to Friends of the Smokies on their first hike. Members who bring a friend hike for free.

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The Teton Crest Trail Uncut

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Is anyone else ready for hiking season? I know I am, but it looks like we may have at least a few more weeks of snow, cold and overcast skies. If you haven't decided where you're going to hike this summer, perhaps this video will provide some inspiration. In 2011 Dan McCoy hiked the Teton Crest Trail in the Grand Tetons, and came back with this wonderful video that highlights some of the incredibly beautiful scenery he saw along the way. His four-day, 42-mile route took him from the Rendezvous Mountain Aerial Tram to Marion Lake, across the Death Canyon Shelf to the Alaska Basin, over to Lake Solitude, and then after climbing Paintbrush Divide, he returned to civilization via the Paintbrush Canyon Trail.

This video clearly underscores why the Teton Crest Trail is one of the premier backpacking routes in America. For those that don't backpack, there are fortunately a handful of segments can be reach by day hikes, which are linked to in the above paragraph. Enjoy:

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Grandstand of the Smokies - a Journey to Mt LeConte

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

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In spring of 2015 the Great Smoky Mountains Association will be releasing their third film in the Smoky Mountain Explorer Series. This new film, called Grandstand of the Smokies - a Journey to Mt LeConte, will detail the history, recreation, and unique biological diversity of this geological treasure. Mt LeConte helped spur the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and every year thousands climb to the summit to take in one of the most scenic views in the world.

Below is a clip from the film that discusses the llamas that are used to re-supply the LeConte Lodge via the Trillium Gap Trail:

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Video of the Day: Cascade Canyon

Sunday, February 15, 2015

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The hike to Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park is regularly touted as one of the top hikes in America. The hike includes a boat ride across Jenny Lake, as well as visits to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and Cascade Canyon itself. The views of Mt. Owen looming more than a mile above the canyon are absolutely outstanding. The video below does a good job of showing exactly why this hike is so popular with hikers and pundits alike:

Hiking the Tetons - Day 1 - Cascade Canyon from Clark on Vimeo.

For more detailed information on this hike, please click here to visit our new hiking website for the Grand Tetons.

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Congressional Bill Would Extend North Country National Scenic Trail; Connect With A.T.

Friday, February 13, 2015

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A bi-partisan contingent of U.S. Senators and Representatives have renewed efforts to improve the North Country Scenic Trail. If enacted, the recently reintroduced legislation would include a major reroute of the trail in Minnesota. It would also extend the trail to Vermont, thus allowing it to connect with the Appalachian Trail.

The trail - which currently extends from North Dakota to New York - was never built along certain sections in Minnesota. The originally proposed route passed through wetland areas that are difficult to build through, and have raised many conservation concerns. The newly reintroduced legislation would revise the authorized trail route to avoid these wetland areas by incorporating 400 miles of existing trails in the Minnesota Arrowhead region, which includes the Boundary Waters and North Shore of Lake Superior.

If the billed is passed by Congress and signed into law, the North Country National Scenic Trail would extend for roughly 4600 miles: from North Dakota to Vermont. If that wasn't enough, hikers could extend a one-way hike by heading south along the Appalachian Trail, thus making a one-way hike that travels for almost 6800 miles!

For more information on the bill, please click here. For a PDF version of the NCST map, please click here.

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Jaw-dropping Glacier National Park

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

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58NationalParks has produced another excellent overview of Glacier National Park. If this video inspires you to visit Glacier this upcoming season, the best way to explore this wonderful park is to take a hike along one of the many hiking trails that meander throughout the park.

If you do plan to visit Glacier this year, please note that our website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.

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Voluntary Thru-Hike Registration System Launched For Appalachian Trail

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

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In order to enhance the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) experience for thru-hikers and better manage this natural resource, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), in cooperation with its partners, has launched a new voluntary registration system for those attempting to hike the estimated 2,185-mile-long Trail in one year. This registration system exists to ease impacts from the increased number of hikers expected after the release of two hiking related films, “Wild” and “A Walk in the Woods.”

In recent years, the A.T. thru-hike experience has at peak use times suffered severe overcrowding at the southern end of the Trail. Crowding intensifies because hikers tend to start thru-hikes around specific dates, such as March 1st, March 17th, and especially April 1st and weekends. Overcrowding puts undue pressure on the finite number of shelters and campsites and on the water, plants and wildlife near these accommodations. When too many people are crammed together at campsites, vegetation is trampled, trash may accumulate and unsanitary conditions can ensue. These issues that arise due to overcrowding are detrimental not only to the A.T. but also to the hiker’s overall experience.

“With a large number of new hikers expected along the Appalachian Trail in 2015 and 2016, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy hopes that this new voluntary thru-hike registration system will allow hikers to know in advance when overcrowding along the Trail will exist, and then adjust a thru-hike start date to his or her advantage – the solution is simple, the hikers need to spread out,” said Morgan Sommerville, the ATC’s regional director.

Users of this voluntary registration system should keep in mind that it does not provide hikers with guaranteed spaces along the A.T. or serve as a substitute for any required permits. At this time, registration is only open for 2015. Registration for 2016 will be available on Dec. 1, 2015.

For more information about the new system, please visit

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How To Start a Fire With Your Cell Phone

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Did you know that you can start a fire with your cell phone? With nearly everyone owning one, and taking them into the backcountry, this is a good skill to know in case you're ever caught in an emergency situation. Backpacker Magazine shows exactly how to do this in the video below:

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Public Open Houses to Welcome New Park Superintendent

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to four open house opportunities to meet and welcome new Superintendent Cassius Cash to the Smokies. The open houses will be held in late February from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at each location. Two open houses will be held in North Carolina and two will be held in Tennessee.

Cash most recently served as Superintendent of Boston African American National Historic Site and Boston National Historical Park where he developed many partnerships with the surrounding community. This will be the first opportunity for the public to meet the Superintendent who begins working at the Smokies on February 9th.

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park is surrounded by incredible communities with a long tradition of supporting the park,” said Superintendent Cash. “I look forward to meeting and working with park neighbors as we continue building relationships and partnerships that enable us to protect this special place together.”

The open house events will be held on Tuesday, February 17 at the Oconaluftee Administration Building adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC; Thursday, February 19 at the Barn Event Center in Townsend, TN; Tuesday, February 24 at the Historic Calhoun House in Bryson City, NC; and Thursday, February 26 at the Calhoun’s Banquet Room in Gatlinburg, TN.

The open house events are hosted by Friends of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Association, the Townsend-Walland Business Alliance, the City of Townsend, and the Historic Calhoun House. Light refreshments will be served from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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MTJP: A Visually Stunning Journey Through Great Smoky Mountains National Park During Peak Fall Color

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

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This just might be the best video of the Great Smoky Mountains I've ever seen. It was produced last fall by a small start-up known as "More Than Just Parks". This spectacular 4-minute film is the culmination of two weeks spent extensively filming some of the most incredible parts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

More Than Just Parks has set the goal of producing similar films for all 59 national parks. They hope that this will encourage folks to get out and have one-of-a-kind experiences of their own in our national parks! They also hope that these videos will help to build a greater awareness for all of the breathtaking natural wonders protected by our national park system.

MTJP | Smoky Mountains from More Than Just Parks on Vimeo.

For more information on the MTJP project, please click here.

If this video has inspired you to visit the Smokies this year, the best way to explore this wonderful park is to hike along one of the many trails that meander throughout the park. With over 850 miles of trails, the park is without a doubt a hikers paradise!

While making your plans, please note that our hiking website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with your vacation planning.

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