Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cherokee National Forest Fire Restrictions Take Effect Today

Fire Restrictions are in place for the entire Cherokee National Forest due to the extremely dry conditions, high fire danger and little chance of rain in the immediate forecast.

Effective today, October 29, 2016, the following fire restrictions are in place for the entire Cherokee National Forest until terminated by the U.S. Forest Service:

o Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal fire outside of developed recreation areas. The use of portable lanterns, stoves or heating equipment that utilize gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed.

o Fires at developed recreation areas must be confined to receptacles designed for fire. Metal fire rings and grills are provided in Cherokee National Forest developed recreation areas. Campfires should always be put out and cold to the touch before left for any period of time.


Friday, October 28, 2016

“Trail Brothers” Launches myATstory Video Series Chronicling Inspirational Appalachian Trail Stories

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is pleased to announce the release of “Trail Brothers,” the first short film in the new myATstory video series. This five-film series will showcase the stories of several unique members of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) community, focusing on the transformative role the Trail has had on their lives.

“The Appalachian Trail has been a source for so many awe-inspiring tales, with more being created every year,” said Javier Folgar, director of marketing and communications for the ATC. “We at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy are proud to show the inclusiveness and personality that make the A.T. such a great place to make your own story in the future.”

“Trail Brothers” chronicles a five-day journey with Derick “Mr. Fabulous” Lugo, a New Yorker attempting to rekindle the magic of his 2012 A.T. thru-hike and reconnect with his brother, Carlos Velez.

“I wanted him to experience what I experienced when I thru-hiked, at least a part of it,” Lugo said. “There’s this feeling you get. It just flows through you, where everything is just right. And I’m getting chills just thinking about it.”

Through a series of emotional and literal ups-and-downs, the film follows these brothers on their trek from the heart of New York City to the depths of the forests lining the A.T. Derick and Carlos experience companionship, blisters and, ultimately, a greater appreciation for each other and the benefits that the Trail provides.

“It’s just calming being out here,” Velez said. “Even though it’s exhausting sometimes.”

The myATstory video series is a part of a larger campaign to showcase that the ATC mission is also the Trail community’s mission. The series will not focus exclusively on hikers, instead showing how other groups and individuals have become involved with the A.T. — sometimes without even setting foot on the Trail itself.

“We want to highlight that the Appalachian Trail community isn’t exclusive to experienced hikers or adventure junkies,” said Folgar. “Future videos will show a variety individuals who want to preserve the unique experience that the Trail provides, whether that means protecting an entire mountain from destruction or simply lending a helping hand to the hikers passing through their town. So few places foster such a love both from and for the community, and we’re pleased that the A.T. has that effect.”

The myATstory video series is developed through the collaboration of the ATC, Horizonline Pictures and executive producers RubĂ©n and Valerie Rosales. To view “Trail Brothers,” see the schedule of upcoming videos and learn about the myATstory Contest — where visitors can share their own A.T. stories for a chance to win great backpacking prizes — visit


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Greenbrier Area Temporarily Closed for Bridge Repairs

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the temporary closure of roads within the Greenbrier section of the park during the month of November for bridge repairs. The Ramsey Prong Road will be closed from the turnoff to the Ramsey Cascades Trailhead on Tuesday, November 1 through Monday, November 14 to allow repairs on two bridges. During this time period, hikers will be allowed access to the Old Settlers Trail. No vehicular, bicycle or pedestrian access will be allowed beyond that point.

The entire Greenbrier Area will be closed on Monday, November 14 through Friday, November 18 to allow bridge repairs to be made to the bridge just before the Ranger Station on Greenbrier Road. All vehicles, pedestrians, picnickers, bicyclists, and horses are prohibited during this time period.

These bridge repairs are part of a larger project administered by the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration to make preventative repairs to various bridges throughout the park. The repairs will be made by Bluegrass Contracting Corporation out of Lexington, KY. The bridge decks and railings will be removed and replaced on all three bridges. Running boards will then be installed atop the new bridge decks.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Two Wildfires Burning in WNC

The USFS in North Carolina announced today that it is fighting two wildfires in the Great Smoky Mountains region - one near Sylva, and the other near Linville Gorge.

The Dick's Creek Fire, burning on the Nantahala National Forest and private land near Sylva, NC, is estimated at 200-250 acres. The fire is located to the southeast of Dick's Creek Road. Firefighters are building hand and dozer lines and a helicopter is dropping water. Firefighters are also working to clear brush and leaves away from homes and other structures along Dick's Creek.

Drivers on US 74 will encounter smoke near Sylva. Smoke is expected to settle in to the valley near Sylva tonight.

The fire was discovered on Sunday morning; the cause is under investigation. Crews on scene are from the U.S. Forest Service, North Carolina Forest Service, Emergency Management from Jackson County, and Bureau of Land Management Lakeview, Oregon.

Firefighters are also responding to a wildfire burning along Old NC 105 (Kistler Memorial Hwy / SR 1238) near Linville Gorge, north of Lake James in Burke County. The Paddy’s Creek Fire was reported Monday afternoon in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.

The fire is located near the south end of Linville Gorge, adjacent to the Wilderness Area. The total size of the fire is currently estimated at 10 acres. Firefighters worked through the night yesterday to construct containment lines and hold the fire during strong winds. A helicopter will be on scene today. No structures are currently threatened.

In order to protect public safety, the NC Department of Transportation has closed Old NC 105 north of Paddy’s Creek Rd. to the intersection with Forest Service Road (FSRD) 106.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Smokies Fall Color Update

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has just published their mid-October Fall Color Report on their website. According to the report:
Colder nights at the high elevations in the park have leaves beginning to steadily fall. While shades of red are still present among the mountain ash berries, and witch hazel provides intermittent glimpses of orange, the high reaches of the park are a sea of yellow and gold with infinite shades and hues.

The undulating mountain ridges of the mid-elevations break the yellow expanse of beech, birch, buckeye, and tulip poplar with fiery reds of the black gum and red maple. The orange glow of the sugar maples add to the vibrant palette as well.

Color at the lower elevations in the park is predominantly provided by the reds of the dogwoods. That of the poison ivy and Virginia creeper also provide a sharp contrast to the brown tree trunks on which they are bound. The maples are also beginning to develop rich colors in scattered pockets. Even thought the landscape is still largely green, the rate of color change is rapidly increasing.
You can read the full report on the national park website.

If you need any help on where to hike this fall, please take a look at our fall hiking page.

And if you do plan to visit the Smokies this fall - or even during the upcoming Holiday Season - please take a few moments to check out our Accomodations Listings for a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.


Thursday, October 20, 2016 Adds Several New Hikes

A few weeks ago Kathy and I had the opportunity to do a little hiking during our visit to Colorado. In addition to some spectacular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, we also did a few hikes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, which is located directly south of the national park. As a result of this trip we have added eight new hikes to our website. Here's a quick rundown of the new hikes:

Baker Pass-Parika Lake Loop - this hike travels into the heart of the Never Summer Mountains, located just west of Rocky Mountain National Park. Although the hike begins along Trail Ridge Road in RMNP, this area sees relatively few visitors. This is a big mistake for those who seek awesome scenery, as the trail visits some absolutely beautiful spots, including Baker Pass and Parika Lake.

Sandbeach Lake - is a fairly large subalpine lake, with a broad sand beach area, perfect for those looking to go home with a Rocky Mountain tan. At the lake hikers will have an absolutely spectacular view of 13,911-foot Mt. Meeker - the 2nd highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ouzel Lake - is a great option if you don't have the energy to go all the way to Bluebird Lake in the Wild Basin area of RMNP. In addition to a very scenic lake framed by high peaks, the hike offers several other attractions, including four waterfalls.

Pawnee Pass - just south of Rocky Mountain National Park is the spectacular Indian Peaks Wilderness. Although there are many trails that lead into the wilderness, Pawnee Pass is arguably one of the best hikes. Along the way to the 12,541-foot pass, which offers spectacular alpine and tundra scenery, hikers will have the chance to visit Long Lake and Lake Isabelle.


Friday, October 14, 2016

USFS: Fire Danger Increasing in Western North Carolina

The U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service are warning the public of increasing fire danger in western North Carolina.

Last weekend’s rainfall was not widespread and not enough to alleviate the dry conditions and persistent drought that has resulted from low rainfall in the past few months. Fuels in the forest will readily burn if ignited. Fire danger is predicted to remain high for the rest of October and into December.

Both agencies would like to remind the public to use caution in any outdoor burning. Even when burn-bans are not in effect, conditions may not be advisable for outdoor fires. The public is discouraged from burning yard waste during periods of low humidity or high winds.

The N.C. Forest Service offers the following tips to protect property and prevent wildfires while camping:

* Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible

* Pour lots of water on the fire, drown ALL embers, not just the red ones

* Pour until hissing sound stops

* Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel

* Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers

* Stir and make sure everything is wet and they are cold to the touch

* If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers.

* Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool.

* Do NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Smokies Fall Color Report

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has just published their mid-October Fall Color Report on their website. According to the report:
Low elevations are still predominantly green but the progression of fall color from the highest peaks is quickly moving down the mountainsides. Color can now be seen along ridges throughout the park in the mid to high elevation zones. Patches of vibrant reds have developed on black gums, dogwoods, sourwoods, and maples in these areas along with golden yellows from the birches and beech.

Beautiful vistas with fall color can still be seen from Clingmans Dome Road, the higher reaches of Newfound Gap Road, and Balsam Mountain Road. And, be sure to take note of the fall wildflower displays which continue to be especially colorful. Flowers such as purple asters, white asters, pale jewelweed, great blue lobelia, stiff gentian, and golden rod are blooming profusely along roads and trails in the park.
You can read the full report on the national park website.

If you need any help on where to hike this fall, please take a look at our fall hiking page.

And if you do plan to visit the Smokies this fall - or even during the upcoming Holiday Season - please take a few moments to check out our Accomodations Listings for a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg, Townsend, Pigeon Forge and the North Carolina side of the Smokies.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cherokee National Forest Visitor Use Monitoring Program Underway

U.S. Forest Service officials say they are in the process of learning more about the number of people who visit the Cherokee National Forest and the wide variety of outdoor recreation activities and experiences they seek during their visit. This effort is part of the National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) Program that has occurred every five years on the national forest since 2001.

For the fourth time, the Forest Service is partnering with the University of Tennessee, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries in Knoxville to conduct the surveys. Interviewers will be working in developed and dispersed recreation sites and trails across the 650,000-acre national forest to conduct surveys on approximately 250 sample days between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017. They will be wearing safety vests and located near a sign that says “Traffic Survey Ahead.” The basic interview lasts about 8 minutes. Every other visitor is asked a few additional questions which may take an additional 5 minutes.

Forest Service officials say that stopping and participating in the survey is of course optional, but they encourage visitors to help them by providing some information about their visit when exiting. All responses are totally confidential, in fact a person’s name is never written anywhere on the survey.

The NVUM program has two concurrent goals. First, to produce estimates of the volume of recreation visitation to national forests and grasslands. Second, to produce descriptive information about that visitation, including activity participation, demographics, visit duration, measures of satisfaction, and trip spending connected to the visit. This type of information is used by the Forest Service and often requested by anyone interested in the economic contributions from national forests to local tourism and outdoor recreation related industries.

Reports on visitation and visitor characteristics are available online through the NVUM results application at Results from this year’s monitoring is expected to be analyzed and available within a year following the conclusion of the survey.