The sun is warming and waking the earth. Light new greens are giving way to tiny explosions of color. Wildflowers are now dotting the sides of hiking trails and scenic roadways. The purples of periwinkles and violets, and the yellow of trout lilies are make it worth coming out of winter’s long hibernation. With the warm spring rains that we had all last week, now is the perfect time to plan a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. See the most visited national park in all its springtime glory.
Friends of the Smokies host a series of guided hiking trips. Called Classic Hikes, these trips aid hikers in getting the most out of a day hike. This month’s hike is to Smokemont in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, three miles north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. At 6.2 miles round trip, this hike is rated moderate in difficulty and has a total elevation gain of 1,400 feet. These hikes are both entertaining and informative. A $10 donation for Friends members and $35 for non-members is requested to benefit the Smokies Trails Forever fund.
On the first and third Saturdays of each month, all year, you are welcome to bring an acoustic instrument and join in on this old-time jam. Not a picker? We’ll grinners are needed too! Come kick back and enjoy the sights and sounds as others play traditional Appalachian Music. The jam takes place on the covered porch at the Oconaluftee visitor center, located at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on Hwy 441 in Cherokee.
Hiking Trails of the Smokies is a book that was originally published in 1994 by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association. Filled with maps and detailed trail descriptions written by 15 different hikers, this is one of the most popular hiking guides for this area. This book aims to help you plan your hiking and backpacking trips, as well as guide you along the trails. The book provides such information as trail mileage to elevation gain, trail difficulty to trail cautions and highlights. Find trails that are great for viewing wildflowers, or maybe it’s a mountain top view you’re after. Find waterfalls and venture to spots you never knew existed. New editions of this book have been released so trail info is accurate and up-to-date. The Great Smokies Mountain Association is a nonprofit and operates several bookstores within the park at various visitor centers and park ranger stations. You can also shop their online bookstore from home.
Just a little winter left! Plan your spring hikes and backpacking trips. Not a camper? Plan a day hike then find a cozy little mountain cabin to stay in close by. There’s something for everyone in western North Carolina.
The winds have been strong here in Bryson City this week. They are bringing in the cold winds of the north. But while the breeze has been chilly, the sun has been shining down on our little mountain town. The bright sunny days are leading us into the clear winter nights. Nights so crisp it seems you can almost grab a star. Nights that make the moon seem a lot closer.
Bryson City is nestled right up to the border of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. In town, we are in a magical valley with a wide river bringing fresh mountain water and trout. The majestic mountain peaks surround us, some still covered in the snow and ice they protected us from. This is a place where you come to feel one with nature. This is a place to remind us of our roots. This is a place that helps us to reconnect with life, ourselves, and each other.
Come find out why we love it here. Come visit for the day, the roads are clear enough to make the drive safely. Come visit for a weekend, in a warm cabin or bravely with proper camping gear. Come as you are. Winter is a slow, peaceful season. Come enjoy it with us!
On December 20th from 10am-2pm the visitor’s center is hosting live, traditional Appalachian music for their old-fashioned Christmas celebration. Come by to listen, dance, and enjoy hot cider and cookies! You can also pick up last minute Christmas gifts in the gift shop of the visitors center. Choose from local handmade crafts and park souvenirs. They also have an amazing selection of books and maps!
Spreading holiday cheer throughout the Great Smoky Mtn National Park!
As we browsed social media sights this morning we couldn’t help but notice how many pictures there were of smiling, happy, fly fishin’ people. That’s right it isn’t too cold yet! Lots of brave outdoorsmen, and women, are suiting up and heading to the creek.
During December in the Smokies the water tends to fluctuate between 40-55 degrees. Trout are cold-blooded creatures and are still moving and feeding during these temperatures. While temps below 40 can make the catch harder, it is still possible.
So don’t let the cold keep you from having a little fun. The mountain streams of the Smokies are full of trout and they’re waiting for you.
Not a fisherman? Maybe this winter should be a time to learn a new skill. There are lots of fly fishing guides available for hire in and around the Smokies. Take a trip with one of our company partners like Nantahala On The Fly or Endless River Adventures. Right here in Bryson City, new this year, is the Tuck Fly Shop. They offer guided trips, lessons, and have everything you need to get off the couch and take to the wilderness!
Take to the outdoors!
Thanksgiving is a day to reflect on all we have and revel in the company of the ones we love. There is so much to be grateful for here in western North Carolina. The beauty of the mountains, with the sun setting behind ridges lined with bare trees, is a wonder to behold. May we not take it for granted. These hills have been richly blessed and we are blessed to be in such an area. From the freshest mountain waters to the wild trout that call them home, may we not lose sight of the importance of these abundant natural resources. May we continue to protect the land we love and preserve the beauty for future generations to enjoy.
There’s a reason why the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in our country. Don’t miss it! Come see all that we are thankful for! With over 9 million visitors a year, the numbers speak for themselves.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Whether it’s lakes, rivers, or cold mountain streams you’re after, Swain County has it all. You can find natural populations of brookies, brown, and rainbow trout in the waters of the Smokies. The area also has plenty of frequently stocked bodies of water with trophy-sized trout waiting for your hook. Not interested in fly fishing? Lake Fontana is said to be one of the best smallmouth bass fishing holes in the area.
Not sure where to start? For fishing locations, tips, local fly shops and guides, and license information visit Swain County’s new website dedicated to fishing in the smokies:
The season of pumpkin everything is here and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is getting ready to start The Great Pumpkin Patch Express. Each year Charlie Brown and all his friends show up at the depot to catch a ride with you and your family. Shake hands and take pictures with the entire Peanuts gang. Then, hop aboard and let the GSMR take you to the great pumpkin patch where there will be campfires, hayrides, bouncy houses, trick or treating, and lots more. Departures start this Saturday, October 4th. Tickets start at $55 for adults and $31 for kids. Make your reservations now.
Departing Fridays – Oct 10, 17, & 24 at 3:30PM
Departing Saturdays – Oct 4, 11, 18 & 25 at 12PM and 3:30PM
Departing Sundays – Oct 5, 12, 19 & 26 at 12PM and 3:30PM