Hike the Smokies – For Families
The “Hike the Smokies Challenge” was first introduced by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2010 as a way to encourage folks to explore the park on foot. Thousand’s of people visit the park each year and do just that… they hike along the park’s 800 miles of trails and enjoy the best of Mother Nature up close and personal. (There are 300 or so members of the 900-Miler Club that have actually hiked ALL of the trails in the park! Check out the club here.)
Those taking the Hike Challenge would be rewarded with a mileage pin and recording in the official record after completing 100, 250 and 500 miles. Well, that’s a whole lot of walking for toddler’s little-bity legs and also the legs of our esteemed elders. The National Park wants to encourage and rewards hikers of ALL ages and experience levels, and have since introduced the “Hike the Smokies – For Families” challenge.
Since so many visitors come to the Smokies during family reunions and family vacations, it only makes sense that they would like to experience park trails together. All four visitor’s centers offer a Mileage Record Book for only $1. Pick up your booklet at Cades Cove, Sugarlands, Clingman’s Dome, or Oconaluftee welcome centers and start your family’s hiking journey. Upon reaching 10 miles, 25 miles, 40 miles, and 50 miles hiked, stop in any visitor’s center to receive a mileage pin or sticker, and have your family recorded in the official “Hike the Smokies-For Families” record book.
There are plenty of family friendly trails that are great for small children and folks just needing an easy hike. You’ll also find ‘Quiet Walkways’ that are short, easy hikes that most everyone can enjoy. Hike a new trail each day or visit, or hike the same trails over and over to accumulate your totals. Stop in any visitor center and a Ranger or staff member will be happy to make trail suggestions ideal for your family.
Check out this video for making your family hiking trip a wonderfully fun and safe adventure!
Additional Safety Tips:
Your safety depends on your being prepared and using good judgment. Your safety is your responsibility, and here are a few good things to know:
- You are hiking in nature’s habitat. Expect to see insects, snakes, and wildlife and to avoid them if at all possible.
- BE SURE someone not hiking with you knows where you intend to hike and your anticipated time of return. Should you not return in a reasonable amount of time, they can call the National Park Service at (865) 436-1230.
- Always keep your family together and stay on maintained trails.
- Carry a flashlight or headlamp-even on a dayhike. If you have trouble on the trail, darkness may fall before you can finish your hike.
- Carry plenty of water and a basic first aid kit.
- Consider wearing long pants and tucking the legs into socks or boot tops to avoid ticks.
- HAVE A GREAT TIME!! Take your time to indulge in all the sights, sounds and smells!
Be sure to join us at Rafting in the Smokies for another family challenge of whitewater rafting, ziplines, and ropes course before or after your nature hike!