Today’s focus will be hiking in the Smokies. Joseph discusses spring in the Smokies, which consists of great weather and fun activities. Wildflowers are the most iconic part of the Smokies in the spring, with the park containing a wider variety than any other national park. Surprisingly, car shows are a popular event in the park in the spring. Unsurprisingly though, fishing is a big source of entertainment, with fly fishing being a popular variant. Another activity is hiking, something today’s guest does for a living. Keith Garnes leads hikes for Smoky Mountains Outdoors. He used to come to the Smokies during the summers and fell in love. Joseph and Keith trade hiking stories, noting the memorable wildlife in the park. Keith discusses challenges he faces hiking in the Smokies. A recent problem is finding seclusion, as visitation has gone up recently. Next up is hike prep, on top of the essentials, prepping for rain is always necessary as a dry day in the Smokies can turn rainy out of nowhere.
Discussing the NC side of the Smokies, Keith talks about his favorite hike on this side, Andrews bald. Balds are mountain summits, a good place to go and have a picnic. On the Tennessee side, Mount Le Conte is the location of Keith’s favorite hike. On these trails, snakes and bears are common sights. The snakes are easily scared off though, nothing to be scared about. Birds are also a great sight in the Smokies. When seeking solitude in the park, Laurel falls is one to avoid, or to hike early in the morning as it is one of the more popular trails. Keith goes on to discuss more trails to avoid and also mentions how many don’t venture all the way down trails, so as you go further down you find more solitude. Keith and Joseph discuss their stealth hikes.
Joseph and Keith discuss the Appalachian trails. For many of the campgrounds in the park, visitors need permits, but some tent sites are unpermitted as they are slightly less popular. As a designated wilderness area, you are not allowed to hike with dogs on all but two trails. In the park, crime is not a worry, especially along the more popular trails. Many trails lead to old settlements and cabins, Keith discusses some of these historic sites on the Tennessee side of the park. Moving on, Keith and Joseph talk about the road to nowhere and trails to see beautiful wildflowers and waterfalls.
Keith explains Pigeon Forge and its family oriented nature. Pigeon Forge hosts an award winning international festival. During Wilderness Wildlife week, seminars such as bear safety are put on.