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Wednesday, 25 February 2015 00:00

News for hikers

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Calendar of classic Smokies hikes unveiled for 2015 

With a new year comes a new lineup of hikes as the Friends of the Smokies explores some of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s most breathtaking backcountry.

The 2015 Classic Hikes of the Smokies will kick off Tuesday, March 10, with a 6.2-mile hike to Smokemont. Subsequent treks will include hikes to Caldwell Fork, Lake Shore, Hemphill Bald, an overnight at LeConte Lodge, Big Creek, Boogerman, Purchase Knob, Chimney Tops and Noland Creek. 

The hikes, offered on the second Tuesday of each month, are guided and offer participants information about the stewardship projects donations to Friends of the Smokies fuel in the park — efforts as diverse as elk management, historic structure preservation, the Parks as Classrooms education program and hemlock wooly adelgid treatment. 

A complete Classic Hikes itinerary is online at


Master plan in the works for Mountains-to-Sea Trail

As the Mountains-to-Sea Trail nears completion, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is looking to finish a master plan for the trail’s management by late 2015. 

The plan will chart a path toward official designation of remaining portions by setting priorities for completing trail subsections. It will also unify regional planning efforts, identify potential new partners and funding strategies and establish guidelines for signs and publicity.

Planning Communities will prepare the plan for a contract price of $125,000, supported through the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. 

Public input will be a major component of the plan, so the Division of Parks and Recreation is looking for people to get involved. 

“It’s important to have a guiding document that will focus our efforts for a project that has captured the public’s imagination since it was proposed in the 1970s,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director.  

The 1,000-mile trail corridor will ultimately link Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the coast. Nearly two thirds of the cross-state route — including nearly all of the distance from the Tennessee line to Stone Mountain State Park north of Boone — has been completed as a continuous, off-road trail experience.

To get involved, visit

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