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Wednesday, 28 June 2017 16:37

Hike the Smokies with a ranger

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Ranger-led programs are back for the summer, with opportunities throughout the week to hike the trails in the company of a ranger equipped to tell the stories behind those places.

A family hike to Andrews Bald will leave from the Forney Ridge Trailhead at Clingmans Dome Sundays at 9 a.m. The 3.6-mile roundtrip hike will explore the most accessible of the Smokies’ grassy balds and provide opportunity to learn more about this unique high-elevation feature. Bring sturdy footwear, a snack and water for this moderate, 3-hour hike. 

Join a ranger for a walk around the Mountain Farm Museum at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center for the 45-minute program Longing for the “Good Ol’ Days,” offered at 3 p.m. Sundays. Participants will learn about the “newcomers” who settled there and farmed the land. 

A short nature hike will uncover Smokemont’s rich logging history at 11 a.m. Mondays. The one-hour hike will begin at the Smokemont Campground Nature Trail near the B loop of Smokemont Campground. 

Hike to the elk acclimation pen in Cataloochee Valley to learn about how, when and why elk were returned to the Smokies with a moderate, less-than-1-mile hike at 3 p.m. Tuesdays July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 15 and Aug. 29. Program lasts 90 minutes. 

In Walking with the Passed, a 4-mile hike will explore two historic cemeteries while examining mountain culture and traditions surrounding death and burial in Southern Appalachia, at 10 a.m. Wednesdays starting from the Mingus Mill Parking Lot. Program lasts 2.5 hours. 

Explore the remains of an old logging camp with an easy-to-moderate hike up the Kephart Prong Trail 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays, starting at the Kephart Prong Trailhead. The camp later became a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and though it’s since been abandoned, there are still signs of life to be found. Not offered Aug. 10. 

Learn the basics of using a compass with Don’t Get Lost, offered 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays at the Oconaluftee River Trailhead. The one-hour course is designed to get beginners comfortable with using azimuth readings and line of sight to follow a course. 

Programs continue through Aug. 12 unless otherwise stated. 828.497.1904.

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