Riding high in Jackson: Proposed 35-mile trail system would be East Coast’s highest for bikes

A group of Western North Carolina mountain biking enthusiasts has unveiled plans to bring the highest-elevation mountain bike trail on the East Coast to Jackson County, and after receiving a thumbs up from leaders in Cherokee and Sylva last month they’ll start seeking grants to make it a reality. 

Smoothing the way to LeConte: Smokies completes $1.3 million trail project

The few remaining leaves hanging in the trees shine like stained glass as the morning sun rises high enough to outrun the slopes above Trillium Gap Trailhead in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The abnormally warm November day is perfect for hiking, the play of sunlight on autumn leaves and the sweeping views glimpsed through mostly bare branches commanding complete attention. It’s easy to forget the ground beneath your boots, feet moving forward automatically as eyes focus up and around, only occasionally flickering downward. 

Plans ready for 150-mile Hellbender Trail

Local governments and residents of Western North Carolina have been working for years to improve and construct greenways. Now, there is a plan to connect local trails, greenways, multi-use paths and other bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure into one long trail — the 150-mile Hellbender Trail. 

Trillium Gap Trail Temporarily Closed Due to Trail Conditions

Trillium Gap Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be temporarily closed through Thursday, July 11, due to hazardous trail conditions. The area received heavy rainfall over the last couple of weeks causing extremely slippery, muddy conditions on the trail surface undergoing rehabilitation.

Pointing the way: Volunteer group earns national recognition for trail sign project, other accomplishments

The year is nearly over, but in 2018 the Graham County Rescue Squad has run only three search and rescue calls in the thousands of acres of national forest land surrounding Robbinsville. 

“We probably used to run three or four times that, just about all of them in Joyce Kilmer Slickrock,” said Marshall McClung, search and rescue coordinator for the squad. “Mostly in the Joyce Kilmer section, a few in the Slickrock section.”

New trail project announced

A two-year effort to rehabilitate Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now complete, and the next Trails Forever project has been announced — Trillium Gap Trail, a 6.6-mile path that intersects with the Rainbow Falls Trail at Mount LeConte. 

The rehabilitation of Trillium Gap Trail will take two years, beginning in May 2019, and will be conducted together with other critical work across the park on trails such as the Deep Creek Trail, Rough Fork Trail, Smokemont Trail and Noah Bud Ogle Trail. Trillium Gap Trail and associated parking areas will be closed from May 6, 2019, through Nov. 14 of that year, from 7 a.m. Mondays through 5:30 p.m. Thursdays. It will be open on federal holidays. Work will resume in 2020. 

Trails are just good for communities

Trails are good and we could have more here.

— The board of the Nantahala Area Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association

Our primary thesis is this: trails are good for communities and their economies, and if the political will existed, we could have more in Western North Carolina. We have public lands owned by local town and county governments, amazing terrain, and the potential funding opportunities exist. As a chapter of a regional mountain biking advocacy organization (the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA)), we hear about the amazing things trails have done for towns across the Southeast. We realize this is not common knowledge, nor is there any reason for it to be common knowledge, so we wanted to talk about some of the things we hear about in our advocacy world in a more public forum.

Best of the burden: Smokies mules make backcountry operations possible

In popular culture mules get a bad rap, cast as stubborn, ornery and even mischievous. 

But Danny Gibson, animal packer for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spends more time with mules than just about anybody around, and he’s quick to jump to their defense. 

Reroute planned for Blackrock Trail

The infamously steep trail leading up to Blackrock from Pinnacle Park will soon find itself with a gentler incline following the planned reroute of 0.37 miles of the most severely angled piece of the pathway.

High-elevation overlooks are awe-inspiring

High-elevation overlooks are one of our finest natural resources. These vantage points allow us to rise above our everyday humdrum existence and see the world with fresh eyes. Many of the finest overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Great Smokies, and elsewhere can be reached directly via motor vehicles.

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