With Pigeon Forge’s annual Wilderness Wildlife Week quickly approaching (Jan. 12-19), a good thing to keep in your back pocket would be an updated Smoky Mountain hiking checklist. Especially if you plan on taking part in one of the many excursions into the park that occur during the week.
This yearly event is especially dependent on the forecast and to say that the winter weather in the Smokies is unpredictable would be a vast understatement. Temperatures can range from the 50s to below freezing and change in a heartbeat. If you are planning on participating in one of the day hikes into the mountains, please BE PREPARED and g over your checklist a few times the night before. Besides a comfortable pair of sturdy hiking boots, BE SURE you also include the following items in your backpack:
- Head Cover (hat, toboggan or hooded coat)
- Rain Gear/Poncho
- Lunch or Trail Snacks (fruit, nuts)
- A Pocketknife
- An Extra pair of socks
- A Flashlight
Each of these items is essential to make sure that the hike is a memorable one for all the right reasons, and none of the wrong ones.
All hikes during Wilderness Wildlife Week will start out at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center and from there move into the park. As part of the event, hikers may only sign for one hike per day. Once a hike is filled, hikers may sign up for an alternate list if they so desire.
During the winter months, it’s also a time when the trails might not be a peak condition as they are during the spring, summer and fall months. Hikers should be prepared for such instances they may encounter like swollen streams, bridge washouts, downed trees, and trail erosion. According to park officials, this can be especially the case between December and May due to the seasonal nature of the national park’s trail maintenance program.
Still, for some of the season’s shortcomings, it’s just as good of a time to visit the park as any. Fallen leaves opens up new vistas along the trails that you won’t get in the lighter months, revealing stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents before the area was designated a national.
So take care and make sure you, your friends, and family are prepared for this month’s Wilderness Wildlife Week hike. The more you know, the greater the time you’ll have. See you on the trail!