Never been hiking with your kids? Great Smoky Mountains National Park is presenting a series of programs this summer to help introduce families to hiking in the park. These ranger led programs will give you advice on how to prepare for a hike, what to take, what to watch out for, and some fun activities that you can do with children while hiking. Not sure about bringing your toddler or your 5 year old on a hike? There will be some suggestions for bringing along these young ones too!
Hiking can be a “must do” family activity just like going to the pool, eating watermelon, and playing baseball. There is no better way to spend part of the day, than walking the trail discovering grasshoppers, splashing in a stream, and burning off some energy. Top that off with a lunch of PB&J sandwiches and you’ve had a fun day and some tales to relive next time you see grandma, of course, she may join you for the hike!
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is kicking off these family programs on Saturday, June 20, 2015 with a guest speaker and an opportunity to try out some family friendly camping and hiking equipment:
Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. – Jeff Alt, author of Get Your Kids Hiking: How to Start Them Young and Keep It Fun, will kick off the series with a program for parents and kids. This short family stroll turns a walk in the park into a fun-filled, multi-dimensional adventure. Parents will learn how a few simple techniques and some basic equipment can turn any walk in the woods into a safe and fun hike that kids of all ages will enjoy. Those interested should meet in front of the Sugarlands Visitor Center for this short walk in the woods. All children must be accompanied by an adult caregiver.
Saturday, June 20, 2015 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. – A mock campsite will be set up outside of Sugarlands Visitor Center to showcase different types of family friendly hiking and camping equipment. This program will give children an opportunity to check out a tent, sleeping bags, and some cool hiking gear. Infant backpack carriers will also be available for parents to test. The park is partnering with Nantahala Outdoor Center for this learning opportunity.
If you can’t make it on Saturday, June 20, three other ranger led hikes, especially designed for families, will be held throughout the summer.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. – Hike to Fern Branch Falls along Porters Creek
Join a ranger for an easy to moderate hike along beautiful Porters Creek to explore old log cabin, wildflowers, and waterfalls. Distance round trip is 3.6 miles and is designed for youth ages 5-8. Program will last 3 ½ hours so please bring a picnic lunch and plenty of water. Sign up at Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. – Hike Hen Wallow Falls
Beat the crowds at this “hidden gem” and see a beautiful waterfall, search for salamanders and see some of the Smokies’ oldest trees with a park ranger on this moderate hike. Recommended for youth ages 7-10, the hike will cover a distance of 4.3 miles and last 4 hours. Please bring a picnic lunch, snacks and plenty of water. Sign up at Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. – Hike to Chimney Tops
Get your heart pumping on this high elevation strenuous ranger-led challenge hike. If the climb doesn’t take your breath away the view from Chimney Tops surely will! Recommended for youth ages 10 and up, the hike will include some rock scrambling and will cover a distance of 4 miles round trip lasting 4 hours. Bring a picnic lunch, snacks and plenty of water. Sign up at Sugarlands Visitor Center.
For more information and to sign up for the Tuesday hikes please call (865) 436-1291.