Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash and City of Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner invite the public to join them on a hike along the Gatlinburg Trail in the Smokies on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 at 9 a.m. in honor of the National Park Service Centennial. Hikers should meet in front of Sugarlands Visitor Center to begin the 4-mile, round trip hike which follows the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River to Gatlinburg. Superintendent Cash has committed to hike 100 miles in the park during 2016 and has challenged the public to do the same.
“I am proud to be a part of this special hike that celebrates our connection to the park as a gateway community,” said Mayor Werner. “We appreciate the park and all the employees who protect this national treasure so that we can continue to enjoy it and share it with our visitors.”
The 100-mile goal is part of the “Smokies Centennial Challenge-Hike 100” program. This program aims to inspire all potential hikers—young and old, new and skilled—to experience and gain a new appreciation and stewardship for their national park. Over 350 people have already met the challenge and recorded hiking over 100 miles in the park. Cash has led hikes with over 170 participants to date including 90 young people from youth organizations.
“Over the past year, I’ve had the honor of sharing hikes across the Smokies with people from a wide diversity of communities and ages,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Through this shared experience I continue to discover what a special part National Parks like the Smokies play in bringing people together as we disconnect from the busyness of our everyday lives and connect with each other along the trail.”
To complete the Hike 100 challenge, participants must hike any 100 miles of maintained trail within the park boundaries between January 1 and December 6, 2016. These miles can include everything from the front country nature trails to the extensive backcountry network of trails. Participants can choose to hike the same trail repeatedly or choose to hike many different trails to accumulate a total of 100 miles. Participants who reach the 100-mile goal will earn a commemorative “Smokies Centennial Challenge – Hike 100” pin and be invited to a park celebration hosted by Superintendent Cash.
As part of the Hike 100 program, the park is hosting hikes for several regional youth organizations throughout the year. These opportunities will provide a chance for groups, who otherwise face barriers to travel due lack of transportation or funding restraints, a chance to explore the Smokies. These groups will have the added benefit of hiking alongside Superintendent Cash, as well as experienced hikers from the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club and Carolina Mountain Club.
The Superintendent is also providing a unique opportunity for the general public to hike alongside him on his way to reaching the 100-mile goal through a series of four hikes open to the public including this hike on August 20. Information about the dates, trails, and how to sign up for one of these public hikes is provided on the park website on the Hike 100 page.
In addition to information about the public hikes, the Hike 100 page on the park website provides opportunities for the Superintendent and hikers to share their experiences and reflections about their journeys towards their 100 miles, and a hiking log that participants can use to track their miles. Please visit the website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/gsmnp-hike-100.htm.
The Smokies Centennial Challenge – Hike 100 program is made possible in part by an Active Trails grant from the National Park Foundation through the generous support of The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation as well as through the continued support of Great Smoky Mountains Association and Friends of the Smokies.
For more information about the Smokies Centennial Challenge-Hike 100 program, please visit the park website or contact us by email at [email protected]