GSM Outfitters presents a new event this January — the Smoky Mountain Winter Experience. This winter event features educational sessions covering Smoky Mountain winter topics ranging from fauna to heritage to photography. Winter hikes and field trips will also be offered, making this the perfect winter event for outdoor enthusiasts.
The mission of the event is to connect nature lovers to the Smokies in an experiential manner through learning from experts, both indoors and out.
This winter celebration of the Smokies is free and open to the public. The event takes place at the Ramsey Hotel & Convention Center in Pigeon Forge. Call 1-800-555-2650 to book a room at the Ramsey Hotel. And mention Smoky Mountain Winter Experience when you call to receive special event rates.
Smoky Mountain Winter Experience Excursions
GUIDE: Joey Holt
You will experience the beauty and relaxation of the rushing river along the trail, a cemetery and most of all the cantilever barn and hiking cabin used by the Appalachian Hiking Club for many years. Bring a snack, sit and enjoy the natural sounds of the Smokies.
GUIDE: Keith Watson
Seven Islands is the 56th state-owned park and notably the state’s very first birding park. It features eight miles of mowed trails that weave through a diverse ecosystem. The landscape ranges from upland hardwoods to river–bottom fields sown in native warm–season grasses. Your expert guide will point out and explain in great detail things about the many birds that you will see. The park is home to approximately 190 species of birds that will twill you a song as you pass by.
GUIDE: Marty Silver
This hike leads to Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower located just six miles off of the Appalachian Trail. The hike to the tower is strenuous but well worth the effort to see the beauty of the mountains from all directions. The medieval looking tower was built in the late 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps to appear similar to the Yosemite model of fire towers utilized in the western part of the country. The CCC used native timber and stone for construction. After falling in disrepair in the 1970’s, the tower was reconstructed in 1995 with assistance from the Appalachian Trail Conference and Friends of the Smokies.
GUIDE: Mark Snyder
Your knowledgeable guide will begin this hike at Sugarlands Visitor Center in GSMNP and will share history of the area while following the trail along paths of old home sites, a CCC campsite Quarry, Cemetery, while discussing the importance of “Leave No Trace” and the forest recovery from the fires of three years ago.
GUIDE: Keith Garnes
This trail hike leads one through a vast forest with a canopy overhead of Eastern hemlock and the needle carpet provides an atmosphere even in winter that seems to require whispering. Tuliptrees, Fraser magnolias and maples have grown into giants over the years in a virgin forest that Champion Fibre Company once owned. There are beech trees that send out buttress roots; silverbell trees bulge at the base; and Fraser magnolias extend roots that look like big toes. This is an enjoyable historic hike with the biggest trees that grow within GSMNP.
You will have a chance to visit the Appalachian Bear Rescue Welcome Center where you will be able to see videos of the many rescued bear cubs and hear from one of the Curators of how they do what they do and the successful results, then on to the Cades Museum to experience the old customs and fixtures of a long gone mountain lifestyle. The trip will end up with a return trip via the newly opened Foothills Parkway which has been in building process for more than 50 years.
GUIDE: Kathy Gwinn
Your experienced guide and storyteller will fascinate you with numerous stories she has researched. This tour will travel through the Smokies where you will visit a one room school house, a mill, a covered bridge, a historic church, a cabin and a barn. You will then visit the Bush Beans Visitor Center and Museum and dine at their restaurant.
GUIDE: Joel Zachry
If you truly want a historical hike then this is one you don’t want to miss. The Walker sisters were a family of eleven children – seven girls and four boys. The home where they were raised consisted of 122 acres and all of the children had moved away except for six girls. When the Park was dedicated in 1940 by President Roosevelt the sisters were paid $4,750 for their land as well as given a lifetime lease. The sisters continued to live and love their previous land and the last one stayed until her passing in 1964. You will hike to their home where you can stand on the porch and imagine what life was like for these sisters who survived, by themselves for many, many years.
GUIDE: Charles Maynard
This is a fantastic trail which will start at Laurel Falls trailhead, hiking past the falls and onto Cove Mountain where you will get very close to the Park Boundary working your way through true mountain beauty and on down to the beautiful Cataract Falls and Park Headquarters.
GUIDE: Dave Anderson
This trail has quite a history due to the fact that the Little River Lumber Company bought out several farms and built a base camp with rail lines up steep areas. When the terrain became too steep for the rails, loggers pulled the logs down with overhead cable skidders, mule teams and or wooden chutes. You will probably see remnants still standing of these structures. Gold was discovered here in the early 20’s but the rush was short lived when someone calculated that you could only earn $1.27 in gold for each ton or rock crushed.
GUIDE: Jim Rigsby
When the Smoky Mountain settlers relinquished their land to form the National Park, they left behind nearly 200 documented cemeteries and smaller plots, plus numberless others lost to history. Your guide will take you to visit three in the former Soak Ash Community. Cemetery historian Jim Rigsby, of the Remembrance Project, will present historical background and allow time to explore each site. The trail involves moderate inclines and several rock–hop creek crossings. There is one short, steep side trail to one site which you may or may not desire to sit out.