6 Tips for Hiking in the Smoky Mountains National Park

hiking in the Smoky Mountains

A trip to the Smokies isn’t complete without a hiking adventure. If you’re not an experience hiker though, planning could be a little stressful. We’ve put together a list of things you might want to know before you leave so that you’re prepared to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains!

1. Don’t Overpack

Water (see no. 4), first aid supplies, and a few healthy snacks are all you should need for an average hiking trip. Hopefully there won’t be any accidents, but you should carry some wraps, ointments, and bandages just in case someone takes a fall. Granola, protein bars, or some nuts can go a long way mid-trip when you’ve already burnt off your breakfast. Put everything in a small, comfortable backpack for your hike.

2. Hike with a Friend

The buddy system is always best. Groups of three are recommended, but you should try to have at least one other person with you. As beautiful as nature it is, it is unfamiliar and full of wildlife. Having a friend with you helps protect you against some of the dangers that nature presents and can make sure you get help if you need it!

3. Research the Trail

When hiking in the Smoky Mountains, know what to expect before you go. Don’t just know the length of the trail and its difficulty. You should review a map to get an idea of the path and note any trail markers that could be useful to you during your journey. It’s easier to get lost than you think!

4. Keep Hydrated

For convenience’s sake, you might think you can skip the bulky water bottle and just chug some fluids when you get back to your car. Don’t make this mistake. Rather you’re taking a simple one-mile loop trail or trudging through some rough mountain terrain, water is a must have. Keep some in your backpack and don’t forget to drink it throughout your hike! Dehydration can set in fast with detrimental effects.

5. Be Prepared for Temperature Drops

You are in the mountains, of course, so many of the trails have an incline. The higher you go, the colder it gets. Keep this in mind when you choose your wardrobe. A tank and shorts might seem like the way to go on a hot summer day, but it’s better to dress in a way that’s better for all weather conditions.

6. Know Your Black Bear Safety

It’s not uncommon to see a bear while hiking in the Smoky Mountains. After all, you are in their territory. If you come across a bear on your hike, keep your distance – at least 50 yards away – and try to slowly back away. Do not approach or feed them. Make loud noises to scare it away. If necessary, throw rocks or sticks at the bear and act aggressively. Most bears are not hostile and will run from you when you yell at it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, though.

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to pick your trail. Happy hiking!

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