REI started something last year. They decided to close their stores on Black Friday and encourage people to go outside. This year, Great Smoky Mountains National Park staff will lead a short hike starting from the Oconaluftee Baptist Church.
Here’s the press release.
This Black Friday, we are joining our friends at REI to #OptOutside. We won’t be standing in lines or fighting over TVs — we are going for a hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
On Friday, November 25, from 10 am to 1 pm park staff will provide an outstanding opportunity for people of all ages to explore history in the park. The Smokemont area is rich with history ranging from the Oconaluftee Turnpike, an early wagon road across the Smokies, to a farming community, and later large-scale commercial logging in the days before the creation of the national park.
The walk starts with a visit to the historic Oconaluftee (Smokemont) Baptist Church. Part of the walk is along a portion of the route of the Oconaluftee Turnpike, a wagon road across the Smokies built in the 1830s and will include a visit to the Bradley cemetery. The road provided a link between farms and towns and was also used by troops during the Civil War. Park staff leading the walk will have maps and historic photographs to help illustrate the history of the area.
Participants should bring drinking water and may want to pack a lunch. Because weather in the Smoky Mountains can be unpredictable a rain jacket is recommended and participants should wear hiking shoes or boots. The walk is easy and less than 2-miles. If participants are interested, the walk can be extended with a visit to the Carver cemetery, which includes one short, steep section of trail to the cemetery.
Participants should meet the ranger at the Oconaluftee (Smokemont) Baptist Church parking area just across the bridge at the entrance to the park’s Smokemont Campground. The campground is located on US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) 3 miles north of the park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center and 5 miles north of Cherokee NC. Turn at the sign for Smokemont Campground, the parking area is on the right after crossing the bridge.
This guided hike is absolutely free and RSVP is not necessary.
Where is the Carver Cemetery?