Tag Archives: Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains Association picked up FAB

I am thrilled to let the world know that the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA) picked up  my book,

Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South.

Swain County Visitor Center

You know GSMA as the park partner which manages the bookstores in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Surely you’ve stopped at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Sugarlands, or maybe, at the Swain County Visitor Center to buy a book, honey or a T-shirt. They have nine stores in and around the park.

But GSMA is also a publisher of all things Smokies.

They are the authority on trails, flowers, birds, salamanders … of the Smokies. If you’re a hiker, you should have Hiking Trails of the Smokies. If you’re a birder, they have Birds of the Smokies in a small-format book.

GSMA has carried all my books including Forests, Alligators, Battlefields. But now they’re going to publish it as well. They might put a new cover, change the price, make all the decisions that a traditional publisher does.

And they’re going to distribute it as well. That is always be the biggest challenge with independent publishing.

So if you’re thinking that you might want a copy (or two or three), go to the Official Park Store and buy a copy from them. Or in a Smokies store, of course.

That’s buying local.

Fontana – Here we come!

Fontana Lake in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not an easy place to get to. It’s far from everywhere. So I am so excited that Friends of the Smokies Classic Hikes has chosen Fontana Village as the base for their annual overnight trip.

Sign up for the Friends of the Smokies trip on

Monday August 28 – Tuesday August 29 2017.

All the details are in the PDF document but here are some highlights.

Surprise – I won’t start with the hikes. Professor Dan Pierce, chair of the history department at UNC-Asheville has made the Smokies his life work. On Monday evening, he will be speaking about his latest book, Hazel Creek: The  Life and Death of an Iconic Community.  I’ve known Dan since Fall 2001, when I took my first course on Appalachian history, a few months after I moved here. I’ve been a Dan Pierce groupie ever since.

Fontana Lake

Now for the hikes. Monday afternoon, we’ll hike in the Twenty-mile area, even more remote than Fontana Lake.

Tuesday, you have a choice between a long and short hike. So friends and couples coming together can each choose a hike that they would prefer.

Note that I didn’t say hard and easy. Both hikes are very gentle.

Long hike on Hazel Creek Trail to the Hall Cabin. I led a group there in 2014, so you can read all about that experience. We’ll take the boat across Fontana Lake and hike the Hazel Creek Trail and then onto the Hall Cabin. It’s 15.5 miles round trip, with little ascent, but quite an experience.

Cars on Lake Shore Trail

Short hike on Lake Shore Trail to the old cars. Where did these cars come from? Again, you can read about the history of the area in an article I wrote years ago.

We’ll be staying at Fontana Village and not roughing it.

But you have to make reservations soon. They’ve even thought about all the single people who might want to find a roommate and created a form.

Sign up and see you on the trail.

Friends of the Smokies is going hiking!

On Bradley Fork Trail
On Bradley Fork Trail

This has been a horrific week in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in the gateway communities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The park has been closed tight, something that I’ve not seen since I’ve been paying attention to park issues.

But now we hear that at least some of the North Carolina side of the park is open. It’s important that we get out there to show support and solidarity with the park.

Friends of the Smokies is leading a hike on Tuesday December 6 to Chasteen Creek Falls. It’s an easy to moderate out-and-back hike (7.5 miles, 1,200 feet of altitude).

We’ll hike along Bradley Fork and Chasteen Creek Trails. We’ll marvel at the changing leaf color and explore a tumbling waterfall. Since the waterfall isn’t right on the trail, many hikers miss it as they climb up Chasteen Creek Trail. I led this hike last month for Carolina Mountain Club and know that, even in the middle of the worst drought, there was water in the falls. It ought to be flowing now.

Chasteen Creek in drought
Chasteen Creek in drought

We’ll hike to the campsite for lunch and go back the same way.

After the hike, we’ll go to Oconaluftee Visitor Center (OVC) for some holiday shopping. Great Smoky Mountains Association, the park partner that manages the bookstores in the park, needs our help as well.

Bring your holiday shopping list and do all your shopping locally at OVC. Don’t forget to bring your Friends of the Smokies membership card to receive 15% off.

We will have a small gift for each hiker in attendance in the spirit of the season. If you haven’t registered, please do so online now on the Friends of the Smokies website.

The event will say “Grotto Falls”. Ignore that. The date is correct so just sign up by Sunday evening and you’ll be sent  instructions on the  meeting time and place.