Many people come to Townsend, TN and the Smoky Mountains to get into the Smokies’ more natural environment – to hike to some secluded destination or explore some far off mountain top. It’s trip that many of us have thought about, planned, or even just hopped in the car and begun. Whether you’re backpacking, or hiking, there are a number of things to take into consideration before starting out. One, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is made up of trails ranging from beginner to advanced. Like the Boy Scout motto says, “Be prepared” once you set out and choose wisely based on experience.
You’re sure to lace up your best hiking boots or trail shoes soon thereafter. But that’s it? Nope, there are number of other items to consider. Either way, whether you’re camping for a few nights or just hiking for a day, a backpack is a good thing to bring along. This will evenly distribute weight during the hike and maximize your comfort for the whole of the trip.
For short day hikes, these items are handy to pack for the trip:
- Clothing. In the higher elevations, an extra layer can be a life saver, literally. A lightweight jacket with a hood will help combat the cool, windy air. Pack a hat and gloves if you think there’s a possibility you’ll really need them.
- Weather protection. These days, sun protection is essential whether you’re at the beach or in the mountains. Pack some sunscreen as well as some Chapstick.
- Hiking Safety. Pack a first aid kit. Just a small, portable first aid kit comprised of essential items is fine. Some of the items to include – band aids, blister pads, anti itch cream, tweezers, and antibacterial cream. Some bug repellant might come in handy too. This will ward off those irritating mosquitoes that come alive during the summer months. Pack a pocket knife as well. A compass and a trail map might help you as well. During the hike, it is vital that you stay on the marked trails, but if you should happen to get lost, a compass will help you find your bearings and get you back to the trail. As for hiking trail maps for Gatlinburg, TN you can pick some up at the Sugarlands Visitors Center just inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance.
- Snacks. Be sure to bring some snacks and water for you and whoever else will be going on the hike. Keep yourself and remind others to hydrate whenever you get a chance. You might not feel like you are losing fluid, but you are, especially if you are hiking in the mountains! Bring a refillable water bottle that you can store in a side pocket of your backpack (one filled bottle per person). And pack lightweight snacks like granola bars or snack bags of GORP (raisins and peanuts), which will help you and your group refuel after a mile or two.
- Fun stuff. The Smoky Mountains offer breathtaking vistas, so don’t forget your camera! You will want to photograph the views, flowers, wildlife, and document the fun times you are having on the trail! Another fun thing to take along is a small notebook and pen. Journaling can be a great way to remember your hike, the things you see, and even the conversations you have with your hiking party.
A day hike in the mountains and forests around Gatlinburg, TN is a fun and invigorating way to explore the area! You will see many beautiful and amazing sights! And if you plan ahead by packing your backpack with a few lightweight essentials, you can relax and enjoy your hike, no matter where the trail leads you!