Volunteer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with “Smokies Service Days”

A beautiful photo taken from an overlook on Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you’ve always wanted to lend a helping hand in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, here is your chance! The National Park Service recently announced a series of “Smokies Service Days” where ordinary people can pitch in to help maintain the park’s trails, campgrounds, cemeteries, and vegetation.

Held on Saturday mornings, these volunteer projects are perfect for scout troops, civic organizations, people looking to fulfill community service requirements, and anyone who just loves the national park. After each project, participants will have the chance to stick around for an optional hike, tour, or seminar. Read on to find out how you can volunteer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year.

Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Smokies Service Days Projects

The Smokies Service Days projects are scheduled for the rest of the summer and the fall. Here is a brief synopsis of all the volunteer opportunities on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Cemetery Rehabilitation (August 12, 2017)

Where: Old Elkmont Cemetery

When: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Details: Volunteers will spread grass seed, clear away vegetation from grave markers, and record inscriptions.

Bonus Activity: Participants can stick around for a picnic lunch and then explore the historic ghost town of Elkmont. There will also be an easy 2-mile roundtrip hike to the Avent Cabin. The activities are expected to last from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Campground Clean-Up (August 26, 2017)

Where: Elkmont Campground

When: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Details: Volunteers will clean out fire pits and perform light campground maintenance.

Bonus Activity: There will be a guided hike along the Little River to Huskey Branch Falls, where participants will enjoy a picnic lunch. The hike is 4.3 miles roundtrip and considered moderate in difficulty. The activities are expected to last from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Trail Rehabilitation (September 30, 2017)

September 30th is National Public Lands Day, which is the largest, single-day volunteer effort in the country. The National Park Service hasn’t released what they will be doing to observe the occasion, but a project announcement is anticipated.

Vegetation Management (October 14, 2017)

Where: Twin Creeks Science Center

When: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Details: Volunteers will help remove English Ivy, an invasive species that threatens the park’s native plants.

Bonus Activity: After a picnic lunch at the Twin Creeks Science Center, participants will take an easy 2-mile roundtrip hike to the Noah “Bud” Ogle Place. The fun will last from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

The Noah Bud Ogle Place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.How to Register for Smokies Service Days

If you’re interested in any of the projects detailed above, you can call the National Park Service’s Project Coordinator, Logan Boldon, at 865-436-1278 or email him at logan_boldon@partner.nps.gov. Be sure to register at least three days before the date of your chosen project.

What to Bring When You Volunteer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The National Park Service will provide everything you need to complete your project, including safety gear, high-visibility vests, gloves, and tools. Volunteers are asked to wear/bring the following items:

  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Long pants
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Water bottle
  • Sack lunch (if you are staying for the optional post-project activity)

For more information about everything to see and do in the Smokies, check out our Great Smoky Mountains National Park page!

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