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Are you up for a challenge? This year, the National Park Service will turn 100 years old, and the Smokies are celebrating with a very special campaign. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent, Cassius Cash, has pledged to hike 100 miles on the park’s maintained trails in 2016, and everyone is invited to join him! Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Smokies Centennial Challenge.
To complete the Smokies Centennial Challenge, participants must hike 100 miles in the national park between January 1 and December 6, 2016. Any maintained trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park count towards your miles, including both front country trails and backcountry trails. You can hike the same trail more than once, or hike a variety of trails. Participants can hike alone, with a group, or with a ranger – however you’ll enjoy the Smokies the most!
The National Park Service has provided a Smokies Centennial Challenge Trail Mileage Log, so hikers can easily keep track of their miles. Once you have hiked 100 miles or more, let the National Park Service know by sending an email to [email protected], and you’ll receive information about the Hike 100 Celebration on December 8, 2016. Everyone at the event in December will get their very own Smokies Centennial Challenge pin! If you can’t make it to the celebration, the National Park Service will mail you a pin instead. Hikers who reach the 100 mile goal after the December 6 deadline can go to any of the park Visitor Centers with their mileage log to redeem a commemorative pin.
To share your experiences with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Hiking Challenge on social media, tag your posts with #Hike100.
(See Also: 9 Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails with Waterfalls)
As we mentioned above, Park Superintendent Cash has invited the public to join him on his quest to complete the Smokies Centennial Challenge. If you would like to hike with Cash, there are a number of opportunities to do so. The Superintendent will complete two front country hikes that are open to everyone on the following dates:
- Saturday, August 20, 2016 – Gatlinburg Trail
- Saturday, December 3, 2016 – Oconaluftee River Trail
Superintendent Cash will also lead two backcountry hikes that are limited to 20 hikers. To sign up for these hikes, send an email to the National Park Service. The backcountry hikes will take place on the following dates:
- Saturday, June 25, 2016 – a trail in North Carolina
- Saturday, October 8, 2016 – a trail in Tennessee
Of course, there is no “right” way to complete the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Hiking Challenge. Any way you want to reach 100 miles will do the trick. However, if you’re having trouble figuring out a game plan, the National Park Service has put together a sample trail list for reaching 100 miles:
- Gatlinburg Trail – 4 miles
- Little River & Cucumber Gap Trails Loop – 6 miles
- Chimney Tops Trail – 4 miles
- Porters Creek Trail – 8 miles
- Ramsay Cascades – 8 miles
- Abrams Falls Trail to the Falls – 6 miles
- Gregory Bald Trail to the Bald – 9 miles
- Trillium Gap Trail to Grotto Falls – 3 miles
- Laurel Falls Trail – 3 miles
- Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald – 5 miles
- Big Creek Trail to Mouse Creek Falls – 5 miles
- Smokemont Loop Trail – 7 miles
- Noland Divide to Lonesome Pine Overloop – 7 miles
- Deep Creek & Sunkota Ridge Loop – 13 miles
- Cataloochee Divide Trail – 10 miles
- Oconaluftee River Trail – 3 miles
To learn more about the Smokies, check out our Great Smoky Mountains National Park page!