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On your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll find that there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from. When families walk the hiking trails through the Smokies, they’re walking on land filled with history. But where did the trails begin? Read more to explore the origins of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
There are approximately 850 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Like many trails in the forest, the paths were created by animals who roamed through the park. The routes throughout the park were already created when the Cherokee Indians began using the area for hunting and trading.
When settlers began making their way to the area, these paths became roadways. Many of the trails families walk on today were once used by the first pioneers of the area.
Wiley Oakley was a major consultant for creating the paths throughout the national park. He was born at the base of Mount LeConte, so he grew up in the mountains. His mother passed away when he was young, so he took to the mountains for help through grief. He would find the best places to hunt and fish, and blaze the paths to create their permanent place in the park.
Although pioneers and animals helped form some of the trails, most of the hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps, known as the CCC. The CCC was a work relief program, established by Franklin D. Roosevelt, to help fight the unemployment crisis of the Great Depression. The CCC used over 4,000 men to create the trails, campgrounds and ranger stations that we know today.
For more information about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all of the hiking trails in the park, check out Visit My Smokies’ website.