In 2016, the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th birthday! To honor the occasion, the NPS has announced a special Smoky Mountain hiking challenge. Fans of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are invited to join Park Superintendent Cassius Cash on his quest to hike 100 miles in the Smokies this year. Here at Highlands Condos, we know that many of our guests will want to take Superintendent Cash up on his offer to join the 100 mile club! We’ve put together a convenient guide with everything you need to know about the Smokies Centennial Challenge.
How to Participate
To complete the challenge, hikers must make their way through 100 miles of maintained trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park between January 1 and December 6, 2016. There is no “right way” to reach 100 miles: you can hike the front country or the back country, alone or with a group, a variety of trails or the same trails multiple times. To keep track of your progress, be sure to print and fill out the official Smoky Mountain Hiking Challenge Mileage Log.
100 Mile Club Party
Once you’ve completed the challenge, send the National Park Service an email at [email protected]. You will receive an official invitation to the Hike 100 Celebration on December 8, 2016, where you will meet Superintendent Cash and receive a commemorative “Smokies Centennial Challenge - Hike 100” pin. If you can’t make it to the party, the NPS will mail you the pin.
Hike with Superintendent Cash
Superintendent Cash will lead four hikes throughout the year that you can count towards your 100 miles. These include two front country hikes that are open to anyone who would like to attend:
Saturday, August 20, 2016 - Gatlinburg Trail
Saturday, December 3, 2016 - Oconaluftee River Trail
The Park Superintendent will also lead two backcountry trips that are limited to 20 hikers:
Saturday, June 25, 2016 - a trail in North Carolina
Saturday, October 8, 2016 - a trail in Tennessee
To sign up for the backcountry hikes, you can send the NPS an email here.
Sample Plan for Hiking 100 Miles
As we noted above, you can hike whatever combination of trails you please to reach 100 miles. However, if you’re having trouble figuring out where to start, check out the National Park Service's sample Hike 100 plan:
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
Stay with Us
Highlands Condos is located just a short drive away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making us the perfect homebase as you log your miles for the Smoky Mountain hiking challenge! Our properties come with everything you need to relax in between hikes, including romantic stone fireplaces, private balconies overlooking the mountains, and access to resort swimming pools, hot tubs, and saunas. To start planning your getaway, check out our complete selection of Smoky Mountain condo rentals.