The Smokies are known for their spring ephemerals. Hundreds of species of wildflowers, like bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, trilliums and more impatiently claw their way through the brown leaf litter under the sparse spring canopy. more

Aug 1, 2017 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

Walking all 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail is a dream for some. To make the trail more accessible, we’ve broken a few classic parts down into small trips in an occasional series called Appalachian Trail Weekends. more

Aug 1, 2017 12:00 AM Features

If you’re hiking in the mid-to-low elevations of the Smokies this winter keep your eyes peeled for a splash of green. This may be the best time of the year to find two unique native orchids of the Southeast and Southern Appalachians. more

Feb 1, 2017 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer


View from Pinnacle Park

View from Pinnacle Park

Katie Knorovsky

Second Street photography

As a kid, I whipped up my share of mud pies and looked forward to summer camp and games of Kick the Can with my cousins on our grandparents’ farm. But most days I could be found inside, nose in a book. more

Dec 1, 2016 12:00 AM Blog


Bob Carr photo

A two-year effort to restore Alum Cave Trail, one of the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is now wrapping up. more

Dec 1, 2016 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

Learn the Constellations

Mandy Newham-Cobb illustration

With a new year comes new resolutions. Whether you hope to hike more or stress less, eat better or give back, Smoky Mountain Living offers an only-in-Southern-Appalachia guide to making 2017 your best year yet. more

Dec 1, 2016 12:00 AM , , , , , , , Features

Clingmans secret tunnel

Deb Campbell

Hikers, outdoorsmen, photographers, and locals reveal their favorite treasures of “the back of beyond”—from secluded trails and fishing streams to quiet overlooks and picnic spots. more

, , Features


Holly Kays

As the days get warmer and longer, I find myself thinking about childhood and the periscope I once campaigned so diligently for my father to build me. more

Jun 1, 2016 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer


Creative Commons

Summer heat and humidity can drive anyone to extremes. In the mountains, finding reprieve can be as simple as an altitude adjustment. Mount Le Conte offers a peak experience—and cool temperatures—at its 6,593-foot summit. more

Jun 1, 2016 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer


U.S. Fish & Wildlife photo

As the bare canopy of Eastern deciduous forests allows the sun to shine through and warm the fecund earth each spring, ephemerals push through the leaf litter toward the sun, and the grays and browns of the forest floor erupt in color. more

Apr 1, 2016 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

Hiker on the A.T.

Holly Kays photo

The thru-hikers are easy to spot. I pick out three of them right away, spread out on a bench outside the outfitter’s store at Nantahala Outdoor Center. more

Apr 1, 2016 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

Being careful about the where and when of choosing a hike in the Smokies is nothing new to Terry Maddox, who recently retired from 26 years as executive director of the Great Smoky Mountains Association. more

Apr 1, 2016 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

When I first moved to the Smokies, my wife and went hiking nearly every weekend. With only one infant child in tow, we would look forward to these all-day adventures, 8- or 9-hour treks to balds or waterfalls or secluded mountaintops. more

Feb 1, 2016 12:00 AM Blog

Winter can be a long, cold affair in the mountains, but the annual emergence of early spring wildflowers signals that warmer weather is on its way. Celebrate winter’s end with one of these flowery trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. more

Feb 1, 2016 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

Arti in the woods

Holly Kays photo

It was late summer in the Smokies, and high-country greenery flourished. With each step I took down the trail, leaves and grass absorbed more and more of the traffic noise from the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. more

Oct 1, 2015 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

Virginia Creeper Trail

Courtesy of Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau

The sky was blue and cloudless as the van filled with people and their rental bikes en route to Whitetop Mountain, but I was suspicious. Though the morning held the promise of a perfect October day, I’d grown wise to the ways of Appalachian weather. more

Oct 1, 2015 12:00 AM Mountain Explorer

In 1955, Emma Gatewood made history as the first woman to finish a solo hike of the Appalachian Trail, a feat she accomplished at age 67—merely the beginning of her relationship with the famous footpath. more

Aug 1, 2015 12:00 AM Features

Sunset in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park photo

When our group began our hike that March day we were like any other hikers in this park. We shuffled through the litter of fallen leaves on a known path and trudged uphill through the bare, undifferentiated trees on either side of the trail. more

Apr 1, 2015 12:00 AM Features

Alone in the woods

Holly Kays photo

There’s always that moment of no return: the instant you are forced to admit that whatever foolhardy plan you’ve been batting around, there’s no longer any option to back out. more

Aug 1, 2016 12:00 AM , Mountain Explorer