One of the best things to do when you’re in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to go hiking. The national park is absolutely free to visit and always open! With numerous trails for every ability level featuring some of the most naturally beautiful features anywhere, it is easy to see why millions of people each year like to simply slow down and take a walk.
When setting out on a hike there are a few basic items that will help make your hike enjoyable. Here a few items that we find most beneficial when exploring the Great Smoky Mountains on foot.
1. Comfortable Shoes
When taking a hike through the Smoky Mountains, it is essential to wear comfortable shoes. Wearing sturdy shoes not only increases your comfort level as you walk, but it also decreases your chance for injury. While some sort of hiking shoe or boot is recommended, any shoe with a thick sole and foot protection will be just fine for a hike. Sandals are generally not recommended, however, for some easy hikes and walks along nature trails, they can be worn.
2. A Lightweight Backpack
There are some items that are simply essential for your hike no matter how long the trail you are planning on taking is. One of these items is a backpack. No one wants to try to hike a trail while being weighed down with things in every pocket or with an armful of supplies. It is important to pick a pack that has enough room to hold the things that are necessary, but is still lightweight. A pack that is too heavy will cause undue wear and strain on your back which can cause you to cut your hike short and greatly reduce your experience in the mountains. Choose a comfortable-to-wear backpack to pack for your vacation hiking in the mountains.
3. Water and Snacks
As you hike it is important to stay hydrated. A sturdy water bottle that is designed with hikers and campers in mind will go a long way to helping you stay healthy as you make your way up and down your chosen trail. If you’re not spending a lot of time hiking in the Smoky Mountains, you can simply pack a few convenient store water bottles to make it through your day. It’s always better to pack too much water than not enough, so be sure to pack a couple extra – just in case!
It is also important to bring snacks of some sort that are high in protein and carbs to replace the energy you use as you hike. Nuts, seeds and protein bars are always good choices.
Some other items that may be helpful:
- Rain jackets
- Trail maps
All of these items can be purchased at any sporting goods store or at any of the hiking outfitters in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. As you plan your next hike, be sure to make sure you are prepared for whichever trail you set out on. If you have questions about any of the trails, you can stop in at Sugarlands Visitor Center to speak to park rangers about which trails would be best for you and your group.
To learn more about safety while hiking in the Smoky Mountains, visit the official National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hikingsafety.htm
If you liked this article, take a look at these 12 Smoky Mountain hiking trails that will blow your mind and let us know which hike is your favorite!