Great Smoky Mountains, Backpacking!

How To Survive a Bear Attack

By going on a hiking trail
 Day or Night
“We Love 2 Hike”
you won’t have to worry about maps or mental assumption. 


Google Maps

Google Maps while many may use Google Maps for getting driving directions, some may not know that Google Maps also provides trail information. You may even be able to see photos from ground level along a new trail. What’s even cooler, is that you can switch views between regular maps, Terrain (topographic), and Satellite.

Researching the trail

Do a little research before you try a new trail. It can't hurt, and it might save you some discomfort.  Is the trail a real butt-kicker that you might not be ready for? Then again, is it mostly flat terrain and not challenging enough for you? Is there a hidden waterfall halfway into the loop? Does it get super hot during the day, with no shade? Are the mosquitoes rampant during April?


How to pick a hiking trail

As a federal taxpayer, you own some extraordinary land, so consider a visit if you live near a national park, national forest, national landscape, national heritage area, national wildlife refuge or a national wild and scenic river. And you've done a good job over the years as a state taxpayer, too, preserving some extraordinary state parks, so don't forget to check with your state's wildlife conservation, parks and historic preservation departments for ideas. Of course, your local tax dollars have helped counties, cities and towns preserve some significant parcels, so don't forget them, either.

Talk to Others. There will always be gems hidden from view.  Books devoted to trails and history of the region can help you identify them. Outdoor writers for local publications may be able to help. Hiking clubs and their members are usually more than willing to share expertise. One good way to discover a new trail is to start with what you know: You're bound to run into someone out there who's been somewhere you haven't!

Choose one that is right for your ability. That means if you haven't exercised for a while, start light and gradually work your way up to more strenuous hikes.  A great place to start is a hiking trail without any big changes in elevation, like a flat trail around a pond or along a shoreline.

Choose a route that is right for the time you have. You don't want to get caught halfway out to your destination at dusk (unless you're planning to camp). If you're not sure, figure about a mile for every hour on average. Hiking takes longer than walking on flat pavement, plus the views inspire you to stop more frequently. If you have from eight in the morning until noon, then check your trail map and figure about three to four miles. If the trail is not a loop, figure 1.5 to 2 miles, since you will need to backtrack to the trailhead. Any more than that would be pushing it. If you want you can just go by hours.   If you only have 3 hours.  Start hiking 1.5 hours in.  Then stop and hike back 1.5 hours out.

Explore your own backyard. You may be surprised by what hiking spots are available within a few miles of your home. Local hiking trails are a great option, even if they aren't world-famous treks.  Why? For one, they give you a way to hike on a regular basis. Wouldn't it be great to hike every day after work and de-stress a little, or at least every weekend? I relish the days when I can sneak in a lunch-hour hike in the middle of my work day! Another good reason to hike locally is that you will become more connected to your home and the local ecosystem. Whether it is your intention or not, you start to feel more grounded, attached, and appreciative of the place you call home. This may seem obvious, but for the happiness of all people (or animals) in your group, choose trails that are fun for everybody.  or Join a group  Happy Hiking!!!

Do Your Part


Do your part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species and restoring degraded areas.
  • Carry a trash bag and pick up litter left by others.
  • Pack out what you pack in.
  • Repackage snacks and food in baggies. This reduces weight and the amount of trash to carry out.
  • In areas without toilets, use a portable waste bag if possible and pack out your waste, otherwise, it’s necessary to bury your waste. Human waste should be disposed of in a shallow hole (6”-8” deep) at least 200 feet from water sources, campsites or trails. Cover and disguise the hole with natural materials. It is recommended to pack out your toilet paper. High-use areas may have other restrictions so check with a land manager.
  • Take a small bag and pack out your pet’s waste, especially in front country areas or if it is left on or near trails or trailhead areas.
  • Before and after a hike, wash your gear and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
  • Build a trail community. Get to know other types of recreationists that share your favorite trail.