Attention North Carolina and Tennessee hiking enthusiasts: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is looking for hikers to help keep the trails in tip-top shape for park visitors to enjoy. According to WBIR-TV based in Knoxville, the park seeks volunteers to "adopt" sections of trails and embark on hikes on a specific trail four times a year and report their observations to the park.
In order to be considered for the special opportunity in the Smoky Mountains, no experience is required, but you should feel confident hiking in back country conditions and chatting with visitors. Potential volunteers will have to attend a mandatory three-hour training so they can learn how the park maintains trails, how to report necessary findings, and how to embrace the "Leave No Trace" principles while spending time on the trails.
Currently, those interested in becoming volunteers have two options for training sessions:
- 9 a.m. to noon at Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, North Carolina on Saturday, March 28
- 9 a.m. to noon at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Saturday, April 11
If you'd like to learn more or to sign up for one of the training sessions, you can reach out to the park's Trails and Facilities Volunteer Coordinator Adam Monroe at 828-497-1949 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, it may not be the most glamorous work there is, but these contributions to Great Smoky Mountains National Park play a big role in keeping the park as pristine and safe as possible. In 2019, Great Smoky Mountains National Park recorded a record number of visitors with 12.5 million guests, breaking 2018's then record-shattering 11.4 million visitors by over a million.
Needless to say, travelers can't get enough of this grand natural oasis and we hope it stays that way for many generations to come. If you're a local and physically able, what a neat way to give back to a park that gives all who enter so much.