It’s a crisp October morning as a large group of all ages, genders, and backgrounds gather on the bottom level of the Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“It’s a little chilly this morning,” says one eager hiker to another. “But I think we’ll warm up quickly once we hit the trail.”
And they do warm up, not only in temperature but also to one another. These strangers are hiking together as part of Missy Kane’s Get on the Trail program, which is currently celebrating its 20th year.
“A lot of people start with Get on the Trail, then branch out and join other hiking groups,” says Kane. “I’ve found many people want to get into hiking, but they are slightly timid about where to start.”
Today’s hike starts at Forney Ridge and ends with breathtaking views from Andrew’s Bald. Additional hikes are planned for every Wednesday in October, and they each build in intensity:
- October 11, 2017 – Alum Cave Trail, Moderate Hike, 4.2 miles
- October 18, 2017 – Lower Mt Cammerer to Campsite #35, Moderate Hike, 6.5 miles
- October 25, 2017 – Thomas Divide and Newton Bald to Smokemont , Difficult, 10.5 miles
Bring a daypack, water, snacks, appropriate shoes, and medication. Rain gear is always a plus! A few spots are still available, but you must register by calling 865-541-4500. The cost is $20 which goes toward Friends of the Smokies, a group that helps maintain the trails and campsites.
For more information on this program or any of Missy Kane’s other fitness programs, visit CovenantHealth.com/MissyKane