With the weather getting better by the day in East Tennessee, one of the most popular activities to enjoy in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area is backpacking, or hiking. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is chock full of trails, ranging from short and long to easy and challenging. No matter which type of trail you decide to traverse, it is important that you hit the path prepared.
When you decide to take a hike, tie on your hiking shoes or boots, put on your comfiest hiking clothes, and choose your path! But don’t forget your other supplies! The easiest way to comfortably bring along the supplies you might need on a day hike is to have a good backpack. This will allow you to carry everything on your back, with the weight evenly distributed on your shoulders. This will maximize your comfort on the trail!
For short hiking trips that will last one day or less, consider packing your backpack with the following items:
- Clothing. Depending on the time of year, you might need extra layers, especially up in the higher elevations. A lightweight jacket with a hood will help combat winds and chilly air. A hat (waterproof is ideal), gloves, and lightweight scarf can also come in handy, and they can be easily stored away in your pack without adding much extra weight.
- Weather protection. Just because you’re not at the beach doesn’t mean you don’t need sun protection! Sunscreen is very important, especially if you are hiking a mountain trail! Chapstick is also a good thing to have along, to protect your lips from windburn and sunburn.
- Hiking Safety. A first aid kit is an absolute must! You don’t need to spend a lot of money on one, though. You can create a small, portable first aid kit comprised of essential items. It should include band aids, blister pads, anti itch cream, tweezers, and antibacterial. Don’t forget bug repellant, either! This will ward off pesky insects on the trail, especially in the summer. And if you are on any medications, bring an extra dose or two, just in case you need to take them during the hike.Another important tool that you should bring is a pocket knife. There are great, lightweight pocket tools available that include various types of blades, along with other instruments that can help you if you get into trouble. Another essential: a compass (along with a trail map). It is vital that you stay on the marked trails, but if you should happen to get lost, a compass will help you get your bearings and hopefully find your way back to the hiking trail. As for hiking trail maps for Gatlinburg, TN you can pick some up at the Sugarlands Visitors Center just inside the National Park as you leave the north end of Gatlinburg. Be sure to put the map in a plastic bag in case you encounter wet weather…or terrain.
- Snacks. Even if you are going on a shorter hike, you should always bring snacks and water with you. Hydration is extremely important. You might not feel like you are losing fluid, but you are, especially if you are hiking in the mountains! Bring a refillable water bottle that you can store in a side pocket of your backpack (one filled bottle per person). And pack lightweight snacks like granola bars or snack bags of GORP (raisins and peanuts), which will help you and your group refuel after a mile or two.
- Fun stuff. The Smoky Mountains offer breathtaking vistas, so don’t forget your camera! You will want to photograph the views, flowers, wildlife, and document the fun times you are having on the trail! Another fun thing to take along is a small notebook and pen. Journaling can be a great way to remember your hike, the things you see, and even the conversations you have with your hiking party.
A day hike in the mountains and forests around Gatlinburg, TN is a fun and invigorating way to explore the area! You will see many beautiful and amazing sights! And if you plan ahead by packing your backpack with a few lightweight essentials, you can relax and enjoy your hike, no matter where the trail leads you!