Each year Great Smoky Mountains National Park recruits a series of individuals called Ridge Runners, who provide a presence on the Appalachian Trail from March through October. They provide visitor information, trail maintenance, keep up composting privies, report on conditions of the trail and shelters, assist with emergencies, advise hikers on food storage, and relay real-time information regarding possible problem bears among many other responsibilities. The June Classic Hike to Charlie's Bunions offers hikers the opportunity to experience a portion of the Appalachian Trail that passes through the Park and see first hand the work of the Ridge Runners.
Waynesville Resident and Smokies enthusiast Steve Winchester will lead the Classic Hike.
“I especially enjoy the hike to Charlie’s Bunion because of the trail we use to get there. Not only is this trail central to the GSMNP, it is a key section of the Appalachian Trail thru the park. It is also one of the highest elevation trails we will visit on the Classic Hike Series, providing us an outstanding view of the unique eco-system,” says Winchester.
Meeting locations for the daylong excursion will be in Asheville, Waynesville, and at the trailhead. Visit Hike.FriendsoftheSmokies.org to register for any Classic Hike of the Smokies, sponsored by Mission Health.
Monthly guided day hikes in the Classic Hikes series are $20 for members. New and renewing members may join Friends of the Smokies and hike for $35. Donations benefit Friends of the Smokies’ Trails Forever program, which provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on high use and high priority trails in the park including the recently restored Alum Cave Trail, Chimney Tops Trail, and Forney Ridge Trail.