Smoky Mountains Conservation Focus Area Hike

On Saturday, March 25th, an awesome group of hikers gathered to explore our Smoky Mountains Conservation Focus Area with a hike to scenic Hemphill Bald at the top of Cataloochee Ranch, where SAHC placed our first conservation easement in 1993.

The hike began at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob, where we were joined by the ​Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s AmeriCorps Citizen Science Associate, who taught the group about the education and citizen science programs hosted ​by the Park at Purchase Knob. ​We learned about the many ways that they monitor acid deposition — one of which is by studying salamanders.

We then climbed to Hemphill Bald, on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and peered through the trees into Cataloochee Valley and out at the amazing vistas of four of our other focus areas: the Appalachian Trail Countryside (Max Patch), the Black Mountains (Mount Mitchell), French Broad Ri ver Valley (Sandy Mush area), and the Balsam Mountains (Cold Mountain and Shining Rock).

This beautiful hike is one of our all-time favorites, and we had fantastic weather for it. Thank you to Don Pugh for sharing some gorgeous photos from this outing!

Join us on one of our other upcoming Focus Area Feature HikesAppalachian Trail Countryside on Sunday, May 7th, and​ our annual​ June Jamboree on Saturday, June 17th, featuring the Highlands of Roan.