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. Read more

Focus Area Feature Hike: Smoky Mountains

Location: Hemphill Bald at Cataloochee Ranch, adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Date: Saturday, March 25th

Start Time: 10 AM; Carpool info TBA

Difficulty: Strenuous (7-8)

Leader: Haley Smith, SAHC AmeriCorps Outreach Member

Cost: FREE for all participants

Registration: Pre-registration is REQUIRED.

This hike will highlight our Smoky Mountains conservation focus area, where we work to expand the non-fragmented network of conservation land and create habitat corridors that link the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to other networks of protected land.

We’ll begin at Purchase Knob with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. This 6-mile out-and back hike will climb along the boundary of the National Park to Hemphill Bald at Cataloochee Ranch, where we hold a conservation easement. On a clear day at Hemphill Bald, you can see from the Balsams to the Black Mountains and on toward the Highlands of Roan. We’ll discuss our land protection efforts in this region and be joined by the Smokies’ AmeriCorps Citizen Science Associate, who will tell us about their work at Purchase Knob. You will also have the option after the hike to help gather salamander data from the Science Center’s research plots.

Presented as part of our Focus Area Feature Hike Series. Have you ever wanted to learn more about SAHC’s land protection work, particularly our conservation focus area priorities? This year we are offering a series of six Focus Area Feature Hikes, each highlighting one of the six distinctive geographic regions where we work. Over the past 43 years, our members and donors have protected over 70,000 acres across ten counties in NC and TN. Join us in learning about these successful projects and find out what makes each of our six Focus Areas unique.

Questions about this hike? Contact Haley Smith at or 828.253.0095 ext 205.


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