Great Smoky Mountain NP - 2014

Hello All, I have been working on organizing our Fall trip to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  A group site will enable us to have a location near to an improved rest room facility. THE GROUP SITE IS A TENT ONLY SITE. There is also a covered picnic pavilion with many tables for meal preparation, socializing  and games in the evening. I have reserved the group site at my own expense, currently, and would like to pass along some pricing information and ideas for our stay at Cades Cove. First, the cost consideration; for 5 nights, the total cost is $325 for the group site. I am estimating 20 paying members to attend and would want to establish an event price of $20 per person to stay the entire 5 nights. That would be a total of $400 to be collected. The $75 balance, or any additional fees collected beyond those for 20 people would be used for group incidentals such as firewood, ice, charcoal, stove fuel, and a small donation to the Park preservation society. 

AGAIN, THE GROUP SITE IS A TENT ONLY SITE. If you plan to have an RV unit you will need to make a reservation independently of this offering.

To answer some of the questions asked previously;

-Linda N and Janice, we have a group site, you will not have to make an individual reservation.

- Domestic pets are allowed in the camp ground but may not be left unattended.

- We have 23 members currently responding in the affirmative to attend. I think we can arrange some car pooling over  the next few months.

What can we do at the Cove ? There are several day hikes in the cove ranging from a 5 mile walk to Abrams Falls to 14 miles up to the Appalachian Trail and back. Rich Mountain Trail is a fun 8.8 mile walk. The loop road of 11.5 miles can be driven or walked by stepping over into the adjacent meadows, woods and fields. 

There is a historical interpretation area at Cable Mill.

Horseback riding can be arranged along with a hay ride by tractor.

Outside of the Cove we can hike a variety of trails, shop in the surrounding small towns, go to Gatlinburg, and stop by some of the Parks interpretive visitor centers and nature walks.

Additional stuff to know; We can have only 4 cars parked at the group site. One will be mine. If you have a special need or handicapped sticker, we can work with that. We can draw straws for the remaining spots with all other cars being parked at the camp ranger station, a short walk away.

Meals together would be a plus for mornings and evenings. What can we plan ?

I'd be grateful to begin receiving your paid fees in the near future. You can send them to me at

Jim McConnell

[masked]th Terrace

Seminole, Fl 33776

Thank you for your patience while I have worked on this event. Please weigh in on what you might like to do or see this Fall.

Cheers, Jim

Though we were few, Fall at Cades Cove in Great Smokey Mountain NP was an opportunity to see some fantastic Fall colors. With hope that next year we will have more members join us for the trip, I'm setting some dates now to allow for scheduling vacation and setting  a budget. We enjoyed, hiking, campfires, car touring around the park and a day of shopping in Gatlinburg. The park also offers horse back riding, photo opportunities, back packing and lots of beautiful places to sit and view the Fall foliage. Please have a look at some of our pictures on the post from this years trip and think about joining up for a trip next Fall.

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  • Dee D.

    Good idea to carry that bear spray - Hiker took cell phone photos of bear before fatal New Jersey mauling.

    1 · November 27

    • Trudy A.

      so glad we didn't have any of those close encounters with bears !

      November 27

    • Dee D.

      7 of us did see mama bear and 3 cubs go across the trail on Tuesday.

      November 27

  • Dee D.

    Thought someone got pic of the 4 bears that crossed our path on Tuesday? Maybe not.

    November 6

  • KC, Barefoot Swamp C.

    Thank you everyone for posting so many beautiful pictures. Jose, your pics of the deer are phenomenal. Thanks to EVERYONE for making this trip an unforgettable memory.

    2 · November 2

  • Howard

    Jim, Just wanted to let you know that I had a terrific time and really appreciate your efforts setting it up. The fall colors were peak during the hikes and just magical.

    3 · November 2

  • Dee D.

    Thanks to Jim and everyone. Good for health to spend time in nature. It was fun hearing everyone's stories around the fire each evening. Our site looked rather sadly deserted when I left around 4pm Friday; I got home 4am this morning.
    Anyone lose 8 long tent stakes with aqua colored tops? I found them near where Jose, Ivone, and Howard had their tents.

    1 · November 1

    • Howard

      Yes I lost them. I live in St Pete and they don't cost the price of gas to come retrieve them... Not sure if we will be seeing each other anytime soon so just use or toss and I will replace... thanks so much for the heads up.

      November 2

  • Jose B.

    What a great experience! From perfect weather to rain to a winter storm chasing us home a day early we had it all. Lots of great hiking trails. Thanks everyone for welcoming us and to Jim for all his efforts!!
    Jose & Susan
    Pics coming...

    1 · November 1

  • Trudy A.

    Hubby and I are watching a nice movie together and it's good to be home. I do miss the camp fire ring out in the cold even and talking and sharing at night time like we did. It was so very comforting and a very special time . Gnite all Fare thee well until our next adventure together.

    November 1

  • A former member
    A former member

    What's the wonderful trip. Jim, thank you so much for making this adventure happen.

    1 · November 1

  • diane

    jim thank you nice to meet everybody...see others again wildlife unbelievable.....thanks

    3 · November 1

  • Trudy A.

    If I downloaded too many pictures Jim, please feel free to delete. Maybe duplicates ? or if you don't like . Thanks for helping make such great memories of Cades Cove visit possible for me and all of us ! Trudy :)

    1 · November 1

  • kyle

    What a great trip with wonderful people! Thanks so much to Jim for planning this adventure. Hope to see everyone again soon. Tom and Kyle

    3 · November 1

  • Dee D.

    Will we have a phone contact phone number (Jim or other) for arrival, or not necessary?

    October 25

    • Jim M.

      Dee, my number is[masked]

      October 26

    • Dee D.

      Thanks to Jim & Trudy also sent.

      October 26

  • KC, Barefoot Swamp C.

    Fall Color Report - October 21, 2014

    Sweeping views of fall colors can now be seen throughout the park as we enter late October. Although last week‘s storms blew the leaves off most high elevations trees, as well as trees that were further along at middle and lower elevations, five days of nearly perfect autumn weather have brought an abundance of color to the park, especially at middle elevations.

    Around Cades Cove, approximately 50% of the low elevation trees are still green, but as you look up at the surrounding peaks, color is fully developed above 3,500 feet. We estimate that we’re at least a week away from full color development around the valley floor in the cove.

    Please visit the park’s webcams to see how fall colors are progressing in the park:

    Look Rock (middle elevation) http://goo.gl/a0rD83

    Purchase Knob (high elevation) http://goo.gl/kN5sJV

    October 25

  • Dominique M.

    Hope you all have a good camping trip

    1 · October 25

  • janice o.

    Everyone. .this trip sounds like so much fun!! Wish I was going!! Can't wait for a local campout. In the meantime, have fun, be safe..enjoy!!!

    1 · October 25

    • KC, Barefoot Swamp C.

      I was so hungry to sleep outside in this beautiful weather, I drove over to Ft. DeSoto Thursday and camped. Perfect camping weather ... more so in Tennessee!!

      3 · October 25

  • Trudy A.

    are we allowed to share videos here ? long as it is on topic so here goes , "Heart Warming " https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=464372510267787&set=vb.171330336238674&type=2&theater

    October 25

  • diane

    Anybody else. Bring a bike???gonna bring my road bike (skinny tires)

    October 22

    • Mary C.

      I was going to bring mine - but it's a lot of space and logistics - so I think I will rent one there as well. This means everything will fit in my car!

      1 · October 22

    • KC, Barefoot Swamp C.

      My sister-and-law and I will each have our bicycles with us.

      1 · October 22

  • Dominique M.

    Any possibilities of another meeting? Members seem to have a lot of unanswered questions

    2 · October 8

    • Dee D.

      I'll be unavailable as of Friday morning. Ok with not having pre-trip, or fine with it.

      October 21

    • KC, Barefoot Swamp C.

      We are NOT having a pre-trip meeting. I'm sure everyone will be fine in that there's a camp store nearby and a grocery store within a reasonable drive.

      1 · October 22

  • A former member
    A former member

    A little info...
    1940-The park was formally dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt on September 2, 1940. He spoke from the Rockefeller Monument at Newfound Gap astride the Tennessee - North Carolina state line. That ceremony dedicated a sanctuary that is not a local park, nor a county park, nor even a state park, but a national park for all the people of the country and the rest of the world to enjoy.
    In May, 1926, a bill was signed by President Calvin Coolidge that provided for the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.
    The federal government was not allowed to buy land for national park use, so money to create the park was raised by individuals, private groups, and even school children who pledged their pennies. In the late 1920s, the Legislatures of Tennessee and North Carolina voted to appropriate $2 million each to purchase land for the park.

    2 · October 21

    • Jim M.

      Nice work, Ivone. Lots to like about the park and Cades Cove. I believe hay ride reservations must be made as soon as you arrive at the . The stables are on the right side and before you reach the rangers stationn

      October 21

  • A former member
    A former member

    Cades Cove Evening Hayride

    EVERY TUESDAY WEEKLY FROM 09/23/2014 TO 10/28/2014

    Location: Cades Cove Riding Stables
    Time: 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
    Fee Information: $14.00/person

    Join a ranger for an evening open air hayride viewing wildlife and discovering the diversity of life in the Cove. Hayrides can fill up quickly, first-come, first-serve for this program.

    1 · October 21

  • A former member
    A former member

    If you arrive Monday check out this event.

    Selu: The Legacy of the Corn Mother
    Hoe cakes, hominy, mush, cornbread, hush puppies, or white lightning – no matter what form it took, corn played an important role in Smokies' history. Come learn more about this versatile plant.
    EVERY MONDAY WEEKLY FROM 09/22/2014 TO 10/27/2014

    Time: 2:30 PM to 3:15 PM
    Location: Sugarlands Visitor Center
    Fee Information: Free

    1 · October 21

  • A former member
    A former member

    The below was posted by the GSM on their FB page.
    The seed of the persimmon tree, found deep within these fleshy edible fruits were (and still are) used by people in this area to predict the weather for the coming winter. Inside each seed you will find one of three possible outcomes: a knife, a fork or a spoon.
    If you open the seed to find the knife the winter will be so cold you could cut it with a knife. A fork, and it will be so warm that you could have picnics all through the winter. If you find a spoon, as we did, it means that you will have so much snow that you will be shoveling all winter long. So it looks like we are in for a crazy winter. Share one of the ways you use to predict the coming winter in the comments below.
    How interesting! luckily we'll be gone before that snow sets in!

    October 21

  • Kat D.

    OK I give up, what is bear spray? Is that a joke?

    1 · October 18

    • Jim M.

      A can of high pressure Capsaicin pepper spray used to deter a charging bear. Most often carried out west in Grizzly country. Rarely used or needed even there if you are bear smart. The real stuff is $35 to $50 per canister. It is not the typical self defense pepper spray you might carry on your key chain.

      October 21

  • diane

    how are we doing on firewood???

    October 15

    • Jim M.

      Self starter logs are ok. No firewood may be brought into the park.

      October 17

    • Jim M.

      Firewood is for sale at $5 per bundle in the camp store. Usually 3 bundles a night. Smores fixings are available at the park store. I have 6 pack of Hersheys chocolate bars.

      1 · October 21

  • Dominique M.

    Jim, I have to cancel the camping trip for this year.
    Have family matters to take care off. So my spot is now open

    October 16

    • Dee D.

      I notice some are dropping out with just a comment instead of changing their RSVP. No one can move up from the wait list that way, or is it too late for any of them to join in the fun?

      1 · October 21

    • Jim M.

      Not too late to come along if some one notifies me asap. I wanted to close down rsvp's to keep the final number of travelers below our camp site limit. There has been so much changing of go / no go over the last few weeks I'm fairly confused about our final count.

      1 · October 21

  • A former member
    A former member

    Weather forecast for camping trip so far as follows...
    Mon 68/45, Tues 68/39, Wed 67/39, Thurs 67/38, Friday 67/38 and no precipitation for now. Historical lows 15F to23F and highs up to 85F. Looks like gorgeous weather for hiking and no a/c needed!

    October 18

  • Dee D.

    Should we have bear spray? Sorry if topic already covered, I don't see it.

    October 17

    • Jim M.

      I have two canisters. No need to buy bear spray if you have a few rocks in your pocket. I typically do not take this along tot he smokies but since ther e is some concern I'll bring it along.

      2 · October 18

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Jim , I decide to drive solo in my Prius. Probably will start at Saturday and stop by Atlanta. I'm going to return earlier , possibly Thursday. See you at the park

    October 18

    • Jim M.

      Ok ,Anna , thank you for the update. If I could, I'd leave Saturday too but I can't leave till mid day Sunday. Travel safely and I will see you at the park.

      October 18

  • Pat C.

    I'm sorry to miss this fall adventure! Kept hoping the timing would work for me but not so. Wishing everyone a great time.

    October 15

    • Jim M.

      Thank you for changing your status. Look ahead to seeing you another time.

      October 17

  • Mary C.

    I just got back from a few days in the NC mountains -- the fall colors have begun! Hope there are still some left when we get to Cades Cove...

    1 · October 10

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hi Mary,

      1 · October 11

    • A former member
      A former member

      That's wonderful news! BTW...Thank you for offering to bring up an extra sleeping bag but we decided to purchase one. Thanks again for offering. Look forward to seeing you in the Cades.

      October 11

  • Trudy A.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/pasta-with-pumpkin-and-sausage-0222688.html

    ( maybe substitute Turkey Sausage to cut the calories ? ) Dry White Wine ... wonder if Zinfandel will work, I like that.
    Mary mentioned she had an Iron Skillet to fry in she was bringing that we could use. What other cook ware do we need , A Big Boiling Pan for water to cook Pasta , a colander to strain it with, a chopping board , knife and the disposable bowls with plastic ware to eat out of , right ? Trying to keep it simple or is this just too fancy for camp food ?
    Seems like a "Fall Theme" is why I posted it . It would definitely warm up a cold and empty belly .

    October 9

  • Eve

    Anyone want to take my place? I can't go.

    October 3

    • Dominique M.

      Any more room in the 6 person tent?I missed all the meetings. Would appreciate some updates about food preparation etc.I could leave on Sunday. Anyone renting a cabin or not?If not would have to get sleeping bag.Thanks

      October 7

    • A former member
      A former member

      I will not be going, so my spot opened up.

      October 7

  • Dominique M.

    I missed the meeting because I was hiking in the Alpes. Is there still possibility of carpooling and getting a room nearby?

    1 · October 6

  • Laura D.

    Hi,
    here's the campground info. They will know best if there's any lodging close by.
    Cades Cove Campground
    Address: 10035 Campground Dr, Townsend, TN 37882

    Phone:(865)[masked]

    1 · September 21

  • Trudy A.

    October 5

  • Dayna

    Anyone want to share a ride

    October 4

    • Dayna

      Trying to reply

      October 5

    • Dayna

      Sorry I will have to back out. Someone can have my spot. I can't go alone

      October 5

  • Carol M.

    Hi Jim. Tried to send you a message, but not sure it went through. My employer needed to know if I was taking the week off of work. Carpooling looked like a dim prospect by Friday afternoon, so I did not request the time off I will definately try again next year! Thank you for everything and I will definately join any adventures closer to home. We all appreciate the hard work organizers do for us to share in the fun. Thank you!

    October 5

  • diane

    Didn't make the meeting...can I ask what the status of Carpooling is? WoUld like to carpool or can use the van as a cargo transport to take fewer cars?

    1 · October 4

    • Jim M.

      Dianne, we definitely need carpool volunteers. I've asked carol m to reconsider and go. We could use the van to carry gear, put one person with you for company and have 2 or 3 of us in my CRV. Going to Shell Key for the weekend. Send me your phone number and I'll call to work on some details.

      1 · October 4

  • Carol M.

    Finding a carpool to go with did not work out this year, so I will wait and try again next year. I am not able to drive so far alone. It was great meeting everyone Wednesday, and I look forward to hiiking or kayaking with you at a future adventure. Have fun!

    October 4

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great meeting everyone last night! Look forward to Cades Cove adventure with yáll. Jim, Thank you for your time and good info.

    2 · October 2

    • Carol M.

      Great meeting everyone. Hoping to carpool with someone and pay for gas and tolls. I live a few miles off the suncoast pky off of Euclid in Tampa.

      October 2

  • Karen

    Hi Jim et al, I have a situation at work, so at this point I am on the fence about being able to take the time off. Because of this, I am going to give my spot to someone on the wait list. Hopefully I will be able to attend the next event. Have a great time everyone!

    2 · September 23

  • Ed B.

    Thanks for setting up the meeting Jim. Do you have a current count on how many are camping? See you at Panera's on Kennedy & Westshore 730p Oct 1st !

    1 · September 21

    • Jim M.

      Hello Ed, I have 32 that have answered in the affirmative but not all have paid. I'll be dropping anyone not paid by the meeting at Panerra. We are 2 over capacity but I'm gonna be like the airlines and overbook.

      2 · September 22

  • MARCIA

    Teresa, I have not received a response. Ivone stated that Jim is away, so am assuming that is the reason. I am not sure if there are any other non-campers with our same interest! Like you I would love to go if there are some type of accommodations! Marcia

    1 · September 14

    • MARCIA

      Thanks for the information Jim!

      September 17

    • A former member
      A former member

      Marcia, Did you find lodging?

      September 21

  • Laura D.

    How to we get on board? Should I just send Jim money for the 2 of us. Marty is not signed on as a member yet. Guess we should do that first. Sorry, this is all new to us.Oh...I see a wait list mentioned. Can we get on that?
    PS Pisanos name is DiGiovanni:)

    August 17

    • Sara R.

      Hi Jim, I really want to join in, if another spot is available will you please let me know.

      September 21

    • Sara R.

      Thank you Jim!!

      September 21

  • Dayna

    Would like to share the drive/ride.

    September 20

  • diane

    Take good notes at meeting...I gotta work

    1 · September 20

  • MARCIA

    Since I am not a camper (as in have never been camping) but would love to join you all on the hikes and events, are there any cabins or anything near by that one might rent and be able to join in?

    1 · August 26

    • Carol M.

      Thank you! I would love the spot. Super excited about the trip.

      1 · September 19

    • Trudy A.

      Thanks so very much. Sure, count me in on the ladies dorm tent , I will also pack light( one duffle bag and a personal item carry along and my pillow or will that be too much ) Do I bring my own mattress, or just a sleeping bag to go on a cot ? Personal picnic basket and food needed too? Buying my own food after we get there might work , or must I pack the food supply ahead of time. I need someone to drive and I'll split the gas fare$ . I just wanna nap and be quiet enjoy nature , and most of all need a change of pace from doing dishes and laundry for a week .

      September 20

  • Eve

    Jim,
    When is the next meeting? I lost the email you sent. Want to put it in my calendar.

    September 18

  • A former member
    A former member

    Ok, I'm putting this out to the universe. I have a 2011 jeep Wrangler Sahara 4 door 4 x 4 hard top, room for 4 with luggage. If anyone is interested in riding with me send me an email. Or call me.

    1 · August 13

    • Jim M.

      Hi Michael and thank you for stepping up with your very cool ride. I'll let you work out details with those who have responded in the affirmative.

      September 16

    • A former member
      A former member

      The jeep no longer exists. Sorry, the good news is that it's now a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Maybe $100 - $125 round trip for gas, room for maybe 1 max 2 people with not a lot of room for gear, oh how I miss my jeep.....

      September 17

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