This fall, Great Smoky Mountains Association, in partnership with Carolina Mountain Club, released an updated version of the “100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge” map and guide.
This is the first time the map has been updated in more than 25 years. The full-color map printed on waterproof paper is perfect for choosing and keeping track of trails – 27 of which are found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Originally created in 1966 by Bernard Elias, the map was an immediate hit among avid hikers – its portable package featuring the very best hikes in both the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Upon his death in 2010, Elias, a charter member of the Sierra Club Appalachian Trail Conservancy, proclaimed the map to be the greatest accomplishment of his life.
“Bernard was one of the great environmentalists of Asheville and the sole person responsible for maintaining the map,” said Steve Kemp, former interpretive products and services director at Great Smoky Mountains Association. “He would hike 10 to 12 trails a year and update the information using a special shorthand he had created.”
Elias updated the “100 Favorite Trails” map 13 times until its last printing in 1993 when his age prevented him from completing many of the map’s trails. After that, the map went out of print and remained largely forgotten until Kemp stumbled upon a copy in a Little Switzerland bookstore. With a bit of research, Kemp realized how highly sought-after the map was, with copies selling for up to $300 online. In 2014, he reached out to the Carolina Mountain Club about printing a long-overdue update.
Soon Carolina Mountain Club council member Steven Pierce got involved.
While previous versions of the map included trails more geared toward backpackers, the updated edition focuses on day hikes of varying lengths in the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The “100 Favorite Trails” map is best suited for selecting and keeping track of trails hiked in the area, and its creators recommend that, when setting out on a trail, people carry a more detailed map focused on that particular area.
Printed in full color on waterproof paper, “The 100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge” contains numbered trail locations, trail lengths, and elevation gains, as well as detailed hike directions. When folded, it measures 4 inches by 8 inches. The newly updated map and guide is available for $12.95 in the park’s visitor center bookstores and at GSMA’s online store, smokiesinformation.org.
For more information about GSMA, visit smokiesinformation.org.