Light morning exercise before breakfast. Getting on/off transportation; driving 32 miles, approximately 45 minutes to Baxter Creek. Walking four miles or much less, approximately 3-4 hours depending on the speed of the group and the number of stops along the way; rocky, well-traveled trails. Trailhead is at 1700 feet with an average grade of 12%. Wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring daypacks with water, sunscreen, bug spray, sweater and/or rain jacket.
In the hotel dining room, we will have a plentiful buffet featuring a variety of items including scrambled eggs, a meat and a starch option, and seasonal fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, water. Soft drinks may be purchased in the hotel lobby.
We’ll hop aboard our transportation and head out for a full-day field trip to Baxter Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). This is the most visited National Park in the entire system, yet, given the fact that it covers 500,000 acres, seldom seems crowded. It is also the most biodiverse, supporting more than 19,000 documented species of plants and animals — including more than 1,500 flowering plant species — thanks to the combination of mountains that formed 200-300 million years ago, the climate, and weather. GSMNP contains more than 800 miles of trails through scenic forests. With our local expert naturalists, we will walk along the trail together, identifying plants and hearing about their usage and folklore. The trail wanders beside a mountain stream, then veers off to a small open meadow; these two environments offer the potential for a wide variety of spring ephemerals.
In the park, we’ll have boxed lunches including a sandwich, fruit, chips, water, and a sweet. Our local naturalist instructor will give a more detailed instruction on how to use the non-technical key to identify plants. We will be using the Newcomb Guide, please bring your copy to use on the trail.
Along the trail, our local naturalists will give us an introduction to the unique features of this environment and its history. This is a good area for trillium. Our naturalists will assist you in identification. We’ll return to the hotel after our field trip.
Dining room buffet.
At the hotel, we'll enjoy an educational talk that pertains to the areas we'll visit this week.