Author Danny Bernstein, Cataloochee Ranch’s Judy Coker lead May 17 hike to Hemphill Bald


On Thursday, May 17, turn back time to the cool spring breezes of years gone by with a guided hike to the high-elevation, history-rich trail to Hemphill Bald. Hiking enthusiast and author Danny Bernstein (“Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage”), will lead, and Judy Coker of Cataloochee Ranch, which borders the park along the trail, will join the group. This 8.4 mile “Classic Hike of the Smokies” is moderate in difficulty and has a total elevation gain/descent of 1,500 ft.a

Coker will share stories about the relationship of her family over generations with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, conserving land, and entertaining mountain guests. The Hemphill Bald Trail follows the spine of the Cataloochee Divide, affording stunning vistas on a clear day and spring wildflowers long gone at lower elevations.

Participants may gather to depart from Asheville at 8:30 a.m. or Waynesville at 9:00 a.m. Meeting locations specified upon registration. Hikers should come prepared with food, water and appropriate hiking gear for the all day excursion. A donation of $35 to go to the Friends’ Smokies Trails Forever program is requested, and includes a complimentary membership to Friends of the Smokies. A donation of $10 is requested from current Friends of the Smokies members. Members who bring a friend hike for free.

“Classic Hikes of the Smokies” occur on the third Thursday of every month. Other hikes in the 2012 series include the Appalachian Trail and Andrews Bald in June, and Purchase Knob in July.

To register for any of the hikes, contact Friends of the Smokies at or 828-452-0720. For more information, including a complete list of the North Carolina Classic Hikes series, visit Information about helping with the improvements to these special trails can be found at

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