Great Smoky Mountains Association announces August Branch Out events

Press release from the Great Smoky Mountains Association:

Cultural history, natural surroundings, park cemeteries and sweat-inducing, blood-pumping hikes. These are just a few of the topics to be explored in Great Smoky Mountains Association’s Branch Out adventures. Those interested in learning more about our country’s most visited national park are encouraged to join any of these programs set within Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk
11 a.m. Saturday, August 11
Laughing Heart Lodge, Hot Springs, North Carolina

Join Great Smoky Mountains Association in the comfort of the Chapel at Laughing Heart Lodge as actress Anne Van Curen transforms into Rowena “Grandma” Gatewood. Anne’s portrayal will take the audience back in time as she describes the difficult times in her life that lead her to hiking all those years ago and how she became the first woman to complete the Appalachian Trail at the age of 67.

Alum Cave Bluffs Naturalist Ramble
9 a.m. Friday, August 24
Alum Cave Trail – GSMNP, Tennessee

When you hike Alum Cave Trail, you’ll travel the park’s latest Trails Forever success story. What was a worn path full of trip hazards is now a safer, smoother trip along one of the most scenic trails in the Smokies. After thousands of hours of hard work by the Trails Forever Crew, it’s now safe (and recommended!) to look beyond your feet as we explore the natural beauty of this trail with professional guide Liz Domingue of Just Get Outdoors.

Drawing Animals of the Great Smoky Mountains
10 a.m. Saturday, August 18
Sugarlands Visitor Center – Tennessee

Explore the beauty of the Smokies with artist, naturalist and GSMA employee Emma DuFort as she leads us through the basic elements of drawing animals that call the Smokies home. Our two-hour program is designed for anyone hoping to learn more about drawing wildlife, whether as a field naturalist, working artist or a hobbyist.

Most Branch Out event fees are $35, with GSMA members receiving a $15 discount. Proceeds from registration fees support GSMNP through a scope of work that concentrates on education, research and preservation efforts. Because most programs require participation restrictions, registration is required online at or by phone at 865.436.7318, Ext. 349.

Great Smoky Mountains Association-sponsored Branch Out events are designed to enhance greater public understanding, enjoyment and appreciation of the national park. A national park partner, GSMA has provided more than $40 million to support the park’s educational, scientific and historical programs since its inception 65 years ago.

Support for the association is achieved primarily from sales of educational publications and from annual membership dues. Those who wish to enrich their national park experience are encouraged to become GSMA members. For more information about GSMA’s membership and volunteer opportunities, visit or call 888.898.9102, Ext. 222 or 349.

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