Achieving GSMNP Hike 100 Challenge

Julie Dodd at Andrews Bald

Andrews Bald provided wonderful views of mountain ridge tops and fall colors.

I’ve accomplished the Hike 100 Challenge!

I reached the 100th mile during a hike to Andrews Bald, near Clingman’s Dome, the highest peak in the Tennessee portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Reds and yellows of trees and bushes provided color along the trail, and the bald was surrounded by mountains showing fall foilage. Two ravens did a flyover as part of the celebration of my hiking.

Thanks to everyone who hiked with me, cheered for me, prayed for my safety, and asked me how my hiking progress was going. I completed my hikes on three trips to the Smokies — May, July and October, which provided different seasonal views of the beauty of the Smokies.

The Hike 100 Challenge is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s celebration of the National Park Service’s Centennial. Hikers were challenged to hike 100 miles on trails in the Great Smoky Mountains during 2016.

LeConte Lodge

LeConte Lodge, atop Mt. Le Conte, can be reached only by hiking.

By checking #Hike100 on Twitter, I have been following others on the quest for their 100 miles. Those who hike the 100 miles will receive a Hike 100 pin and will be invited to an event with GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash on Dec. 8.

I will email the log of my hikes to the GSMNP to receive a pin, but the real thrill has been the hiking.

I’ve hiked some of my favorite trails (some several times) and hiked a few new trails. I had many trails to choose from, as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has more than 900 miles of maintained trails.

I hiked to Mt. Le Conte via Rainbow Falls when the rhododendron was starting to bloom. I enjoyed an overnight at the LeConte Lodge, with a wonderful sunset at Cliff Tops and the chance to see the llamas that do the mountain-top deliveries.

Little River in GSMNP

I hiked the Little River Trail in Elkmont several times, enjoying rhododendron in bloom in the summer and colorful leaves in the fall.

One of my hikes to Alum Cave Bluff was as a volunteer with the Friends of the Smokies Trails Forever crew to help with the Alum Cave Trail restoration.

I hiked Little River Trail in Elkmont in spring, summer and fall, enjoying the rush of the water and the changes in the scenery depending on the season.

I hiked two small sections of the Appalachian Trail, which crosses through the Park. I’m impressed with the fitness, persistence and planning of those who hike the AT.

Some hikes include reminders of a time when people lived in the area, before the area became a national park, or when the Civilian Conservation Corps had camps in the park and developed trails, bridges and roadways.

In my hiking, I’ve seen hundreds of other hikers. A diverse collection of ages, race and ethnicity. In conversations with some hikers, I learned that some were hiking for the first time in the Smokies while others hike frequently in the Smokies. Some were hiking for the very first time.

wildflowers in Smokies

Wildflowers provide a special addition to a hike, but the timing has to be right.

I certainly have many wonderful memories of hiking – many of those hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with family, friends and my Girl Scout troop as I was growing up.

Included in this post are photos from my hikes to help you get the feeling of being on the trail.

I hope you will have the opportunity, before the end of 2016, to take a hike in the woods. Good for your fitness and for your outlook.


  1. Very Cool!!!


    1. Thanks, Cathy. Being able to hike the trails in the Smokies with friends and family during three seasons of one year was a joy.


  2. […] a big fan of the Smokies, and I recently completed the Hike 100 Challenge. GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash made the challenge last winter, and Dec. 8 was announced as the […]


  3. […] completed the Hike 100 Challenge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and enjoyed writing a post about my Hike 100 Challenge experience and including some of my photos from the […]


  4. […] just received my Hike 100 Challenge pin in the […]


  5. […] I also have been able to make vacation trips to more than a dozen national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park. What treasures the national parks […]


  6. […] — mountain laurel, rushing mountain streams and rhododendron — were taken during hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a favorite location since I hiked there with my family and Girl Scout […]


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