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Benton MacKaye Trail Assn Hike Schedule



1/8, Sunday January Monthly Meeting and annual Hike and Event Planning Meeting

We will meet at 2:00 p.m. in the Family Resource Agency’s conference room, as in ages past.  We will be planning future hikes, meetings and other events for 2017.  If you are interested in leading a hike in 2017, or would like to provide any other positive input or constructive advice, please attend!  Non-members interested in joining the club are also invited.  If you come, feel free to bring refreshments, but this is not required.  (Coconut cream pie, pecan pie and carrot cake will be especially appreciated; also coffee and drinks.)  James Anderson will host the meeting. See newsletter for exact location directions.

1/17-19, Thursday-Sunday - Winter Hike Week in the Smokies - Sponsored by SEFTC

Many of you have in past years enjoyed the winter hiking experience during Wilderness Wildlife Week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The tradition continues. Under the auspices of the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition (SEFTC), the second annual Winter Hike Week will be held January 19-22 in Pigeon Forge, TN.  Several hikes ranging from easy to strenuous will be held each day, beginning on Thursday, the 19th, and concluding on Sunday, the 22nd. Participants are urged to arrive on Wednesday afternoon, if possible, to take advantage of the full hike schedule. All hikes will be led by hike leaders familiar with the GSMNP trails. There is a $25 charge by SEFTC for the event, whether you are there one day or all days. This goes to fund SEFTC's hiking and foot trails program. The SEFTC will hold its annual meeting for SEFTC board members and leadership council members on Saturday. For those not participating in that meeting, a full hiking schedule is provided Saturday.  For all the details and to register please go to the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition website then on the opening page click on the icon in the upper right for the "Winter Hiking Event" to access information and registration. If winter hiking in the Smokies is new to you, it is actually not that strange. For some it is even the preferred season, with the smallest crowds. Ice and snow is usually not a problem, with significant snow collection mainly at the highest elevations. Usually January hikers can hike most days at lower elevations, where most of our treks occur. Should heavy snows occur, alternative low elevation flatter hikes may be substituted.  SEFTC is planning for well over a hundred people for this event. In 2016 SEFTC held this event successfully for the first time, and plans to make it an annual January occasion.  So make your special winter hiking plans now for the January 2017 SEFTC Winter Hike Week in America's most visited national park by going to the SEFTC website and registering and reserving your inn or hotel room as instructed there.

1/28 – Saturday – Dry Pond Lead hike - Section 12 of the BMT. Hike leader: Randy Morris. Strenuous, 9 miles, around 1700 feet elevation gain. Meet at Ocoee Hardees at 8:30 a.m. or at the Thunder Rock parking area at 9:00 a.m. Contact Randy at 423-650-0485.

We will hike part of Section 12 of the Benton-MacKaye Trail—commonly known as the Dry Pond Lead Trail— for a total mileage of approximately 9 miles. There is in excess of 1700 feet of elevation gain within the first 4 miles so I am rating this hike as strenuous. There are normally great winter views of Brock Mountain, the Ocoee Gorge and sometimes Big Frog Mountain on this trail which meanders along the NW boundary of the Little Frog Mountain Wilderness Area for much of the hike. Note: This hike will be cancelled in the event of rain or snow on the morning of the event so be sure and contact Randy via text or call to ensure you will get notice in case of cancellation. We will meet in the parking lot behind Hardees in Ocoee at 8:30 a.m. for the trip up the gorge to the parking lot at Thunder Rock Campground. We will depart from the Campground parking lot just after 9:00 a.m. If interested in attending, please call or text Randy by Friday evening, January 30, at 650-0485 no later than 8:30 p.m.
Hike Report: Five club members and one guest hiked approximately 9 miles (either 8.5 or 8.9 miles depending on which electronic device you trust) on the Dry Pond Lead Trail, which borders the Little Frog Wilderness Area for much of its length.  According to one of the devices, my pre-hike estimate of 1700 feet of elevation gain was spot on!  The weather was great—an absolutely beautiful, sunny winter day with clear blue skies. We had fantastic views of the western and eastern mountain ranges - viewing Oswald Dome, Brock Mountain and Starr Mountain to the west, and Big Frog and the distant ranges in Georgia to the east, as well as Panther Knob in the Little Frog.  Two of the group used their “Peak Finder” apps on their phones to find distant mountains like Blood Mountain on the AT, which was visible on the horizon.  We also investigated a large hornet nest, which some considered might be an interesting addition to their homes. We ate lunch near the end of the Dry Pond Lead Trail on the flank of Little Frog Mountain, where the Benton MacKaye trail separates and heads off around and down the mountain to Kimsey Highway.  Enjoying the hike were club members Jack and Megan Callahan, James Anderson, Sue Robinson and Randy Morris (hike leader) as well as guest Debbie Crowder.  Part of the group is shown below, thanks to Jack Callahan, who took the picture!  More pictures of this event can be viewed at



2/2, Thursday – Booker T. Washington Hike, Lakeshore to Park’s Point.  Leader: Ann Gray.  Easy, 3 miles.  Meet at the Cleveland Hardee’s on 2780 Keith Street at 9:00 a.m.

Trip Report: This winter hike was attended by 11 folks who enjoyed the shoreline of Chickamauga Lake in 45-degree temperatures.  Those attending included club members hike leader Ann Gray, Edmond and Gail Gray, Clayton and Ruth Pannell, Jack and Margaret Callahan, Lettie Burress, Karen Young, new club member
Sandra Woolsey and guest Butch Gregg.  We hiked between 3 and 4 miles, depending on which trail one took.  Most of us ended the hike with a delicious meal at the Countryside Restaurant on the way back home.  It was a fun way to celebrate Groundhog’s Day - and Clayton’s birthday! The picture below shows the happy but chilly group of hikers.  More pictures of this event can be viewed at

2/4, Saturday – Thunder Rock Express Hike.  Leader: Clayton & Ruth Pannell.  Easy with optional strenuous climb.  3.5 miles with car shuttle. We will do a car shuttle up to where the BMT crosses FS RD 45.  We will hike south on the BMT to the Thunder Rock Express, and follow it back to the power house and parking lot.  Note: this trail is also a bike trail and may have bicyclists on it.  Please dress in layers for cold weather and bring plenty of water, as winter air may be very drying.  This hike is part of the Tanasi Trail System in back of the White Water Center.  See for a map of the Tanasi Trail System.Please meet at the Hardee’s in Ocoee at 9:00 a.m. to carpool, or at the shuttle location in the Thunder Rock Trail parking area at 9:45 a.m.  Contact Clayton at 423-263-9730 (home), 423-435-1843 (cell) or email at .

Trip Report: Before daylight on the 5th, the temperature was 22 degrees.  Would this be a Thunder Rock Express or the North Pole Express?  After the sun came up, we greeted each other in the trailhead parking lot and then completed a car shuttle to where the trail crosses USFR 45.  The temperature had risen by that time to 30 degrees, and we started our hike.  Most of the hike on the BMT was up the grade on an old road.  Next came the Chestnut Mountain section down an old road to the Thunder Rock Express.  Yes, the rock is still in the tree along the trail, as it has been for years!  Then we arrived at our destination near the parking lot, and the temperature was up by that time.  A short walk further, and we arrived at the parking area, where some of us stayed and had lunch at the picnic tables.  Overall, it ended up a beautiful day with sunshine and cool temperatures, and we only saw two bike riders on the trail. Hikers included Jack Callahan, Linda Kryssing, Susan Robertson, Ruth and Clayton Pannell (hike leaders), and guests Brian Beck and Michael Truch.  The hike leaders want to thank everyone who came out to enjoy this winter hike.

2/9, Thursday – Club Meeting at Monterrey Mexican Restaurant at 3055 Keith Street in Cleveland at 6:00. We will have dinner, and then start the meeting around 7:00 p.m.  All members and guests are invited!  

2/18, Saturday – Fort Loudon State Park hike.   Leader: Sue Robinson.  3.5 miles, easy/moderate. This hike is taking place at historic Fort Loudoun State Park in Vonore, TN.  This will be an easy to moderate 3.5 mile hike (with an optional extra 1/4 mile).  The trail is along the perimeter of lake, and has some ups and downs, but is generally easy walking and with nice views of the lake.  This is a good dog walk; Sue will probably bring her dog.  All dogs must be on a leash. There is a museum/gift shop (and bathrooms!) on the premise for those interested in the history of the Fort.  Plan to meet and start hiking at 11:00 a.m. in the parking lot by the museum. You can reach Sue by texting 423-519-9751 (cell), or calling 423-253-6817.  

Trip Report: After all the sunny and 70 degree temps earlier in the week, Jack and Margaret Callahan, and hike leader Sue Robinson and her dog Zoe hiked the 3.8 mile trail at Fort Loudoun in the cold rain.  Luckily it wasn't a downpour, and the hike was still enjoyable.  

2/25, Saturday – Stone Door Hike at Savage Gulf State Natural Area on Big Creek Rim and Laurel Loop Trails.  Leader: Jack Callahan.  Easy/moderate, 7 miles, 100 feet in elevation gain. This hike will take place in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area on the Big Creek Rim and Laurel Loop Trails.  We will have a good view of the Great Stone Door and the gulfs.  The trailhead is at the Stone Door Ranger Station at 1183 Stone Door Road, Beersheba Springs TN, and follows Big Creek Rim Trail out and Laurel Trail back to the beginning.  We will meet at the Cleveland Home Depot parking lot at 8:30 a.m. to carpool to the trailhead.  Drive time to trail head is around 1.5 hours.  Pack a lunch.  If interested, please contact Jack at 423-284-7885 or

Trip Report: Seven hikers made the trek to Beersheba Springs and made a loop hike for a total of 7.5 miles.  We had clear, crisp weather with great views of the gulf from numerous overlooks.  The hike leader walked right past a side trail to the Stone Door but new club member Sandra Woolsey got a great photo of it. After returning to Rangers Station at the trailhead, we dropped our packs and made the short hike to Laurel Falls, which was experiencing a nice volume of water due to rains the night before.  On the way home, we stopped at the Swiss Bakery in Tracy City to stock up on baked goods.  Attending were members Jack Callahan (hike leader), Margaret Callahan, Randy Morris, Sue Robinson, Sandra Woolsey, Buddy Arnold and guest Kathleen Wynegar.  The lovely Laurel Falls is shown below, photo courtesy of Sandra Woolsey.  Other photos of this fun trip can be found at

2/16, Thursday – Day Hike to Mount LeConte on the Alum Cave Bluff Trail.  Leader: Buddy Arnold.  Alum Bluff Trail.  About 5.5 miles one way, so 11 miles total.  Elevation gain of about 2700 feet, rated very strenuous.  Need cold weather gear and microspikes like YakTracs. Bring lunch to eat on top.  Meet at Home Depot at 6:00 am.  Will plan to stop and eat on way back. Will have to check on road conditions to trailhead Thursday afternoon before a definite go.  Some snow forecast Thursday morning but Friday supposed to be sunny. Please contact Buddy at 601-415-3551 (home), 423-339-2621 (cell) or via email at for more information.


3/9, Thursday – Club Meeting at the Old Fort Restaurant , 1422 25th Street, Cleveland TN, at 6:00 p.m. We will have dinner, and then start the meeting around 7:00 p.m.  All members and guests are invited!   This restaurant gets good reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook and other review sites.  Here is their Facebook page: .

3/11, Saturday – Oswald Dome Hike in Reliance TN, Trail #80.  Leader: Sue Robinson.  7-8 miles total, 2000 foot elevation gain, moderate/strenuous.  Great workout.  Meet at Trail head at the Quinn Springs campground parking lot on Highway 30 at 10:00 a.m.; bathrooms at trail head.  Text Sue at 423-519-9751 or call her at 423-253-6817.

Trip Report: We had a good turnout of 7 on this hike: 5 members of the club, including Sue Robinson (hike leader), and 2 guests.  A few wildflowers just starting to bloom were noted at lower elevation, along with some good views on the way up.  We also noted a definite temperature change after we reached the 200 foot elevation line. We ate our lunch at the top, wishing there was hot tea and hot chocolate. rain occurred, as forecasted, but we did have a little snow and sleet.  In general, there is one lap of this hike that in my opinion is a good workout.  And we met a trail runner on the trail who was running a little more than 6 laps that day!  

3/16, Thursday – Indian Boundary Hike.  Leader: Ann or Ruth?  Miles/rating: ? Meet at the Etowah Food City (841 U.S. 411, Etowah TN) at 9:00 a.m. or at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center (225 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains TN) at 10:00 a.m.  If interested, please contact Ann Gray at 479-7511 (home), 240-8863 (cell) or by email at

3/25, Saturday – Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest/Haw Knob Hikes.  Leader: Jack Callahan.   Meet at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center (225 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains TN) at 9:00 a.m. to carpool. This is two hikes in one.  Our first stop will be the hike in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest; this one is a moderate hike of 2 miles through old growth forest.  We will eat a picnic lunch there.  Our next stop will begin the trip back to Tellico Plains with a hike to the top of the Hooper Bald meadow and back; this one will also be moderate, going 1.5 miles one way, with a 200 feet elevation gain. Please bring a picnic lunch and plenty of water. We will meet at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center (225 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains TN) at 9:00 a.m. to carpool.  Contact Jack at 423-284-7885 or

Trip Report: Ten people made the hike in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, including 4 visitors.  One leg of the lower loop is closed due to wildfire damage from last fall, but the open sections gave us access to the giant yellow poplars, which dominate the hike.  Some of the large trees are over 20 feet in circumference; with heights up to 130 feet... they are imposing, as can be seen in the picture below.  Wildflowers are just beginning to bloom along the trail, and the trilliums are emerging by the hundreds, and will be in full bloom in another week or so.  Along the trail we identified several artists’ conch shelf mushrooms. At the end of the hike we had a picnic lunch in the picnic area at the trailhead.  After lunch eight of us went on to hike up to Hooper Bald, a short 0.6 mile walk to the upper end of the bald, where there are vistas looking north.  The fog had cleared by afternoon and we were able to identify several balds and ridgelines toward the Smokies.  Hikers included club members Jack Callahan (hike leader), Margaret and Megan Callahan, Sue and John Robinson, Mike Friedman, and visitors Emma Pembroke, Rhonda Scott, Laurie Minner, and Shirley Wright.  More photos are available at


4/1, Saturday – BMT Hike on the BMT, Section 5 (Wilscott Gap to Shallowford Bridge)  Leader: Randy Morris.  Strenuous, 7.7 miles, around 4100 foot in elevation gain (up & down).  Car shuttle needed.  Meet at the Hardee’s in Ocoee to carpool (time TBA).  Contact Randy at 423-650-0485.  We may eat in Blue Ridge GA on the way back. This strenuous hike on Section 5 of the BMT involves approximately 2000 feet of elevation gain as we will go over or near the summits of four named peaks, including Brawley Mountain and Tipton Mountain, before we drop back down in elevation for the last section along the shoaling Toccoa River.  The total elevation change for the hike (up and down) is approximately 4,100 feet. We will drive to Shallowford Bridge south of Blue Ridge, GA and set a car shuttle in place and then proceed to the Wilscot Gap trailhead on Highway 60 to begin the hike—going northeast to southwest on BMT section 5. The trail encompasses a wide variety of habitats from dry upland forests to moist bottomland and areas of pine. CANCELLED, May be rescheduled later

4/7, Friday - Old Stone Fort State Park Hike – Hike leader: Ann Gray.  Rating: easy.  Length: 1.25 miles. We will visit the old Stone Fort State Park and go on a short hike, but first we will eat. The original mill dates back to 1812, but burned in the 1860's and was rebuilt in 1870.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places.  The 877-acre historic park is located about 2 miles off the interstate, and was a 2000-year old Indian ceremonial site. To carpool, please meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Hardee's on Keith Street in Cleveland, address 2780 Keith Street.  We will drive 2 hours to Readyville TN, which is 17 miles off I-24, exit 97, south of Murfreesboro.  We will first eat brunch at Goodness Gracious at the Readyville Mill.  They serve a wonderful breakfast/brunch/lunch, where you can order off of any of the 3 menus (breakfast, brunch or lunch).  Following brunch, the group will head south to the Old Stone Fort State Park, taking Exit 105 to get to the park.  There is a small museum there where you can see an 18 minute film and walk an easy loop trail of 1.25 miles along the Duck River with numerous waterfalls. If interested in attending, call Ann Gray at 423-240-8863.

4/8, Saturday – Cloudland Canyon Hike on the Bear Creek Backcountry Trail in Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia.  (NOTE: Requires permit at park office.)  Leader: Buddy Arnold.  Strenuous, 9 miles.  Trail can be subject to closing in high water.  If trail is closed, we will consider doing the West Rim Loop trail combined with Sitton’s Gulch Trail, which is 9 miles total.  This trek is more moderate in difficulty, but rated Strenuous due to the length.  Meet at the Cleveland Home Depot (546 Paul Huff Parkway, Cleveland TN) at 8:00 a.m. to carpool. 

Hike Report: This was a great hike with six club members participating:  Buddy Arnold (hike leader), Randy Morris, Jack Callahan, Megan Callahan, Sue Robinson, and Jerry Peters.  The hike started about 10:15 in cool but sunny weather at the main parking area in Cloudland Canyon State Park on the Overlook Trail.  The first part of the hike was about ½ mile or so on the Overlook Trail with beautiful views of the canyon and two waterfalls on the opposite side.  The large waterfall we viewed from the Overlook Trail had a total drop of about 300 feet. The hike then proceeded to the West Rim Trail which is about 4.5 miles long.  There were great views of Trenton and Lookout Valley along the trail.  The group stopped at a nice sunny overlook for lunch around noon about half way through this part of the hike with temperatures in the 60’s by then.  With completion of the West Rim Trail, the hikers then started down the Waterfalls Trail dropping about 400 feet in elevation via a series of steps and paths to view Cherokee and Hemlock waterfalls in the canyon.  These are very impressive waterfalls both falling over 60 feet off sheer cliffs.  There were tremendous flows due to previous rain.  Below is a picture of the hikers at Cherokee Falls. We then made it to Hemlock Falls, just as impressive as Cherokee Falls.  This falls is well named, having a number of nice hemlock trees nearby.  We then got on the Sitton’s Gulch Trail and followed it along Bear Creek about 2 miles to where we had left a vehicle to ferry us back to the main part of the park.  There were several more waterfalls viewed along the way, not as large as the other two, but still very impressive.  There were a number of wildflowers blooming along this portion of the trail, including many Trilliums. The hike ended about 3:00 p.m. with a total distance hiked of about 9 miles.  More pictures of this hike can be viewed at

4/8, Saturday – Ocawassee Festival.  This event, which has taken place for the last few years, will be held again at the Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park, 404 Spring Creek Road, Delano TN.  This event encompasses several activities and is a celebration of spring.  Long time club member Leon Bates will lead the Gee Creek Hike at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  See more on their Facebook page at

4/12-15, Wednesday-Saturday, Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the GSMNP.  Leon Bates will lead 5 hikes for this historic event.  See (not updated for 2017 yet as of 1/12). Yes, this event is still on, despite the fires that ravaged Gatlinburg recently.  The club’s own wildflower expert Leon Bates will be leading 5 of the wildflower hikes for this historic event.  There are many other wonderful experts on the wildlife, plants and history of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park that will be sharing their knowledge as well, so come and see!  Registration online has begun; see the website below for the 2017 brochure and to register.

4/13, Thursday – Club Meeting. We will meet at the Etowah Senior Center at 435 Cooper Street in Etowah TN at 6:00 p.m.  Note: this is a change in venue from where it was to be held!  Please bring a dish to share.  We will eat, have a brief business meeting, and then Amy of Starr Mountain Outfitters (601 Tennessee Avenue, website ) in Etowah will speak on new hiking and camping gear and take us on a tour of the store.  All members and guests are invited.   Amy has her own hiking club as well, so she is quite knowledgeable.  Directions from Cleveland: head east on U.S. 64 to Ocoee, and turn north on U.S. 411.  Go through Benton and cross the Hiwassee River.  Continue until you reach Etowah.  Go several blocks until you reach the corner of Highway 30 on the left.  Turn left there, and go approximately 0.3 miles; then turn left on Lawrence Street.  Drive one block and turn right on Cooper Street.  The Senior Center is about 2 blocks down on the left.

4/15, Saturday – John Muir Trail Maintenance.  This twice-yearly trail maintenance is a responsibility of the CHC.  Leaders: Ruth & Clayton Pannell.  Easy, 6 miles both ways, or 3 miles with a car shuttle.  This covers the maintenance of the JMT from Childers Creek to Big Bend.  Maintainers and hikers meet at the Childers Creek parking lot in Reliance TN at 9:00 a.m.  Directions: from Highway 411, turn onto Highway 30 at the Hiwassee Corner Market, going toward Reliance.   Turn left on Highway 315 as it crosses the Hiwassee River, cross the railroad, and immediately turn right onto Childers Creek Road.  Continue a short distance to the Childers Creek parking area on the right.  Contact Clayton Pannell at 423-263-9730 (home), 423-435-1848 (cell) or email at

Trip Report: Three club members and a guest worked the JMT (John Muir Trail) from the Childers Creek trail head to the Big Bend end point.  They found 1 tree blown down, and a little overgrowth.  They picked up trash, lopped, and cleared the blowdown.  Clayton also repainted the trail blazes on the Benton MacKaye trail from Big Bend to the Rock Step.  Attending were Clayton and Ruth Pannell (hike leaders), Jack Callahan and guest Mary Alton.

4/19-22, Wednesday-Saturday - Polk County Ramp Tramp – Come out to eat some unique food with delicious native ramps (a wild member of the onion family found in this area), hear some bluegrass music and enjoy some fun company.  Hopefully some ramps will be available to purchase and take home and cook in your own meals!  Great eating.  And if you like A&E’s Duck Dynasty, you will get to greet John Godwin from the show.  Sponsored by the Polk County Chamber of Commerce, John will be at the Chamber tent on Saturday, April 22nd from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. to meet, greet and sign autographs.  See

4/22, Saturday – Dutch Fields/Settlement Hike in the Ocoee Ranger District.  Leader: Jack Callahan & Leon Bates, and possibly a local historian or archeologist (Quentin Bass?).  Easy, 2.5 miles, 150 foot elevation gain.  Trailhead at Pace Gap on FS RD 221.  This area was settled in the early 1830’s and several old home sites are still evident to the skilled eye.  Hike will include a discussion on the history of the area, as well as locating remains of structures, out buildings and spring houses, with possible mushroom finds.  Meet at the Thunder Rock trailhead parking lot on U.S. 64, adjacent to the Powerhouse #3 at 9:00 a.m.  Or meet at the carpool location at the Ocoee Hardee’s on U.S. 411 at 8:30 a.m. For questions or to RSVP, contact Jack at 423-284-7885 or .

4/27-5/1, Thursday – Monday.  Great Smoky Mountains Spring Backpack/Hike.  Leader: Jack Callahan.  22 miles total, moderately strenuous; steep trail sections.  This is a 4 day/3 night backpack.  Begin hike at Clingman’s Dome parking lot and hike the AT around 4.6 miles to the Silers Bald Shelter for the first night.  On Day 2, hike the AT around 5.7 miles to Derick Knob Shelter for Night 2.  On Day 3, hike around 6.5 miles to the Spence Field Shelter for Night 3.  On Day 4, hike to the trailhead at Cades Cove by way of Bote Mountain and Anthony Creek Trails, approximately 5.2 miles.  NOTE: this hike is currently full; it is limited to 6 hikers due to the difficulty in reserving slots at the shelters, and may have to be reduced further if slots are not available.  Contact Jack Callahan at if you wish to be put on the waiting list.

Trip Report: This hike was a moderately strenuous backpack trip spanning 4 days and 3 nights, traversing the Appalachian Trail (AT) from Clingman’s Dome to Cades Cove.  The group encountered several steep rocky sections.  6 hikers attended, including club members Jack Callahan (hike leader), Sue Robinson, Tracy Brooks, Megan Callahan, Rick Harris and guest Jerry Schneider.  Pictures can of this event can be viewed at .


5/6, Saturday – Grassy Gap Hike.  Leader: Jack Callahan.  Strenuous, 8 miles, approximately 1200 feet elevation gain and rough trail conditions.  This hike covers Wolf Ridge trail #66, Grassy Gap trail #67 and Big Creek trail #68 in a loop in/near the Big Frog wilderness, beginning and ending on FS RD 221.  The Grassy Gap Trail was constructed by the CCC and generally follows the 2400 foot contour.  This hike will require fording of Camp Branch around 1 mile from the end of the hike.  Meet at the Thunder Rock Campground trailhead just downstream of Powerhouse #3 of U.S. Highway 64 at 9:00 a.m. to carpool to the beginning of the hike on FS RD 221.

Trip Report: We had five club members on this hike, including Jack Callahan (leader), Margaret Callahan, Megan Callahan, Sue Robinson and Randy Morris.  There had been strong winds in the hike area in preceding days and numerous trees were down, so we had to modify the hike a bit.  We hiked up Yellow Stand Lead, then from Grassy Gap to Big Creek Trail, and down Big Creek Trail to the point of our beginning. There were several large trees across the trail, which made for extra difficulty where there were steep side hill sections.  Due to recent rains the streams were running full, and on a few occasions we had to wade.  This was especially true of Camp Creek, which was flowing nicely.  We observed a yellow lady slipper, which was a real treat, and had one large copperhead lying in the center of the trail sunning itself (see picture at left).....we gently slid him down the hill away from the trail.  The weather was great for a spring hike, and we were almost back to the Thunder Rock Trailhead before the rain began.  See more pictures of this event at .

5/6, Saturday - Old Stone Fort State Park Hike Hike leader: Ann Gray.  Rating: easy.  Length: 1.25 miles. NOTE: This hike was rescheduled from April.  Please note the changed carpool location below. We will visit the old Stone Fort State Park and go on a short hike, but first we will eat. The original mill dates back to 1812, but burned in the 1860's and was rebuilt in 1870.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places.  The 877-acre historic park is located about 2 miles off the interstate, and was a 2000-year old Indian ceremonial site.  To carpool, please meet at 9:00 a.m. at Ann’s house at 2349 Varnell Road in Cleveland.  We will drive 2 hours to Readyville TN, which is 17 miles off I-24, exit 97, south of Murfreesboro.  We will first eat brunch at Goodness Gracious at the Readyville Mill.  They serve a wonderful breakfast/brunch/lunch, where you can order off of any of the 3 menus (breakfast, brunch or lunch).  Following brunch, the group will head south to the Old Stone Fort State Park, taking Exit 105 to get to the park.  There is a small museum there where you can see an 18 minute film and walk an easy loop trail of 1.25 miles along the Duck River with numerous waterfalls. If interested in attending, call Ann Gray at 423-240-8863.  She can give you directions to her house then.

Trip Report: On this trip we first travelled to the Readyville Mill, where we ate brunch.  After brunch we visited the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park and hiked the 1.25 mile trail around the perimeter of Old Stone Fort.  The rain held out until the last few minutes of the hike.  It is estimated that the site dates back to 80 A.D. and 550 A.D. and was likely used for ceremonial purposes.  The park is located on a peninsula created by the confluence of the Duck River and the Little Duck River.  Participating were club members Letha Kelly, Carol Guhne, Edmund and Gail Gray, and Ann Gray, leader.

5/10-13, Wednesday-Saturday – Wilderness Wildlife Week.  Leon will be leading some hikes for this. Information available here

5/11, Thursday.  Monthly Club Meeting, Charleston TN park picnic area, 6 PM. The dinner will be potluck, so please bring a favorite dish.  Drinks and dinnerware will be provided.  You may also consider bringing a folding chair, as seating at the picnic tables is limited.  Guests and visitors are welcome!

5/13 or TBD (pending date), Saturday – Cleveland State Community College trail maintenance.  The college will be leading this up, but the Club will assist.  Leader: Rebecca Levings.  Meet at 9:00 a.m. in the parking lot between the gym and tennis courts on Adkisson Drive, Cleveland TN.  Contact Rebecca Levings at or Kimberly Harrington at Cleveland State CC at  Sorry, no dogs are allowed for this event, because of a state law.

5/15, Monday – Oak Ridge UTK Arboretum Hike.  Leader: Jack Callahan and Leon Bates. Easy, 5 miles or less, nature walk.  The Arboretum (901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge TN) is a self-guided system of trails with emphasis on tree identification.  There are numerous options for easy walking loop trails, which if all walked would total 5 miles.  The Arboretum covers 250 acres, with over 2500 native and exotic woody plants, including an extensive holly population.  We can decide to pack a picnic lunch or eat at one of the restaurants in Oak Ridge.  Web site is  Meet at the Cleveland Home Depot parking lot (546 Paul Huff Parkway, Cleveland TN) at 9:00 to carpool.

Trip Report: We had five club members (Jack Callahan, leader, Margaret Callahan, Leon Bates, Al Rymer, Sue Robinson) and two visitors on this event.   We toured the Visitor Center and then took on one of the loops, which went by the holly exhibits.  We found that this exhibit had thirty or forty varieties of holly!  Along the way we saw numerous interesting plants and trees, including a variegated dogwood, which looked almost like a huge mound of snow.  We then went to the UT rowing facilities on the lake for lunch and back to do another loop.   We were treated to more different varieties of trees and plants and wound our way back to the Visitor Center.   We only covered about 1/4 of the trails, so there may be another trip in the offing next year…..stay tuned! See for pictures of this event.

5/23, Tuesday – Turtletown Falls Hike.  Leaders: Linda Kryssing and Sue Robinson.  Moderate, 3.5-4.5 mile loop with 2 waterfalls along the way.  Meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Farner Post Office off Highway 68 in Farner TN.  Sue is also willing to carpool from Tellico Plains if needed; those wishing to carpool from Cleveland will be responsible for their own carpool.  Contact Sue Robinson at 423-519-9751 (text) or 423-253-6817 (voice).  Note: a 4-wheel drive vehicle will be needed to drive to the trailhead.

5/27, Saturday - Boyd Gap/Old Copper Road Hike - Hike leader: Clayton Pannell.  Rating: easy.  Length: 3.5 miles with optional 1 mile hike to the dam and back to the trail. We will hike down the Boyd Gap Trail to Old Copper Road Trail, and optionally hike that trail to the #3 dam (about ½ mile one way).  Then we will return to the Boyd Gap Trail and continue our hike to the Whitewater Center.  Please meet at the lower parking lot of the Whitewater Center on U.S. Highway 64 at 9:00 a.m. If interested, contact Clayton and Ruth Pannell at 423-263-9730 (home), 423-435-1848 (cell) or email via .

Trip Report: We met in the lower end of the White Water Center parking lot to make our shuttle to Boyd Gap and the start of our hike downhill to the Old Copper Road trail.  At the Old Copper Road trail the group hiked up the river to where rafters and kayakers were putting out on the river to do a downstream float.  The river water was being released and there were lots of rafters and kayakers, which we could easily view from the Old Copper Road. We stopped at the White Water Center and ate our lunch on the picnic tables.  After lunch we returned to the parking lot and our vehicles.  The weather was very pleasant, a great day for a hike, with some great views of the river at high flow. Hikers included club members Clayton Pannell (leader), Jack and Margaret Callahan, Michael Friedman, Larry Van Dyke, and Larry’s grandchildren and friends Gdion, Kyra, Ryan, and Nike.  Clayton thanks everyone who helped with the shuttle and came out to hike. The picture below, taken by Larry Van Dyke, shows the group.  More pictures can be viewed at

5/30, Tuesday – Fort Mountain Wildflower Hike.  Leader: Ruth Pannell.  Easy, 1 mile plank walkway through blooming flowers.  Hike will take place in Fort Mountain State Park near Chattsworth GA.  Meet at the Ocoee Hardees on U.S. 411 at 9:00 a.m.

Trip Report: Our group met at the Ocoee Hardee's and travelled to Fort Mountain State Park close to Chatsworth, GA.  It had clearly heavily rained, as several places along the 7 miles up the mountain on Highway 52 had debris that had washed off the side of the mountain onto the road.  Fortunately we had no problem in passing through.   Once we arrived, the fog had cleared, the sun came out and it was cool and perfect weather.  This hike consisted of a 1.2 mile easy walk on mostly gravel and dirt.  On the trail were numerous signs with photos showing various wildflowers in bloom, and explanations on the signs explaining the various ways the plants were used by the Cherokee Indians and others.  This was very interesting reading; however we found very few wildflowers in bloom, even though the signs said they should have been in bloom at this time.  Also, the plants were often difficult to identify, as the leaves in the photos were unclear.  We will have to have Leon Bates with us next time! We did see a large snapping turtle (see photo at right, courtesy of Ann Gray) on the side of the trail, something we had not seen on a trail before.  It was a very pleasant walk around a picturesque mountain lake. We then drove to Cool Springs Overlook for a beautiful view of the mountains.  We ended our lovely morning by eating lunch at the Village Cafeteria in Chatsworth.  We all enjoyed our meals and especially the desserts!  Hikers included Ruth Pannell (leader), Clayton Pannell, Ann Gray and Lettie Burress. See more photos of this event at


6/2-5, Friday-Monday – AT/Cosby Campground Backpack Hike.  Leader: Buddy Arnold.  Strenuous, 31 miles total.  We will depart Cleveland Friday afternoon, June 2 and camp that night at Cosby Campground, then shuttle to Newfound Gap on Saturday June 3.  We will hike the AT from Newfound Gap to Cosby Campground via Low Gap Trail, and take a side trail to the Mount Cammerer fire tower.  We will return to Cleveland on Monday, June 5.  Note: this hike is limited to 5 campers/hikers.  It requires camping permits at AT Shelters and the Cosby Campground for the first night.  I plan to get a commercial shuttle from the Cosby Campground to Newfound Gap: cost is $25 per person. CANCELLED

6/3, Saturday – Murphy River Walk.  Leader: Mick Friedman.  Easy, 3 miles. We will be walking a pleasantly wooded, flat, paved trail along the Hiwassee River in the historic part of downtown Murphy NC.  We will afterward eat at one of the local restaurants, possibly the well-known “Shoebooty”.  We will meet at the Hardee’s in Ocoee on U.S. 411 at 9:00 a.m. to carpool.  For those wanting to meet in Murphy: come to the trailhead by the L&N Railroad depot next to the Hiwassee River on Hiwassee Street at 10:30 a.m.; drive time from Cleveland to Murphy is around 1 hour 20 minutes. If interested or for more information, contact Mike Friedman at 828-494-4194 (home),  954-296-9098 (cell) or by email at

6/8, Thursday – Monthly Meeting - at 6:00 p.m. at Sugarloaf Recreation Area below Parksville Ocoee #1 Dam.

6/10, Saturday – Laurel Falls Hike.  Leader: Sue Robinson.  Moderate/strenuous, 6 miles.  Meet at the Home Depot parking lot at 546 Paul Huff Parkway, Cleveland TN at 9:00 a.m. CANCELLED

6/17, Saturday – Rhododendron Trail Hike.  Leader: Joann Jackson.  Easy paved trail, 3 miles round trip, 100 feet maximum elevation gain. Bring a lunch and we will eat at one of the picnic tables at the Whitewater Center. Meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Thunder Rock Trailhead, off U.S. 64 just downstream from the TVA Powerhouse #3 at the entrance to the Thunder Rock campground. We will identify wildflowers and fungi along the trail. If interested, contact Joann at 281-782-7503 (cell) or by email at

Trip Report: On June 17 six folks met up at Thunder Rock Campground to hike the Rhododendron Trail.  We hiked about 3 miles round trip.  The day was sunny and pleasant.  We took our time and ate lunch at the Ocoee Whitewater Center.  The hikers present were Jack and Margaret Callahan, Mike Friedman, Joanne Jackson (hike leader) and 2 guests.  On the return trip we split into 2 groups.  One group spent some time on the rocks with their feet in the water, and along with many others watched the kayakers and rafters go down the raging waters.  The other group spent their return time intellectually looking for mushrooms and finding them.  We met up at the campground at the same time!

6 20-23, 2017, Tues-Friday - Roan Mountain State Park Campout

Jack Callahan is proposing a 4 day/three night camping/cabin rental event for June 20-23, 2017, at Roan Mountain State Park.   The group will arrive on the 20th and depart on the 23rd.  This will be a Club event.  There will be hikes of various levels of difficulty. This campout will be after the annual Rhododendron Festival that will take place June 16-18, 2017, but typically the flowers are still in bloom, and the crowds are somewhat less.  There is a large campground as well as some 30 cabins available for rent in the park.  Jack plans to lead a day hike each day, the first from Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge, about 6 miles round trip, and featuring a 1200 foot elevation gain.  This would classify as a strenuous hike, but we would have all day to make the trip, and could take our time.  A second day hike would be from the "Barn Shelter" to Little Hump Mountain, about 6 miles and featuring an 1100+ elevation gain, another strenuous hike.  But again we would have all day to make the hike and could take lots of rest stops. We would have a leisure lunch on the balds. This would be an opportunity for those club members who do not care to backpack and camp on the trail to see these unique balds and experience the scenic panoramic views from elevations of 5500 to 6200 feet.   There are shorter, less strenuous hikes in the area, and of course there are the Rhododendron gardens. Due to the popularity of the area during this time, it is suggested that those who want to join this trip should make reservations as soon as possible.  Currently about 1/2 of the campsites and cabins are already reserved.   Jack has reserved campsite #70. Persons interested in more information may contact Jack Callahan at 423-284-7885 or .
Trip Report: We had a great turnout at Roan Mountain with twenty club members and two guests attending.  Members included Jack Callahan (hike leader), Margaret Callahan, Boyd and Martha Firestone, Clayton and Ruth Pannell, Carroll and Carol Guhne, Rick and Brenda Harris and canine member Jake, Joanne Jackson, Randy Morris, Sue Robinson, Larry Van Dyke and more.   
All in all, this was a great trip, even though one hike to Little Hump had to be dropped due to rain. Everyone pitched in on helping with shuttles and with all aspects of the trip, making it a great experience.   More pictures of this event can be viewed at

6/25, Sunday – Walls of Jericho Hike.  Leader: Rick Harris.  Strenuous, weird bridge.  See this amazing natural rock formation on the AL/TN border in the Cumberland Plateau. CANCELLED, will be rescheduled later



7/8, Saturday – Canoe/Kayak Float Trip.  Leader: Clayton Pannell.  We will float on the Hiwassee River from the Gee Creek boat ramp to Patty Bridge.  We will meet at the boat ramp in the Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park at 2:00 p.m. to work out a shuttle to Patty Bridge, so we can haul our canoes/kayaks back to Gee Creek.  Please make arrangements to bring your own canoe/kayak and bring life jackets, paddles, etc.  The water should start coming up around 3:00 p.m., and we will begin our float then.  Contact Clayton and Ruth Pannell at 423-263-9730 (home), 423-435-1848 (cell) or

Trip report: We met at the Gee Creek boat ramp in the Hiwassee/Ocoee River State Park.  With a 50% chance of rain, we completed our shuttle to get a vehicle to Patty Bridge.  The water started coming, with one of the dam generators running, and so we started our float trip to Patty Bridge. A big storm came up very fast, and we had to get under the bridge at U.S. Highway 411 to get out of the rain; this was a very hard storm that lasted about 30 minutes.  After the storm, we turned the canoe over to get the water out and continued our float trip down the river, this time with two dam generators running.  It was overcast, and we encountered some more rain on the rest of the trip.  At least no one got sunburned, as we only saw a little blue sky. Thanks to the brave people who came out to float in the rain!  Our canoeists/kayakers included club members Mary Alton, Joanne Jackson, Ruth Pannell and Clayton Pannell (leader).

7/13, Thursday – no club meeting this month.

7/18, Tuesday – Booth Western Art Museum Tour.  Leaders: Jack Callahan and Ann Gray. This museum in Cartersville (501 North Museum Drive, Cartersville GA) resides in a 120,000 square-foot building, and features Western art, Civil War art, and Presidential portraits and letters.  There will also be a temporary exhibit entitled “Painting Red Rocks of the Four Corners in the American Southwest”.  We will not hike during this excursion, except in the museum.  Admission is $8.56 for seniors and $10.70 for adults and you can leave for lunch at the Grand Oaks Mansion nearby or elsewhere, and return to finish your visit.  For more information, see the museum website at . The Grand Oaks Mansion was built in 1901 in the Greek Revival style; lunch includes a tour of the mansion, if you desire.  The buffet lunch is served here two Tuesdays a month and includes three meats, vegetables, salads, and an array of desserts, tea or water for $15.00 (no credit cards; cash or check only).  If you prefer to have lunch somewhere else, please indicate that to Ann Gray, and she will keep a list of those so they can ride together. We will depart from the parking lot of Food City on McGrady Drive (off APD 40 near Walmart south, 2310 McGrady Dr. SE, Cleveland TN) at 8:30 a.m.  The drive time to Cartersville is approximately 1.5 hours.

Trip Report: The Club had a nice turnout to the Booth Western Museum and lunch afterword at The Grand Oaks Manson in Cartersville, Georgia.  Those in attendance included club members Gail and Edmond Gray (with Shaunna Gail), Linda and Ray Kryssing, Boyd and Martha Firestone, Joanne Jackson, Letha Kelly, Jack Callahan (leader), Margaret Callahan, and Ann Gray (leader), along with her friends Benda and Clay Derryberry and Doreen Johnson.   Our group picture on the steps of the museum depicts the happy mood; thanks to Letha Kelly for the photo.  More pictures of this event can be viewed at We spent about three hours touring the art exhibit, which covers 120,000 square feet of space, plus numerous statues on the outside.  There is some amazing artwork, including some of Remington's famous works depicting life in the Old West, and there was a traveling exhibit of Ansel Adams’s photography.  This artwork makes one want to go back out west.  At 1:00 we met and traveled to the Grand Oaks Manson for lunch, which included shrimp, corned beef, roast turkey, trimmings, salads, soup, fresh melon, blueberry cobbler, strawberry desert, and chocolate.  The owner came by to visit with us a while, and suggested some local trails in the area that we might be interested in.  While it was not advertised as a hiking trip, if you got around to every exhibit in the museum, you still got a workout.  Thanks to Ann Gray for all her hard work in organizing and coordinating travel arrangements and reservations with the Manson.   Hopefully our visitors will join us again…
7/28, Friday – BMT Hike to Ocoee River.  Leader: Claire Sullivan.  Easy, 3.4 miles.  This hike will traverse the Benton MacKaye Trail, Section 11e.  It starts on FS RD 221 and continues to the Ocoee River and U.S. Highway 64.  The hike is 98% downhill from Forest Service Rd 221 down the backside of the Tanasi Trail area to Thunder Rock Campground.  It starts with a walk down an old roadbed and old growth forest.  The trail crosses Forest Service Road 45 and goes along a ridgeline, then descends steeply down switchbacks to the Ocoee River and the beautiful Thunder Rock Campground. A restroom is available in the Thunder Rock parking lot.  Meet at the Thunder Rock Campground parking lot at 9:30 a.m.  A shuttle will be organized from the parking lot.  Contact Clare Sullivan at or 404-849-0872.


8/12, Saturday – Perseid Meteor Shower.  This is not a club event, but just an announcement of this amazing event in case any members want to get together privately and view it.  See more at .

8/17, Thursday - BMT Hike to the Ocoee River – Hike leader: Clare Sullivan.  Rating: easy.  Length: 3.4 miles.

This is a reschedule from the original date of July 28, when it was rained out. This hike will traverse the Benton MacKaye Trail, Section 11e.  It starts on FS RD 221 and continues to the Ocoee River and U.S. Highway 64.  The hike is 98% downhill from Forest Service Road 221, down the backside of the Tanasi Trail area to Thunder Rock Campground.  It starts with a walk down an old roadbed and old growth forest.  The trail crosses Forest Service Road 45 and goes along a ridgeline, then descends steeply down switchbacks to the Ocoee River and the beautiful Thunder Rock Campground. A restroom is available in the Thunder Rock parking lot. Please meet at the Thunder Rock Campground parking lot at 9:30 a.m.  A shuttle will be organized from the parking lot.  Contact Clare Sullivan at or 404-849-0872.
Hike Report: Eight Cherokee Hiking Club members (hike leader: Clare Sullivan) enjoyed a downhill hike on the Benton MacKaye Trail, Section 11e.  We hiked from Forest Service Road 221 (behind the Ocoee Whitewater Center) across Chestnut Ridge to the Ocoee River, for a length of 3.4 miles.  This section shares the roadbed with the Tanasi Bike Trail System.  However, we didn't meet any bikers the day of our hike.  We were delighted to welcome David Flower back to hiking after more than two years recovering from severely fractured ankles during a Habitat for Humanity project.  David kept up with all of us!  The first half of our hike was under a canopy of hardwoods.  Many of the once beautiful mature hemlocks have started to fall.   See the picture below of our tramp through the hardwood canopy. After a snack on the new steps where the trail crosses Forest Service Road 45, hikers continued down to the campground on the narrow sidehill path below an oak-pine overstory and then down a rhododendron-lined ravine.  We enjoyed lunch at the picnic tables at Thunder Rock Campground.  It was a perfect day for hiking with such nice folks!  

8/21, Monday – Solar Eclipse Event.  Hosted by Rick and Brenda Harris at their home outside of Tellico Plains.  The Eclipse will occur about 3:30 p.m.  The Harris home is directly under the maximum shadow of the eclipse.  If the Harris’s happen to be out of town then, they will tell us where they hide their house key.  We will havea meal after viewing the eclipse, so please bring desserts, appetizers and other goodies.  Meet at the Cherohala Skyway Visitor’s Center in Tellico Plains to carpool to the Harris home, time TBA. This will be our monthly meeting for August.

Event Report: The Harris's opened their home to the club to witness the solar eclipse, with club members bringing sides and deserts and the Harris's providing hamburgers, hot dogs and fixings.   Their home was directly under the maximum shadow path and it was a great experience.  During the total eclipse, there were whippoorwills and crickets heard, and the temperature must have dropped at least ten degrees.   After the eclipse we ate and held a regular business meeting.  The event was well attended and we had two new members to join while at there.


9/13, Wednesday - Fort Armistead Hike - Ten club members met at Coker Creek Visitor Center and were given a great history of the area including the Unicoi Turnpike by Cherokee National Forest Archeologist and club member Quentin Bass.   Quentin is extremely knowledgeable of  the area and gave us a great tour of several sites.   The fort site is currently closed to the public as plans are being developed on its future improvements to interpret the area.  This involves coordination with numerous parties including the Eastern and Western Bands of the Cherokee, the National Park Service and the Forest Service.     It is truly a special site and will undoubtedly bring many visitors to Coker Creek and Polk County when it is completed and open to the public.  After the tour we gathered for lunch at the Telicafe in Tellico Plains for a late lunch.

9/14, Thursday – club meeting -, The club will meet at the lovely country home of Leon and Pat Bates at 6:00 p.m.  Please bring a pot luck dish to share, and if you would like, bring a lawn chair to sit on their porch to watch the wildlife and/or sunset. See newsletter for directions.

9/23, Saturday – Narrows Hike.  Leader: Ruth Pannell.  Easy/moderate, involving one switchback, 4-5 miles round trip.  This hike is fairly easy, although it does involve one switchback.  We will hike to the Narrows on the Hiwassee from the Appalachia Power House, via the John Muir and Benton MacKaye Trails.  The trail we will be taking to and from will be the old trail along the river. Possible alternate route: if anyone wants to take the reroute from the Towee Creek picnic area (the trailhead across the bridge on the left) and meet us at the Narrows, it will be fine, just let me know that you're coming and are taking that route instead.  The main group will again take the original trail to the Narrows as the reroute has four switchbacks, and the old trail has one switchback and is shorter.  We will eat lunch and enjoy being at the Narrows upon arrival. Note: whatever route you hike, you may need insect repellent and rain gear.  There's significant flora to view on this hike also. For more information or updates, please contact Leader: Ruth Pannell, 423-506-9623, (call or text); or 423-263-9730. Meet at the vacant lot across from the Hiwassee Corner Market, on the corner of U.S. Highway 411 and Highway 30 at 9:00 a.m. to carpool to the trailhead.  Please bring a lunch; we will have lunch at the rocks near the Narrows.  To RSVP, please call Ruth at 423-506-9623 or 423-263-9730.

Hike report: Our group, led by Ruth and Clayton Pannell, enjoyed a beautiful day for a wonderful hike to the Narrows even though we were on a trail not well maintained, with some blow downs (even on the one switchback), and a lot of wild foliage.  Upon our arrival at the Narrows, we ate lunch by the river. There were some of the "Ruth's Golden Asters" in bloom that looked very lovely and healthy.  It was a great hike and a good workout for us all. See more detail of the hike at and pictures at .  

9/24-26,-Sunday-Tuesday - Smokies Backpack Trip Leader: Jack Callahan.  Rating: strenuous. Jack is leading a 3-day, 2-night backpack trip in the Smokies. 

We have 6 permits, and this hike is currently full.  Specific information of meeting times and more will be emailed to attendees as we get closer to the 24th.

Trip Report: Jack Callahan led five other backpackers on a three day two night backpacking trip from Newfound Gap to the Alum Cave trailhead with overnight stays at Icewater Springs and Leconte shelters.  The weather was great with highs in the mid 60's and lows in the mid 40's.   Views from the Jumpoff, and along the Boulevard trail were excellent, as were those coming down the Alum Cave trail.  After arriving at the Leconte shelter we took a tour of Mt Leconte lodge and its facilities, with some participating of several games of scrabble in the lodge reception area. The total mileage was 17 miles with a total elevation gain of 3600 feet.


10/5-8, Thursday-Sunday – Great Smoky Mountain Fall Backpack/Hike.  Leader: Jack Callahan.  Strenuous, steep ascents, approximately 17.2 miles total.  We are starting with Sunday night car camping at Big Creek Campground, near Waterville on the far eastern end of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The following is a revised agenda from the one that is shown for this event on the 2017 Annual Hike Schedule:

    1. We will meet at Cosby Campground at 10 a.m. on Sunday and carpool to Newfound Gap to begin the hike.  On the first day we will hike along the Appalachian Trail (AT) approximately 3.5 miles, and camp overnight at Icewater Springs Shelter. 
    2. On Day Two we will hike approximately 7.5 miles on the AT and camp overnight at Pecks Corner Shelter.
    3. On Day Three we will hike approximately 6 miles on the AT and camp overnight at Tricorner Nob Shelter.
    4. On Day Four we will hike approximately 8.5 miles along the AT and Snake Den Trail back to our vehicles at Cosby Campground.
Currently this hike is full, but if you are interested, contact Jack Callahan to be put on the waiting list.  He will begin trying to get permits for the 29th of September and continue until he is successful. Contact Jack at 423-284-7885 or These are the hikers currently on the list to hike: Jack Callahan, Megan Callahan, Tracy Brooks, Jerry Schneider and Kevin Sigward.
Trip Report: Day One: Jack Callahan (hike leader), Megan Callahan, Jerry Schneider and Kevin Sigward began the hike at Newfound Gap and spent the first night at the Icewater Springs shelter.  This shelter has a great open view to the east, and we had a great view of the Harvest Moon rising over the mountains, as seen in the fantastic picture below. Day Two included a stop at Charlie's Bunion for great clear views of Mount LeConte and the Greenbrier valley.  The second night was spent at Pecks Corner, a nice sheltered location, but with a sometimes dubious water source, which was again low this time of year.Day Three welcomed us with heavy fog, and due to lack of views, we wound up at the Tricorner Knob shelter a few minutes after noon. About the same time we received text notices from the Park Service warning all park visitors about predicted heavy rain and 50+ mph winds the following day.  Given the choice of hiking out in the dry or waiting till the next day, the group elected to hike out that day.  After a nine mile hike down the mountain, we arrived at the Cosby Campground at 7:00 p.m., giving us a total of 15 miles for the day, definitely violating Jack's one mile per hour speed limit. The total hike mileage was 26 miles, with a total elevation gain of 5100 feet. 

10/8, Sunday - Oswald Dome Hike - Hike leader: Jennifer Schroll.  Rating: strenuous.  Length: 8 miles round trip. This hike entails about a 2500 foot elevation gain.  Please meet at Quinn Springs Campground on Route 30 at 1:30 p.m.  For more information, contact Jennifer at 423-559-0242 (home), 423-284-1256 (cell) or by email at

10/12, Thursday – club meeting, The club will meet at the home of Bill and Ann Gray at 6:00 p.m.  Pizza will be provided. You do not need to bring anything but ourself. See newsletter for details.   Visitors are welcome!

10/21, Saturday - John Muir Trail Maintenance.  This twice-yearly trail maintenance is a responsibility of the CHC.  Leaders: Ruth & Clayton Pannell.  Easy, 6 miles both ways, or 3 miles with a car shuttle.  This covers the maintenance of the JMT from Childers Creek to Big Bend.  Maintainers and hikers meet at the Childers Creek parking lot in Reliance TN at 9:00 a.m.  Directions: from Highway 411, turn onto Highway 30 at the Hiwassee Corner Market, going toward Reliance.   Turn left on Highway 315 as it crosses the Hiwassee River, cross the railroad, and immediately turn right onto Childers Creek Road.  Continue a short distance to the Childers Creek parking area on the right.  Contact Clayton Pannell at 423-263-9730 (home), 423-435-1848 (cell) or email at

Trip Report: Over the past few weeks members of the Cherokee Hiking Club have performed maintenance on their adopted section of the John Muir/Benton MacKaye Trail system.  Our maintained section is from the Childers Creek Trailhead just up the river from Reliance, Tennessee, to the Big Bend parking area, a distance of three miles one way.  Workers included members Clayton Pannell (leader), Otis Pannell, and Sue and John Robinson, who removed numerous downed trees from the trail.  Several days later Clayton led another group, including Jack Callahan and Megan Callahan, who brushed out necessary sections of the trail and removed downed limbs.  The club sponsors at least two (and sometimes more) work trips each year to insure this trail is clear of obstacles. This three mile section of the trail is an easy, well graded trail with the exception of about 100 yards near the middle, which involves several rock steps and a short pitch grade.  It is a great section for newcomers who are interested in hiking, to get a feel for the sport.  The trail section is used by fishermen to access the Hiwassee River, as it follows the river closely for its entire length.  In the spring, there are numerous large patches of phlox, trillium, columbine, and wild azalea in bloom.  By utilizing two vehicles, and leaving a shuttle vehicle at one of the trailheads, the entire section can be easily walked in less than three hours.

10/22-28, Sunday-Saturday – Big South Fork Bandy Creek Campground Group Campout.  Leaders: Ruth and Clayton Pannell.  This campout will be at group site #1, near Oneida TN.  We will be camping for 6 nights.  Plan to arrive Sunday 10/22 after 2:00 p.m. and depart on Saturday 10/28 by noon.  We will have our own bathhouse, screened-in shelter with lights, electrical outlets, fireplace, area for cooking and large grilling area.  There are about 20 camp sites, and in the group camping area no one can set up except members of our group.  We will plan our hikes or other excursions, and will buy firewood after we arrive at the campground.  You will need to bring your own camping gear and hiking equipment.  We usually share meals and take turns preparing breakfasts and suppers.  There is a limit of 30 for this event.  Note: we attempted to include a full weekend for this date range, but both sites were reserved.  However, we learned from campground personnel that if we book a full year ahead we probably would have a better chance to include a weekend.  We will try to do that next time.  Contact Clayton and Ruth Pannell at 423-263-9730 (home), 423-435-1848 (cell) or by email at

Trip Report: Most of the campers arrived on Sunday afternoon and set up camp.  Otis and Teresa arrived early and went to buy a pickup load of wood.  We used most of the wood in a large fire place in the shelter.   Monday was very rainy day, and the most we did was to set around the fire place in the shelter.  The rest of the week the weather was better, although the hike was cut short because of rain.  We performed many activities during the week, and the various campers can tell of their adventures at the upcoming club meeting. The hikers/campers for all or most of the period included members Clayton and Ruth Pannell (leaders), John and Sue Robinson,  Larry and Candy Van Dyke, Jack and Margaret Callahan, Otis and Teresa Pannell, Sheri Stewart, Margaret Garland, Joanne Jackson and guest Russell Lingerfelt,.  Members Carol and Carroll Guhne also came for two days to visit and do day hikes.  We had so much food that it was a weeklong picnic.  With 14 campers and 2 day hikers it was one of the largest camping trips Ruth and I have led.  We thank everyone who came on the trip for their work and food - Clayton Pannell reporting.

October 31 to November 8 – Grand Canyon Backpack.  Leader: James Anderson.  Strenuous, 4500 foot elevation gain. 

James Anderson is looking for other adventurers to join him and Buddy Arnold in backpacking this section of the exciting Grand Canyon.  Within the next few weeks he will need to apply for the backcountry permits in order to make this rim to rim backpacking trip.  The space is limited to 6 spots and 2 are already taken by Buddy Arnold and James.  The draft details of the trip are as follows:
Right now the round-trip flights from Chattanooga to Flagstaff are running about $475-500.  The shuttle cost per person from the South Rim to the North Rim, which is about a 4.5 hr. trip, is about $100 per person.  There will be at least two nights of hotel, to be split typically 2 persons per room.  Additionally there is a minor amount for the camping permit, which will probably be in the ballpark of $50 per person, and cost for the equipment bags that go out on the mules, at about $75 per person.  Also, if you want a very hearty meal at Phantom Ranch when we camp at Bright Angel, then dinner is anywhere from $28-$45 depending upon whether you want stew or steak.  Also a full breakfast before you hike out is about $23.00.  We have typically done those and really enjoyed them but it is really up to you.  So the total cost is in the neighborhood of around $1000.
If you are interested you need to let James Anderson know as he has to send in the request for the back country permits.  If the group can't get the permits for the particular dates mentioned above, then the alternate will be exactly a week later, starting Tuesday the 7th of November and running to Wednesday the 15th.
Also keep in mind that if you say you are going and then change your mind, you would still owe for any portion of the expenses that had to be incurred ahead of time, such as permits or other reservations that are not individual or cannot be changed.  You may feel free to email James Anderson at , or call him at 423-715-8824.   Also feel free to contact James if you have any questions; he will need to hear from you by Friday May 12th.  The canyon is an awesome place and the group is really looking forward to the scenery of this rim to rim adventure.
This hike covers one rim of the Canyon to the other.  6 is the maximum for this hike but this could be expanded to others if we are able to get the reservations.  If you are interested, contact James to get on the waiting list. The trip will probably last about a week.


11/4, Saturday – Blood Mountain Hike.  Leader: Randy Morris.  Strenuous (elevation gain), approximately 6 miles.  This hike may be cancelled in the case of rain, as the views are too amazing to miss.  Meet at the Hardee’s in Ocoee at 7:30 a.m. to carpool. We need to start early, as the Atlanta people quickly fill up the small parking area at the trailhead.  Contact Randy at 423-650-0485 by the evening before.

We will begin our hike from the parking lot of the Byron Herbert Reece Access Trail located off of U.S. Highway 19 just north of Neels Gap.  We will ascend up the lower reaches of Blood Mountain amid lush mountain laurel and rhododendron to a junction with the Appalachian Trail (AT) after about 0.6 miles. We will then turn west on the AT and follow the white-blazed AT to the summit of Blood Mountain at 4,461 feet (the highest peak on the AT in Georgia).  This portion of the trail is very steep and rocky and is a workout for anyone, and not a good fit for the casual walker.  We will gain nearly 1,500 feet of elevation by the time we reach the summit in only about 2.3 miles total (with most of the gain in the last 1.5 miles).  After a time enjoying the views, we will descend back down the AT to our junction with the access trail.  I plan to add a couple of miles to the normal route of 4.3 miles and head on down the AT to Neels Gap and visit the Walasi-Yi Center.  We will then backtrack up the AT to the junction with the access trail and take it down to our vehicles. We will carpool from the back parking lot of the Ocoee Hardee’s, leaving at 7:30 a.m. sharp.  We should be at the trailhead by 9:00.  Those planning to attend the hike should contact Randy Morris at (423) 650-0485 no later than 8:00 p.m. Friday, November 3.  Please bring a lunch, plenty of water and hiking poles.  Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and bring a wind breaking layer of clothes as the heights of Blood Mountain may be a little windy or chilly at this time.

11/9, Thursday – club meeting - The November meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Prospect United Cumberland Presbyterian Church at 310 New Murraytown Road NW in Cleveland.  The meeting will be held in the Fellowship Hall, and will be pot luck, so bring a favorite dish, and a thumb drive of your favorite hike pictures (optional).  After the business meeting everyone is invited to share these pictures and discuss the hike(s). Directions in newsletter

11/11, Saturday – Cleveland State Community College trail maintenance.  The college will be leading this up, but the Club will assist.  Leader: Rebecca Levings.  Meet at 9:00 a.m. in the parking lot between the gym and tennis courts on Adkisson Drive, Cleveland TN.  Contact Rebecca Levings at or Kimberly Harrington at Cleveland State CC at  Sorry, no dogs are allowed for this event, because of a state law.

11/25, Saturday – Linda Davis Memorial Greenway Hike.  Leader: Randy Morris.  Easy, 9.5 miles or less.  This hike is on the flat, paved Cleveland Greenway.  Hikers can choose to go the whole length or part of the way, since there are parking areas at various points along the trail.  We will start near the middle of the Greenway, at the Raider Drive Pavillion.  The hike will be cancelled in the case of rain.  Contact Randy at 423-650-0485 by the night before.

After enjoying a large Thanksgiving meal, each of us can use a good stroll to burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories!  The annual Saturday-after-Thanksgiving hike will be a round trip walk along the 4.25 mile Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway; up to approximately 8.5 miles total.  This hike, named in honor of long-time hike leader and CHC member Linda Davis, is traditionally held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It will be up to an 8.5 mile hike—depending on how long you hike with us.  Since it is on the Greenway, you are welcome to shorten the hike as you like.  It is a great trail along Mouse Creek that is heavily utilized.  This Saturday morning hike is a good time to enjoy the trail with far less people than usual, as there should not be a benefit run happening - a common occurrence on Saturday mornings.  We plan to head south from Raider Drive to the Greenway’s present southern terminus at Willow Street (and possibly a little beyond, on the newly opened southern trail extension) and then back-track to our starting point where we will continue on toward Mohawk Drive and the trail’s northern terminus before heading back to Raider Drive.  For more information on the Greenway you may visit It is a nice walk which we will hopefully enjoy on a beautiful late autumn morning. The trail is rated easy.  We will begin at 9:00 a.m. from the Raider Drive trailhead - meeting under the pavilion and utilizing the new parking spaces at this trailhead.  Please call Randy Morris at 423-650-0485 no later than 8 p.m. Friday, November 24 if you have any questions. The hike will be cancelled in the event of rain.
Trip Report: Five club members came out for the annual hike along the Cleveland Greenway held in memory of former club member Linda Davis, who left us far too soon back in 2008.  In fact “Old Faithful”, the Aflac lookalike white duck, was there to greet us near the Raider Drive Pavilion (Linda worked for Aflac so it is always fitting to see him on the trail).   We enjoyed comfortable November weather with periods of sun and clouds, with minimal wind.  We shared good conversation along our journey, which also allowed us to work off a few of those Thanksgiving calories that we had consumed during the days prior.  A few late autumn spots of color also brightened our paths, as shown in the picture below.  We decided to hike northward this year from Raider Drive to Mohawk, and the trail’s northern terminus, before heading back the way we had come.  One hiker then went on solo to 25th Street before deciding his feet had experienced enough of the hard pavement surfaces and turned around to hike back to Raider Drive.  We had various distances traveled by hikers this day, ranging from approximately 2.5 miles to 6.5 miles.  Enjoying the day were Lettie Burress, Ann Gray, Becky Levings, Jennifer Schroll, and Randy Morris, hike leader.  Club member Kathy Seymour also joined us for a short while with her dog, for a little pre-hike conversation.  Due to a recent surgery, she couldn’t join us for our hike, but hopefully next time she can.  


12/1, Friday - Dutch Settlement Hike - 2.0 miles easy - Leader Jack Callahan & Leon Bates. Local historians Quentin Bass and Ray Beckler are planning to attend to discuss the history of this area near Ocoee, off Highway 64.  Meet at the Thunder Rock trailhead at the TVA Powerhouse #3 at 9:30 a.m. to carpool to the beginning of the hike.  The hike is about 2 miles in length, with little grade.  Pack a lunch and expect to be in the field about 4 hours. To RSVP or for more information, call Jack Callahan at 423-284-7885 or email at

Trip Report: On December 1st, sixteen Members and guests of the Cherokee Hiking Club led by Leon Bates and Jack Callahan, with Cherokee National Forest Archeologist Quentin Bass toured the sites of the Dutch Settlement.  This site was settled in the 1840s by German, French and Italian immigrants on lands purchased by Rosine Parmentier, the Bayers, and others of New York.  At one time their purchases totaled over 125,000 acres, or 195 square miles.  The land was acquired in some cases for only pennies per acre, and was offered for sale by the state after the Cherokee removal in 1838. Original settlers included names as the Guerins, Becklers. Weavers, Lindes, Millers, Milans and Chables.   At its peak, there were only about a dozen permanent homes, with several other temporary quarters for others. These settlers were educated individuals, and had a variety of skills. There is evidence that one of the agricultural endeavors was to establish vineyards. There was a furniture maker, a blacksmith, and there is evidence of a grist mill on the stream through the area. Little is known as the records of the settlement are sketchy, other than Rosine Parmentier's diary.   By the 1860's the settlement was in decline and only several families remained, one of which was the Becklers. The lands were eventually acquired by the US Forest Service in the 1930's. The club hiked in to the original site and viewed the remains of the Guerins and Becklers home sites.  The Beckler home site has the most obvious remains, with the chimney stones, the root cellar, and stone footings for the log structure. There are approximately 42 acres encompassing the site which the Forest Service has designated to protect the area of the settlement.  Mr. Bass provided the group with a historical overview of the area, and some insight into the difficulty that the settlers faced as they made their homes in the area.

12/8 Friday - Christmas by Candlelight at the Vann House in Chatsworth, GA - Leader: Ann Gray. This is an historical outing instead of a hiking event.  In 1805, Cherokee Chief James Vann opened his new brick mansion to the Moravian missionaries to hold one of the first Christmas celebrations in the Cherokee Nation.  We will also tour the visitor center and watch a film before we tour one of America's best preserved Cherokee Indian homes.   We will meet at the Fresh n' Low Grocery, just off APD 40/Spring Place Road at 4:00 p.m.  We will then drive 27 miles straight out Spring Place to the Vann House at 82 Highway 225N, Chatsworth, GA, for their annual Christmas by Candlelight.  Admission is $5.50 - $6.50.

12/9 Saturday – monthly club meeting and annual Christmas Party. The December meeting and annual Christmas party will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the new home of long time club members James and Phyllis Anderson.  It will be catered by Well Served Catering, and we will have the Dirty Santa gift exchange that we have had in years past.  Members are allowed to bring a guest.  Attendees are being asked to bring $10 per member ($15 per non-member) for the catering costs, plus $15 per family to renew their 2018 dues if desired.  Please pay with one check to “Cherokee Hiking Club” or with cash.  Also, bring a gift costing $10 or less if you want to participate in the Dirty Santa gift exchange.   Those people who would like to tour James and Phyllis’s new home and its beautiful view from the ridge are welcome to come as early as 4:00 to do this before the meeting and party start. We will also hold the swearing in ceremony for the new officers of 2018, to be led by Jennifer Schroll. 

Event Report: We had a wonderful time at the Anderson home with a catered meal, induction of new officers by Jennifer Schroll, and Dirty Santa conducted by Gail and Edmond Gray.  New officers-Jack Callahan President and Newsletter, Leon Bates Vice President, Secretary Sue Robinson, Treasurer Randy Morris, Ann Gray Publicist, Rick Harris Webmaster. After gift exchange, there was a slide presentation of the Grand Canyon Backpacking trip by Rick Harris with comments by other hikers. A special thanks to James and Phyllis for opening up their wonderful home to us. Their new home is exceptional, with a fantastic view on large acreage.   It was truly a wonderful time had by all.

12/16, Saturday – Foster Falls Hike.  Leader: Randy Morris.  Moderately strenuous, 6-7 miles.  This hike will be on the Cumberland Plateau in Marion County, near Jasper TN.  Most of it will be a loop hike, with lovely views of Foster Falls. NOTE: this is a date change from the original date of December 2.  We will hike portions of two segments of South Cumberland State Park that are only a couple of miles from each other - the Foster Falls area and the newly established Denny Cove area.  At Foster Falls, we will hike down to the base of the large falls, along the base of the bluff on the Climber’s Loop Trail and then out of the gorge to the Small Wilds Area, enjoying smaller waterfalls and good overlooks as well meeting individuals who dare to climb the rock walls of the bluff.  At the Denny Cove area, we will go to the overlook and hike the newly developed Waterfall Trail to see the namesake feature.  Total mileage will be approximately 6 miles with a rating of moderately strenuous because of distance and the treks into and out of the gorges and some rocky terrain. We will leave from the BP gas station commuter lot near I-75 at Exit 25 in Cleveland (1900 Candies Lane NW) at 8:30 for the drive over to the Jasper area.  Please contact Randy Morris at 423-650-0485 before 8:00 p.m. on Friday, December 15 if interested in attending.  I will contact all those who have called in the event of a cancellation. Ed and Gail Gray will be handling the Dirty Santa gift exchange, and will be on the lookout for more bottles of wine.  These will be trading at a premium.  

Trip Report: Six hikers (and trusty hiking dog Jake) hiked approximately 5.7 miles on a beautiful mid December day at two locations of South Cumberland State Park—the newly opened Denny Cove segment and at Foster Falls. After meeting at Foster Falls we drove the short distance to Denny Cove—a new section of trail for all of us. We hiked the Waterfall Trail out to Denny Falls after enjoying the views from a short spur trail to a nice gorge overlook. The 70 foot falls certainly didn’t disappoint and made the rocky approach trail worth the trek.  Along the way we enjoyed talking with and viewing the many rock climbers taking advantage of the great climbing areas within the 685 acre preserve. Total distance hiked within Denny Cover was approximately 3.3 miles. After enjoying the Denny Cove area we drove back to Foster Falls (about 2 miles or so) where we took advantage of the park’s picnic area for our lunch break. We then walked the short distance to view the impressive 60 foot drop of Foster Falls from the observation area. Then it was down the trail to the base of the falls where we enjoyed the views upward at the beautiful falls and the crystal clear blue December sky. We then took the Climber’s Loop Trail along the base of the cliffs working our way among the host of daredevil rock climbers who were present. We climbed out the second of two exits to the top and back around rim to cross Little Gizzard Creek on a nice steel bridge above the falls. Total distance hiked at Foster Falls was approximately 2.4 miles. Enjoying the day were former club member Chris Swain and members Brenda & Rick Harris (and Jake), Jack Callahan, Jennifer Schroll and hike leader Randy Morris.