A Guide to Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Author's Note

Like most of my memories of being five, my recollection of the trip I took on the Gatlinburg Sky Lift is as dreamy and soft as an Instagram photo. I remember being impossibly high. I remember clutching the cold handrail with my father's arm wrapped tightly around me, protecting me from falling. In an old photo, I am grinning from ear to ear and my father is pointing at something out ahead of us. Behind us lie the hazy, blue Smoky Mountains, which looked as comfortable and familiar as the Blue Ridge Mountains that surrounded my hometown.

When I hunted down the Gatlinburg Sky Lift Web site for this article, I was surprised to find that little has changed about the quaint old lift. The chair lifts are painted a bright yellow now. (I remember them being white, for some reason.) There are still no seatbelts or harnesses, though. In the site's photo gallery is a picture of a dad and his young son. The father has his arm wrapped just as tightly around his kid as my father's was around me. It made me smile to think that kids today are probably having the same introduction to the Smokies that I enjoyed so long ago.

Related Articles


  • Doran, Jeff. "Abrams Falls." HikingintheSmokys.com. (May 25, 2012) http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/abrams.htm
  • Doran, Jeff. "Brushy Mountain Trail." HikingintheSmokys.com. (May 25, 2012) http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/brushy_mountain_trail.htm
  • National Park Service. "Avoiding the Crowds." (May 25, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/avoidcrowds.htm
  • National Park Service. "Black Bears." (May 25, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/black-bears.htm
  • National Park Service. "For Kids."(May 25, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/grsm/forkids/index.htm
  • National Park Service."Great Smoky Mountains." National Park Service Natural History Handbook Series No. 5. 1960. (May 25, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/natural/5/index.htm
  • Ohranger.com. "History of Great Smoky."(May 25, 2012) http://www.ohranger.com/smoky-mountains/history-great-smoky