All Blog Posts (43)

How's that new reservation system working for you?

Our legal eagle wanted us to start a new blog where we can discuss how good/BAD the new reservation system is. The one time I used it I found it to be rather hard to figure out. I tried to go back and change the number of people in my party and could never make that happen. It kept telling me that if I went back it would delete my work. That would be fine, but when I tried to make a new reservation it said I already had one on that date. As I said, I finally gave up and went with my original…


Added by Rob Cameron on March 7, 2013 at 10:14am — 13 Comments

Park Fees

Had a great conversation with Donna a little while ago on a FB page and just wanted to say thank you Donna for bringing the Park Fees to everyone's attention. It was a hot topic for a while on WB but the topic's there get pretty heated sometimes and folks go off the deep end sometimes, so I don't pay a lot of attention to that. Praying this all gets turned around and we win for the people :)

thanks again,


Added by Jim Henegar on February 25, 2013 at 1:07am — No Comments

Remember last time GSMNP attempted fees for a backcountry reservation system?

Was wondering if anyone frequenting this site might recall exactly what year it was that the Park Service previously floated the idea of backcountry fees to pay for a computer reservation system. They held public meetings, which I attended, but I can't recall what year it was and haven't been able to turn up mention of those meetings with online searches. I'm thinking it was somewhere around '02 - '04. What I do recall is that the plan they put forward was to construct their own in-house…


Added by Erik Gerhardt on February 10, 2013 at 8:55pm — 5 Comments

Hey Folks

I want to say thanks to Greg and John for welcoming me to the site.

I've been backpacking the Smokies for more than 30 years now,  and I'm not real happy with the way things are going on in the park.

I have come to this site as "other sites" are fully supportive of this egregious backpacker fee and our equally offensive Park Superintendant.

Of course I'm thoroughly disgusted with the new "backpacker fee" that will be upcoming.  It's not just the money--though that is…


Added by Tim Fell on January 14, 2013 at 10:46pm — 6 Comments

Winter backpacking - tips?

I've been doing a fair amount of spring/summer/fall backpacking the last few years but nothing in the winter.  I'm planning an MLK wkd trip (Deep Creek) and want to make sure I'm prepared gear-wise.   I've browsed some other boards but the recs are all over the place depending on the locale.  Am curious to hear from those that do a lot of winter backpacking in the Smokies.

My primary concerns are around my tent and keeping my hands/feet warm.

Tent - for camping at spots in the…


Added by Tom Johnson on December 28, 2012 at 5:24pm — 2 Comments

Battle at Turtle Island

Any of you been to Turtle Island Preserve near Boone?  I had never heard of it but it looks and sounds amazing.  Unfortunately they have been shut down, at least temporarily, by the local government.


Added by Tom Johnson on December 10, 2012 at 10:07am — 3 Comments

Save Chunky Gal Trail

Thank John, I have enjoyed your site as bystander for some time ...wonderful place to browse and enjoy.

Tusquittee Community in Clay County NC reaches out to save the Chunky Gal Trail, connecting trail to AT. Please see: Instruction for leaving comments to USFS on link ... No need for this shooting range because two others on…


Added by John McGuinness on September 18, 2012 at 8:41pm — 10 Comments

Shotgun Approach to Challenge Backcountry User Fees is Wrong

News of the legal challenge to the NPS decision to implement changes to the backcountry usage rules appears on the surface to be a good thing. Unfortunately, a detailed reading of the letter submitted by legal counsel for Southern Forest Watch shows a "shotgun" approach to the argument against those changes. I feel that many of the arguments listed in counsel's letter to the NPS were trivial and poorly structured. The overall impact of this legal challenge is…


Added by Al Smith on September 4, 2012 at 7:16am — 2 Comments

Southern Forest Watch Logo

Okay, we are taking a vote.  There is some division about the preferred new SFW logo designs created so artfully by Mr. Michael Shannon.  So I decided to have a vote.  If you prefer the Full Owl or the Owl Eye, please indicate so in the comments below.  I will say that we give it one week before the consensus is made. Remember, this will be our trademark, non profit logo forever!…


Added by John Quillen on July 30, 2012 at 2:47pm — 28 Comments

Meeting Minutes Southern Forest Watch and Ditmanson plus Park Leadership


(The enclosed document is a summary of the meeting between Southern Forest Watch and Smokies Leadership. Notes were taken by Melissa Cobern, NPS backcountry specialist and a copy was requested by the Southern Forest Watch.)…


Added by John Quillen on July 19, 2012 at 11:30am — 2 Comments

More Sugarlands Shenanigans

It seems that the problematic behavior coming out of the top ranks at Sugarlands is unending.  I have recently learned, and it has been confirmed by multiple sources, that someone (read Ditmanson almost of a certainty) is denying researchers access to old maps of pre-Park locations (houses, mills, farms, and the like).  These documents are public property and are not under any State Department 30- or 50-year rule or anything like that.  In other words, they are in public domain and denial of…


Added by Jim Casada on July 12, 2012 at 2:31pm — 1 Comment

FYI....trail issues

The following trails have been closed to all use: • Scott Mountain Trail • Chestnut Top Trail • West Prong Trail • Finley Cane Trail • Rabbit Creek Trail (Cades Cove Trailhead to junction with Hatcher/Hannah) • Ace Gap Trail The following trails are closed to horse riding, but open to hikers: • Rich Mountain Trail • Indian Grave Gap Trail • Rich Mountain Loop Trail • Crooked Arm Ridge Trail • Crib Gap Trail • Turkey Pen Ridge Trail • Lead Cove Trail • Schoolhouse Gap Trail • Bote Mountain Trail… Continue

Added by frank w on July 9, 2012 at 10:54am — 13 Comments

Outdoor Quotations

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.                                   John Muir

Added by John Quillen on April 26, 2012 at 5:10pm — 4 Comments

Sugarlands Rally and Informational Demonstration 4/21/12

I was proud to be in the company of fellow Southern Forest Watch coalition members who donated their saturday to spread the message.  Despite the looming threat of rain, the weather held off until our mission for the day was completed.  We were very well received.  Myers and his daughters provided musical entertainment, many questions were answered and hundreds of folks are now properly informed about this tax on backpackers.  Adam had his fly fishing gear, Gregg and I laid out backpacking…


Added by John Quillen on April 23, 2012 at 8:27am — 2 Comments

Missing hikers

I figured I should start a new post on this topic to keep from derailing the Fee thread since I'm going to rant a bit....

I keep seeing this quote in the news re: the hiker missing from the Bullhead View Quiet Walkway:

"Rangers became suspicious Tuesday afternoon when they noticed that a vehicle had been parked since Sunday at a quiet walkway along Newfound Gap Road about a mile south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center.  

Park officials say that walkway does not connect to…


Added by Jen M on March 22, 2012 at 12:45pm — 7 Comments

Letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar


The following letter was crafted by myself, Jim Casada and Adam Beal on behalf of the Southern Forest Watch and will be forwarded to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in one month.  Should you wish to have your name attached, please indicate below. For folks not members of this forum you may indicate your desire to sign off by contacting us through our website, and signing the guest…


Added by John Quillen on March 16, 2012 at 6:00pm — 5 Comments

Story within a story

I want you to skip down to the 2nd pp and find interesting link to the Park Service in the Pacific. No, they wouldn' lie:


Added by Mike Maples on February 22, 2012 at 10:44am — No Comments

Ekaneetlee Trace, a manway adventure

(the following bushwhack was completed Thanksgiving, 2010. I only recently finished the story.)

Ekaneetlee Trace

By John Quillen

The first crossing out of campsite 90 was wet so we booted off and waded up to our knees. Frigid post Thanksgiving air was offset by a bright late morning sun. It was still in the thirties, though and I was walking on a bed of…


Added by John Quillen on February 17, 2012 at 7:43pm — 4 Comments

"Obey Little, Resist Much"

I remember the fiasco when they implemented an ill-devised plan for thru-hikers to make advanced reservations for shelter space during the Knoxville World Fair because someone thought the backcountry would be overrun with World Fair visitors. It didn't happen of course. The only result was a bunch of needlessly frustrated thru-hikers.

Such ill-conceived policies didn't work then and certainly won't work today. And to think we are paying these 'outdoor recreation specialists' a salary…


Added by Warren Doyle on February 3, 2012 at 10:00am — 7 Comments

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