In memory of Joseph G. (Joe) Leonard (1935-2013) who was the first secretary and webmaster for the 900 Miler Club.
We are continuing his original design for the 900 Miler Club website.
900 Miler Song
by Carolyn Ebel --- tune is Yellow Rose of Texas
We're the Smoky Mountains hikers,
You saw us on Bote Mountain,
Our legs are bruised, our chins are scratched,
So thank you for what you done
A hiker can enjoy the wonders of nature in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in every season. Once an enthusiast has experienced the Motor Nature trails, visited Pioneer Homes, taken Quiet Walks, and hiked to waterfalls, the hiking trails beckon. Within the boundaries of the GSMNP are about 900 miles of maintained hiking trails depicted on a splendid trail map available at the visitor center for $1. For a link to the map click here: GSMNP trail map. Unlike many National Park hiker maps, this trail map clearly and accurately shows all of the maintained trails, including trail names and distances between trail intersections. To add to the joy of having a really nice trail map, the Park Service maintains trail signs at the trailheads and at each trail intersection, confirming distance and direction to the next trail intersection. On the back of the map are the park regulations. Please read and follow the instructions closely.
If you have hiked ‘em all, apply for membership in the 900 MILER CLUB, an association of hikers who have hiked all of the trails. With membership your name will be added to the membership list. You will receive a certificate, patch and bumper sticker all proclaiming that you have hiked ‘em all.
We emphasize maintained trails, as there are a maze of faint overgrown paths that lure the unwary. Never stray from the maintained trails as shown on the trail map. Hikers have died after wandering off the maintained trails.
The good news about "900" in the 900 miler club is that no hiker can hike all of the trails in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 900 miles. The lowest number of hiking miles claimed by a club member is 972. Many hike about 1500 trail miles before their maps are complete. For a spreadsheet of all the trails and mileages, click here.
But why would anyone in her/his right mind want to hike in these mountains at all, much less all of the trails?
As some go down to the sea in ships, others must see what is over the next ridge.
Once you have felt the cathedral-like sacredness of the Great Smoky virgin forests, their wonderful presence can become impressed in your memory, a part of you, a magnet; yet in the same moment, feelings of overwhelming sadness to see what has been taken from us all, for this was our heritage. Now, only fragments of these great forests remain.
The Road to Nowhere photo at the top of this page is a familiar place to all 900 Milers. In the 1960s a road was being built around part of the Park, but caused such unexpected environmental damage that construction was halted. Now its main feature is a fantastic, scary-at-night, 1200 foot long hiking tunnel. If you've not experienced it, join the adventure, you will find it.
As of May 23, 2016, there are 465 members of the 900 Miler Club, founded in 1995 by "Louisiana" Lou Murray. The initial fee is $15 with no membership dues thereafter. The 900 Miler Club application can be printed from your web browser. When the form is the active window, click File, Print, OK. Follow the instructions on the form and mail it to the address on the form with your check for $15. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.
This is a reduced scan of our 8.5 x 11" certificate. Click to see a larger version. Image will open in a new window.
This is our original cloth patch produced by Lou Murray. We are now out of this patch. We will send each new member the blue one with the tree, shown below.
Our blue (tree) patch was produced by Connie Tatgenhorst and Sandi Burdick - our thanks to both. New members will receive only the blue (tree) patch. Members can purchase additional blue (tree) patches for $5 each if we have an adequate supply.
With your application you will also receive a bumper sticker identifying you as a 900 miler. Additional stickers may be purchased at $1.
This poem by a new member will touch all that have completed the journey.
THE END OF A DREAM
We finished our journey, we accomplished our goal,
We set out to do this, before we got too old.
We hiked in the rain, we hiked in the snow,
We waded through the rivers, when it was rocky and cold.
We hiked the high mountains, and the pretty valleys below,
We always hiked down, because going up was too slow.
We sweated in the summer, and froze in the cold winter air,
Many times we thought of quitting, but the drive was always there.
Now and then we needed encouragement, from George and Carroll and our hiking pals,
They would tell us, "You can do it, you're tough, you're good old gals."
Glen and Orlie, our hiking buddies, led us through the roughest spots,
Through creeks and briers and bushes, and believe me, there were lots.
They helped us set up camp, and carried wood for a fire to light,
To knock the chill off our tired bodies, when the sun went down at night.
We laughed and we sang, and we had a lot of fun,
We went to many places, that we might never have done.
We saw a lot of things, and this was just by chance,
We happened upon this naked man, taking a bath in the branch.
We will always be grateful, to those who helped us reach our goal,
This is not the end of our hiking, it's just the END OF A DREAM untold.
Alma Sue Williamson
Tips from 900 Miler members
This is where we go out on a limb and try to help other hikers. Please help with your comments, suggestions and disclaimers. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Erosion of the trails is often controlled by a log (water bar) partially buried across the trail. It is easier to step on a water bar than over one. Water bars can be very slick and have caused serious injuries. Do not step on a water bar and do not let anyone in your group step on one as you may have to carry him out. I say "him" because the ones we know that have been carried out because of this problem are male.
Common, and very dangerous are Yellow Jackets (small yellow and black wasp type insect). If you look sharp you can see them flying in and out of a hole in the ground. The first person who steps near them will disturb them; the second may get stung. If you see them, give them a wide berth. If they swarm, RUN. Some hikers carry Benadryl (check with your doctor), someday you may need it.
Short pants are great in the summer as my poor legs get so hot. But come July the Stinging Nettle is large enough to make my cool legs suffer. Some trails do not have any Stinging Nettles but others have many. My long pants go back on in July and stay on for the rest of the year. It is double tough if you stir up Yellow Jackets with your short pants on. Some hikers are very happy with their zip-on and off legs for their pants.
Many hikers tuck their pants in their socks to keep ticks from crawling up their legs. One hiker reported a deer tick bite from a Park trip in 1998. The tick was under his arm for about two days before it was discovered and removed. The bite mark was red but had almost disappeared. After a week it started to turn red again. That return of redness around the bite is an early symptom of Lyme disease. Our hiker called his doctor, who prescribed antibiotics just in case. Lots of info is available on the net; search for Deer Ticks. Dog ticks were very common.. I found at least six on my clothes and body this past year. Inspect yourself after every hike.
Have you ever thrown a rock at a bear? Why? What did the bear do? Has anyone seen a Panther? Have you been chased or threatened by a Wild Boar? Bear and other stories will be greatly appreciated. E-mail me at email@example.com.
For those who work all day and hike all night, this site will tell you when the sun and moon rises and set .