Whether you are hiking, taking an auto tour or just trying to find the best route through the Smokies, you are going to need a map. Maps have been around for thousands of years and even though your GPS is going to help, we advise that you get a map before you start your travels in the Smokies.
Hiking, being the most popular activity in the Smokies, involves a lot of maps. After you find the trail it self, following the trail is not usually a problem. The difficulty is usually finding the trail to begin with. The National Park has plenty of resources at all of the visitor centers to help you find those trails that you most want to hike. At the visitors center, pick up a trail map or if you are looking for a bargain, you can always buy the little brown Trails of the SMokies book that will give the most up to date info on the various trail sin the park.
Cades Cove, Cataloochee and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail all have small self guided brochures that walk you through your travel in these areas of the National Park. Instead of a map you will get a small guide that tells you about the highlights that you are passing as you drive along the route.
Any time you travel, you ought to grab a map. Especially in the Smokies, it is always good to have a paper map on hand just in case your GPS doesn’t have that road. Get a copy of a map for Tennessee, North Carolina and whatever town you are going to be staying in. Get a map for the Smokies as well. It is much easier to visit all of the areas of the park if you happen to have a map on hand to begin with.
A Note about your GPS
Don’t always trust your GPS when you are in the mountains. Many places will give you a street address but you will find that some of those roads will not appear on your GPS. This is due in part to the fact that the mapping in the Smokies has not been updated recently and also due to the fact that some of the roads you will find yourself on are very rural. Keep your GPS handy but always drop a map in the car so you can find your way back to your hotel or motel. Also, remember if you get lost, to find someone to ask. The locals are easy going and always helpful. They will be glad to help you find your way to whatever your next activity is.