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Through her “Get on the Trail” series, Missy Kane has helped raise thousands of dollars to help preserve and maintain more than 800 miles of Smoky Mountains National Park trails and has recruited hundreds of new hikers who have discovered the benefits of taking care of themselves and the natural world around them.

arrow This project was nominated for a Trails for Health Award as part of the 2008 National Trails Awards, announced at the 19th National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas.

arrow Download the Hiking Guide brochure for the "Get on the Trail" series (pdf 2.0 mb)

 

“Get on the Trail" with Friends of the Smokies and Covenant Health

Friends of the Smokies is a partner with Missy Kane and Covenant Health for the “Get on the Trail with Missy and Friends” hiking series. This program is not only a community commitment to the importance of physical activity, but also instills an appreciation of and responsibility for Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the wonders that can only be experienced by hiking its many trails.

Photo of bridge over wide river

Smokies Trail Guide funded by Covenant
Health and other partners

In 1998 Missy Kane, Covenant Health’s health promotions coordinator, approached Friends of Great Smoky Mountain National Park about sponsoring a spring and fall hiking series for the public entitled, “Get on the Trails.” As health promotions coordinator, Missy develops and promotes programs to support Covenant Health's mission of service as the leader in community health improvement. Her programs help Covenant Health communicate to the public why fitness is important to good health. She also encourages local audiences to take advantage of the many fitness resources within Covenant Health.

She is especially interested in reaching adults who have never exercised and in helping children learn to love physical exercise and fitness for a lifetime of good health. The “Get on the Trail” hiking series takes place each Wednesday in the months of April and October. Missy, Covenant Health staff (including registered nurses and an EMT), park rangers, a Friends staff member and Friends volunteers lead 50-60 people on a day hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park or nearby national forests.

The first hike of the season is the easiest with subsequent hikes increasing in difficulty. The participants pay $15/hike. Those who sign up for the entire series receive a complimentary membership to Friends. All of the proceeds are given to Friends of the Smokies and are used for general park support including trail and backcountry maintenance. Additional support for the program is generated by Friends of the Smokies through local company sponsorships from banks, outdoor outfitters, vacation resorts and the local media outlets.

This program encourages the public to hike primarily the trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park for fitness, fun, and fellowship. The participants range in age from teenagers to eighty and come from as far away as 75 miles. Many participate in each hike, each year. In just ten years, 591 hikers have participated in the program and have contributed more than $73,830 to Friends of the Smokies.

For many, participation in the “Get on the Trail” hiking series is a life changing experience. Friends of the Smokies recently asked Missy and some of Missy’s hikers to share their thoughts of and experiences with the series:

“We were blessed to put 1,300 miles on the trails in 2007. Hiking is how we spend our time together staying physically fit and enjoying the beauty of the Smokies, two feet at a time.” - Sam and Jody Curtis, Madisonville, TN

Photo of bridge over low falls

A group hike led by park rangers and Friends of the Smokies volunteers

“After my son’s unexpected death, Missy’s hikes got me out exercising, enjoying fellowship with old and new friends, and gaining an everlasting appreciation and love for the serenity of the Smoky Mountains. We've made many dear "friends" of the Smokies and have enjoyed hiking with them beyond the series. I'll be forever grateful for all that Friends of the Smokies does to maintain these beautiful trails. Hiking these trails is one way I find the serenity, hope, and inspiration to live life to its fullest.” - Amy Encarnacion, Knoxville, TN

“In my earlier years, I ran some marathons, so I am familiar with the preparation needed to accomplish a difficult task. Hiking in the Smokies is now my incentive to stay in shape so that I can be prepared when the next opportunity arises to be on one of Missy's "extreme" hikes.” - Larry Fielder, Louisville, TN

“After 10 years of leading Get on the Trail with Missy and Friends, I can’t count how many individuals have told me later how hiking has changed their lives for the better. A couple from Oliver Springs started with me about 3 years ago. Since then they have now hooked up with a few hiking clubs who hike all year long. And they have now done all the trails in the Smokies while losing over 20 pounds each and maintaining super health. They are both over 60 but in better shape now than they were a decade ago. Hiking is one of the best activities to lose weight, and reduce your chances of heart attack and stroke, while being a great “get away” and stress reliever for many.” - Knoxville, TN

“We feel like we are in much better shape than we have ever been. Robert is 65 and I am 61. We LOVE hiking and we give Missy Kane all the credit for our success. We are now members of the 900 miler club. Missy is wonderful! Several of my other friends starting hiking with Missy and now hike every Thursday with the Thursday Hikers.” - Bonnie Herrell, Powell, TN

“What I like about hiking is that it doesn’t feel like exercise. While I can’t run like I used to, I’ve found hiking is an even better way to stay fit while enjoying God’s gift to us called the Smokies.”

For more information:

Friends of the Smokies
P.O. Box 1660, Kodak, TN 37764-7660
Phone: 865-932-4794 - Email: fotssw@bellsouth.net - www.friendsofthesmokies.org

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