Always wanted to learn about the opportunities for hiking, trail running and mountain biking in the Pigeon Forge area? Featuring more than 220 free sessions spanning five days, Pigeon Forge’s award-winning Wilderness Wildlife Week is set for May 9-13. The event is headquartered at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge.
In its 27th year, Wilderness Wildlife Week offers a variety of workshops, lectures, seminars, concerts, hikes and other activities designed to introduce or reacquaint participants of all ages with the great outdoors.
“From great speakers and interactive how-to classes to topics like Appalachian heritage and forensics, Wilderness Wildlife Week is designed to be informative, engaging and fun,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
The event’s headline sessions include Ken Jenkins, Judy Felts and Friends in a program entitled Beauty from the Ashes (May 9 at 7:45 p.m.) which features photography and inspirational music. Forensics experts Dr. Bill Bass and Art Bohanan (May 10 at 7:45 p.m.) share their findings from applying forensic science to identifying human remains, some of which were discovered in graves dating back 2,000 years. Former park ranger Dwight McCarter (May 11 at 7:15 p.m.) shares stories of search and rescue efforts in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers or those who simply want to learn more about Great Smoky Mountains National Park can choose from lectures about topics ranging from the area’s rich heritage to conservation. Outdoor demonstrations include backcountry cooking and blacksmithing while indoor workshops focus on quilting, basket weaving, photography, fishing and wildflowers. Sevier County’s Sevier Solid Waste management facility’s Where Did It Go? presentation will address managing debris from the November wildfire.
Hikers of all experience levels can choose from several excursions each day. Highlights include a three-mile behind-the-scenes Cades Cove Tour (May 10 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.), a 13.8-mile Appalachian Trail/Goshen Prong hike (May 12 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the one-mile LeConte Center Riverwalk Birding Safari (May 13 from 7:30-9:30 a.m.), and the new 2.5-mile Cades Cove Loop Night Hike (May 11 from 7:15-11 p.m.).
A special kids’ track is offered for younger outdoor enthusiasts where participants can learn more about such topics as whittling, crafting mystery stories, making art from recycled materials and more. Children ages seven to 12 can register for the free Kids’ Trout Tournament on Saturday, May 13, at 8 a.m. in Pigeon Forge’s Patriot Park pavilion.
Patriot Park also is the location of the second annual Appalachian Homecoming event on Friday, May 12, at 5 p.m., with storytelling, music, children’s games, and an antique tractor show. A limited 200 tickets ($15 in advance and $20 onsite) will be offered for a country-style picnic dinner on the grounds with proceeds benefitting Keep Sevier Beautiful.
More than 50 exhibits and vendors include the not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation, Appalachian Bear Rescue, Cades Cove Preservation Association and Onsite Heritage Museum, Keep Sevier Beautiful and more.
This spring celebration of the great outdoors is free and open to the public. For more information, a complete schedule and registration details, visit MyPigeonForge.com.
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