Head to the Park During October for Smoky Mountain Field School Courses

The Smoky Mountain Field School has a slate of workshops planned for October, a beautiful time of year to explore the Smokies.

A landscape shot of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Smoky Mountain Field School has been offering high-quality hands-on outdoors educational experiences in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for thirty-eight years. The school is a partnership between the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These noncredit weekend programs are taught in and around the park by professors, naturalists, and other experts.

Here are October’s courses:

Smoky Mountain Fiddle Tunes, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, October 3—Join music instructor and performer Conny Ottway and have some fun with the fiddle. Learn the correct positions for the fiddle to produce the best sound. After playing scales for a bit, progress to playing popular fiddle music with your classmates. Cost: $79

Friends in High Places: A Day Hike on Mount LeConte, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday, October 4—Spend a day walking the trails of Mount LeConte. After reaching the 6,594-foot summit, spend some time at LeConte Lodge relaxing and eating lunch before heading down on a different trail. This is a strenuous hike of thirteen miles with some tricky footing. Cost: $79

Cherokee Plant Lore, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 10—Native plant material was the general store for Cherokee families and white settlers. Start the day with a media visit with the “plant tribe” to learn what was used for flavor and pharmacy. Sample some traditional Cherokee foods and tour the Indian Botanical Gardens. Cost: $79

Bears of Our Smokies, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 17—Join outdoorsman Joey Holt for a day filled with fascinating facts about our Smokies black bear. Holt offers a keen perspective on bear habits and knowledge of how to avoid troublesome encounters. With his experience in tracking and interpreting terrain, Holt provides opportunities to identify bear trails, tracks, scats, and other often-missed signs. Cost: $79

Introduction to Orienteering, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 17—Orienteering is the process of using a map and compass to travel from one place to another. Through lectures, classroom activities, and field exercises, learn the fundamental skills of both competitive and wilderness orienteering. Cost: $79

Advanced Wilderness Orienteering, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, October 18—Do you have some outdoor or orienteering experience? Get in-depth instruction on using a map and compass to navigate in remote areas. Lectures and classroom exercises emphasize the advanced aspects of map reading, using an orienteering compass, declination, route projection, and improvisation. Cost: $79

Fall Nature Photography, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday, October 24—Learn techniques for designing photographs of combined subjects such as landscape, waterscapes, and fall color. We’ll use composition, perspective, light, and exposure to develop our images and learn the technical manipulations that are necessary to obtain the desired results. Cost: $95

History Comes Alive at the Greenbrier School and Walker Sisters Cabin, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, October 24—Join Robin Goddard on an informative session about Little Greenbrier School, the students who attended, the area around Metcalf Bottoms, and the famous Walker Sisters. Experience a day in a one-room school, explore the cemetery, and participate in an old-fashioned spelling bee. Cost: $79

Father and Son Overnight Canoe Trip, 9:00 a.m. Friday, October 30, to Saturday, October 31—Enjoy the wilderness of Fontana Lake as a father-and-son duo on an overnight canoe trip. Paddle from Tsali Recreation area into the main channel of Fontana, spending the night at a backcountry campsite. The next day, spend time in either Hazel Creek or the Tuckasegee River embayment before returning to the put-in. Cost: $158

Birding in the Smokies, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 31—Join two fellow birders for a day of field observation and discovery of common birdlife in the Smokies. Seeking familiar and elusive species, learn about the best binoculars, field guides and calls, and song CDs. Fall is a great season to be out as leaves are sparse and allow greater opportunity to see these feathered creatures. Cost: $79

Winter Tree Identification, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 31—Spend a day in the forest and find out how to identify trees and shrubs in the wintertime. After a brief instructional period in a classroom to cover some basics, take several short walks into the forest at various elevations. Learn how to use sight, touch, and smell to identify trees without leaves. Associating tree species with the elevation and topographic position where they are found greatly aids identification. Cost: $79

See the full schedule and register for a course online. For more information, call 865-974-0150.