Spring Break, Mountain Style: Smokies Offer A Splendid Array Of Getaway

Monday, March 7, 2016 - by Taylor Hathorn

The weather is warming up and the East Tennessee greenery is rolling in, which means one thing: Spring break is right around the corner. While some hit the beach during this time, seekers of adventure and exploration can choose to experience a unique nature-oriented getaway in Blount County and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). There are several family-friendly activities taking place during the spring break timeframe throughout the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies.” From project-oriented hikes and weekend getaways to concerts at the Clayton Center and family team-building activities, the area offers something for every preference and budget.

For an education-centered activity, consider the Great Smoky Mountains Scavenger Hunt at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Teams of all ages partner up to research answers to park-related questions. Participants must follow the clues and their own intuition through the trails of the park to discover the answers. The scavenger hunt takes place March 12 and has a $50 registration fee per team.

In congruence with the Hike 100 Challenge, announced earlier this year, area outdoors store Little River Trading Co. is sponsoring several themed hikes throughout the year for all skill sets, from families to mileage junkies. Each individual hike will focus on a theme, such as history, flora or waterfalls.

“Our mission is to help people get out and experience the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Jaia McClure, Apparel Buyer and Sales Manager at Little River Trading Co. “The hiking series will help people get out, get active and learn more about the awesome resources that surround us!”

There are currently two hikes taking place in March and two in April. There is no cost to join the hikes; guests must simply RSVP on Little River’s Facebook page or check its website for more details. 

There are also several beautiful greenways and off-road biking trails throughout Blount County that provide miles of direct connection to nature. For bike rentals, call: Apple Valley Country Store (865-448-9878), Cycology Bicycle Shop (865-681-4183) or U-Man Power (865-448-2530).

Several indoor events take place throughout the spring season. The Clayton Center for the Arts has several shows lined up for your viewing pleasure. There are performances for every art-lover, including the Appalachian Ballet Spring Gala, the Maryville College Choir’s “Journey to the Heartland” and the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Million Dollar Quartet.

For businesses seeking a productive getaway, Blount County offers several highly acclaimed options. Dancing Bear Lodge partners with Impact Associates to offer a four-day, three-night organizational retreat package. The retreat focuses on corporate leadership development, strategic planning, and strengthening communication skills to achieve clarity as an organization.  

As part of the package, businesses participate two days of dynamic leadership training and a half day of outdoor workshop activities at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Participants will enjoy dinner prepared in the Appalachian Bistro and three nights of luxury accommodations at Dancing Bear Lodge. For more information and package pricing, contact Christi Silliman (1-800-369-0111 ext. 3).

For a shorter corporate retreat, consider Maryville College’s Mountain Challenge. The teambuilding program integrates physical challenges with leadership and teamwork lessons to build a collaborative environment. There are several levels of intensity in which a company can participate starting with a low ropes course and escalating into more difficult challenges.  For more information and scheduling, contact Maryville College (865-981-8125).

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a wealth of activities for spring breakers and businesses working through the holiday. For more information on the region and upcoming events, contact Kim Mitchell, Blount Partnership Director of Tourism (865-273-1213, kmitchell@blountpartnership.com). 

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