October is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful Smoky Mountains as they shine with brilliant fall colors.  Sign up for a Smoky Mountain Field School course and learn something while you’re there!

Incredible Edibles and Traditional Medicinals
Sat., 10/8/2011, 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM           Fee: $49
Climate and age of the Appalachian chain created a diversity of plant species that is greater here than anywhere in North America. This diversity of life has sustained man for 10,000 years. Spend a day discovering how to identify plants and trees Native Americans and early settlers used for dye, food, medicines, crafts, and other items of daily life. Sample delicious wild flavors appropriate to the seasons. The instructor will share the herb-lore from “medicine men” and “granny women” while the group searches the woods and fields of this temperate rain forest for its hidden treasures.

Edible and Poisonous Fungi of the Smokies
Sat., 10/8/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM           Fee: $49
The Smoky Mountains are world-renowned for mushrooms and home to more than 2,000 species. Here’s a chance to learn about the many kinds of mushrooms and how to identify them by size, shape, and color. We’ll take short hikes in the Park to observe mushrooms in their natural habitat. Through these field explorations, we’ll learn about the ecology and habitats for mushrooms, toxicology, and the association between fungi and tree roots. The workshop is designed for beginners, but veterans will learn something, too.

Fruit, Foliage, and Fall Wildlife
Sat., 10/15/2011, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM         Fee: $49
Discover the magic of fall in the Smokies as we seek out the many colorful fruits and leaves of the mountains, and carefully consider the wildlife they attract. On several short walks at various elevations and habitats, we’ll learn to identify the trees, shrubs, and vines in part by their unique colored leaves and fruit, as well as by other simple clues. We’ll also discover signs of wildlife that rely on this fruit to fuel their migration and movements, or to supplement their resident diet. These birds, bears, boomers, boars, and other animals make up the fall wildlife shuffle, a natural necessity.

Introduction to Orienteering
Sat., 10/22/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM         Fee: $49
In the simplest terms, orienteering is the process of using a map and compass to travel from one place to another. Traditionally, orienteering has been associated with competitive events where participants race cross country with map and compass to find targets in the shortest period of time. Through lectures, classroom activities, and field exercises, you’ll learn the fundamental skills of both competitive and wilderness orienteering.

Advanced Wilderness Orienteering
Sun., 10/23/2011, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM        Fee: $49
If you have some outdoor and/or orienteering experience, here’s a chance to get in-depth instruction on using a map and compass to navigate in remote areas. Lectures and classroom exercises will emphasize the advanced aspects of map reading, using an orienteering compass, declination, route projection, and improvisation. Practical field exercises will enable you to learn first-hand how to navigate from one point to another in the wilderness. Prerequisite: Introduction to Orienteering.

Fall Nature Photography
Sat., 10/22/2011, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM         Fee: $65
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 will learn the technical manipulations of the equipment that are necessary to obtain the desired results. This workshop is applicable to both digital and 35mm SLR format. You should bring a variety of lenses and a tripod.

Animal Tracking and Nature Observation
Sun., 10/23/2011, 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM        Fee: $49
Every clue or sign that an animal leaves behind is a track. Tracking is an ancient skill, but for us it can open up a whole new world. We don’t have to see the animals to tell that they were there, what they were doing, and when they may come back. We’ll learn their stories from the traces they have left behind. Slow down, look closer, ask a lot of questions, and accept the challenge of tracking in the Smokies. You may be surprised by what you find. The course is open to anyone 12 and older. Anyone ages 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Mt. LeConte Hike and Overnight in the Lodge

Sat., 10/29/2011-10/30/2011           Fee: $175
Since its establishment in the 1920s, LeConte Lodge has been a rustic attraction for hikers. At an elevation of 6,360 feet, it is the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States.The mountaintop serves as a grandstand for the whole Park, and the pleasures of a visit to the lodge can include breathtaking sunsets from Cliff Top, clear night skies for stargazing, and spectacular sunrises from Myrtle Point. This is a strenuous hike. The trails are steep and rocky and range from 5 to 8 miles each way. You need to be in good physical condition ready for a rigorous climb. We suggest you sign up with an old friend, or be prepared to bunk with a new one! In the fall, we’ll go up via Rainbow Falls Trail and descend via Bull Head Trail. The brilliant fall foliage will be at its best, laid out in panoramic vistas.