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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is often referred to as the Wildflower National Park because of the great diversity of flowers found in the park. A group of flowers known as spring ephemerals appear above ground only in late winter and early spring.

Included in this group are flowers such as lady slipper orchids, showy orchids, crested dwarf iris, fire pink, columbine, bleeding heart, phacelia, jack-in-the-pulpit, little brown jugs, and violets.

The Deep Creek Trail, Gregory Ridge Trail, and Oconaluftee River Trail are great trails for viewing spring wildflowers. For more information on these walks, visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/wildflower-walks.htm.

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Contrary to popular belief, black bears living in the Smoky Mountains do not truly hibernate. They enter long periods of sleep but occasionally leave the den for short periods if they are disturbed.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of just a few locations in the eastern part of the United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings.

During winter, bears find shelter in hollow stumps, tree cavities, and other safe places. Bears in the Smoky Mountains are unlike bears in other regions in that they often den high above the ground.

Check out this site for more information: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/black-bears.htm.

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bird
The Great Smoky Mountains is a premier location for bird watching. The crest of the smokies towers almost a mile above the foothills, while provides a diversity of habitats and climates for the nearly 240 birds that have been found in the park. Out of these 240 birds, only sixty are year round residents. The spruce-fir forest of the high ridges is home to the Black-capped Chickadee, the Golden-crowned Kinglet, and the Blackburnian and Canada Warblers. The northern hardwood and cove hardwood forests are home to the Blue-headed Viero, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and the Black-throated Blue Warbler. To learn more about which birds make their home in the smokies, visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/birds.htm.

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Best Hiking Trails

trails
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the Smokies in all its glory. There are a variety of trails throughout the park, whether you are looking for a leisurely stroll or a backpacking trip over several days. Alum Cave Bluff, Chimney Tops, Ramsay Cascades and Mount LeConte are all difficult trails. Rainbow Falls, Little Cataloochee Trail, The Boogerman Trail Loop, Copper Road, and Andrews Bald are all moderately hard trails. If you looking for an easy trail, check out Clingmans Dome, Abrams Falls, Look Rock, Cucumber Gap, Sugarlands Visitor Center Nature Trail, and Laurel Falls.

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One thing you may think about when you hear the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the black bear. People hope to see them from a distance, but fear to see them up-close. Their life cycle and habits have been studied for years and much has been learned of these animals. There is an estimated 1,000 black bears in the park. Their fur can range from black to varying shades of light brown. Even though they are smaller than grizzly and polar bears, the black bear can weigh as much as 400 lbs and stand 6 ft. tall. During the fall, the bears search for acorns, berries, seeds, insects, and nuts for the winter. They gain anywhere from 3-5 lbs per day in order to survive during the winter and early spring. During October and November, black bears go into a deep sleep, but do not become fully dormant. Because food is so important, the bears are excellent scavengers, especially with the amount of trash that is left in the park by visitors. That is why feeding bears and leaving food unattended is prohibited. The bears are beautiful to observe, but please do your part and do not feed them and protect these unique bears.

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271

 When you think of tarantulas, you most likely think of the big, furry, scary ones that you see on National Geographic or in movies. Most of these species of tarantulas live in the southwestern parts of the U.S. However, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park there is a species of tarantulas, most-commonly known as the trap-door spider. They are stocky with short, thick legs, and are sparsely covered with hair. They have eight eyes! One pair is located in the middle with three on each side of their head. They are either tan or chestnut brown in color.

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Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great way to relax and enjoy nature while visiting the area. However, along with this activity there are some things you should be cautious of, one being poison ivy. The reaction caused by the plant differs from person to person, ranging from no reaction at all to hospitalization. Be careful while walking in moist areas where the plants do not get enough sunlight. The ivy can grow in groups of three leaves, with the largest leaf in the middle, but it can also grow up to nine leaves in a group. Remember the rule, “Leaves of three, Let it be.” Here are a few key things to look out for and know while enjoying your hike:

– Poison ivy needs light to grow, so be careful around the edges of the woods, roads, parking lots, and in fields.

– The ivy is generally in low weed-like plants, but can also look like a vine climbing up trees.

– The edges of the leaves have tiny “teeth.”

– Depending on the season, the leaves are not always green. In the spring they are reddish, and yellow or orange in the fall.

– The berries are typically white.

Poison Ivy is not hard to avoid if you are cautious. It is suggested to hike in long pants and shoes that cover your entire foot. If you do get poison ivy, remember to wash the area with COLD water, because it will not open your pores and let the oil in.

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