Published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the full-color map is printed on waterproof paper and contains numbered trail locations, trail lengths and elevation gains, as well as detailed hike directions.
Bernard Elias created the first edition of the map in 1966, and it was an immediate hit with hikers, featuring the very best hikes of the Blue Ridge and the Great Smokies in a single portable package. Upon his death in 2010, Elias, a charter member of the Sierra Club and Appalachian Trail Conservancy, proclaimed the map to be the greatest accomplishment of his life.
Elias updated the map 13 times before its last printing in 1993, when his age prevented him from completing many of the map’s trails. After that, the map went out of print and remained largely forgotten until Steve Kemp, former interpretive products and services director for GSMA, stumbled upon a copy in a Little Switzerland bookstore. Kemp found that copies of the map were selling for up to $300 online, and in 2014 he contacted CMC about printing a long-overdue update.
CMC council member Steven Pierce got involved, coordinating with hike leaders and members to review selected hikes, hike the trails, use the CMC database to verify driving directions and write and review the trail descriptions, also updating all the GPS tracks for the map.
Previous versions of the map included trails more geared toward backpackers, but the updated edition focuses on day hikes of varying lengths in the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The “100 Favorite Trails” map is best suited for selecting and keeping track of trails hiked in the area, and its creators recommend that, when setting out on a trail, people carry a more detailed map focused on that particular area.
The map and guide are available for $12.95 in the park’s visitor center bookstores and at www.smokiesinformation.org.