How well do you know your Smokies? Do you want to learn more, explore more, and enjoy more? Well, the Smoky Mountain Field School just might be the thing for you.

Forty years ago, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, came together in an education partnership. They called it, Smoky Mountain Field School.

That first year, less than a dozen students participated. Today, hundreds of people, of all ages, take advantage of more than fifty superb indoor and outdoor training courses.


Most courses cost just $79 and are all non-credit hours. Overnight backpacking trips to LeConte are $195. Photography courses are only $95. The introductory backpacking course is $158.

The school offers a range of courses from flora and fauna to art and music in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Nine new courses for 2017 include Basic Wildflower Identification in a Cove Hardwood Forest, Cades Cove: A Window to the Past, and Heritage of Cherokee Foods & Formulas.

Do not delay if you want to sign up for a course; they fill up quickly.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonderful outdoor classroom and the folks at UT are great educators. Together, they provide a wonderful experience for anyone interested in exploring, learning, and enjoying the park.


Instructors for the Smoky Mountain Field School include professors, naturalists, park personnel, wildlife advocates, and other specialists.


The goal of all the courses, is to intensify the public’s regard for, perception of, and stewardship of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The school seeks to accomplish this through education regarding the park’s natural and cultural resources. The variety of activities described below, provide opportunity and encouragement to explore the park.

Hands-on experience, workshops, lectures, etc., all hone skills used in studying and interpreting the natural world.

Smoky Mountain Field School is committed to excellent, economical, and attainable educational opportunities, with emphasis on the park’s magnificent, varied, and delicate resources – both natural and cultural.

2017 Program Schedule

The 2017 Smoky Mountain Field School program runs from March to November. The following is just a sample of the available courses.

Whether you want to learn all about the majestic black bear, how to play a fiddle, or become a better nature photographer, Smoky Mountain Field School is your resource for these and everything in between!


Take a walking tour of Elmont and learn its fascinating history.


Go on geology day hikes in Cades Cove, on Gabes Mountain Trail or in the high-country.

Hike to waterfalls, historical sites, backcountry shelters and explore the beauty, history, and diversity of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Maybe you are just getting started with hiking. Come and learn skills and techniques, proper clothing and gear, and be taught by a 900-miler!

Families & Children

Smoky Mountain Field School offers programs for families with young children. Hunt for salamanders and frogs in Cades Cove. Learn about the birds, plants, and insects while exploring the Smokies together.

Fly Fishing, Spin Fishing, & Birding

For the soon-to-be mountain streams fisherman, join the introductory courses in fly-fishing and spin-fishing. Or stay on dry ground and enjoy a day birding in the field.


Learn the basics of backpacking and gain the confidence and knowledge required for taking care of yourself in the backcountry. Hike one of the three seasonal overnight trips to Mt. LeConte. Smoky Mountain Field School has something for the novice and the pro.


Plants, trees, wildflowers, and fungi are waiting to have your attention. Learn methods of tree identification. Visit the Cove Hardwood Forest or the Greenbrier valley and be among the wildflowers.


Explore the culture of the Cherokee, their legends, games and medicines. Discover what native plant material the Cherokee used for flavor and pharmacy. Learn how to identify the plants and trees used for daily life among the Native Americans and early settlers.


The beginner can learn all about orienteering, from classroom activities to field exercises. Those with experience can get an even more in-depth instruction, from the classroom to the wilderness!


For those who wish to slow down and look a little closer, Smoky Mountain Field School offers a course in animal tracking and nature observation.


For those who read to the end, you probably want to know more, like dates, times, locations, and costs. A complete list of courses is on the Smoky Mountain Field School website at the following address:

You may register by following the above URL, then clicking on the course for which you want to register.

The flipbook of courses is helpful also:

Phone 865-974-0150.