The Storybook Trail of the Smokies is back, and this year, the popular self-guided outdoor education series is bringing both English and Spanish reading opportunities to new trails in the park and beyond.
Great Smoky Mountains Association recently partnered with the City of Gatlinburg, the Sevier County School System, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park to translate and adapt three storybook trails for Spanish readers. For the first time this summer, pages from Smokies-themed children’s books in both Spanish and English will be paired with relevant educational content developed by National Park Service staff and posted along trails in Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“We are excited to bring the Storybook Trails back to the Smokies and connect with our local Gatlinburg community,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We hope that this initiative will continue to promote literacy and the desire to explore the outdoors.”
The bilingual storybook trails will be featured along Fighting Creek Nature Trail at Sugarlands Visitor Center in the national park and along trails at Mills Park and Mynatt Park in the City of Gatlinburg. The trails will feature three stories, all from books published by Great Smoky Mountains Association: We’re Going to the Mountains (Vamos a las Montañas) by Steve Kemp, The Great Smoky Mountains Salamander Ball (El Baile de las Salamandras en las Montañas Smokies) and The Troublesome Cub (El Osezno Problematico) by Lisa Horstman. Between May and August 2023, the stories will rotate among the three parks monthly.
“The Recreation Department is excited to help launch the storybook trails in Mynatt Park and Mills Park,” Gatlinburg Recreation Director Laurence Evans said. “These trails will give children an opportunity to do something fun outdoors, while being educational at the same time, in our city parks throughout the summer.”
A community celebration event at Mills Park in Gatlinburg will kick off this year’s launch of the Storybook Trail of the Smokies at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 19, 2023. Attendees will be able to read the stories along the trail, become Junior Rangers, and enjoy fun children’s activities and light refreshments. Buses will transport anyone who is interested from Mills Park to the Fighting Creek Nature Trail at 5:15 p.m. Buses return to Mill Park at 7 p.m.
The bilingual storybook trails aim to serve the diverse communities surrounding the parks, create an outdoor interactive experience for families and visitors, and encourage stewardship across public lands. The Storybook Trail of the Smokies was first launched in 2021 along the Cosby Nature Trail near Cosby Campground in the national park thanks to a partnership between the University of Tennessee Extension Office, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains Association with grant funding from the Juanita H. Fasola Foundation. Since then, the series has traveled to other nearby nature trails and locations and presented a rotation of stories in English published by Great Smoky Mountains Association and one bilingual book in English and Cherokee in partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Speakers Council.
Both Spanish and English storybook trails will remain installed and available to the public at Mills Park, Mynatt Park, and Fighting Creek Nature Trail for free, seven days a week, through August 31, 2023.