GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Three new storybook trails featuring stories in English and Spanish are coming to the Smokies as part of a multiorganizational effort to diversify available languages along Storybook Trails in the Smokies and in the City of Gatlinburg.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Wednesday announced the launch of English-Spanish bilingual Storybook Trails of the Smokies (El Camino del Libro de Cuentos) for May 19 along trails at three parks: Fighting Creek Nature Trail at Sugarlands Visitor Center in GSMNP and along trails at Mills Park and Mynatt Park in the City of Gatlinburg.
“We are excited to bring the Storybook Trails back to the Smokies and connect with our local Gatlinburg community,” Cassius Cash, GSMNP superintendent, said. “We hope that this initiative will continue to promote literacy and the desire to explore the outdoors.”
The trails will feature three stories from books published by the 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 Problemático)” by Lisa Horstman. Each month, the stories will rotate among the three parks.
Smokies officials describe a Storybook Trail as a fun, educational outdoor activity that takes the pages from a children’s book and places them on signs along trails.
To kick off this year’s bilingual Storybook Trails of the Smokies, the public is invited to a community celebration event at Mills Park in Gatlinburg at 4 p.m. on Friday.
At the celebration, attendees can 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 Mills Park at 7 p.m.
“The Recreation Department is excited to help launch the Storybook Trails in Mynatt Park and Mills Park,” Laurence Evans, the Gatlinburg Recreation Director, 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.”
The collaboration to create the bilingual Storybook Trail involved organizations including GSMNP, the City of Gatlinburg Parks and Recreation, the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the UT Institute of Agriculture and the Sevier County Schools System.
GSMNP also said that the English-Spanish bilingual Storybook Trails “aim to serve the diverse communities surrounding the parks, create an interactive outdoor experience for families and visitors, and encourage stewardship across public lands.”
Smokies officials say the first Storybook Trail of the Smokies traveled to trails across Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2021 and 2022, featuring a rotation of stories in English published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association and one bilingual book in English and Cherokee language.
This year’s Storybook Trails will remain installed and available to the public through Thursday, Aug. 31.