Liz Domingue loves hiking the high elevations of the Smokies. Though there are special spots down low, too. Her favorite hike? “The one I’m on right now,” she says.
Domingue is one of the instructors who lead excursions as part of the Smoky Mountain Field School, a program that runs from spring to fall through UT Noncredit Programs. A naturalist and wildlife biologist whose own tour company, Just Get Outdoors, hosts hikes in the Smokies and around the country, Domingue enjoys hunting for salamanders as much as she does synchronous fireflies. Some of her classes focus on wildflowers; others focus on photography and capturing great nature images.
“The best compliment I can get is being told that people are seeing more, hearing more when they’re in the mountains than they did before my class. That’s wonderful. As adults, we don’t pay as much attention as we might to what’s happening around us,” she says.
The 45th season of the Field School launches in March. This year’s lineup includes 29 programs — all but one on Saturdays — that range from hikes to cultural history programs, from how to navigate by compass to foraging for food. Classes include information about bears, birds and monarch butterflies. On wildflowers and waterfalls. And much more.
The first class this season is a hike to the Walker Sisters’ cabin from the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area on March 11. The 3.6-mile hike leads to the rustic cabin the six unmarried sisters lived in in Little Greenbrier valley until the mid-1960s. Participants will learn about their lives and the land they inherited prior to the establishment of the park.
Classes with few exceptions cost $69 per person. To see the complete list of classes and to sign up, click here.