Bernard Elias created the first edition of the map in 1966, and it was an immediate hit with hikers, featuring the very best hikes in 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 was a photographer, filmmaker, world traveler, avid hiker, and a fierce advocate for nature conservation in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Bernard was born in 1918 and grew up in Biltmore Forest.
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. To keep his classic and relied-upon work accurate and up-to-date, Elias would hike 10 to 12 of the trails each year. At that rate, and with this map in hand, a decade of local hikes awaits those who have it.
After 1993, the map went out of print and remained largely a hard to get treasure that would costs upwards of $300 online to purchase. With this update, the format and structure of Elias’s original work is maintained, just updated with current information by hike leaders who reviewed selected hikes, hiked the trails, accessed hiking databases to verify driving directions and rewrote the trail descriptions, along with 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.
There is a limited supply of the current printing, so we are very happy to be able to offer this treasured map on the Smokies Adventure site.