The Swag in North Carolina features two weeks of “Black Bears & Unhuggables” Hikes, Oct. 28-Nov. 3 and Nov. 18-24

Waynesville, NC (10/02/2018) — As the spookiest time of the year approaches, The Swag, a 14-room mountaintop hideaway bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park, will offer “Black Bears & Unhuggables Hikes”  from October 28-November 3 and November 18-24.  Black bear expert Dr. Michael Pelton and educator Dr. Tamra Willis, whose interest is the study of snakes, bats and Insects, will guide guests on hikes highlighting these special critters.

Guests of The Swag will participate in daily 10:00 a.m.  hikes and enjoy evening fireside chats with Drs. Pelton and Willis who will offer insights into these intriguing mammals and other animals of the Smokies.

Dr. Pelton, Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Science in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife at The University of Tennessee, has been studying bears for more than 30 years in the Great Smoky Mountains.  He is regarded as the foremost black bear expert and enlightens guests on their habits, how to recognize signs of a bear in the wild and how to act when confronted by a bear.

With a special love for such unhuggables as snakes, bats and insects, Dr. Tamra Willis provides special insights into these often misunderstood creatures.  “I guess I’ve always been drawn to help the under-appreciated,” said Willis who holds a PH.D. in Science and Environmental Education from the University of Tennessee.

“Insects, bats and snakes are often disliked by and even killed by people, but they are very important to our ecosystem.  We think we are in charge, but insects really rule the planet and we could not survive at all without them,” says Willis.

To dispel some of the myths surrounding unhuggables, here are some insights from Dr. Willis:

Will a bat fly into your hair?

Bats can see, but are much more dependent on a sophisticated adaptation called echolocation to locate any object. Basically, they send out a beep in the dark and it echoes back to them when it meets something. Bats can locate and catch tiny mosquitos or gnats while in flight, so they can certainly tell if a person is in front of them! The myth started, I suppose, because gnats and mosquitos like to fly around our heads and bats swoop down to catch the insects above our heads. They are not after us….they can tell the difference.

What should you do if you encounter a snake in the woods?

We are much bigger than our U.S. snakes, so they tend to leave whenever a person is nearby. If you are hiking in the woods and come across a snake, simply watch, enjoy and leave ‘em alone. Keep in mind that they are just out there trying to ‘make a living’ in their own home or habitat.

What types of snakes reside in the Great Smoky Mountains?  Does one need to be concerned about stepping on a snake?

Different kinds of snakes are not good or bad – -those are human-created labels, but some are poisonous. In the Smokies it’s just two kinds (Copperheads and Timber Rattlesnakes), so the chances of seeing a poisonous snake in the Smokies are slim. The vast majority of snakes are harmless, and all of them will leave people alone unless a person harasses or surprises or steps on them. It’s simple…just watch where you step.

Outside rates for the “Black Bears & Unhuggables Hikes” at The Swag start at $520 per night, with a two night minimum, and are available through November 24.    All prices include a hearty breakfast, picnic lunch, evening hors d’oeuvres, four-course dinner and welcome gift.   Suite and Cabin rates are also available.  Single rate less $50 per night.   For reservations or more information visit or call 800-789-7672.

About The Swag
The Swag offers 14 luxurious accommodations, most with wood burning stone fireplaces, allowing guests a peaceful environment where they can rest, relax and rejuvenate. Located on a secluded mountaintop just outside Waynesville, North Carolina, the inn is an ideal destination for romantic getaways, weddings, corporate retreats and much more. The 2.5-mile private drive leading to the inn climbs more than 1,000 feet. For more information, visit The Swag online.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Rebecca Werner, Tel:  917-370-5005 Email:







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