Hiking social media influencer snaps picture of crowded mountains, warns visitors to clean up their trash

The Great Smoky Mountains and the parks here draw hundreds of thousands of guests but, what happens when those guests leave a mess?
Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 7:18 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Benny Braden is an avid hiker from Roane County and a hiking social media influencer. He spends his time chasing waterfalls, catching sunrises, and snapping pictures of his adventures along the way.

“Not everyone knows about “no trace principles.” When you pack it in, you need to pack it back out,” said Braden.

He took a string of pictures while camping at Max Patch last weekend. He says people were being loud and crazy, partying until 4 a.m. They left behind bags of trash, food, and even a broken wagon.

He says he’s seeing more trash on the trails, and it’s dangerous for the wildlife.

“It’s not just a Max Patch problem, it’s a problem worldwide anytime you have a green space,” said Braden.

He’s encouraging people though social media to clean up what they can.

“People out from Georgia were taking a vacation in Gatlinburg and seeing the post that we did, they got inspired to go to Max Patch and start cleaning up. And they said while they were there, they saw other people cleaning up. It’s kind of cool that people are listening they’re going out and just picking up trash,” said Braden.

He says to bring a grocery bag with you on your next hike and collect whatever you can find.

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