Walkin’ In A Winter Wonderland

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Don’t let the winter months scare you from going outside, there is still so much to be seen. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is brimming with beauty, even in the colder months. Several hikes will give you luxurious views of snowy mountains, icy falls and even traces of wildlife!snowycreek_ig

Alum Cave Bluffs is a 5 mile, round trip hike that sits off of Newfound Gap Road. The trail has recently been restored for better access to hikers. During the winter months, the drips from the Bluff turn into icicles, so watch out! If you continue from the Bluffs up another 2.5 miles, you’ll reach the summit of Mt. LeConte and run into some amazing views. This is a difficult hike, especially in the snow so don’t forget to come prepared for anything.

Another Local favorite is Porters Creek Trail. This kid-friendly, 2 mile hike leads into what used to be a small farmstead. You will see several buildings and other structures still standing from the early 1900s. Follow the trail left up to Fern Branch Falls for a magnificent view of the 60-foot frozen waterfall. laurel250xv

Laurel Falls is a paved, relatively easy trail, but one of the most traveled in the area. The trail is kid-friendly, although it does have a few steep drop offs along the way. In the winter, the Falls will ice over providing you with the perfect winter snapshot.

Our favorite winter hike would have to be Rainbow Falls. This 5.5 mile hike is rated as moderate to difficult, climbing a total of 1,700 feet. This trail sends you right through Bear Country so always keep an eye out for wildlife, even though they usually hibernate through winter. The 80-foot Falls usually boasts a beautiful rainbow, hence the name, although in the winter months it will freeze, creating a gorgeous hourglass shaped ice sculpture! You really have to see this one for yourself!

Remember that preparation is key for hiking, especially in the winter. Some guidelines to ensuring your safety include carrying a map of the area, informing another person(s) where you are going and when you plan to return, researching terrain or trail conditions and staying up to date on weather and weather alerts. Don’t forget to bring key items such as water, food, a flashlight, trekking poles for stability, an emergency blanket and other items you may need in case any unforeseen issues arise. Always dress in layers and wear adequate shoes or boots. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times and always practice Leave No Trace principles.

 

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Smoky Mountain areas.

The leaves are Fall-ing!

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October is here and the weather is boasting it’s beauty! The leaves are shedding their green hues for a richer color palette of yellows, oranges, and reds making for a picture perfect view. This year the leaves are still in the process of changing at different altitudes. If you would like to see the current view, you can head over to the Webcams on the Smoky Mountain National Park site.

Ready to let your head fall where it may? Look no further than ERA! They offer affordable cabins near the Smoky Mountains. A few of the ones they offer with a view are:

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Almost Heaven – This 2 bedroom, 2 bath cabin is located minutes from the National Park. Spacious log cabin with all of the amenities. You can enjoy the fall color from your hot tub or porch –no hiking necessary!

 

At Trail’s End – This beautiful 2-level log cabin, withAtTrailsEnd_edit.jpg
spectacular winter mountain views, will sleep up to 6 people and offers recreation for the whole family including a fully equipped gameroom, Jacuzzi, hot tub and picnic tables…located just minutes from the Smoky Mountain Arts & Crafts District.

 

Chipmunk Haven – This is a cute, private log cabin with a view, a rare find! Chipmunk Haven has 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, an outdoor hot tub, an indoor whirlpool tub, and is located just 3 miles from the downtown Parkway in Gatlinburg.

 

On The Rocks– This adorable two level log cabin is equipped with a wood-burning fireplace, an outdoor hot tub and has a mountain views! With a two bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms, there is no better place to spend your vacation or family weekend getaway! Conveniently located close to Downtown Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

 
Winfield Heights – From a spa-like couples getaway to a family-fun vacation, the cabins of Winfield Heights offer you and yours deluxe accommodations and amenities–in-room whirlpools, outdoor hot tubs, pool tables & fireplaces. Enjoy both a mountain view AND a downtown city view!

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 865-430-3366. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

Bear Alert!

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Black bears have been very active during this time of year here in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. With Summer coming to a close and Fall setting in, they are preparing for the upcoming Winter season. Some campsites and hiking trails are on High Alert for Bear sightings in the area. A few of these include Backcountry Campsites #10, #21, #60, #63, and #92, Mt. LeConte shelter, Laurel Falls Trail, Abrams Falls, Ramsey Cascades Trail, Grotto Falls Trail, Forney Creek Trail, and Grapeyard Ridge Trail.

What do I do if I see a bear?

The National Park Service recommends that if you spot a bear to remain watchful and don’t approach the bear. Watch for changes in its behavior to ensure that you have not gotten too close. In this event you would walk backwards slowly, to let the bear know you bears-in-field_djbeckare giving it space. Once far enough you can resume your hiking – away from the bear. Black bear attacks come few and far between. Preventative measures are often the best way to avoid any sort of bear sighting or attack. This can be done by practice Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out trash or using proper trash bins, disposing of food and waste properly, minimizing your impact on the environment, and hanging your food away from your campsite.

 

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If you would like the chance to ‘safely’ view a bear, try heading up to Cades Cove to drive through the Park and view some of the wildlife. Early morning sightings are more frequent, although we have found critters at all times of the day! The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is also frequented with wildlife and you may be able to catch a glance of one through the trees!

 

Of course you may even spot one in Downtown Gatlinburg! Garbage has been a big issue in the area. Black bear diets consist of nuts, berries, and insects. Being that Gatlinburg city borders the National Park, bears can get confused to the smells that
waft in from town. They will follow those smells to campsites, picnic areas, and bear_picnic_tablesometimes even businesses and houses! That is why it is so important to follow the guidelines set in place to control garbage problems. Just a reminder to never feed or leave food out for a bear or any other animals as it can cause that animal to be less fearful of humans and they will likely seek out more food. In fact, citations can be issued by park rangers trying to reinforce these guidelines, with fines up to $5,000 or even jail time.

 

 

But it’s almost Winter..don’t Black Bears hibernate?

Towards late Summer and early Fall black bears start storing food and can eat up to 30 pounds of it a week. Smoky Mountain black bears do hibernate, but not like many of other bears in different areas. They can go long periods of time without food, water, exercise, and using bodily functions. Bears will usually find a hollowed out tree or some other form of burrow to take refuge from the cold. They usually slumber through the Winter, but on warmer days some will wake and wander around. Their bodies release a chemical called leptin, which is used to curb their appetite and their metabolism rate drops to about 50% of the normal rate. Body temperature only drops by a few degrees, unlike black bears in the northern regions. Their hibernation period in the Smokies may not be as lengthy as black bears in Northern regions such as Alaska due to our short winters.

 

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This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 865-430-3366. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.