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.

Let it Snow!

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We are happy to say that Ober Gatlinburg is up and running! Ride the famous Aerial Tram from Downtown Gatlinburg up 2.1 miles to the Ski Resort and Amusement Park as a great way to kick off your day. The views are astonishing! Once at the top, there are a variety of activities for all members of the family. They feature an indoor ice skating rink, arcade, carousel and wildlife encounters that are perfect for anyone not wanting to brave the elements.

They have a outdoor Alpine Slide and a Ski Mountain Coaster for family friendly outdoor activities. Ober has also opened up Snow tubing, which has been a huge hit for anyone ages 3 and older. It’s just like sledding but you don’t have to walk back up,  Ober has a “magic carpet” that takes care of that! If you have little ones, they also offer a Cubbies Snow Zone for the kids to play. Entry is free with an area/lift ticket.

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The slopes will resume regular operating hours following the start of the 2016/2017 season. Ticket prices vary on amount of days and equipment rental. The resort starting blowing snow last week and already has a base of over 15″ on most of their runs. Of course, you’ll have to check the forecast daily. And with 10 different trails and 7 different lifts, you’re sure to find one to suit your needs.

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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.

It’s Still Fall, Y’all!

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November is coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean it’s over yet! The leaves are still changing so there’s time to experience the wonderful colors the Smokies have to offer. You may just have to take a walk on the wild side with some adventurous coasters or saddle up for a whole new outlook on the beauty our area has to offer.

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We now have an incredible selection of coasters in the area. Start off small with the Alpine Slide at Ober. This 1800 foot track is fun for all ages! They also have the Ski Mountain Coaster where you can enjoy a faster ride down a 3750 foot metal track! If you would like to see the colors from all areas and angles, try the other coasters in the area as well. Stop by Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster 640px-DW_Wild_Eagle.JPGon your way into town to experience their 35 mph coaster. Or if you’ll be lodging in Pigeon Forge, the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster would be a fun stop for the kids (and adults!). Go big or go home with Dollywood‘s roller coaster the Wild Eagle®. It is definitely one of a kind! While “flying” high above the park itself, the views you catch showcase the Smoky Mountains.

 

sunset riders 250xTo slow down the pace a bit, head over to Cades Cove. This 11-mile loop through the National Park offers a close up look of the flora and fauna we have in the area. Take your time to drive around the loop or just take the shortcut at one of the two they have. They also offer Horseback Riding Tours Guided  Hayrides, and Carriage Tours up until November 30 (weather permitting). You’re sure to see some of the wild animals in this area and some of the prettiest close up views from inside the park itself.

 

Want to soar through the trees? Head over the CLIMB Works Zipline Canopy Tour to get up close and personal with nature. Start off with an ATV ride to the top in groups of six. Sticking with a “true tree canopy” feel, during the tour  your feet won’t touch the ground for 2 1/2 hours! You’ll walk over 3 sky bridges giving you a ‘bird’s eye view’ when not zipping. If you’re looking for more of a challenge they also offer Mountain Biking. El Regis Trail is a two mile loop that is considered intermediate, but beginners up for a challenge are more than welcome on it as well.

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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 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.

 

Oh Those Bears!

Oh Those Bears!

Oh Those Bears!Seeing a bear is definitely a thrill! Not so much the, “Aww, what a cute fuzzy animal!” thrill. More the strange, awe-inspiring combination of, “What a beautiful, majestic animal!” and “Wow! I could’ve been killed!” If that’s the kind of thrill you’re looking for, search no further than the Great Smoky Mountains! They’ve been known to even come down into town and visit the candy shop, make house calls (or cabin calls), or pass by the cabin rental office (yes, ERA In The Smokies, the one that sponsors this blog), but to have the best chance of glimpsing one, visit their natural habitat: The Great Smoky Mountains National Forrest!This bear crossed the road in front of our office, as you can see!

Bears on the Abrams Falls TrailThe bears are, in fact, so active right now, that certain areas of the park have been shut down to cut down risk of attack. No attacks have yet been reported this year, but there was a man who reported that a bear followed him for quite a while as he rode his bike, even though the man was trying to move away. This is most unusual behavior for bears, as they are usually afraid of humans, and prefer to avoid us. A couple of years ago, when I was naive and reckless, I went hiking by myself on the Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove fairly early in the morning, about 8am. The trail was nearly deserted, and as I hiked along in solitude, I looked up and saw a mama bear and her cubs up the hill a bit. Even as my heart jumped into overdrive, I calmly continued my walk down the trail. Thankfully I was already headed in the opposite direction as the bears, but if I had been going the same direction, I would have turned around, even if it meant cutting my hike short. That mama bear behaved as a normal bear, and gave no sign that she even noticed my presence, but continued on her way.

What should you do if you encounter a bear? Well, we know you want to take a picture, but please consider your safety and the bear’s needs first. The National Park has the following recommendations: “If you see a bear remain watchful. Do not approach it. If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (stops feeding, changes its travel direction, watches you, etc.)-you’re too close. Being too close may promote aggressive behavior from the bear such as running toward you, making loud noises, or swatting the ground. The bear is demanding more space. Don’t run, but slowly back away, watching the bear. Try to increase the distance between you and the bear. The bear will probably do the same.

Close Encounters of the Bear Kind“If a bear persistently follows or approaches you, without vocalizing, or paw swatting, change your direction. If the bear continues to follow you, stand your ground. If the bear gets closer, talk loudly or shout at it. Act aggressively to intimidate the bear. Act together as a group if you have companions. Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example, move to higher ground). Throw non-food objects such as rocks at the bear. Use a deterrent such as a stout stick. Don’t run and don’t turn away from the bear. Don’t leave food for the bear; this encourages further problems.”

2010 Bear Photo Contest Winners!The following areas are currently closed due to aggressive bear activity: Spence Field Shelter, Backcountry Campsites 13,18, 21, 113, and Bull Head Trail. Areas with merely a warning include: Appalachian Trail for Shuckstack to Doe Knob, Curry Mountain Trail, Gregory Bald Trail, Laurel Falls Trail, Icewater Spring Shelter, and Backcountry Campsite 24. Cades Cove is also known for being the site of tons of bear sitings. We’ve even seen pictures that people were able to take from their cars, sometimes of a bear crossing the road just in front of or behind them.

These bears were caught in the hot tub of our cabin Chipmunk Haven!Another way to see a bear is to rent a cabin. ERA in the Smokies usually receives several reports each year from guests and staff alike that bears have been viewed at the cabins. Sometimes only their handiwork is encountered, however! They do like to try to dig in the trash!

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information 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 area.

Motorcycle Trails!

 

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Gatlinburg, TN has attracted many visitors traveling by motorcycle over the years. With it’s winding roads and gorgeous mountain views, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonderful place to have fun riding motorcycles and take in the beauty of the mountains. Throughout the many different motorcycles trails there are quaint mountain tours offering culture and history to visitors. Stop in each town and have a meal and discover what the natives have to offer. The trails range from moderate in difficulty to strenuous in difficulty for all levels of experienced drivers. Have fun and remember to always put safety first when riding!

Here is a complied list of great motorcycle trail in the Smokies:

  1. Gatlinburg, TN tour NC, TN- Approximately 225 miles round trip. Travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway heading West and onto Gatlinburg, TN. Abrp terrific road with abundant scenery. Time permitting, drive onto Pigeon Forge, TN and then return home after lunch.
  2. Cherohala Skyway tour NC, TN- Approximately 320 miles round trip. Truly a road in the sky! Typically less traffic than the Blue Ridge Parkway and much more isolated. Arrive in Tellico Plains, TN and have lunch along the river. Return home on the same road with a totally different view of the scenery.
  3. Cherokee/Casino tour NC- Approximately 180 miles round trip. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway over to Cherokee and learn about the Indian heritage in the area. If you are a gambler, Harrah’s Casino offers an abundance of gambling diversions to take your money.
  4. biltmorefront3Biltmore Estate tour NC- Approximately 65 miles round trip. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway into Asheville and then to the Biltmore Estate, “America’s Castle”. Spend as much time as you like exploring the Estate and Gardens and have lunch while you are there.
  5. Oconee Forest/ Highlands tour NC, SC and GA- Approximately 150 miles round trip. Travel through a canopied forest and up a back road to highlandsHighlands. This is one of the more spectacular curvy mountain roads around. Have lunch in the quaint mountain village of Highlands and experience some great shopping afterwards and then head home.
  6. Deals Gap tour NC, TN- Approximately 200 miles round trip. Travel to Bryson City and beyond to Deals Gap and the “Tail of the Dragon”, 318 turns in 11 miles. This is the longest trail in the Smokies, but possibly the most rewarding.tail of the dragon
  7. Hot Springs tour NC- Approximately 160 miles round trip. Travel scenic mountain roads to North Carolina’s only natural hot water springs/baths. Be careful, the springs really relax you.
  8. The Newport Trail tour TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, rivers, mountain coves and valleys, town of Newport, TN and the river gorge.
  9. The Dandridge/ Douglas Lake Trail tour TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, river gorge, mountain coves, mountain lake, historic town of Dandridge, TN, Douglas dam and bypass around Pigeon Forge, TN.
  10. The Waynesville/ Cherokee Trail tour NC, TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, river-cut canyon through the Great Smoky Mountains, quaint mountain resort towns and the Cherokee Indian National Reservation. A final ride over the high range of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a grand finale for this scenic and entertaining trail.
  11. The Maggie Valley/ Blue Ridge Parkway Trail tour NC, TN- Enjoy scenery of mountain streams, river-cut canyon through the Great Smoky Mountains, a quaint mountain resort town with regional amusement park combined with spectacular views at roadside overlooks, picnic areas and quiet trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway for one of the most popular motorcycle trails for locals and visitors alike.

Stay at an authentic mountain cabin with ERA In The Smokies and travel to all of the fun motorcycle trails!

Things to do in Gatlinburg- For Kids!

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When vacationing in Gatlinburg, many visitors look for something fun to do with their kids. There are a range of activities to participate in from hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to riding bumper cars in downtown Gatlinburg. There are many cheap or free things to do in Gatlinburg also if you are on a budget. At the Nantahala Outdoor Center right before the National Park in downtown Gatlinburg, kids can climb the rock wall while you shop for new camping gear.Climbing_with_NOC_(001) The NOC is a great place for the whole family. There are several Ripley’s attractions throughout downtown Gatlinburg  including Ripley’s Aquarium in the Smokies with an interactive kids area, live mermaid diving shows and a specially designed kid friendly penguin exhibit, Davy penguinsCrockett mini golf, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze and Candy store, Ripley’s Moving Theater, Ripley’s Fun Zone, and the famous Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Ober Gatlinburg also has a lot to offer not only in the winter months, but in the summer months as well. Ride the Aerial Tramway from downtown Gatlinburg up to Ober Gatlinburg and enjoy the best views of the Great Smoky Mountains. After you get to the top, visit the Wildlife Encounter where you can see Bears. While on your visit to Ober Gatlinburg spend a few hours Ice Skating, ride the Alpine Slide, the Scenic Chairlift, the Blue Cyclone Rapids water slide and Ober’s Lightin’ Raft Ride and alpine slideShoot-the-Chute. There is also a fun-filled Amaze’n Maze and a Kiddie Land and Rides for children.

Gatlinburg also offers Zip-lining, Whitewater Rafting, hiking, biking, horseback riding and fishing noc raftingspots. You may book zip-lining and white water rafting trips through the NOC in downtown Gatlinburg as well as rent bicycles for the day and get information about where to go fishing. The Sugarlands Visitors Center is also a great place to take your children for free where the whole family can learn about the history of the park and go through the wildlife museum inside the Visitors Center. Get information about the Junior Ranger program and the activities that your children may participate in for free. Cades Cove is also an excellent place to take your family in the park. Take a ranger led hayride through Cades Cove for $14.00 per person.

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Mynatt Park, one of Gatlinburg’s City parks, is near downtown Gatlinburg. Take the family to the park for a picnic lunch, to play in the river, play on the jungle gym, or even play a fun game of tennis or basketball. All kids live candy, so while downtown visit any of the local Candy stores where the candy is made on site. Watch Saltwater Taffy being made at Ole Smoky’s Candy Kitchen.

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Stay with ERA In The Smokies and easily access all that Gatlinburg has to offer for the entire family!