Day Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Click here for Easy Summer Hikes!

There are many different trails to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous. Whether you’re looking for a quiet forest walk and wildflowers or a hike by the river to an amazing waterfall, there is a hike for everyone! Here are a list of the hikes you can complete in a day.

  1. Alum Cave- Features views and interesting geological features. 4.4 miles roundtrip and moderate in difficulty
  2. Charlie’s Bunion- 8.0 miles roundtrip
  3. Spruce-Fir Trail- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, 0.4 miles roundtrip
  4. Laurel Falls- Located in Elkmont, 2.3 miles roundtrip and features a historical waterfall and stream
  5. Little Brier Gap- Located in Elkmont, features the Walker Sisters Place and is 2.3 miles roundtrip
  6. Grotto Falls- Located in Gatlinburg/ Mt. Leconte, features waterfalls and is 2.6 miles roundtrip
  7. Schoolhouse Gap- Located in Cades Cove/ Townsend, features a quiet forest hike and wildflowers and is 3.8 miles roundtrip
  8. Baskins Creek Falls- Located in Gatlinburg, features waterfalls and is 3.0 miles roundtrip
  9. Andrews Bald- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, features panoramic views and is 3.5 miles roundtrip
  10. Porter’s Creek Trail- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, streams, flowers and an old growth forest, 4.0 miles roundtrip
  11. Abrams Falls- Located in the Cades Cove area, features waterfalls and is 5.0 miles roundtrip
  12. Little River Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features streams and seasonal wildflowers, 4.9 miles roundtrip
  13. Meigs Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, quiet forest hike, 4.6 miles roundtrip
  14. Hen Wallow Falls- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, 4.4 miles roundtrip
  15. Huskey Gap (Newfound Gap Rd)- Located in Gatlinburg, features a quiet forest walk and is 4.2 miles roundtrip
  16. Chimney Tops- Located in Gatlinburg, features panoramic mountain views and is 4.0 miles roundtrip
  17. Cucumber Gap Loop- Located in Elkmont, features streams and seasonal wildflowers. 5.6 miles roundtrip
  18. Grapeyard Ridge Trail- Located in Greenbrier, features a historical Injun Creek steam engine wreck and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  19. Deep Creek Headwaters- Located in Newfound Gap, features a stream and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  20. West Prong Trail- Located in the Cades Cove area, features a stream and quiet forest walk, 5.4 miles roundtrip
  21. Curry Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.4 miles roundtrip
  22. Sugarland Mountain Trail (lower)- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.0 miles roundtrip
  23. The Jump Off- Located in Newfound Gap, features panoramic mountain view and is 6.5 miles roundtrip
  24. Bullhead Trail- Located in Gatlinburg, features views and interesting geological features, 5.9 miles roundtrip
  25. Sugarland Mountain Trail (upper)- Located in Newfound Gap, features views and solitude, 7.0 miles roundtrip

It is important to always hike prepared. Here is a complied list of things to bring with you on each day hike in the Smokies during the Summer months.

  • Backpack, daypack or fanny packhike gear
  • Rain/Wind shield
  • Supportive Footwear
  • Extra socks
  • Extra clothing
  • Gloves
  • Water: full canteens, water bottles or hydration pack
  • Extra food: high energy snacks
  • Map and/or guidebook
  • Compass
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Watch
  • First Aid kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun protection
  • Toilet paper (in a plastic bag)
  • Money/ ID

Suggested/ Optional Gear:

  • Hiking Pole
  • Bandana
  • Notebook with pencil
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Cell phone
  • Napkins
  • Zip seal plastic bagsAbrams Falls Trail

Include in basic first-aid kit:

  • Roll bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Ace bandages
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Sterile compresses
  • Adhesive tape
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Miscellaneous band aids
  • Twine
  • Tweezers
  • Safety Pins
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Latex gloves
  • Tissues
  • Plastic bags
  • Small mirror
  • Antibacterial soap/wipes
  • Eye drops
  • Burn Ointment
  • Sunburn lotion
  • Disinfectant cream
  • Decongestant and Antihistamine tabletshiking-first-aid-kit
  • Anti-acids
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Aspirin/ Ibuprofen
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Poison ivy cream/ cleansers
  • Bee sting kit
  • Snake bite kit
  • Heat/cold packs
  • Personal information/ contact person
  • First-aid manual

Safety tips:

Never hike alone, give a family member or friend your hiking itinerary and estimated time of return, always stay on the designated trail, don’t hike too quickly pace yourself, start early, check the weather forecast before heading out, know where to get emergency medical care, watch for signs of heat exhaustion, don’t pack too heavily, never approach wild animals, and remember to always have fun!!

Advertisements

Gatlinburg Photo Contest – WINNER!

Gatlinburg Photo Contest – WINNER!
Photo Contest Category: Festivals & Events

Drum roll Please…..

After receiving hundreds of very nice event photos, we managed to select a few of the best ones as finalists. You can view all of these beautiful photos in our Facebook album (www.facebook.com/ERAInTheSmokies)!

We had to narrow it a little more though, and we managed to select 6 of these to receive special honor:

1st Place Winner!

cody-young
Photo By Cody Young

Gatlinburg Winter Magic

The City of Gatlinburg magically lights up the winter nights with millions of spectacular lights and lighted displays from November through February. Source: Gatlinburg. com

 

2nd Runners Up

2nd-runners-up

About Easter Sunrise Service

Gatlinburg’s Annual Easter Sunrise Service will be enhanced by the beauty of the Smokies when the community and its visitors gather at Ober Gatlinburg for this memorable worship service. The 30-40 minute high mountain service will be led by local pastors of the Gatlinburg Ministerial Association. Source: Ober Gatlinburg.com

 

3rd Runners Up

sizes-3rd-runners-up


About Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival

From colorful mountain tops to crafts and live entertainment, Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival is a county-wide event throughout the towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Townsend. These towns represent a special autumn zone of the Smoky Mountains that transforms itself through fun times, vibrancy of the leaves and hospitality of the locals. Come and stay during this magical time in Tennessee. Fall is the peak time to explore this Smoky Mountain region, which is famous for its fall leaf colors. Take in all of the special attractions and shows during Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival. Start dreaming now of crisp cool air. Discover a great vacation package, and plan your autumn vacation itinerary.  Source: Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival.com

Thank You all for participating in this contest, we will have another one soon, theme is a surprise, but go ahead and get your smoky mountains pictures ready! You could be the next lucky winner!

Fall Color Update from the National Park Service

Fall Leaf Color – October 2, 2012
Article quoted from Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.

Visit the Smoky Mountains National Park WebsiteFall colors are nearing peak at high elevations in the park. Some trees are still green, but yellow and golds are becoming predominant along roadways above 4,000 feet elevation. Newfound Gap Road near the crest of the mountains and Clingmans Road are particularly nice at this time. At lower elevation, early trees are turning now, but these are scattered patches of color–the majority of trees at low elevation are still green. Dogwood, black gum, sourwood, sumac and Virginia Creeper are among the species showing red color at lower elevations now.

Fall wildflowers are blooming in abundance along park roadways. Look for goldenrod, asters, snakeweed, and jewelweed.

The park usually experiences an autumn leaf season of several weeks as fall colors travel down the mountain sides from high elevation to low. However, the timing of fall color change depends upon so many variables that the exact dates of “peak” season are impossible to predict in advance.

Elevation profoundly affects when fall colors change in the park. At higher elevations, where the climate is similar to New England’s, color displays start as early as mid-September with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry.

From early to mid-October, fall colors develop above 4,000 feet. To enjoy them, drive the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway.

The fall color display usually reaches peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. This is the park’s most spectacular display as it includes such colorful trees as sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and the hickories.

Autumn is both a beautiful and a busy time in the Great Smoky Mountains. The annual show of fall colors attracts huge numbers of sightseers, especially during the last three weeks of October. Areas in the park which experience the longest traffic delays are Cades Cove and Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441). Try some of these suggested autumn drives and hikes to enjoy fall leaf colors in areas of the park that are a little less crowded.

Why are fall colors so remarkable in the Smokies? One reason is the park’s amazing diversity of trees. Some 100 species of native trees live in the Smokies and the vast majority of these are deciduous.

Visit the Smoky Mountains National Park WebsiteHow do colors change? As summer ends, the green pigments in leaves deteriorate, giving other colors a chance to shine. Carotenoids, the pigment that makes carrots orange and leaves yellow, are exposed as the green fades. Reds and purples come from anthocyanins, a pigment that is formed when sugars in leaves break down in bright autumn sunlight.

There are no motels or rental cabins located within the national park. However, communities surrounding the national park offer a wide choice of accommodations including hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds. October is a busy month in the park, so it is advisable to make accommodation reservations as early as possible. Information about accommodations in the surrounding communities.

Vividly colored fall leaves leaves may grab your attention, but don’t overlook the park’s fall wildflowers which bloom in profusion along roadways!

Clingman’s Dome Road In Winter

Last year, I cross-country skied on Clingman’s Dome Road.Clingman's Dome RoadThis 7-mile road leads up to the highest point in the Smokies, Clingman’s Dome, at 6,643 feet. This road is a popular tourist destination in the warmer months, but in the winter it is closed to all motorized vehicles(until April 1). This high elevation road probably gets more snow than anywhere else in the Park! And since it is closed in the winter, it never gets plowed, creating great conditions for great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing!

Clingman's Dome

Those that are feeling ambitious go the whole distance to Clingman’s Dome – 14 miles roundtrip! When they arrive at the Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower, they may have the whole place to themselves – a rare occurrence at this popular spot! I wasn’t feeling quite that ambitious, so we skied 2 miles in and 2 miles out.

It is amazing how much it snowed last winter here in the Smokies! It made for some treacherous driving, but was also great for winter sports! Up on Clingman’s Dome Road there were between 10 inches and 2 feet of snow (depending on how sunny or shady the spot)! What started out as near perfect powder, became somewhat sticky beneath our skis as the day warmed up.

My Snow Bear!After an hour or so, we took a break and I decided to build a snowman! Over the next half hour I had a blast building my creation which ended up being a snowbear! At first I was sad to leave him, but I’m glad that I don’t have to watch him melt! Hopefully he will make a few people smile as they pass by in the next few days!

Got Skis?

Unfortunately I don’t know of ANY places around here that rent cross-country skis or snowshoes. Usually we don’t get that much snow, so renting out these items probably hasn’t been profitable in the past. If you are coming to visit Gatlinburg from far away, my advice is to find some cross-country skis or snowshoes before you leave and bring them with you! You can always find them online too. Try Craigslist for a used pair – I actually found a few used pairs in the Knoxville area!

SkiingIf you decide to try out Clingman’s Dome Road this winter, I hope you have fun! I parked right by the closed gate, off to the side so that other cars can get by. The Park Service might prefer that you park in the Newfound Gap parking lot, but then you would need to walk on the sometimes busy road, so I am not sure which is best. Use your best judgement!

Make sure you bring everything you normally would for hiking: water, hat, gloves, sunglasses, snacks. Keep in mind that you will warm up fast since this is GREAT cardio! This is where layering is important. I only wore my jacket for about 5 minutes! Then it stayed in my backpack for the rest of the day.

Top 10 Reasons I like Cross-Country Skiing

I will leave you with my Top 10 Reasons why I like Cross-Country Skiing. I am also a snowboarder, but the more I cross-country ski, the more I prefer it to snowboarding*! Here’s why:

  1. My SkisIt’s Free lift tickets can be EXPENSIVE!
  2. No Lines – I never have to stop moving
  3. No Lifts – I don’t get cold sitting on the lift.
  4. I can bring my dog and it’s great exercise for him too!
  5. I can do it in my backyard, and a bunch of other places!
  6. It is GREAT exercise.
  7. Easy to learn (and less painful).
  8. I can watch winter wildlife and look for tracks.
  9. It gets me outside and into the sun, which helps beat winter blues.
  10. It’s FUN!

*Nothing against snowboarding. I still love snowboarding!

ERA In The SmokiesThis 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.

Smoky Mountain Must-Sees

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesWhenever our guests come to town, they always ask about the best parts of the National Park to visit. Here are some sights accessible from Newfound Gap Rd that the Park recommends.

Newfound GapNewfound Gap
Newfound Gap runs almost exactly through the center of the Park and offers gorgeous views at little pull-offs all along the way! If you don’t have much time or energy, but are eager to experience some great views of the Park, this may be the path for you!

Alum Cave Bluffs
The Alum Cave Bluffs are 100 feet high, and have been in the past, the source of alum, a compound sulfate used in munitions manufacturing, in medicines, and in setting cloth dyes. They were also supposedly a source of saltpeter for Civil War gunpowder. The Alum Cave Bluffs Trail begins at Newfound Gap Rd between the Newfound Gap and Chimney Tops overlooks, and is a popular destination for day hikers. The trail is pretty strenuous at the end. It is 2.5 miles to the Bluffs, and 5 miles to Mount Le Conte.

Andrews Bald
A bald is an open, unforested area on a mountain ridge. Naturalists can’t explain for sure how they happen, but it could be due to overgrazing or repeated fires set by humans. Andrews Bald is the easiest bald to reach in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is located 1.8 miles south of Clingman’s Dome, by hiking trail. It has beautiful view, and the open fields, containing mainly grass and flowering shrubs, make it a nice picnic spot!

Charlies BunionCharlies Bunion
This is one of my husband’s personal favorites! He loves the views and it is the perfect day hike for him. He does it in a morning usually. In 1925, a forest fire swept through this section of the Park and exposed the ridge now know as Charlies Bunion, opening up sweeping views of Mount LeConte and Greenbrier. This trail is 4 miles one way.

Cherokee Orchard Road and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
These roads include historical sites such as homesteads, cabins and a cemetery from a village that was home to about 24 families about 150 years ago! This is often hailed as a mini-Cades Cove, closer to Gatlinburg, a smaller loop, and usually less crowded, but still great for viewing wildlife and historic buildings! The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is closed in the winter.

Chimney Tops
In addition to the actual Chimney Tops Trail, the Chimney Tops picnic area, nearby, is in my opinion a destination of its own. It spreads along a beautiful mountain creek with tons of rocks to play on, and plenty of shallow spots to wade in! There are, of course, numerous picnic tables at which you can enjoy a meal. I have spent the whole day there before, reading, playing in the creek, and just generally relaxing and enjoying the lovely atmosphere! If you are interested in a little more action, continue down the road to the Chimney Tops Trail, and hike up to the Chimneys themselves on a strenuous four-mile round trip trail. This amazing rock formation is sheer pinnacles, looking somewhat like a couple of chimneys sticking up into the air. They said that when that blue mist rolls through the mountains, some of it goes in a cavity at the bottom of the formation and then rises out the open tops, looking very much like a smoking chimney!

Clingman's DomeClingman’s Dome
Clingman’s Dome is one of the most popular sites in the Smokies, and with good reason! It is the highest peak in the Smokies, at 6,643 feet, and though the top is covered with spruce and fir trees, there is an observation platform from which you can see a spectacular 360 degree view! The path to the observation platform is steep, but only a half-mile. Even the most out-of-shape person can make it! Just take frequent rests and bring plenty of water and a snack!

Mingus Mill
If you are interested in historical buildings, this is a great place to stop! One of two water-powered mills still in operation in the Park, from mid-April through October, a miller grinds corn and wheat to make cornmeal and flour. This attraction is wheelchair accessible.

Mount LeConte
Mount LeConte is considered one of the most beautiful mountain peaks to look at, and one of the most difficult to climb. It is a badge of honor to have climbed LeConte. I have a few friends who climb it at least a few times a year. My husband likes to go up there, and he usually ends up running most of the way down due to the steep grade! This is the third-highest peak in the Smokies, at 6,593 feet. Near the top, is LeConte Lodge, where some opt to stay the night and rest, and others stop for either a cool drink or a cup of hot cocoa or coffee, depending on the season. You will need to make reservations well in advance if you plan to stay at the Lodge overnight. There are no roads up to the Lodge, and all supplies are delivered by llama train! There are 5 different hiking trails on LeConte: Boulevard Trail via the Appalachian Trail starting at Newfound Gap. 16 miles round-trip; Alum Cave Trail at the Alum Cave parking lot on Newfound Gap Rd, 11 miles round-trip; Rainbow Falls Trail or Trillium Gap, each 13.4 miles round-trip; or Bull Head, 14.4 miles round-trip from Cherokee Orchard.

Mountain Farm MuseumMountain Farm Museum
Oconaluftee was settled around 1800, and is now home to Mountain Farm Museum, just a short walk from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The Museum replicates a 19th-century farm, including a house, barn, corncrib, sorghum molasses mill and blacksmith shop. From the spring through October, there are costumed interpretive demonstrations.

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.

Clingman’s Dome Road in Winter

Yesterday, I cross-country skied on Clingman’s Dome Road.Clingman's Dome RoadThis 7-mile road leads up to the highest point in the SmokiesClingman’s Dome, at 6,643 feet.  This road is a popular tourist destination in the warmer months, but in the winter it is closed  to all motorized vehicles(until April 1).  This high elevation road probably gets more snow than anywhere else in the Park!  And since it is closed in the winter, it never gets plowed, creating great conditions for great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing! 

Clingman's Dome

Those that are feeling ambitious  go the whole distance to Clingman’s Dome – 14 miles roundtrip! When they arrive at the Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower, they may have the whole place to themselves – a rare occurrence at this popular spot!  I wasn’t feeling quite that ambitious, so we skied 2 miles in and 2 miles out.

It is amazing how much it has snowed so far this winter here in the Smokies!  It’s made for some treacherous driving, but has also been great for winter sports!  Up on Clingman’s Dome Road there were between 10 inches and 2 feet of snow (depending on how sunny or shady the spot)!  What started out as near perfect powder, became somewhat sticky beneath our skis as the day warmed up.

My Snow Bear!After an hour or so, we took a break and I decided to build a snowman!  Over the next half hour I had a blast building my creation which ended up being a snowbear!  At first  I was sad to leave him, but I’m glad that I don’t have to watch him melt!  Hopefully he will make a few people smile as they pass by in the next few days!

Got Skis?

Unfortunately I don’t know of ANY places around here that rent cross-country skis or snowshoes.  Usually we don’t get this much snow, so renting out these items probably hasn’t been profitable in the past.  If you are coming to visit Gatlinburg from far away, my advice is to find some cross-country skis or snowshoes before you leave and bring them with you!  You can always find them online too.  Try Craigslist for a used pair – I actually found a few used pairs in the Knoxville area!

SkiingIf you decide to try out Clingman’s Dome Road this winter, I hope you have fun!  I parked right by the closed gate, off to the side so that other cars can get by.  The Park Service might prefer that you park in the Newfound Gap parking lot, but then you would need to walk on the sometimes busy road, so I am not sure which is best.  Use your best judgement!

Make sure you bring everything you normally would for hiking: water, hat, gloves, sunglasses, snacks.  Keep in mind that you will warm up fast since this is GREAT cardio!  This is where layering is important.  I only wore my jacket for about 5 minutes!  Then it stayed in my backpack for the rest of the day.

Top 10 Reasons I like Cross-Country Skiing

I will leave you with my Top 10 Reasons why I like Cross-Country Skiing.  I am also a snowboarder, but the more I cross-country ski, the more I prefer it to snowboarding*!  Here’s why:

  1. My SkisIt’s Free lift tickets can be EXPENSIVE!
  2. No Lines – I never have to stop moving
  3. No Lifts – I don’t get cold sitting on the lift.
  4. I can bring my dog and it’s great exercise for him too!
  5. I can do it in my backyard, and a bunch of other places!
  6. It is GREAT exercise.
  7. Easy to learn (and less painful).
  8. I can watch winter wildlife and look for tracks.
  9. It gets me outside and into the sun, which helps beat winter blues.
  10. It’s FUN!

 *Nothing against snowboarding.  I still love snowboarding!

ERA In The SmokiesThis 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.

GATLINBURG: National Park Must-Sees

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesWhenever our guests come to town, they always ask about the best parts of the National Park to visit. Here are some sights accessible from Newfound Gap Rd that the Park recommends.

Newfound GapNewfound Gap
Newfound Gap runs almost exactly through the center of the Park and offers gorgeous views at little pull-offs all along the way! If you don’t have much time or energy, but are eager to experience some great views of the Park, this may be the path for you!

Alum Cave Bluffs
The Alum Cave Bluffs are 100 feet high, and have been in the past, the source of alum, a compound sulfate used in munitions manufacturing, in medicines, and in setting cloth dyes. They were also supposedly a source of saltpeter for Civil War gunpowder. The Alum Cave Bluffs Trail begins at Newfound Gap Rd between the Newfound Gap and Chimney Tops overlooks, and is a popular destination for day hikers. The trail is pretty strenuous at the end. It is 2.5 miles to the Bluffs, and 5 miles to Mount Le Conte.

Andrews Bald
A bald is an open, unforested area on a mountain ridge. Naturalists can’s explain for sure how they happen, but it could be due to overgrazing or repeated fires set by humans. Andrews Bald is the easiest bald to reach in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is located 1.8 miles south of Clingman’s Dome, by hiking trail. It has beautiful view, and the open fields, containing mainly grass and flowering shrubs, make it a nice picnic spot!

Charlies BunionCharlies Bunion
This is one of my husband’s personal favorites! He loves the views and it is the perfect day hike for him. He does it in a morning usually. In 1925, a forest fire swept through this section of the Park and exposed the ridge now know as Charlies Bunion, opening up sweeping views of Mount LeConte and Greenbrier. This trail is 4 miles one way.

Cherokee Orchard Road and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
These roads include historical sites  such as homesteads, cabins and a cemetery from a village that was home to about 24 families about 150 years ago! This is often hailed as a mini-Cades Cove, closer to Gatlinburg, a smaller loop, and usually less crowded, but still great for viewing wildlife and historic buildings! The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is closed in the winter.

Chimney Tops
In addition to the actual Chimney Tops Trail, the Chimney Tops picnic area, nearby, is in my opinion a destination of its own. It spreads along a beautiful mountain creek with tons of rocks to play on, and plenty of shallow spots to wade in! There are, of course, numerous picnic tables at which you can enjoy a meal. I have spent the whole day there before, reading, playing in the creek, and just generally relaxing and enjoying the lovely atmosphere! If you are interested in a little more action, continue down the road to the Chimney Tops Trail, and hike up to the Chimneys themselves on a strenuous four-mile round trip trail. This amazing rock formation is sheer pinnacles, looking somewhat like a couple of chimneys sticking up into the air. They said that when that blue mist rolls through the mountains, some of it goes in a cavity at the bottom of the formation and then rises out the open tops, looking very much like a smoking chimney!

Clingman's DomeClingman’s Dome
Clingman’s Dome is one of the most popular sites in the Smokies, and with good reason! It is the highest peak in the Smokies, at 6,643 feet, and though the top is covered with spruce and fir trees, there is an observation platform from which you can see a spectacular 360 degree view! The path to the observation platform is steep, but only a half-mile. Even the most out-of-shape person can make it! Just take frequent rests and bring plenty of water and a snack!

Mingus Mill
If you are interested in historical buildings, this is a great place to stop! One of two water-powered mills still in operation in the Park, from mid-April through October, a miller grinds corn and wheat to make cornmeal and flour. This attraction is wheelchair accessible.  

Mount LeConte
Mount LeConte is considered one of the most beautiful mountain peaks to look at, and one of the most difficult to climb. It is a badge of honor to have climbed LeConte. I have a few friends who climb it at least a few times a year. My husband likes to go up there, and he usually ends up running most of the way down due to the steep grade! This is the third-highest peak in the Smokies, at 6,593 feet. Near the top, is LeConte Lodge, where some opt to stay the night and rest, and others stop for either a cool drink or a cup of hot cocoa or coffee, depending on the season. You will need to make reservations well in advance if you plan to stay at the Lodge overnight. There are no roads up to the Lodge, and all supplies are delivered by llama train! There are 5 different hiking trails on LeConte: Boulevard Trail via the Appalachian Trail starting at Newfound Gap. 16 miles round-trip; Alum Cave Trail at the Alum Cave parking lot on Newfound Gap Rd, 11 miles round-trip; Rainbow Falls Trail or Trillium Gap, each 13.4 miles round-trip; or Bull Head, 14.4 miles round-trip from Cherokee Orchard.

Mountain Farm MuseumMountain Farm Museum
Oconaluftee was settled around 1800, and is now home to Mountain Farm Museum, just a short walk from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. The Museum replicates a 19th-century farm, including a house, barn, corncrib, sorghum molasses mill and blacksmith shop. From the spring through October, there are costumed interpretive demonstrations.