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.

GATLINBURG: Winter Activities

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Check out groundhog.org!Our favorite groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, says we are going to have another 6 weeks of winter. And here in Gatlinburg, that is easy to believe.  So as a way to fight off the winter blues, we thought we would remind you (and ourselves) of all the great things to do in the Smoky Mountains during the winter.

Play in the Snow!1.  Play in the Snow.  I know this one is obvious, but I couldn’t very well neglect to mention it, could I?  What happens if you get to Gatlinburg…and it snows? Well, you play in it, of course.  What happens if you were hoping for snow and don’t see any when you get here?  Well, you have to find the snow.  Snowfalls of an inch or more occur on average only one to five times per year in the valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains although Gatlinburg has already had two of these snowfalls in December alone.   In the high country, over five feet of snow falls most years.  For all the best places to play in the snow, visit our snow post.

See Rainbow Falls!2. Tour the Waterfalls.  Winter can be the best time for enjoying waterfalls. Waterfall flows are higher because of greater amounts of snow and rainfall.  In addition, there is less uptake by forest plants.  Waterfall views and opportunities for photography also improve after the trees have dropped their leaves.  Visit our winter waterfall post for some of our favorites.

Where have all the black bears gone?3. Take in the Wildlife.  Winter is one of the best times for wildlife viewing in the Smokies.  Once the trees have shed their leaves, views into the forest are much longer.  Wildlife like elk and deer are active for longer periods during the daylight hours because of the cooler temperatures.  What wildlife other than bear and dear might you see? Otter, bob-cat, red fox, gray fox, mink, red squirrel, coyote, and lots of birds.  Visit our winter wildlife post for all the details.

Ski at Ober Gatlinburg!4.  Skiing Anyone?  Ober Gatlinburg offers 8 ski trails serviced by two quad and one double chairlift which keeps you out of lift lines and on the slopes. When temperatures drop, their snow-making equipment blankets 100% of there slopes.  Slopes are maintained with the latest in snow-grooming equipment to provide a smoother, more consistent surface creating enjoyable skiing conditions.  For more information on skiing  in Gatlinburg, visit our Let’s Go Skiing post.

Winter Wildflowers!!5. Winter Wildflowers.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts approximately 100 species of plants that are restricted to a single region of the park.  Many of these species are only found in the southern Appalachian Mountains, but some have been documented only inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Think wildflowers only bloom in the Spring? Visit our wildflower post to find flowers year ’round.

ERA In The SmokiesSo never fear…you can always find something to do in Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains even in the dead of winter.

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.