Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Smoky Mountain Reign

We took the weekend off from mixing the record to visit my mother-in-law in nearby Sevierville, Tennessee. Sevierville is at the ankle of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, since I guess Gatlinburg is at the foot. It's pretty amazing how the commercialized sections of the county disappear as soon as you get on the road into the Park.

Cade's Cove

We drove the 11-mile loop around Cade's Cove, and hiked the 3.5 hour, 2.5 mile Abrams Falls Trail.


It's a "moderate" rated trail, which can be a bit of a hike when the rocks are slippery, which they were this early in the Spring. It is a well-kept trail, and has a few stream crossings like the one pictured above.

Abrams Falls

The Falls are about 25-30 feet high, splashing into a pool that narrows into a swift- running stream again. Many hikers take a dip, we did not. We reached the Falls in about an hour. The trail back to the car was mostly uphill, and took us 75 minutes.

As soon as we entered the trail head, we saw a red-headed woodpecker and several deer feeding on the edge of the forest. Cade's Cove is full of viewable wildlife, including deer, turkey and black bears.

The plan is to gradually get into serious backpacking shape, starting out by car camping in the park and taking day hikes on the many trails that lead from Elkmount or Cade's Cove. Eventually we hope to do an overnight in the backcountry, finally using the two-year old tent that has yet to be pitched outside the living room floor.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the nation's most-visited, and the fabled Appalachian Trail goes through it for many miles. As busy as it might get around the tourist attractions on the outskirts, once you are off the easier trails, hikers say you can go for days without seeing another human. I'd like to experience that.

Here's a short video I shot of the Falls.


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