Tag Archives: Great Smoky Mountains

National Park Week

This is the last weekend of National Park Week, your last chance to visit one of our nation’s beautiful parks for FREE! Check out National Geographic’s Best Hikes in the Parks for some inspiration. If you live in the southeastern US, you can check out one of our favorite hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. It made the top 20 list! I am reblogging our excursion below. Now get out and take a hike this weekend. Somewhere, anywhere….just get out there!

The Hike to Mount LeConte (Alum Cave Trail)

Wow. If you are looking for a great trail, here it is! This is definitely one of the most scenic trails in all of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fantastic–one of the best trails we’ve ever hiked. It was a strenuous hike and by the end of it our legs were about to completely give out…but it was totally worth it.

The trail is roughly a 10 mile round trip that can be completed in 6-8 hours (or less, if you’re really booking it…we did it in 5 excluding our hour break at the top). It encompasses an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet and boasts spectacular views, very steep ascents, narrow rock ledges, paths through both old growth forest and cove forest, and gorgeous views of the Alum Cave Creek and Styx Branch. At the summit, the trail ends near the LeConte Lodge which sits at an elevation of roughly 6,500 feet. We decided to take a break at the lodge before heading back down the mountain. And yes, the only way to get to the lodge is to hike up the mountain! It’s a pretty neat place (very primitive but absolutely a very nice place) and next time we will be making reservations to stay there overnight. All I can say is that if you like to hike and you don’t mind a work out, give this trail a try. You will not be disappointed!

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Abrams Falls Trail, Great Smoky Mountains

The Abrams Falls Trail is a lovely (albeit crowded} and popular little trail in the Smoky Mountains.  Little Man had a blast on our visit.  Although I am usually not fond of the popular/crowded trails, it’s worth checking out if you have some time to waste in the Great Smokey Mountains.  It’s a family-friendly hike with a lot of space to picnic by the falls.  You can find some more details about the falls and trail here.

We were stopped by a photographer who was also hiking on the trail…he was kind enough to snap some shots!

The otter at the bottom of the falls:

Great Smoky Mountains: Chimney Tops Trail

Chimney Tops Trail:  this is another great trail in the park, and it’s a little less strenuous than the Alum Cave Trail that I talked about in my previous post.  This trail is a 4 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of over 1,600 feet.  The name of the trail comes from the twin rock peaks to which the trail ascends.  The rock peaks shoot nearly straight up into the air, making for a very steep climb to see the view at the top.  Once you climb up to the peaks, you are rewarded with a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.  It’s gorgeous!  This was a nice short hike that offered beautiful scenery and astounding views of the mountains.

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Great Smoky Mountains: Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

Wow.  If you are looking for a great trail, here it is!  This is definitely one of the most scenic trails in all of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Fantastic–one of the best trails we’ve ever hiked.  It was a strenuous hike and by the end of it our legs were about to completely give out…but it was totally worth it.

The trail is roughly a 10 mile round trip that can be completed in 6-8 hours (or less, if you’re really booking it…we did it in 5 excluding our hour break at the top).  It encompasses an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet and boasts spectacular views, very steep ascents, narrow rock ledges, paths through both old growth forest and cove forest, and gorgeous views of the Alum Cave Creek and Styx Branch.  At the summit, the trail ends near the LeConte Lodge which sits at an elevation of roughly 6,500 feet.  We decided to take a break at the lodge before heading back down the mountain.  And yes, the only way to get to the lodge is to hike up the mountain!  It’s a pretty neat place (very primitive but absolutely a very nice place) and next time we will be making reservations to stay there overnight.  All I can say is that if you like to hike and you don’t mind a work out, give this trail a try.  You will not be disappointed!

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The Great Smoky Mountains: Part 1

We just arrived home from one of my favorite places in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains.  The weather was amazing for this time of year and the trails we chose to hike did not disappoint.  I might have blown my NaBloPoMo goal, but it was totally worth it.  Four days without internet or phone service was very nice!

For our trip, we stayed in a small cabin near Maggie Valley, NC and spent our time hiking several amazing trails covering over 15 miles and 6,000 feet in elevation change inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We saw oodles of wildlife and countless spectacular views on our excursions. Ahhh, bliss.  I’m really tired tonight, so I thought I would just post some random shots right now and tomorrow I’ll share more about our awesome hikes. I literally have hundreds of photos to go through! 

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{isn’t he gorgeous?  we spotted this herd of elk in the park right after an eight mile hike…and yes, I really was *this* close!}

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{you can see he is tagged…they recently reintroduced the elk into the park and are helping them to expand}

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{summer flowers are still in bloom…this was on top of a mountain about a mile high in the air. talk about a grueling hike}

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{resting after a long day on the trail}

Stay tuned for some breathtaking scenery :)