Tuesday, June 1, 2021

First Timer's Impression of Smokey Mountain National Park

A common scene through the park

We love our national parks. 
So when an opportunity presented itself 
to visit The Smokies, 
we took it.  

Little River Gorge Rd.

Wow, it was not like the other National Parks 
we have visited. 
It was soooooo crowded.  
And everyone was in their cars! 

Another common scene through the park. 

We approached from the east 
via a small section of the 
The Foothills Parkway 
and arrived into honky-tonk Gatlinburg, TN  
which was very crowded also. 

View from the Foothills Parkway

Our 4 night stay was in the 
Holiday Inn Express 
which was free if we sat through 
a 1 hour time-share sales pitch. 
My husband almost took the bait but   
I kicked him back to reality. 

Can you find the bear?
Cades Cove Loop Road

We started out with the go-to attractions:

1. Roaring Fork Motor Trail 
(We did this early to avoid traffic.
We hiked along one of the trails.)

View From Roaring Fork Motor Trail

2. Cades Cove Loop 
(My advice, drive there early or later, 
and instead of doing the whole loop, 
take one of the two other roads off the loop. 
Rich Mt. Rd. or Parson Branch Rd 
to the Foothills Parkway 
and explore.  
We did not do this 
but I wish we had. 
I am sure there would have been a lot less people 
and a lot of beauty.  

View from Cades Cove Loop

After spending a lot time stuck in traffic - 
and god forbid someone sees a bear...
because then the traffic is standstill for miles - 
we found an off the beaten path section of the park
 that WAS off the beaten path. 
But yikes...the potholes! 
It was good we had our Pilot 
and not the Accord. 

Ramsey Prong Road

Our off the beaten spot took us down 
*Ramsey Prong Road*, 
across a couple bridges to a parking location. 
From there we decided to explore...
we heard there was a waterfall. 
The early trail was easy going 
and that was all we planned to do.
But the call of the falls beckoned us on 
and we went despite having no water with us. 
After hiking up an very steep and rooty trail 
and over lots of boulders 
we arrived at 
Ramsey Cascade Falls.

Ramsey Cascade Falls

What a beautiful and refreshing sight. 
Photos do not do this 100 foot cascade justice! 
In person, it was beautiful. 

Hike to Ramsey Cascade

The trail is 16 miles round trip and 2,000 feet uphill from the parking location. 
It took us over 3 hours up and 2 hours down. 
When we got back to the car, 
I was exhausted. 
We guzzled our water, 
showered the dirt off our tired bodies, 
and went to Bennet's BBQ for dinner. 
I ordered a blackberry sparkler 
after which my husband said I 
was basically sliding off the chair 
into a puddle on the floor. 

Smaller cascades along the trail.

My recommendation is to spend a day in this section of the park. 
It is located in the Greenbriar area, 
6 miles east of Gatlinburg.
 The 4.5 miles drive to the parking area is scenic 
but also on unmaintained roads 
so it is slow going. 
You will find others there 
but nothing like the main section of the park. 
There is a picnic area with restrooms. 

(If this hike sounds too strenuous for you, 
check out the 4 mile round trip hike to 
the 50 ft. Fern Branch Falls.)
Cades Cove View

A one time visit to Gatlinburg 
was enough for both of us 
so we probably won't be going back, 
but at least now it is off the bucket list. 

More photos are stored here. 

Have you been to the Smokies?
Tell me what I SHOULD have done. 

1 comment:

Tamar SB said...

That water is beautiful!!