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Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

This week is Wilderness Wildlife Week, a weeklong celebration of the wildlife here in the Smokies. This is just one of many events held during WinterFest. Wilderness Wildlife Week features 9 days of nature seminars, interactive exhibits, guided hikes, and music by legendary performers. All events during Wilderness Wildlife Week are free of charge and open to the public. This year, the Music Road Hotel Convention Center will serve as headquarters. For more information, please visit mypigeonforge.com/wildlife.

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Some people may not see hiking in the winter as a fun activity because of the cold weather, but every season has something new to offer and something new to reveal. During the winter, you will see stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other bits and pieces of the early settlers that are normally covered during the warmer months. There may not be anymore colorful leaves filling the tops of the trees, but this time of the year nothing is covering up the remainders of the past. You can still choose the trail you wish to hike depending on what you want to see. Even if the waterfalls are frozen, they are still beautiful! The backcountry roads off of Cades Cove are closed, but there are many other beautiful places to visit.

The Caldwell Fork Trail is recommended for winter hiking. It is a moderate trail by a mountain river, and it goes through an old poplar forest.

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If you’re planning on spending an exciting day in the Smoky Mountains, you need the Scavenger Hike Adventures and Mountain Journal. The Journal gives your clues on 14 easy, moderate, and extreme hikes to find over 200 hidden treasures within the park. There are hikes for the entire family, even some stroller accessible trails. For the extreme hikers, there is a 10-mile challenge hike. Click here to order your own Smoky Mountain Scavenger Hike Adventure and Mountain Journal for your fall vacation. 

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Here is a list of suggested hikes through the Smoky Mountain National Park that are great for seeing all the fall colors and for some great photographs!
1. Appalachian Trail: Park in the large parking area at Newfound Gap, and look for the trail signs. Follow the Appalachian Trail to Indian Gap (around Clingmans Dome Road). The trail is approx. 3.4 miles roundtrip.
2. Inspiration Point on Alum Cave Trail: Park at Alum Cave Trail parking area about 10.5 miles south of Gatlinburg on Newfound Gap Road. The hike is 3.6 miles roundtrip, and is through the old-growth forest and has wonderful views of the surrounding mountains.
3. Look Rock Tower: From Townsend, TN take US-321 to the Foothills Parkway and follow this scenic road to the Look Rock tower parking area. The 1 mile roundtrip hike is ranked as a moderate hike, but the views from the tower are spectacular!
4. Sutton Ridge Overlook: Park in the designated hiker parking area just before the entrance to Cosby Campground. Follow the self-guided nature trail pas the amphitheater to the beginning of the Lower Mount Cammerer Trail to Sutton Ridge. It is about 1.4 miles to the spur trai,l which leads to the overlook.

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Best Hiking Trails

trails
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the Smokies in all its glory. There are a variety of trails throughout the park, whether you are looking for a leisurely stroll or a backpacking trip over several days. Alum Cave Bluff, Chimney Tops, Ramsay Cascades and Mount LeConte are all difficult trails. Rainbow Falls, Little Cataloochee Trail, The Boogerman Trail Loop, Copper Road, and Andrews Bald are all moderately hard trails. If you looking for an easy trail, check out Clingmans Dome, Abrams Falls, Look Rock, Cucumber Gap, Sugarlands Visitor Center Nature Trail, and Laurel Falls.

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Whether you are looking for a warm summer afternoon hike, or a cooler fall hike to look at the fall colored leaves, the Chimney Tops Trail is beautiful. As you wind along Newfound Gap Road in Gatlinburg, you can see twin peaks; however, you cannot fully appreciate them until you reach the top. The hike is considered strenuous, you ascend over 700 ft per mile until you get to the top of the peaks. Once you get to the top, there are 360-degree views at the top of the 4730 ft. pinnacle. Although the views are magnificent, the climb can be dangerous and you should use extreme caution on your way up. The trail is 4 miles round trip, and will take about 2.5 hours. Starting in late September/early October, the leaves and view from the top will be amazing! If you can climb a rockface with a camera, do it! The pictures will be well worth it.

Directions to the Trailhead: 1-40 Exit 407 follow Hwy 66 South 8 miles to 441 South to Gatlinburg; 441 South on Newfound Gap Road about 6.5 miles past the Sugarlands Visitor Cener. There is a small parking lot on the right side of the road with trailhead sign. The trailhead does not begin at the Chimney Tops Picnic Area, this can be easily confused.

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trailBecause Tennessee has such rich culture and heritage, several places in the mountains have been designated as part of the Tennessee Heritage Trail. The trail was created to both preserve and share Tennessee’s culture and is divided into 3 parts. The Arts & Crafts Trail will show visitors the various creations of Tennessee’s past, including pottery, baskets and other folk art. The History Trail takes you back in time to meet the people and events that shaped the course of Tennessee culture, and Gatlinburg’s part of the this trail is of course, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The third trail, the Music Trail, exposes the different types of music in the region, including bluegrass, country, and other folk tunes. The locations on the Music Trail in Gatlinburg include The Old Heidelberg Dinner Show, Smoky Mountain Travelers and Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre. Click here for more information and a complete list of locations.

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