Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg

Thu February 12, 2015

The first stop was Laurel Falls. I parked the car and walked the 1.3 mile trail to this lovely two section waterfall cascading through a rhododendron forest. Next stop was the Sinks, which is basically more of a powerful rapids than a waterfall, but it is a scenic sight as well. Now that I had my watefall fix, it was time to hit the trail.

Cades Cove, Townsend

Thu February 12, 2015

The Cades Cove 11 mile scenic loop beckons. I have driven this circle route scores of times, and I never get tired of it. I guess the trail can wait another hour or two. Being the 4th of July, the scenic route was log jammed with heavy tourist traffic. When the route is busy, you can tell the kind of animal that has been spotted by the backlog of cars.

At one point we were at a standstill in a forested section of the trail. I looked down into this gully to see a pretty sizable black bear looking at all the crazies in the car. Before I could get a good picture he ambled off.

It was an absolutely beautiful day and the mountains were in all their glory. I stopped to take several shots of the Appalachian Trail Ridge, which is home to America’s most famous hiking trail – The Appalachian Trail (AT).

I got back into the car only to get into another traffic jam. Yes, it was another bear ahead. I parked the car and walked up to find a throng of people with cameras pointed towards a tree. Sure enough, a black bear was halfway up searching for food. I finally made the loop and parked my car.

Appalachian Trail Clingmans Dome Section, Solola Valley

Thu February 12, 2015

No hike in the Smoky Mountains is complete without a stretch on the world famous Appalachian Trail. The iconic white blazes mark the way through the center of the park, which divides Tennessee from North Carolina.

I spent a night at Russell Field Shelter and enjoyed the company of 8 other hikers. We had all seen a bear during the day, so we all had interesting stories to tell about the bears and our past hikes.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg

Thu February 12, 2015

There are bears in those hills. Be sure to be extra careful with your food when camping in the park. Keep your food in your car at all times. If you are hiking, be sure to hang your food when not using. Every campsite and shelter has bear proof hangers.

If you see a bear, do not approach. Do not run either. Most bears will run away even before you see them. If they do not run initially stand your ground. If they continue to stay in the area, try to quietly walk away but do not run.

I saw one adult bear on the trail. He looked at me for several minutes. I think he was wanting a hand out. When he realized that was not going to happen, he took off.

Abrams Falls, Townsend

Thu February 12, 2015

One of the best waterfalls is along the Cades Cove loop road. It is a 2.5 mile walk to Abrams Falls, but it is worth every step. Once you finally get there, you are treated to a beautiful gushing single drop falls that flows into a beautiful pool.

The pool is a great place to swim, but do not get too close to the waterfall. People have drowned in the swift water near the actual falls.