Three Bears At Cades Cove, TN

During a recent visit to Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, I was photographing an old wooden-homestead, when people nearby began to gather along the tree-line.

I walked in that direction to observe three bears (a mother with two cubs) climbing around in a tree. Here are a few pictures taken during their descent:

Meigs Falls Near The Little River

Located outside of Townsend, Tennessee, near the Little River between Cades Cove and the Sugarlands Visitor Center, it’s easy to miss Meigs Falls. Set back from Little River Gorge Road approximately 100 yards, this 20-foot waterfall is only visible from a pull-off area.

There are no trails to Meigs Falls – unless you’re willing to get wet. In order to get close, hikers must wade across the Little River, which, for most of the year, has swift currents and can be dangerous. However, given a reduced volume of water flowing in the river during the autumn season, I was able to safely navigate slippery surfaces to visit the waterfall. Tip: wear your shoes in the water & use a walking-stick for stability.

These photographs – from March 2019 – depict unsafe wading conditions:

Photographs

I recently shot these photographs at Meigs Falls. You may visit my galleries at Pixels and/or Fine Art America to purchase prints and/or other items available.

Footnote: There are actually three successive waterfalls, albeit much smaller, above Meigs Falls. To access these areas, hikers must first ascend a very steep 50-foot hill, in order to then descend to the top of Meigs Falls. Small trees and a slew of exposed tree-roots are useful as hand-holds, though hikers should remain cognizant to exercise caution!

Video

Another Black Bear Video

Last August, while hiking at the Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area

Please read: Part One – Close Encounter With Bears

Part Two – Another Black Bear Video

Fortunately, the bear appeared preoccupied with his search for lunch, shifting rocks in the stream to un-house potential sources of food. I stood behind trees, when possible, watching the bear move further away as I cautiously followed.

At a switchback in the trail, I paused to record this video with the zoom feature on my camera. Although the stream was generally quite shallow, the bear found a deeper pool in which to relax and keep cool –

Near the end of the video, you’ll observe (as I did) that the bear elevates his nose, sniffing in the air to identify an odor of my presence. At this point, the trail changed direction, and so did I – uphill and away!

Footnote: I didn’t realize it at the time, but, if you turn up the volume on the video – and, the volume on your computer/device – you’ll hear the bear grunt as he detects my scent – yikes!!!

If you like the header-image (above), it’s based on a photograph I took that day while hiking. A larger size is available on prints (and more) in my galleries at Pixels and/or Fine Art America. Thanks for stopping by!

Chimney Tops In Smoky Mountains

Driving along route US-441 S from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, there are several parking areas which provide scenic views of the pinnacles.

One such location has an information-placard posted, which reads:

The Cherokees called the mountain Duniskwalguni, meaning ‘forked antlers’.

The half-billion-year-old Chimney Tops, made of slates, schists, and phyllites, sit atop even older rock – Thunderhead sandstone, a tough, erosion resistant rock. The chimney rock (Anakeesta Formation) is softer than the sandstone, allowing rain, hail, and ice – over hundreds of millions of years – to fashion its chimney-shaped likeness.

The rugged Chimney Tops pierce the forest that cloaks most of the Great Smoky Mountain ridges. The bare rock offers scant soil for plants. Only shallow-rooted shrubs and trees like rhododendron, mountain laurel, red spruce, and eastern hemlock thrive here.

The Hike

One of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Chimney Tops trail gains 1400 feet over 2 miles – a steep climb! So, wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water.

With only one seating area along the trail, I would recommend that hikers carry a walking-stick or trekking-poles, either of which makes resting easier by supporting ones’ weight, when necessary.

The trail crosses rushing streams on three occasions, prior to ascending the side of the mountain. Though principally hard-packed dirt with light gravel, both stone & wooden steps located periodically along the trail serve to facilitate an easier hiking-experience.

On my visit, I arrived early and was the third car parked and the second hiker to reach the top. Pictured below is a wood & dirt structure where visitors may rest and enjoy a wonderful view of the Smokies.

Photographs

The best place to see the Chimney Tops, however, is located to the left, another 50 feet along the trail. Here, looking towards the northwest, the bright morning sun highlighted the front-face of the pinnacles for stunning views! For hikers continuing beyond this point, be careful – a narrow trail, fallen trees, slippery rocks and substantial height along this steep mountain entails cautious deliberation.

Video

At 18-seconds, you’ll see a circular gap within the trees along the ridge (right side); this is the observation area – see black and white photograph, above.

Prints

Several of these photographs are available in my galleries at Pixels and/or Fine Art America, and more will be added in the days ahead – so, stop by for a visit! Enjoy selecting your choice of framed, canvas, art, metal, acrylic and/or wood prints. Tapestries & other items, too.

Perspective

For a better sense of height from the pinnacles, here are two photographs highlighting the scenic view parking areas (see photograph at beginning), the later with zoom magnification:

Andrews Bald

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina near the border with Tennessee, Andrews Bald is a high elevation grassy meadow which can be reached by hiking 1.8 miles along the Forney Ridge Trail. Named for Andres Thompson, a cattle herder who used the area in the 1840’s, it has the distinction of being the highest bald in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The trailhead begins near the end of the parking area by the paved trail to Clingman’s Dome, a very popular tourist destination. By contrast, Andrews Bald is much less traveled, with a 1200-foot change in elevation.

Here are some photographs –

Prints

Prints are available in my galleries at Pixels and/or Fine Art America. Thanks!

Greeter Falls At Savage Gulf

See Part One – Savage Gulf State Natural Area

When I was through hiking the trail to the Stone Door and several scenic overlooks, I returned to my vehicle and drove to another area of the Savage Gulf State Natural Area – that being, Greeter Falls.

Part Two – Greeter Falls

From the trailhead I followed the Greeter Falls Loop, which passes by another waterfall, Boardtree Falls. Unfortunately, there was no falling water – not even a drip! Moving right along, I arrived at a spiral staircase leading to the base of Greeter Falls.

Despite a minimal flow of water, I enjoyed a peaceful time at Greeter Falls for over an hour, as I was the only person on site. These falls are two-tiered, consisting of a 15′ (not seen) and 50′ drop. Here are a few photographs –

Prints

Framed prints. Canvas prints. Art prints. Metal prints. Wood prints. Acrylic prints. Would you like a print? Visit my galleries at Pixels and/or Fine Art America to discover the right item for your home or office. And, customization options are available for you to make it your own!

Savage Gulf State Natural Area

Part One – The Stone Door

Before arriving at my destination, I stopped along US-70 W at a scenic overlook (a.k.a., Sunset Rock) located east of Sparta –

The Hike

I recently visited the Savage Gulf State Natural Area, located in the South Cumberland State Park system. With several points of interest in an area of 15,590-acres, I started at the trailhead for the Stone Door, located near the Ranger’s Station in Beersheba, Tennessee.

Parking is easy, and handicap spots are also available for visitors. There are clean restrooms and a billboard with information about the park & trails, including directions to a nearby 30′ waterfall named Laurel Falls.

Though the volume of water flowing over the falls is lower during the autumn season, it was nevertheless a pleasant sight – and, a very short hike:

The trail to the Stone Door is only 1 mile, upon which I enjoyed a paved surface until reaching the Laurel Gulf Overlook (Overlook No. 1):

Thereafter, the trail was mostly hard-packed sand, with some rocks and roots, though generally easy passage. Here are a few more photographs taken en route to additional overlooks, and the Stone Door

Overlook No. 2

This was my favorite overlook! After stepping on a rock-bridge situated across a deep fissure in the cliff, scattered pine trees, stepped rock surfaces and various boulders served to beautify this elevated vantage point. And, the views were spectacular! I had the sense that, with a comfortable chair, I very well may have enjoyed spending the entire day at this spot.

Overlook No. 3

Not far away was another designated overlook area with more scenic views of the valley, bluffs, trees and birds. The space was slightly smaller with fewer trees, though having a sandier-surface area. Note: the apparent alignment of the first two pictures (below) is purely random, as these photographs feature separate viewpoints (southwest, northeast) of different rock formations.

The Stone Door

Deriving this name because it looks like a giant door left ajar, this 10 ft. wide by 100 ft. deep crack runs from the top of the escarpment into the gorge below and was once used by Indians as a passageway. The first picture was taken from the top of the Stone Door: note the tilted tree for comparison with the third & fourth pictures for better perspective of stairwell distance.

Prints pRints prInts priNts prinTs printS PRINTS

If you’d enjoy one or more of my photographs from the Savage Gulf State Natural Area in Tennessee, you can visit my shop at Pixels and/or Fine Art America to select from a variety of quality prints.

See Part Two – Greeter Falls At Savage Gulf

Waterfall In Gorge

With an early start, I was the first person to arrive at Cummins Falls, and enjoyed the tranquil setting for over an hour. Though the volume of water flowing over the 75′ waterfall was less than full, it was a pleasant visit which I can recommend to anyone in the area! Visit my gallery to see more.