After enjoying Hemlock Falls, I hiked up the canyon and headed upstream along the trail – and then back downhill, again – to see the 60-foot tall Cherokee Falls. Part of the Cloudland Canyon State Park, in Georgia, it’s a short hike & well worth the visit!
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Leaving Knoxville, Tennessee at 5:00 a.m., it was a 2 hour drive and I was the first person to arrive at the trail. By the time I returned to my vehicle, however, the parking lot was full.
If you arrive early, come prepared with the correct fee: an envelope with 16-quarters + a $1 bill isn’t easy to pass through the slot in the fee-deposit box. D’oh!
During my hike, I met several interesting people – a Pastor and his wife from Knoxville, a couple traveling on vacation from Ohio, and an individual from Marietta, Georgia, who was filming the canyon using a drone.
Despite being only 1.1 miles out and back, visitors must traverse 600 steps into the canyon. I was pleased that the trails were in good condition, and the hike wasn’t too difficult. For those in need of a rest, however, several benches have been conveniently situated along the trail.
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Enjoy this winter view into the forest, as seen at the beginning of a 2.75 mile trail I recently hiked in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Visit my gallery at Pixels to discover fine quality prints available for purchase!
Located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee near Gatlinburg, the trail to Rainbow Falls (80 feet) ascends the northern slopes of Mount LeConte (6,593 feet). Despite being rated as a difficult hike, the 2.75 mile trail to the falls is heavily trafficked with a constant incline over sometimes rugged terrain. With many switchbacks, it has an elevation gain of 1,653 feet and is one of six separate routes up the mountain. During warm weather, hikers should consider arriving early to secure a parking space, as the lot fills quickly.
If hiking during winter months, come prepared with proper clothing – the falls are above the frost line and temperatures can be quite cold. Here’s a photograph from my hike in March, 2019:
Fortunately, the weather was wonderful during my recent visit, as evident in the following scenes…
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Wow! I’ve hiked many areas in the state, but so far none can compare to the plethora of waterfalls as found along the Laurel-Snow Trail To Laurel Falls, located near Dayton, TN.
From the moment I stepped out my vehicle and on to the trail, the sound of running water was loud, present throughout my hike. Though alltrails.com lists the hike at 6.1 miles out and back, a placard at the trailhead cites the total distance as 5 miles. Whatever the case, I definitely added another mile or two exploring off trail – there were photography opportunities around every corner!
The road into the park is filled (no pun intended) with potholes – it’s somewhat of an obstacles course. Thus, drive slowly with caution around sharp turns near steep hills.
Richland Creek was full, with a wonderful blue-green coloration in deeper pools and dozens of small-to-medium size waterfalls visible from the trail. Other water sources – including Paine Creek – were flowing with waterfalls to enjoy while hiking. Also, huge boulders – some 30 feet tall – periodically peppered the waterside.
The trail, formerly a railroad bed of The Dayton Coal & Iron Company, Limited, was mostly hard-pack dirt and flat, though muddy in areas. Though the trail splits (a white blaze leads left along the creek, and, orange ribbons around trees mark a route into the forest, leading to the right), both trails soon reconnect before reaching a new, aluminum bridge. Thereafter, the trail becomes quite rocky, and signs are posted for Snow Falls (left) and the 80-foot Laurel Falls (right).
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With both Clingmans Dome (6664′) and Mount Guyot (6621′) located on the border between Tennessee & North Carolina, Mount LeConte is the tallest mountain entirely within the state of Tennessee, at an elevation of 6593′.
One of the most popular hikes within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it features five trails to the summit and has the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States. LeConte Lodge operates via a seasonal airlift of supplies by helicopter in March, and with alternating teams of pack llamas several days each week throughout the season.
My hike began at the Alum Cave Trailhead, located in Seiver County near Gatlinburg, approx. 8 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center along Newfound Gap Road.
I left my home in Knoxville, TN by 6:00 a.m. and returned at 6:15 p.m.. It was 7:53 a.m. when I started on the Alum Cave Trail, and 4:35 p.m. when I finished. All told, I hiked 12 miles and ascended 2700′ along the way.
Passing through Arch Rock, then beyond Inspiration Point, I reached Alum Cave Bluffs and rested to enjoy a peanut butter & raisin sandwich. This spot offers impressive views – including the Eye of The Needle – and is a popular destination for most hikers.
The slopes became steeper, thereafter, periodically revealing splendid views:
And, where useful, steel cables were affixed to the mountain for hiker safety:
Once on top, I continued beyond the lodge, stopping to see High Top – a cairn rock pile marking the 6593′ peak:
Walking along the trail on an edge of the mountain, I could see my destination in the distance – Myrtle Point, the easternmost peak on Mount LeConte:
The expansive, panoramic views here were truly stunning, and very much worth the additional 3/4 mile hike! Flat rocks offered welcomed seating to enjoy an impressive mountain landscape – including Mount Kephart, Charlies Bunion and Clingmans Dome:
Next, I backtracked along the trail until I reached a junction leading to Cliff Top, another vantage point offering excellent views – including Chimney Tops:
On my way back, I stopped at the lodge to use the outhouse, and discovered a comfortable rocking hair on the porch of a gift-shop building. So comfortable, in fact, that it took me nearly 15 minutes to stand-up again and resume my hike down the mountain!
Along the trail, I pondered how nice it would be to have a zip-line for my descent…haha.
Over the course of the day I met the same people on several different occasions, as various trails crisscross between points of interest and hikers, once reaching the summit, are usually in no hurry to leave. Also, many folks have reservations to stay overnight.
The following video was filmed at Myrtle Point:
Though strenuous, I can highly recommend this hike! Make sure you’re well-rested, carry sufficient water, monitor weather reports, and consider using “trekking poles” for added stability.
Many of these photographs can be purchased on prints of all kinds, including: framed, canvas, art, metal, wood, acrylic and tapestries. Other items available, also. See more in my shops at Pixels and/or Fine Art America. Thanks!
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.
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