Clingmans Dome Sunrise & Hike From Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Well, 2017 to this point had been a quite unusual year for us for many reasons. We hadn't hiked nearly as much as in years past, and I needed to get out. So the plan was an early morning start to watch the sunrise from the Great Smoky Mountains highest peak, and then an 8-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Fireflies flash as part of their mating display. There is one species in the U.S. where the individuals have the ability to synchronize their flashing patterns. And this species exists in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In May/June of each year, the park coordinates viewing of this phenomenon for one week of the two-week mating period. It's quite something to see.
Abrams Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park isn't the tallest of waterfalls, but it's powerful and in a beautiful setting. But it's a popular hike, so we recommend going early.
On this four-mile round-trip hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the highlight was supposed to be Fern Branch Falls. But with the low water flow, the beautiful creek and the food chain in action were more interesting to us.
We were fortunate to be able to get an overnight spot at LeConte Lodge, a hike-in, no frills, place to stay in the wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are a few places like this in the National Parks across the country and they usually require reservations months in advance. However, I've been lucky enough to get in by calling at the last minute to see if there have been cancellations. On this two-day hike, we hiked up the Alum Cave Trail, and then down the Rainbow Falls Trail the next day.
The hike to Jump Off in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park goes along the Appalachian Trail for a little ways before branching off into a less traveled area. There were great views, and it was a good test preceding our upcoming two-day hike to Mt. LeConte and back.
This lovely, uncrowded, three-mile round-trip hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park made for a nice, peaceful afternoon. We saw no one else on the trail and had the falls to ourselves - a rare treat in the National Parks.
Known for bear sightings, the Cades Cove Loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a very popular drive. In peak season, you can expect the 11-mile, one-way loop to be packed with cars, and you might get stuck in a "bear jam" for quite some time. On this rainy day, we saw a few deer, no bears, and plenty of humans and their tail-lights.
We've been in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a lot over the years, but today we had our best Black Bear sighting - a sow and two tiny cubs. And we followed that up with a waterfall hike and a scenic drive.