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While I only spent a quick weekend in and around the Smoky Mountains National Park, I felt that was just enough time to get acquainted with the vast wilderness of the Appalachian mountains in Tennesse. Although I still have a fair bit of exploring to do within the national park, I wanted to express just how incredible a few days spent enjoying the outdoors in this area was and convince you to take some time to do the same!
What to do:
Vacationers flock to the Smokies to enjoy the fresh air and outdoor activities throughout the year. Peak seasons are around mid-June to mid-August and then again during the entire month of October.
- Hike! The trail system throughout the park is well maintained and marked making hiking through the park a safe and fun activity for all ages. Pay attention to trail closures or other alerts from the national park that could potentially impact your plans.
- Drive, bike, eat and just enjoy. The Smokies cater to anyone’s interests with endless opportunities for adventure or relaxation. Take some moments and enjoy the experience of being out in the middle of nowhere with spectacular views and an abundance of wildlife.
Where to stay:
There are many options when it comes to accommodation in and around the Smoky Mountains. The Gatlinburg area offers everything from budget hotels in town to luxurious lodges tucked away in the mountains.
- Cades Cove. Far away from any cell service, this valley surrounded by mountains has views that will not disappoint. Many trails are assessable from this area after a short drive and the camp store even rents out bikes to enjoy on the 11 mile Cades Cove loop road. This area gets very busy during certain times of the year so be prepared for traffic on the one-lane road. Tent campsites are between $20-$25 per night depending on the location.
Miles and miles of trails with plenty of gorgeous panoramic views and loads of wildlife are scattered across the Smoky Mountains National Park. Since the park is so huge I suggest sticking to a smaller portion to explore, otherwise, you might find yourself driving more than hiking. Also, getting out on the trails early is important so that you can beat the crowd, but also make it back to your car before sundown. Be alert, have fun and enjoy the great outdoors!
- Gregory Bald. A fairly easy climb with plenty of beautiful views as you reach the top. Roundtrip is just over 11 miles so make sure you start this hike early. Also, you’ll have to take Cades Cove loop road to the trailhead so be cautious of cyclists and pedestrians during the early morning hours.
- Abrams Falls. A fairly flat out and back hike with a beautiful waterfall as the prized view. This route is fairly busy so make sure you start early especially if you want a parking spot at the trailhead. This trail was perfect for a run and you can even splash some water on yourself from the cold creek that runs along the side of the trail.
- Mount LeConte. My favorite view in the Smokies by far and the third highest peak in the national park at 6,593′. There are many trails that lead to the summit including Alum Cave, Bullshead, Trillium Gap and Rainbow Falls. Check the national park’s website for the latest trail information and detailed maps to help you plan your hike. I highly recommend either purchasing a park map or printing one because cell service is very spotty throughout the park.
Remember to support your national parks by leaving no trace as you hike and I hope you enjoy your time spent in the Smoky Mountains.