Forney Trail to Andrew’s Bald
Drove to Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, highest point on the Appalachian Trail at 6643′. Like Mt Washington, its accessible by car and just as crowded with flip flop people. Climbed up the look out for the obligatory picture. then hiked Forney Ridge Trail to Andrew’s Bald.
Most of what you see in the distance are dead Fraser Firs. 95% of the Fraser fir trees in the park have been killed by the balsam woolly adelgid and the hemlock woolly adelgid has begun wiping out the hemlocks. The emerald ash borer is taking out the ashes. Luckily, the Asian long horn beetle, which feeds on 30 different species, isn’t here yet. Total hike distance, including detour on the AT was 4.4 miles
Maddron Bald Trail to Albright Grove Loop Trail
The Maddron Trail leads to the Allbright Trail, which is a loop through an old growth forest. This hemlock, which fell across the trail was about 4.5′ in diameter. Somebody had written notes on the stump that it was 400 years old. Further up the loop was the largest tulip poplar in the park, over 25′ in circumference. Total hike distance was 7.8 miles
Hen Wallow Falls
Gabe’s Mountain Trail to the falls. A nice hike, 4.5 miles. Fairly crowded as it is one of the few day hikes around. Stream flow was low so the waterfall was not that impressive, but it would be fantastic at the right time of year.
This was an 8 mile (round trip) hike through old growth forest to a gorgeous waterfall. The first half is easy, following an old gravel road. The second half is fairly strenuous, with some boulder scrambles at the end. Overall elevations gain is 2000′. Didn’t see anyone on the trail, but the waterfall was fairly crowded. Also parking is limited so it pays to arrive early.
They celebrate Halloween a lot at the campground down here in Tennessee. Every Saturday in October there is a pumpkin carving contest, dance party for the kids, trick or treating and then karaoke.
Today we tried the local sport of cabin viewing. There is a special road for this called Cade’s Cove Loop Road where everyone drives 5 miles per hour, bumper to bumper, and looks at old cabins and churches. Its a popular thing to do, as not much walking is involved and the average BMI correlates well with the number of pancake restaurants in Gatlinburg. There are a few preserved cabins and just as many churches because of the rule that whenever someone disagreed with the church’s stand on an issue, they had to go off and start a new one. We spotted a bear and I feared for my life and every car within 1/4 mile tried to occupy the spot my truck was in.
After completing the loop we left Cade’s Cove on Rich Mountain Road (11 miles of gravel) to get on Foothills Parkway – a really gorgeous road with some sections cantilevered over the valley. It was scarier than the bear. This took us to Pigeon Forge, which is like Gatlinburg on steroids. Hard to believe that so many Olde Tyme Photo stores, zip lines, and amusement parks can exist in one town. Stopped at King Family bourbon, bought a bottle of rye aged in honey barrels
On Thursday, we hitched up Harvey, moved it a couple of hundred feet to a new site, unhitched it and headed for Fort Mill to visit Aunt Kay. Stopped in Asheville to sample the beer at Burial Beer Company. Next stop – Red River Gorge, Kentucky.