A Smoky Mountain adventure

Trip Start May 25, 2013
Trip End Jun 01, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Tuesday morning we left Chatenooga early and arrived late morning to the Smoky Mountain National park.  We came in from the West entrance so that we could visit Cade's Cove on the way to Gatlinburg. When we stopped for a quick picture at the park entrance sign the boys noticed a trail along the nearby creek.  Off they went down along the stream and up towards the trail.  We took a few minutes to take in the majestic view of the forest then headed back to the van to continue our journey to Cade's Cove where we planned to eat lunch. 

It was around lunch time when we arrived at the Park Ranger station at the entrances to Cade's Cove. There we stopped for a bathroom break.  Camden was insistent on visiting the nearby gift shop where he found a stuffed black bear that he really wanted.  We were able to talk him into waiting to find another one once we reached Gatlinburg.  While at the ranger station the boys got their passports stamped. 

The picnic area was near the Cade's Cove entrance and we found a cozy picnic table near the creek.  The boys learned during the picnic the importance of not leaving any food or trash behind where it could be found by a bear.  Together we investigated the odd trash cans and learned how they keep the black bears out of the trash.  After lunch we started our tour of the 11-mile loop around Cade's Cove.

While exploring Cade's Cove the boys were curious about why they named the area a "cove".  Joanne explained how it was a land-based version of a water cove.  The boys seemed to pick up on the idea rather quickly as we noticed how the flat area of land  was snugly nestled between the surrounding mountains.  We spent the next 3 hours stopping at the early 1800's cabins and churches. We also stopped to at a village area where we learned how a water wheel ground corn into corn meal.  We followed the man-made stream from the mill all the way up to the main river where it had been diverted.  Along the way a brave little deer wandered right up to the road and had a bite to eat near the front of the van.  We also saw a wild turkey strut along the side of the road near the end of our tour.

By late afternoon we wrapped up our Cade's Cove adventure and arrived in Gatlinburg just before dinner. After a quick check into the hotel we then walked a short distance up the street to Bennett's BBQ Pit.  There we were served by a very friendly waitress who told us about some fun things to do in the mountains.  During dinner Joanne decided that we should go up to Clingman's dome that night. So we came up with a plan to head up there right after dinner and hike to the top before sunset.

We arrived at Clingman's Dome just after 7 P.M. and found the view to be breathtaking.  The boys were very excited to look around so we gathered our coats and water bottles and set out for the half mile hike to the peak.  Along the way we found out that the Appalachian Trail also led up to the dome. Joanne and Justin were excited to see the sign for the trail so after leaving the lookout tower at the top of the mountain we went for a stroll along the Appalachian trail.   Joanne explained to the boys how far the trail traverses across the country from North to South.  The boys appeared fascinated and were even ready to head out and hike on it for the rest of our trip.  After some quick photos we headed back down the mountaintop trail to the parking lot.  Along the way the boys found a large rock outcropping so we stopped for another picture of them after they climbed to the top.  

The sunset view from the top of Clingman's dome was an unexpectedly delightful dessert of a view for our first adventurous day in the Smoky Mountains.
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