On June 4 we finally achieved our long-held goal of accepting the Twin Valley Trail Challenge. This event is put on by a group of volunteers and it is truly an amazing venture. We accepted the challenge for all 27.5 miles. There we three water/food stops along the route (one is encountered twice). Two stops were well-stocked with water, Gatorade, chips, granola bars, and apples/bananas. Cold water and naturalists were available at the nature center. Additionally, cases of water were left in the neighborhood for hikers around mile 24. Continue reading “We did it!”
I think I read somewhere that of the more than 9million people that visit Great Smoky Mountain National Park every year fewer than 5% venture more than a mile away from the roads. I have often cited this statistic when we make our annual Memorial Day trip to the park and we have definitely found solitude during the peak season on Rocky Top or at Gregory Bald.
However, 5% of 9 million is still 450,000 people. And a significant portion of those people were on the trail to Abrams Falls the day we decided to take it on. This hike has been on our Smoky Mountain bucket list for quite some time. Frankly, we have avoided it because of its popularity and because access to the trailhead requires tackling the one-way Cades Cove loop road. To quote the official Cades Cove and You flyer, “Expect delays. During peak season it may take over 2-4 hours to travel the 11-mile loop.” Not very appealing to tackle when we are anxious to get on the trail or back to town to grab a shower. But this was our Cades Cove trip and we prepared ourselves to brave the crowds. Continue reading “Abrams Falls Trail”
Cades Cove campground on Memorial Day weekend is definitely not a place to expect peace and tranquility. Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the US by almost double. Cades Cove, with its 11 mile scenic road, is the epicenter of activity for casual tourists wishing to get a small taste of the park and hoping to spot a bear.
The 159 site campground is nearly at the entrance to the loop road, behind the large and popular picnic area and camp store. The entrance to the campground is also home to the bike rental shop. Apparently this area is newly renovated and expanded. I can’t imagine how crowded it was before. Firewood was available at the store, but the hours did not make it very convenient for people who prefer to spend daylight hours exploring the park. Continue reading “Cades Cove Campground – Great Smoky Mountains National Park”