Friday, September 07, 2012

Guest Blog - Top Hiking Spots in the Great Smoky Mountains

Top Spots for Hikers to Check Out 
in The Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains have many wonderful areas to hike and depending on the season, you’ll want to hike in specific spots. The fall is perhaps one of the most beautiful times of year to pull out your hiking gear and go explore the mountains.

Certain factors throughout the year can affect just how spectacular the foliage will be come fall; luckily the area was quite dry and in a state of drought for the summer so that means the leaves will do a particularly impressive change of shades this year.  The time of fall you plan to hike will also impact the areas that you should choose to hike in.

The early fall will be the best time to visit high elevation locations like Andrew’s Bald, Mt. LeConte, The Jump Off and Rocky Top. Andrew’s Bald has some incredible views but can be significantly cooler – by as much as ten to twenty degrees because of its elevation. If you are planning to hike Andrew’s Bald, the parking area is shared with Clingman’s Dome (the highest point on the range) and you should consider waterproof footwear and a walking stick to migrate the rough and often wet trail.

Similarly, mid fall or the majority of October is another time you want to focus on higher elevation spots.  The reasoning behind this is that the foliage turns sooner at higher elevations so you essentially should start high and work your way down lower as the season progresses. Great mid-fall locations to hike are Gregory Bald, Mt. Cammerer and Spence Field. Spence field can be reached by going right on the Bote Mountain trail from the Anthony Creek Trail, a little over five miles on the Bote Mountain Trail should bring you to the Appalachian Trail and Spence Field junction.  The attraction to the field as a sight-seeing spot is that you can view the North Carolina side of the mountains if it’s clear and during early summer the laurel is in full bloom, which is positively breath-taking.

Late fall or most of the month of November will be best utilized at the lower elevation areas like Miegs Mountain Trail, Deep Creek Loop or Indian Creek Trail.  These are by no means all your options but definitely some of the top ones to take into consideration. Mid-October through November are when the leaves are at their most vibrant and brilliant at lower elevations but the earlier fall period is still a great time to hike the Smokies and enjoy the mild weather. The Indian Creek Trail is a great, easy trail for the hiker that isn’t looking for too much of a challenge.  The wonderful bonus of this leisurely trail is that it accesses two different falls; both the Tom Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls are at your fingertips on this route.  If you’re not up for walking it you can bring a sturdy bike for this section of the trail. Entering the water is not recommended and pets are prohibited.

No matter where or when you plan to hike, keep some basic safety rules in mind:

·        Always let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back. Know your limitations. Carry a map for the area where you plan to hike.

·           Keep a small first aid kit handy.  A pocket size one will do. 

·        If you have severe allergies, especially to bees, be sure to carry an Epi pen.  If you have never suffered an insect bite and do not know if you have allergies, carry an antihistamine such as Benadryl (make sure to carry child size doses if hiking with children)

·         Respect nature.  Do not litter.  Take only photos and do not encourage contact with wildlife. Remember, dogs are not allowed on the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains is an unforgettable experience.  Make sure doing so is on your bucket list. 

Guest Author: Elk Springs Resort 1088 Powdermill Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738 | 865-233-2390 | Enjoy privacy and mountain views while relaxing on your vacation in one of our secluded luxury cabins located in a private 68 acre resort setting. We're nestled in the historic Arts and Crafts Community and border the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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