Enjoy the Smoky mountains like a local …sorta
First time visit to the Smokies? I’ve been dealing with a cold of sorts this week. Top it off with dreary, rainy days and I could use a mental getaway! Today I am reminiscing on my trip to the Smokies during a cold week in December. Hopefully this post will bring me the comforts of Fall during this humid Florida September. Get ready to enjoy the Smoky mountains like a local!
First time visit to the Smokies
Is this your first time visit to the Smokies? Tucked into the hillside of Tennessee, you will find Gatlinburg. A quirky town full of themed tourist sites. However, step away from the streets and into the woods and you’re transported into a time before. A time of Native Americans and living off the land. A glimpse into the lives of our country’s ancestors. This post will hopefully portray aspects of the Smoky mountains like a local would see it, of course, we did find some tourist activities to take part in as well.
Upon arrival we drove up a steep, winding road to our cabin. What a romantic setting, nestled among the trees and overlooking the hills below. It was dark when we arrived but I could not wait to see what views morning would bring! As we turned the fireplace on we settled into our home for the next week. Coffee and a hot tub was in our future!
Our first day was spent hiking near Newfound Gap Road. We visited the Chimney Tops trail, Laurel Falls-80 foot waterfall, Rainbow Falls, and lastly Grotto falls -25 foot waterfall. Although too chilly to splash in we enjoyed the view and the crisp mountain air.
Our evening brought us to downtown Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas to explore the shops and atmosphere. Hillbilly is the word that comes to mind when I remember this place. As cheesy and cliche as it sounds but that’s the theme here. While not our style of “culture”, we chose to be on the beautiful trails instead. Nonetheless, the people were charming and we sampled our fair share of flavored moonshine.
Hiking the Smokies
The following days brought us to numerous trails and to historic landmarks. Anywhere you go in the Smokies, you are guaranteed to find an old landmark of some significance. That is why I visit. As I have said before, I am a minor history bluff. We found old cabins, churches, tombstones, and classrooms. To me this is a historic way of experiencing the Smoky mountains like a local.
My favorite place to visit when I am here is the famous Cades Cove. If this is your first time visit to the Smokies, go HERE! Visitors can hire horses to gallop through the trails or drive their vehicles around the ancient lands. Here you will find the old settling grounds of our ancestors. Deer and other wildlife roam free under protection. A great place to dream about what life was like before.
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Day hikes were the best because you could park your car anywhere along the road and catch trail heads. Here are some treasures we came upon just off road:
We were fortunate to catch the annual Christmas parade while we were here. The town paraded in costumes and floats were pulled by tractors. Hot chocolate was indulged in by all! A simple but cheery experience!
On a late afternoon hike, we found how spooky the forests could look. Nightfall approached quickly and the
beginner hikers we were then, had no flashlights handy. We encountered teenagers hanging out on the smooth rocks above. It appeared they would be spending the night atop the slate and getting high all the same. Reefers were offered but we had to keep trekking as to avoid any black bear attacks.
On our last day we tried our hands at zip-lining before our long drive back home to the beaches of FL. We enjoyed experiencing the Smoky mountains like a local and enjoyed our week away. We hope your first time visit to the Smokies is amazing!
Be well and Travel often!
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**This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own**
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