I’ve only been to the Great Smoky Mountains once in my life, despite them being relatively close and growing up hearing so many stories about them. Even though I’ve finally made it, I still ended up with a brief trip so I plan on returning for some serious hiking and camping. The park is definitely a highlight of the southeast with regards to wildlife and natural beauty. These two photos above were from some of the view points along the roads in the Smoky Mountains. It was here that I also took the two photos below. I didn’t see or capture any wildlife with my camera unless you count this caterpillar and bug. Despite being summer and very humid, I wasn’t bombarded with gnats and mosquitoes like I would have expected. The flowers were getting all the attention from the bees and other bugs pollinating them.
Most of my time in the Smoky Mountains was in the North Carolina side. These two photos show a tunnel and a large creek that I stopped by in the Tennessee side and a waterfall in the North Carolina side. The North Carolina side seems to have most of the hiking trails and waterfalls, but you can do just about any activity in on either side of the border.
The main hiking trail I wanted to do was a drive up in the higher parts of the park. Along the way we passed through some thick fog that eventually turned into rain. My friend’s car that we were driving in had an external temperature reading, so we were actually able to see more than a 10 degree drop from the higher altitude! I’ve been used to things like this on mountains out west or in other countries, but it was kind of unexpected for me to come across this so close to home.
The hiking trail we did was mostly in dense forest so there weren’t that many of distant mountains and valleys at first. The photo on the left was what most of the hike looked like. On the right is a sign marking the famous Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is the one of the longest foot trails in the world, spanning from Georgia all the way to Maine, and then unofficially continuing even further into Canada.
The trail I did finished up close to a mile high in altitude with a look out tower. The flora here was no doubt much different from the lower parts of the Smoky Mountains. The high altitude forests here were mostly made up of evergreens that were covered in moss and lichen.