Saturday, April 17, 2010

Take A Trip On Tennessee's Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Hello....It's getting time to start thinking about your summer vacation.  What better place to visit than the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee/North Carolina??

If you travel to the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains, you will find many great sights and sounds. Some, such as Cades Cove are better-known than others.

Many of the best sights of The Great Smokies are in areas that, while easy to get to, are not as popular and crowded as the usual places.

One such place is the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which is actually a road rather than a trail, and yes, you travel by car.

You get to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail from Gatlinburg, which is a little village on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The following are must-see stops on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail...

At stoplight 8 in Gatlinburg, turn onto Airport Road and this will lead you to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Plan on spending at least two hours on this 5 mile trail, because there are so many sights you will want to pull over a lot.

There is also some good hiking if you want to go further into the woods.The trail is a one-way paved and well-maintained road, so once you're on the trail you must continue until you reach the end.You will notice that the forest is very dark, misty and eerie, and the air is considerable cooler than outside the forest.

Keep your eyes peeled as you drive into the dark forest. We saw a big black bear once near the forest entrance foraging on the side of the road. We stopped, of course, then a car came along behind us and stopped, then another, and a bear jam ensued while camera flashed.  You will see many preserved log cabins that were inhabited by settlers 150 years ago.

The Ogle Cabin:

You will drive a few minutes in the dark forest before you actually enter onto the trail. Just before you get to the trail is the Bud Ogle place. An 19th century log cabin and barn stands off the road, and if you hike a short distance you will find a big creek in all its glory.

I am convinced that the Ogle Place is haunted, since very strange things have happened to us every time we have been there, including losing a friend in the woods, dropping a digital camera in the stream, backing the SUV into a tree and running off and leaving a walkie-talkie.

We actually went there before dawn one day, and I would recommend it. Strange sounds came from the still, dark, deep forest and it was a great (but a little frightening) experience as we waited for the sunrise over the cabin.

Once you actually enter the trail, you will begin to go up and curl around, encountering more beautiful sights and log cabins. Stop and go into each one, you will be amazed at how small these living spaces are.

You will come to an old grist mill on a stream. You can go through the mill, climb down to the stream and explore everything around it.

There are no "stay out of here" signs - you are free to walk wherever you please.

There are some trailheads that you might be interested in, with both long hikes and short hikes. Rainbow Falls Trail and Grotto Falls Trail both begin here. Be sure that you are prepared and have adequate hiking shoes.

The Place of A Thousand Drips is your last stop, and is a very different kind of waterfall. How dramatic it is depends on how much rain has recently fallen.

Once you go through this magical place, you will return many times. If you love cool mist, mountains and history, this is the place for you. I might add that it is just a little creepy, but in a good way.  Best of all, it's FREE.

The trail closes after the first major snow and stays closed all winter.

If you see a bear, be extremely careful. They are extremely fast and unpredictable. I learned this the hard way when I was chased into my car by a charging bear. You don't have to be the fastest, just faster than the person you're with :)

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Roaring Fork to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you :)