Day 1 - 1 May 2019
Content: In order to enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via the Sugarlands entrance, we had to drive through Gatlinburg. We found Gatlinburg to be a very touristy town, filled with over priced restaurants and gimmicky shops for kids. The main street was jammed pack with families crossing and cars inching to each traffic light.
Day 1 - 1 May 2019
Content: We got a room on the top floor and the views were great. Only down side is that walking to the hotel from the city is kinda far especially with he big hill at the hotel. The city does have a shuttle bus that comes by every 30 minutes but they do have working hours so you'd need to ask the front desk to make sure you don't get left without a ride back
Content: The first place we went to see was Newfound Gap, which is about 16 miles from Gatlinburg. This is a great place to stop for the scenic views and the chance to stand in two states at once!
Content: Once we entered the national park, we went straight to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, 1 of 4 visitor centers inside the park. It’s also worth noting- this park is actually FREE!
Content: Next, we drove to Clingman’s Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies. From the large parking area at the end of the road, a half-mile trail climbs steeply to an observation tower at the “top of old Smoky.” It is a paved walkway and there are areas along the way to sit if the incline is too much. We saw lots of people walking there and back so we decided to grab our camera gear, tie our hiking boots and make the walk.
Content: They have the most amazing steak! We got the strip steak and moonshine chicken combo with mashed potatoes. Both the steak and chicken were very tender and had amazing flavor. For dessert we got the dessert sampler which had blackberry cobbler, creme brulee, and chocolate mousse. Everything tasted so so so good.
Day 2 - 2 May 2019
Content: This is a moderate, 4.5-mile roundtrip hike with some spectacular views along the way. The trail is mainly dirt road and we gained over 2,500 feet on the way to almost 6,500 feet in elevation. Despite the name, there is not really a cave anywhere along this hike. There’s just some black slate rock and some fantastic view points, including Inspiration Point.
Content: We chowed down at the Mellow Mushroom which despite the pricier meals, we were happy to see veg options. They even had vegan pizza! In a town filled with traditional American cuisine this was a nice surprise! We found the service to be great and ended up having lunch.
Content: Once we ate and refueled our bodies, we set out to hike Grotto Falls, a beautiful 25-foot high waterfall that you can actually walk behind. The 2.6 mile round trip hike started at Trillium Gap Trailhead and was easy to moderate. This was one of our favorite hikes. It was relatively easy for how rewarding the views of the waterfall were.
Content: Next we decided to hike Laurel Falls, another stunning waterfall. Laurel Falls is a slightly shorter hike, at 2.3 miles round trip and fairly easy. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in the national park and very popular among families.
Content: This is a wonderful scenic drive along a one-way loop that takes you through a portion of the park. If you are lucky enough, you may be able to see some wildlife.
Day 3 - 3 May 2019
Content: We started the morning off by hiking to Abrams Falls, a 5.2-mile round trip hike that starts at Abrams Falls Trailhead. This was a moderate hike but has lots of tree coverage for some good shade. After crossing over the wooden bridge, head left and you will hear the flow of Abrams creek hugging along the trail most of the way.
Content: Once we finished the hike, we continued on the Cades Cove Scenic Drive. It was such a serene drive mixed with heavily wooded areas followed by flat plains filled with wild flowers. Through out the loop there were historical homes open to tour.
Content: That concludes our 3-day adventure at the most visited national park in the United States! We did find this park to be the busiest so we’d recommend visiting during Spring or Fall for less crowds.