A Day in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee

Back when I was a kid, I watched a movie during the Christmas holidays that was set in the Smoky Mountains. I don't recall much of the movie but the adventurous surrounding left a lasting impression on me. Years later when I was attending college in Indiana, I decided to fulfill the lingering desire to experience the charming enchantment of the Smoky Mountain National Park. I gathered a few of my college buddies and headed to Tennessee. Here are a few suggestions to spend a day at this luscious national park once inhabited by the Cherokee Indians.

Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley is nestled among 6000-foot peaks within the Smoky Mountains National Park. This isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements of native Americans. Wildlife is a fascinating aspect of the attraction here. In 2001, elk were released in Cataloochee Valley as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park. The herd can regularly be seen in the fields of the valley. Visitors to Cataloochee also enjoy viewing deer, elk, turkey, and other wildlife. The history of the area, including the Little Cataloochee Trail, can be undertaken by getting a self-guiding tour booklet is available in a roadside box near the entrance to the valley. A primitive campground with 27 sites is located in the valley. If you expect to spend more than a day at the park, camping here is an ideal way to spend the night.

Waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains

An easy 1.6-mile round trip hike from the area near Bryson City presents two waterfalls. One, the 60-foot high Tom Branch Falls, a spectacular sight where you can take a dip in the soothing water.  A bit further from the Tom Branch Falls is the 25-foot Indian Creek Falls. The 80-foot Juney Whank Falls is a drive away by following the signs from the parking area. You can also canoe down the creeks along the waterways that fork through the park.

Hiking & Cruising Through The Smoky Mountains

Cruise up to Newfound Gap to experience the park’s spruce-fir forest ecosystem, which blankets the highest elevations. From the 5,046-foot gap (a low point between mountains, also known as a pass or a notch), you’ll find extensive views over the peaks and valleys. If you have time, continue southwest from here to touch the high point of the park at Clingmans Dome, a short but steep hike from the parking lot. Or take a hike along the Appalachian Trail, which crosses Newfound Gap on its 2,190-mile journey from Georgia to Maine.The Smoky Mountain National Park offers a breathtaking release from the clattering of everyday city life. A fantastic way to reboot and re-energize.