Great Smoky Mountains 2016
We drove 4 hours to Virginia and stayed in a hotel overnight. The next morning we drove about 6 hours to our luxury cabin in Gatlinburg, TN. The cabin came with a pool table and a massive bathroom and jacuzzi. Great Smoky Mountains offered, rain, sun, strenuous hiking, including the Appalachian Trail, busy junior ranger programs and lectures, and exhilarating water-rafting.
Deer Path cabin is really a condo with all the modern conveniences and
magnificent views of the Smokies
We tackled the strenuous Ramsey Cascades Trail. 4 miles up rocky terrain and a wet, single plank bridge. But we actually hiked 2 miles to the trail head making it a 6 mile hike to the Ramsey Cascade waterfall.
6 miles and 4200 plus ft of elevation later, my tired feet, legs, and walking stick rest on a boulder and enjoy the waterfall
The next day we enjoyed a visit to Clingman's Dome Observation Tower for a 360° view of Smoky Mountains' highest point at 6643 ft.
Obligatory selfie atop Clingman's Dome and the magnificent views of the
Great Smoky Mountains
On the Appalachian Trail
Exploring and learning about microorganisms in water during an educational junior ranger program
We take the oath to be good junior rangers after listening to Ranger Lloyd teach us about dangerous park animals.
Officially sworn in as a not-so-junior ranger!
Selfie while at Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Caroling and waiting to go
white water rafting
The uphill Ramsey Cascades Trail was muddy but the walking sticks we made along the trail helped not to slip and fall.
We enjoyed the Ramsey Cascades as the rain stopped and the sun shone. Then we hiked 4 miles down the treacherous trail At the end of the trail, we had two miles to hike to the car. With about 1 1/2 miles left we hitched a ride in a pick up. Thank God for Southern hospitality! It was getting dark!
A view from Clingman's Dome of the sun trying to break through the clouds
Giving my bruised toes a break from my hiking boots on the hot Clingman Trail before a short hike on the Appalachian Trail.
Lots of beautiful mushrooms along the AT
Ranger Jennifer signs my junior ranger program attendance card.
I met the age requirement and attended four junior ranger programs
Loving my Great Smoky Mountains NP
junior ranger patch!
Exhilarating white water rafting on
Pigeon River in Hartford, TN.
Read Next: How to Enjoy the National Parks
Hope you've been inspired to visit and hike Great Smoky Mountains. Find out how to plan your visit on Great Smoky Mountains National Park website. Happy Trails!