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.

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!