These photos are from a short weekend trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since my son Andrew didn’t get to go to Colorado with me this year, he asked me to organize a fall trip to the Smokies. He wanted to schedule it for late October so we could hopefully hit the park when the autumn colors were at their peak. We timed it pretty well. At the lower elevations the leaves were definitely at their peak, and they were stunning. I was a little disappointed though as at the upper elevations the trees had obviously lost their leaves several weeks earlier.
This was a short trip with my son Andrew and his friend Andy (yes, it is 10 years later, and they both love hiking)
and my nephew Dave. Andrew and Andy went a day earlier and bagged LeConte. Dave and I arrived a day later…and let’s just say the agenda was pretty light. This trip was as much a chance to enjoy steak, beer and a campfire as it was to see the autumn colors. On this one and half day visit we were lucky if we hiked 10 miles, but we did see some stellar scenery. As for our hikes:
On Saturday morning, we hiked about a two mile section of the AT west of Clingmans Dome. This stretch of the AT has wide open views into North Carolina and Tennessee, and as far as views go, is one of the better stretches of trail in the Park.
On Saturday afternoon, from our campsite in Elkmont we hiked a short ways up both Jakes Creek Trail and the Little River Trail as I wanted to get some photos of the streams with an autumn backdrop.
On Sunday morning we climbed the Chimney Tops (that now makes 20 visits). This was a last minute change in plans. Since the trees at the upper elevations had already lost their leaves I wanted an open vantage point from a lower elevation. I figured the Sugarlands Valley would look pretty stunning from the Chimney Tops, and I was correct!
One thing, let’s just say that the Park was busy, and I knew it would be with the autumn colors peaking. But it was insanely busy, even by Smokies standards. I could submit a TR just about the traffic we observed but fortunately knew how to avoid, but I’ll leave that story for another day…