Updated: 4 days ago
As of the writing of this article, I had spent about four days exploring the Smokey Mountain region and with the help of some internet searching and recommendations, I had four great mini-adventures. (Plus an extra bonus hike!) (Plus some honorable mentions. Geesh, maybe I should just rewrite this article.)
Day One- Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte. What kind of hiker would I be if I didn't do the number one hike on AllTrails in the Smokey Mountain National Park? And this trail does not disappoint. At around eleven and a half miles and an elevation change of around 3,000 feet, it's easy to see why this trail stands out above the rest. With it's stairwell through a mountain, one-handed foot bridges made of chunky logs, and itsy-bitsy paths that hug the mountain side so tight, the national park service has installed cable hand rails to ensure one doesn't go yodel-ay-hee-hoo-ing off the mountain's edge, this trail will have the mountaineer in you lassoing their opossum skin cap! (Picture from Mount LeConte above)
But one thing AllTrails won't highlight is that there is another vantage point towards the top of Mount LeConte that you don't want to miss...Mount Myrtle (as seen above). This heart pounding, adrenaline-spiking ridge walk (albeit it's only a few yards long) has you precariously perched between two mountain valleys that is hard to find anywhere else on the east-coast.
Day Two- Rainbow Falls Trail to Brushy Mountain. Here's another double-digit miler that is super aesthetically appealing and well-worth the time to get there. With a 12 foot waterfall and dramatic spurs gleaned from the top of Brushy Mountain, one achieves that sense of "I experienced the Smokies" from this booty-builder. I guess I should mention that parking in the Smokey National Park can be a bear (yes, 100% pun intended- this is Black Bear country)! So, assuming one is using a GPS, I definitely recommend that when you are within a reasonable distance to the trail head, to start considering parking the car. I'm in decent shape, so when I was about a mile and a half away from the trail head, I would be on the lookout for paved or gravel, relatively flat shoulders or parking spots to snag. It proved to be a sound strategy as I walked passed most of the traffic ahead of me as I made my way to the trail head. (Vantage point from Brushy Mountain pictured below)
Day Three- Ah, and one more tip before I forget. The Smokey Mountains are aptly named. The clouds hang low for a long time, thus severely impeding one's view well into the late morning hours. My suggestion. Aim to be arriving at the pinnacle of your hike no earlier than noon (really around 1:30 or 2pm is best). Working your timing backwards, and assuming one has an hour-long drive to get to the hike, this mid-to-late morning jaunt lends itself to enjoy the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, which, for the most part, won't be shrouded in fog. (Picture below taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Can you spot the sun?)