We woke up on day three to the sunrise which was in full view from the giant window in the master bedroom. And once that sun is up, it is up. No sleeping in is allowed. This was OK by us as we had a full day of exploring the Smoky Mountains ahead.
I made breakfast for us and we enjoyed that in the front room of our circular abode before setting out.
Having got in just before sunset the night before, we had not yet had a chance to really get into the park. Apparently, it is the most traveled national park, but not this time of year. Right now, it’s still pretty chilly and the traffic is light.
We’d watched a few Youtube videos and taken notes on the part highlights so we kind of knew what we wanted to see. It’s a good thing too because Cell service was non-existent in parts of the park and the GPS wouldn’t even show the map around us at times. Talk about “Off the Grid!”
We drove most of the way from Pigeon Forge north to south through the park, stopping at lookout points and making a quick stop at the visitor center. We finally decided to hike the Alum Cave trail which, according to our notes, was one of the best with great scenery throughout and a few cool stops along the way. It was almost a 5 mile round trip and was just about perfect for us.
The trail itself follows the path of a stream and I counted 5 bridges total that we crossed along the way. The trail is not too steep and where it is steep, steps have been built to ease the way up.
We didn’t see a ton of wildlife, and thankfully there were not a lot of other humans either. There was lots of ice and ice sickles on the trail. I kept stopping to take pictures but the pictures just don’t do the trail justice.
We had elected not to take our picnic lunch with us on the trail which was a mistake. It would have been great to break out those sandwiches and chips at the top. But no. As it was, we booked it back down to the trailhead at about double time the way up.
The rest of the afternoon we drove around more and I became incredibly sleepy and dozed off in the car. We made it all the way south and crossed the Tennessee/ North Carolina border.
Eventually, we made our way back up to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in search of dinner.
I would definitely be remiss if I didn’t mention what kind of utter ridiculousness they have going on in those two towns. It’s as if the mountains were not enough of a destination, they built every kitschy attraction they could think of to draw people in.
We ate dinner at the Local Goat. I had a cheeseburger, of course, and Jim had the fish and chips. I think the fact that I was really hungry skewed my perception of the quality of cheeseburger I had. Jim asked me what I would rate it and in the moment I said 4.25.
If I cared that much, I’d write a whole review but I don’t. It was a good burger and that’s really just enough.
As it happens, getting that burger caused us to miss sunset at our Airbnb but that’s ok. Most of the time you can’t have it all. Most of the time. 😉
The rest of the evening was all about relaxation. We had hot tub time under the stars and then settled in the living room by the fire.
It was a good day all the way around. There will be more exploring tomorrow for sure.
Peace and love,