Farmer Cheese and I just spent a marvelous week hiking in the Smokies. Well, okay there was a little winery touring, sampling, and shopping too.😜 But we are hiking fanatics and love to find a new trail or two every time we are up there. This trip all the trails we hiked were new to us. Our nature viewings consisted of turkey’s, chipmunks, deer, bear tracks, and a mud hole where bears had wallowed. No live bears this time. Our first day consisted of driving through Cades Cove and finding several trails including parts of Cooper Rd and Rabbit Creek trails. We even trudged along Wet Bottom horse trail. We could have done an all day hike if we had started earlier and known ahead of time which trails connect together. If you’ve never been to Cades Cove it is full of trails and historical homesteads, churches, and beautiful scenery. It’s one of our favorite places to visit.
On our next hiking day we drove into Greenbrier, another favorite, and played along the river and hiked up to an area we had never been to before. We followed the Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls. ( Total 4 mile round trip, moderate trail) The beginning of this hike is a gravel road that leads by the remains of the Elbert Cantrell homestead from the early 1900’s. Along the way is also the Ownby Cemetery from the same time period. On this trail we met a woman out on a 10 day hike. We definitely admired her spunk. Up ahead about a mile, after a fork in the trail to the right, we found the John Messner farm site and a cabin that was previously used by the Smoky Mountain hiking club for overnight stays. To get to the water fall we had to backtrack and go left to continue on Porters Creek Trail. Thank goodness trails are clearly marked. After about a 2 mile beautiful wooded trail we finally came to the 60′ Fern Branch Fall! Other than the water fall itself, a highlight for us was following a doe for about a 1/4 mile.
With a couple of rainy days to rest and shop our next hike was a big one. We tackled Ramsey Cascades! It is the tallest waterfall in the park. The trail follows the Ramsey Prong of the Little Pigeon River which is full of little falls and streams. The magnificent cascade is on Mount Guyot, the second highest mountain in the Smokies. This one has been on my to-do list for a long time. It is an 8 mile round trip with a strenuous rating. It begins simply enough like a wagon trail but then turns into a rocky, stumpy, steep, torturous trail. But the result is oh so worth it! This forest has some of the largest hardwood trees in the park. Even with a shortage of rain this year the cascades and falls were captivating.
The day before we left we hiked up part of the Trillium Gap Trail and the Baskins Creek Trail. Baskins Creek leads to a fall that is quite alluring. The trail guides say it is a 3 mile moderate round trip but including our detour up to the cemetery along the way and the earlier trail, we did much more than that. (Just ask our legs!)
Admiring the wonder of nature somehow makes me feel rather inferior by comparison. But somehow knowing the same creator designed us both, I’m okay with that and I’m planning my next trip back. 😊