Douglas Lake – A Fisherman’s Dream in the Smoky MountainsJune 12, 2022
Wood Grain Terrain CarvingsJune 19, 2022
This National Park is now hosting over 12 million visitors annually, making the Great Smoky Mountains National Park America’s most visited national park. It is a landscape that combines natural and cultural history beautifully. History unfolds before the eyes, emerging from lush forests and rich lowland valleys.
The national park was officially created on June 15, 1934. Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the ceremony at Newfound Gap, a central point along the spine of the mountains that separates Tennessee from North Carolina. Unlike the vast western parks, the Great Smoky Mountains had been inhabited for some time and parcels of land had to be purchased from settlers. Pioneers crossed the mountains from North Carolina in the early 1800s to reach rich, isolated valleys. Before them, the Cherokee lived from these lands. But by the 1920s, the verdant southern Appalachians had been damaged by fires and stripped of most of their timber.
A $5 million investment from famous industrialist John D. Rockefeller, along with the support of concerned citizens throughout the region, helped attain the final goal of the park’s establishment, protecting nearly 500,000 acres of land from development and creating a public space for the entire country’s enjoyment.
Make no mistake, despite the roads and easy access, much of the Smokies 500,000 acres are pure wilderness. More species of plants are found within the park than any other area in North America. Over 1,500 flowering shrubs and plants, 124 species of trees and 30 varieties of orchids and grasses can be found here. Interestingly, the Smokies’ unique ecosystem combines two different climates. The lower elevations feature a prime example of deciduous forest while the conifer forests along the mountains’ peaks are more like those found in central Canada. The amazing profusion of vegetation combines with the oil of pine trees to create a vapor that mixes with the moisture-laden air to give the Smoky Mountains their name.
The Smokies are also home to a diverse array of wildlife, harboring over 60 species of mammals, 200 species of birds, nearly 70 kinds of fish and 80 varieties of reptiles and amphibians. White-tailed deer, red fox, wood chucks, squirrels and raccoons are often encountered on quiet roadsides. Peregrine falcons, red wolves and river otters are recent re -inductees to the park, having been previously eradicated from the area. The black bear (Ursus americanus) is easily the park’s most popular citizen.
Hiking Trails With Waterfalls:
The impact of seeing the Autumn Smoky Mountain colors at their peak is an intense moment of universal spirituality and many folks like to try to make sure they capture that spirit at its zenith so they create memories of the region and season to last forever. If you’re coming to the Smokies and want to find the ultimate bonding experience with your group and the spirit of the mountains, try hiking up to any of the waterfall hiking trails we have in East Tennessee!
Here’s a list and information on our hiking trails, as found on www.gatlinburg.com:
* Grotto Falls *
“There’s something magical about standing behind a wall of water as it cascades to the ground at Grotto, the only waterfall in the Smokies where you can do this. The walk to Grotto is as easy as pie. It’s just minutes out of Gatlinburg, right off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, so make it a first stop on your day trip into the park. You can stroll the Trillium Trail through old-growth forests, and if you’re there in May, get ready to be wowed by the dazzling wildflowers.” – www.gatlinburg.com
* Laurel Falls *
“Take a 2.6-mile walk on the paved trail to Laurel Falls, and you’ll see why so many people consider it a must-see. The 80-foot cascade is one of the most-photographed spots in all of the Smokies for good reason. It’s only a few miles from Sugarlands, right outside Gatlinburg. If you arrive in the early morning, you’ll beat the crowds and be rewarded with perfect photography lighting. Bring the whole family. The path is stroller, wheelchair and walker friendly.” – www.gatlinburg.com
* Abrams Falls *
“The five-mile round trip along Abrams Creek is a moderate hike that’s worth every step. Cross the wooden bridge, and follow the path along the Cades Cove Valley floor among pine, oak, hemlock and rhododendron. When you arrive, you’ll see why a waterfall that’s only 20 feet high is one of the most popular places in the Smokies. The amount of rushing water is staggering, and the pool below it is long and deep. The warnings about swimming are worth heeding! The currents here are dangerous and have swept some to their deaths. Look, but don’t leap!” – www.gatlinburg.com
* Ramsey Cascades *
“Ramsey Cascades is the highest waterfall accessible by trail in the park. Most of the water comes from the 6621′ Mt. Guyot, the second-highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains. Water drops 100 feet over rock outcroppings and collects in a small pool where numerous salamanders can be found. The trail to the waterfall gains over 2,000′ in elevation over its four-mile course, and the eight-mile roundtrip hike is considered strenuous but well worth the effort. It takes between five and seven hours to hike to the waterfall and back.
The trail follows rushing rivers and streams for much of its length. The last two miles pass through an old-growth cove of hardwood forest with large tulip trees, basswoods, silverbells and yellow birches.” – www.gatlinburg.com
Want to get more information on Smoky Mountain hiking trails? Visit http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/.
Smoky Mountain Wildlife
Vacations are all about escaping every day, and nothing will remind you of that more quickly than spotting a bear or an elk in the Smokies. Because Great Smoky Mountains National Park is thriving black bear habitat, chances are good that you’ll catch sight of these magnificent creatures, along with an incredibly diverse population of plant and animal species. Thousands of species of plant and animal life have been documented in the Smokies, and more are being discovered every year.
Because the last Ice Age didn’t get this far south, and the sea never came this far inland, flora and fauna have been thriving and diversifying here for millennia. When you venture into one of the world’s few International Biosphere Reserves, black bears and wildflower blooms are only the beginning.
Our most prevalent wildlife include:
* Bears https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm
* Birds https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/birds.htm
* Elk https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/elk.htm
* Salamanders https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/amphibians.htm
* Deer https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/white-tailed-deer.htm
* Fish https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/fishing.htm