Tennessee Vacation: Roaring Forks Motor Trail and Gatlinburg

Our last day in the Smoky Mountains we did a variety of things. First, we went on the Roaring Forks Motor Trail. This is a fairly narrow, winding one-way drive through a different part of the park than we’d been to before. It was totally different scenery than the other 2 days. Instead of mountains, we spent a lot of the time along streams and driving through trees.

There were some original settler’s houses along this drive, as well. One was painted 3 different colors because the original settlers wanted to use every color of paint available from the Sears Roebuck catalog. It’s maybe a good thing only 3 colors were available at the time. Another small cabin had been home to a family of 9. It’s hard to imagine that many people in a house as small as these were. There were rhododendrons in bloom along the route, as well as other wild flowers.  The last stop on this road was one of the things I had been looking forward to, a waterfall called Place of 1000 drips. It’s not a huge waterfall, but it is beautiful with lots of small water trickles falling down the rocks.

Next, we went into Gatlinburg and did some moonshine tasting at Ole Smoky Moonshine. We tried 13 different varieties and ended up buying a jar of Blackberry Moonshine. We then spent a little time walking along the main road in Gatlinburg, just seeing what there was to see.

We drove back into the Smoky Mountains for a picnic lunch and checked out a few scenic overlooks since it wasn’t as cloudy as the day before.

Tennessee Vacation: Cades Cove

Our first day of sightseeing in the Smoky Mountains was spent doing the Cades Cove loop. The drive to Cades Cove had it’s own beautiful scenery. We stopped and hiked to Laurel Falls. This was a fairly easy, 2.3 mile (round-trip) hike. The incline is fairly consistent, with no real steep ups or downs. The 80 foot waterfall is beautiful. This is a very popular hike, so it is busy and the parking lot is typically full.

After hiking to the falls, it was on to Cades Cove. The Cades Cove road is an 11 mile, one-way loop. At times, the road is quite narrow. There are plenty of places to pull off the road and enjoy the scenery, but it is still possible to get behind somebody going slower than you are. It’s a very popular drive and gets very busy. We were fortunate the day we went and it wasn’t obnoxiously busy.

Besides beautiful mountain scenery, there are several buildings remaining from early settlers of the area. Old houses, barns and churches dot the area. One of our favorites was the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church. It wasn’t anything more special to look at than the other buildings along the way, but when we arrived, there was an actual service going on. We got to join in the singing (a capella) of favorite old hymns and hear a short sermon. What we thought was going to be a quick photo stop turned into a 45 minute treat.

On our way back “home” after leaving Cades Cove, we saw one more waterfall. This one, Meigs Falls, was right off the road and no hiking was necessary to see it. We would have missed this one if there hadn’t been other people stopped at it.