Return to the Smokies Day Two was supposed to be the first full day of sunshine but we are talking about Mother Nature and add the Great Smoky Mountains in and it does not always happen that way. It didn’t rain though and clouds can make for some dramatic photos.
It was my turn to drive. Our first stop was Laurel Falls. We parked in the parking lot, grabbed our gear and started the 2.6 mile round trip hike up the mountain. The good news is it is almost totally up hill to the falls so its downhill back to the parking lot. The path is paved but not always in the greatest shape in a few spots. The trail comes to a bridge that cuts the waterfall in half. We set up our tripods on the rocks and took photos keeping in mind that edge was not very far. Both Tim and I took photos for tourists and had one of them return the favor and take one photo of us. The first photo that we are both in facing the camera. Neither of us like getting our photos taken.
After we finished taking photos, we decided to hike down the rocky trail to the bottom of the falls. It was slippery and not easy to navigate but we made it down but not before scraping my calf which I would repeat climbing back up. We took many photos of the lower falls. Laurel Falls is popular so there will be quite a bit of editing to do on these photographs since many hikers decided to wear bright neon colors and stand in the way when I’m taking the photo. The nerve of some people.
We planned to head to Roaring Fork Nature Trail for our next destination but instead of heading toward Gatlinburg where the entrance is, we turned onto Newfound Gap. We could have done the hike to Alum Cave Bluffs but the parking lot was overflowing and neither of us are a big fan of crowds. Chimney Tops was closed so we decided to go to Clingman’s Dome. We were both a little sore and tired from the hike to Laurel Falls but how hard can a half a mile hike be. Famous last words.
We passed a few scenic overlooks that we planned on stopping at on the way back down the mountain. After I parked my car, we took some photos from the edge of the parking lot and then headed to make the hike to the observation tower. The hike is relatively short but because of the steep incline, the NPS rates the hike as strenuous and believe me it is but the view from the top is well worth the hike.
The driving trip down the mountain was fun for me as the road has a lot of twists and turns but I don’t think Tim felt the same way. It probably wasn’t a lot of fun for a passenger.
Our last trek for the day was down Greenbrier Road which runs along the Little Pigeon River. Another great area to capture photos. Ramsey Cascades Falls is off this road unfortunately it was closed due to a bridge being out.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Burger Barn for dinner. All in all this was an amazing and tiring day.