The directions in the "Hiking in the Smokies" book are pretty good. From Townsend turn on Old Tuckaleechee Road then bear right JUST BEFORE the Methodist Church onto Old Cades Cove Road. Make sure to bear right again JUST BEFORE Davy Crockett Stables and when you get to the confusing looking intersection continue straight which will take you on to a narrow section that is a series of switchbacks up the mountain.
Go slow, especially at the curves, the switchback curves are completely blind and there is not room for two cars. That being said both times I have used this road I was the only on it. However, most people will be coming down as this is how you would exit from the one way Rich Mountain Road trip from Cades Cove.
At the trailhead the road becomes one way so do not go up the mountain any further! The trail itself is "mostly level" with most of the very gradual ascent happening at the beginning. Also at the beginning were some cool rocks which I haven't seen a lot of on the trails this trip so I set up to take a picture. I call this one "Oh No the Monopod is Falling Over!"
|That's my panicked face as the camera heads for the ground|
Now, isn't this much nicer? Poor Rue, she was alternately stuffed in pockets and clutched in my hand on this journey.
I wanted to use this trail as an opportunity to examine some of the leaves and identify the trees and I got some good shots as I scoured the ground looking for specimens.
|Swamp White Oak?|
I've got a bunch in the next photo.
Top row: NOTACLUE and Red Maple??
Middle Row: Sourwood and Hickory maybe?
Bottom: Norway Maple and Red Oak?
Here's another I think might be Mountain Laurel? Like some Rhododendrens I've seen here it's confused by the mild fall they've been having and has some new buds sprouting.
Rue liked the trees too.
I went in about 2.5 miles, sometimes a little up and sometimes a little down at a rather quick pace just enjoying following the path carved along the side of the mountain.
Back at my cabin I dried my tent out. A word about my stay at Tremont Outdoor Resort. Nice place. High prices. Since it was $40 to tent camp (gulp) I paid $75 and got a basic camping cabin. RV sites run $40-70 depending upon amenities and season. Reported heat was barely warmer than cold air so luckily I had brought my own heater. Bathroom building is clean and water is hot though. My parents showed up a day later and paid for a lovely room down the road at the Best Western for $90 that included a bathroom and hot breakfast. Having allergies sucks. Hotel rooms usually don't work for me due to dust mites (carpet and beds), chemical laden cleaning products and windows that don't open to air out said products.
On the bright side the house Cory and I rented last February is available and today we're all moving to Gatlinburg to do the last 2 days in style!