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Going Bald….(we aren’t talking hair here)

Early in the month of June 2014 my husband and I spent some time at our Gatlinburg cabn, Treetop Treasure.  Normally when we are in town we are cleaning, fixing, restocking, and well just plain ole working.  This trip however we determined we were going to do some touristy things and enjoy what the area has to offer.

I had seen photos of a couple of the balds in the area but had never hiked to them. Bald, meaning in this case a lack of natural or usual covering.  The history of the balds is interesting and possibly even a bit mysterious or controversial. Some say the cause was of a natural origin such as insect infestations, others say the areas were cleared by Cherokee indians or early white settlers.  Whatever their origins they are spectacular spots.  Click here for more history of the balds.

I was anxious to see first hand these beautiful and mysterious places so one fine June morning we set out for Andrew’s Bald. To get to the bald you take the Forney Ridge Trail.  The trailhead is located in the Clingmans Dome parking area, just to the left of the trail that takes you to the Clingmans observation platform.  It is 1.8 mile hike into the bald so roughly 3.6 roundtrip. The hike is a very popular one so be sure to get an early start to beat the crowds if you are hiking it during peak tourist season.

The trail is considered moderate in terms of difficulty. It was recently improved under the Trails Forever program.  The maintenance crews placed large flat rocks, fashioned stairways from wood and other stones, as well as raised boardwalks and installed some drainage features.  The trail is still pretty rugged with tree roots, rocks etc so you will want to wear some good hiking boot/shoes.  The air temperature at these higher elevations can vary greatly from low land temps.  You may find a 20 degree difference (cooler) so dress appropriately.

The trail descends quickly into a spruce-fir forest, a lovely walk where the sunlight filters in through the canopy above.  Plenty of vegetation around creating a carpet of lush green.  We saw several different flowers in bloom along the trail as well.  As you near the end and the light becomes brighter, just a few more steps and you break out into a grassy meadow like area.  This bald is cluttered with blueberry bushes as well as berry vines.  When we first arrived the mountains were obscured by clouds.  We decided to sit awhile and eat the lunch we had packed, rest and take in the grandeur of the bald.  As we sat and refreshed ourselves the clouds begin to lift and the mountains began to appear.

June 2014 182

So on this glorious June day this is the sight that filled our eyes and the wonder of it all still fills our hearts.

Come to the Smoky Mountains and “go bald”.  You won’t be sorry you did.

 
 

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FORE!

The Smokies is full of picturesque settings and the golf courses in the area are no exception.  The rolling hills and mountainous terrain make for some interesting, one-of-a-kind designed holes.  if you are an avid golfer we know that golfing isn’t just a sport for you but a way of life!  So get out there, enjoy the mountain air as you play a round or two on one of more of the courses in the area.

Here is a list of the courses in the area where you will find emerald green fairways, beautiful Smoky Mountain wooded landscapes and well manicured greens. The courses I have chosen to list are those inside or within close proximity to both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Gatlinburg Golf Course (Municipal)
520 Dollywood Lane
Pigeon Forge, TN
(800)231-4128
www.golf.gatlinburg.com

Bent Creek Golf Course (Public)
3919 East Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN
(800)251-9336
www.bentcreekgolf.com

Sevierville County Golf Club (Municipal)
1444 Old Knoxville Hwy
Sevierville, TN
(865)429-4223
(888)710-1388
www.seviervillegolfclub.com

Creekside Plantation Golf Course (9 hole) (Public)
326 N Shiloh Rd
Seymour, TN 37865-5215
(865) 577-4653

http://creeksideplantationgolf.com/

River Island Golf Club (Public)
9610 Kodak Rd SE
Kodak, TN 37764-1048
(865) 933-0100
www.riverislandsgolf.com

Bays Mountain Golf Course (Public)
685 Chris Haven Dr
Seymour, TN 37865-3213
(865) 577-8172

www.golfnow.com/courses/1036597-bays-mountain-golf-course-details

Laurel Valley Golf Course (Public)
702 Country Club Dr
Townsend, TN 37882
(865) 448-6690
www.laurelvalleytngolf.com

Dandridge Golf and Country Club (Public)
1247 Stonewall Jackson Dr
Dandridge, TN 37725-4315
(800) 997-2655
www.dandridgegolf.com

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge

 

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Water, Water Everywhere!

What do you think of when you hear Smoky Mountain National Park, well for one thing you probably think of mountain scenery, hiking, and wildlife viewing and those are all great things to not only think about but do.  Another great resource in and around the area is water and all it offers.

Many of the most popular hikes in the park include a waterfall along the way.  Many of the roads in the park follow the river and there are some beautiful picnic spots along the rivers edge. Another great spot to view the strong rushing water is The Sinks a spot on the Little Pigeon River approximately 12 miles from  Sugarlands Visitor Center.  The views here are of cascades and the currents are very strong. There is a pull off here with a few parking spaces but if the area is full you can still get a good view by driving slowly as you cross over the bridge.

For those looking for swimming holes there are several of those in the park too. Here’s a list:

  • Little River – Townsend, TN. …
  • Deep Creek – Bryson City, NC. …
  • Green Brier – Gatlinburg, TN. …
  • Cherokee Rapids – Cherokee, NC. …
  • Little Pigeon River Banks – Sevierville, TN. …
  • Midnight Hole – NC/TN. …
  • Abrams Falls – Cades Cove, TN. …
  • Metcalf Bottoms – Gatlinburg, TN.

Another great form of recreation on the river is fishing and can be done year round in the park.  Licenses are required and some streams may be off limits so be sure to check with the park system for all rules/regulations regarding fishing in the park.

Not an angler, no worries how about floating away the day on a tube.  Several companies in the area for tube rentals.  Another way to float/ride the river white water rafting of course, check out the different package deals and different trips some include the fast rapids others a more leisurely float down the river.

lake

If you want to spend the day on a lovely lake it is only a short drive from Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge to Dandridge TN and beautiful Douglas Lake.  There you can rent boats of all types, jet skis, sea doos, and waverunners too.  Take a look at our other article Boat Loads of Fun for more area rental companies.

Looking for a great water park, try Dollywood’s Splash Country with 35 acres of waterslides, attractions, pools and play areas.

Another way to cool off, take a wet roll down the hill at The Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge.

So rather you desire to get in the water, on the water or just have a great view of the water you will find it all right here in the Smoky Mountains!

Water anyone?

 

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Gobble Up The Sights of Spring

It’s courtship time for the Toms from March to May. So with the coming of spring comes the strutting and gobbling of male turkeys.  It is said the gobbles of Toms can be heard up to a mile away. Often the Toms will display right in the roadway and have no interest in anything but strutting their stuff for the ladies.  Please use caution when driving the roads, be on the lookout for all wildlife and prepare to give them the right away.  Be especially careful on blind curves and be aware other visitors may be stopped for wildlife who will often be found either in the roadway or very close to the edges.

turkey

 
 

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Flower Power

Spring is coming and with the brutally cold temperatures of this winter I know many of us are more than ready for it to be here.

When I think of spring I think flowers, flowers, flowers and The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is full of them.  The park is sometimes referred to as the Wildflower National Park since it is home to over 1,500 kinds of flowering plants.  The earliest to show beginning in February are in a group called ephemeral.  This group of flowers begin to show before the deciduous trees leaf out and include trillium (shown below), violets and lady slipper orchids to name a few.

trillium

Flowering trees soon follow with the flowers of red maples, Fraser magnolias, redbuds and flowering dogwoods.  We can’t forget the lovely blossoms of the flowering shrubs here in the Smoky’s, the brilliant yellow of spicebush and the pink and white of the azaleas and rhododendrons.

Each spring the area hosts a wildflower pilgrimage.  In 2014 the dates for the pilgrimage are April 15-19 and registration is required.  The pilgrimage includes professionally guided walks, seminars and indoor presentations.  If you love flowers or just want to know more about the fauna, ecology and natural history of the area check out the 64th annual wildflower pilgrimage.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Great Smoky Mt National Park

 

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Winter Living in the 1800’s

We sure have it made compared to the mountain folk of the mid-19th century.  I can’t imagine living in the small cabins they called home, especially in chilly winter temps with the wind whistling through all the cracks and down the chimney!  The typical cabin was 18 X 20 (360 sq ft), frequently with a sleeping loft.  The cabins may have been small but the families normally large.  Usually the log home would house multiple generations including grandparents and 5 -12 kids!

Life was simple yet hard.  They lived off the land and in winter while fresh produce was sparce if crops had been good and livstock prolific they had plenty to eat.  They would dry, salt, pickle, and sulphur things to make sure the family would eat well.  Some items their diets may have included are:  chicken, corn bread, pickled vegetables, dry green beans, squirrel, sorghum molasses, potatoes and salt pork, sulphured apples.

Winter was the time when most children attended school since they were not needed to work the farm.  The school year lasted only 2-4 months of the year and cost about $1 per student per month for the family to have their children educated.  Typically a child only went to school for a 3-5 year period enough to learn basic reading, writing and math skills.  Two country schools are preserved in the national park. Little Greenbrier School is accessible in winter by the 0.7 mile Metcalf Bottoms Trail which begins at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. Beech Grove School is beside the road in Cataloochee Valley.

To pass the time indoors during the wintery weather the mountain folk would play music and sing songs.  Ballads were written about life events, tragedies, and local places.

The woman sewed quilts made from leftover scraps of cloth, worn out clothing and scraps of sack cloth.

I like to imagine what it would have been like for those hardy people to farm the land enjoy the fruit of it and the beauty too but I will admit I like to do so in the comfort of my climate controlled home in my very comfortable easy chair with a stocked refrigerator not far away!

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Area History

 

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It’s a Slippery Slope and Snow Much Fun!

Hey there all you winter wonderland fans, ’tis the season to grab your toboggan and head for the hills!  Ober Gatlnburg Ski Resort and Amusement Park have opened the slopes/runs.  Be sure to click on the link and take a look at current conditions including a live webcam.  Also on the link you can find pricing for gear rental, lessons and lift tickets. Skiing, snowboarding and tubing all offered here.

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Not the downhill, outdoor type well head indoors, lace up some ice skates and take a few turns on the rink inside, this activity is offered year round.  Plenty of other things to experience here too, the alpine slide, the aerial tramway, the wildlife encounter, shops and eateries so as you can see something for everyone and in every season.  Head on up to Ober Gatlinburg and have some fun!

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Attractions, Gatlinburg

 

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The Wedding Capital of the South

weddingmarineAnother way the Smokies are endeared to many, they come here where the scenery shouts life, peace, and joy to promise a lifetime of love to one another.  The area has everything a couple planning a wedding could want or need, including beautiful wedding chapels, local florists, bakers, salons, spas, catering services, photography, entertainment and more.

Looking for something a little more intimate?  Local ministers will come to your cabin, condo or chalet and perform your perfect Smoky Mountain wedding.  Another great perk, you are already at your honeymoon destination! 

Need a one stop shop, help in planning or just general information, then check out (by clicking their name) the Smoky Mountain Wedding Association page for wedding planning made easy!  You’ll want to get their free planning guide and read their blog articles for great ideas, hints, tips and more.

Here are a couple other helpful links.

Package Deals:  New Beginnings Wedding Photography

For a list of wedding providers/wedding services in Sevier County click here.

With the helpful resources of the links above the planning of your wedding just got easier, and your life more stress free!  After all isn’t that what coming to the Smokies is all about?  Why yes it is!  Is all about love, fun, relaxation and memories.  No better place than the Smokies to fall in love, pledge your love and enjoy your love.  Now get busy planning those honeymoon activities!

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge

 

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The Lost Cove of Cataloochee

Tucked in the remote southeastern corner of the Smokies is is a place of rare and special beauty, what some call the lost cove of Cataloochee.cataloochee

I think of it as the almost forgotten side of the Smokies.  Forgotten may not be entirely true but for sure it is less traveled and less well known than many other areas of the Great Smoky Mt National Park (which means less crowded too!)  It is a bit harder to get to but well worth the effort.  Located approximately 65 miles from Gatlinburg and 39 miles from Pigeon Forge, the easiest and most scenic route is I-40 to Exit 20 (US 276). then look for Cove Creek Rd about .2 of a mile on the right.  The road is paved for 4 miles, gravel for 3 then back to pavement.  The gravel section is narrow with some sharp curves and  can be rough at times.

While Cataloochee seems to be a lost or forgotten area now, not long ago that wasn’t so. It was once the largest settlement in the Smokies with more than 1200 people.  It was an early thoroughfare for travelers through the mountains, used by animals, Indians and European settlers long before automobiles and interstate highways.

People like Mark Hannah, one of the first rangers in the park were instrumental in the preservation of the history and heritage of the people of the Great Smokies. Mr Hannah himself was a descendant of early settlers who came to the valley to farm.  He collected first hand accounts of the mountain people, which are preserved in the park’s archives.  Visit the Palmer House (which housed one of the post offices in the area), the areas visitor center and hear some of the recorded stories of those early settlers.

Besides Palmer House there are other historic buildings you will want to visit like Palmer Chapel,              Beech Grove School, the Woody House, and the Caldwell House.  To see a video of the area see an interview with Hattie Caldwell whose great grandfather was first into the area in 1834 click on this youtube link.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lbGd8JYl84

Another unique feature of this area are the elk, spectacular creatures that roam free here after being reintroduced to the park in 2001/2002.  Other wildlife commonly seen in the area are black bears, wild turkey, deer and red wolves.  Best viewing times are early morning and early evening.  Be sure to view all wildlife from a distance with binoculars or zoom lenses.

Out of 200 buildings near the turn of the 20th century only a handful remain to give us a glimpse of life as the settlers knew it.  Forest has reclaimed much of the farmland and orchards, the deer and elk graze next to the ruins of a stone chimney in the lost cove of Cataloochee and all is well.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Great Smoky Mt National Park

 

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Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg

artsandcrafts

Arts and crafts have long held a deep association with the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Nowhere else in the South will you find a richer heritage of fine craftsmanship than in Gatlinburg. TheGreat Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, established in 1937, is the largest group of independent artisans in North America. Located on an eight-mile loop at the northeast corner of Gatlinburg, the Community proudly preserves the craft heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains year-round. This area offers the best in a wide range of craft shops, including pottery, woodcarving, candle making, quilting, weaving, broom making, and painting, among many other fine art forms. 
Gatlinburg is also home to the world-renowned Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Founded in 1945, Arrowmont offers summer and spring workshops and an array of special conferences for all levels of students in craft-art media. The art galleries at Arrowmont are open for tours of select collections throughout the year.

The Great Smoky Mountains share center stage with the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair during the month of October. From October 10 through 27, 2013, the award-winning Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair opens the doors of the Gatlinburg Convention Center to the public with the 38th Annual Fall Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, one of the many amazing fall festivals in Tennessee. Numerous artisans and craftspeople are on-hand each day to demonstrate their skills, answer questions, and offer their unique art for sale. Third-generation artisans and storekeepers strive to match the beauty of the autumn mountains by carrying the same colors into often elaborate storefront decorations, thus turning their little mountain town into a promenade of Southern Appalachian sights.

Taken from http://www.gatlinburg.com

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Attractions, Events, Gatlinburg

 

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