Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blueridge Pkwy, Gatlingburg, Smoky Mountain trip report

Oct 4- Oct 8 Blueridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountain Nat’l Park, Gatlinburg



Oct 4.  Our first day we drove part way on I-81 and hopped over to the Blueridge Pkwy on I-64 in Virginia. We were hoping to see some pretty leaves and maybe some black bears on the Parkway. So we drove from the beginning of the Blueridge Pkwy to just south of Mabry Mill where we got back over to I-81. The parkway drive was much slower than we expected. We arrived in Gatlinburg later that evening and checked into our room for the next 4 nights at the Zoder’s Inn.

 Mabry Mill




Oct 5. We woke up early and decided on a quick and free breakfast at Zoder’s. The breakfast of bagels, hardboiled eggs and coffee was just enough to keep me and hubby happy for awhile. After breakfast we headed to the Roaring Fork Motor drive. Almost as soon as entering the drive we saw our first black bear, there were a few cars ahead of us and a park ranger who clapped the bear away. We did get to watch the bear for a little while. We headed up the drive to the parking lot for the Grotto Falls trail. It is a fairly easy trail and the waterfalls is a pretty one. I was actually able to go behind the falls, which is kind of fun. Some time during this day we had a late lunch at Corky’s in Pigeon Forge. We both had the ribs and two sides. A very reasonably priced restaurant and the food was good. From there we headed back to the Sugarland Visitor Center and took the short walk to the Cataract Falls. Not much water on the Cateract falls but, it is a pretty walk. Leaving the visitor center we headed around the park to Cades Cove checking out the fall colors along the way. Cades Cove was extremely crowded, we should have saved this trip for earlier on another morning. Wildlife sightings at Cades Cove were some wild turkeys and deer. The horses were pretty too. By this time it was later evening so we headed back to our room. We learned to use the Pigeon Forge bypass to come and go from the park to our hotel. The traffic in Gatlinburg is horrible.


Grotto Falls


Oct 6. Breakfast was at the Log Cabin Pancake House in Gatlinburg. We went to breakfast right when they opened at 7am so glad they have their own parking lot and  there was no wait. The pancakes and coffee were served quickly and were off for some more sightseeing around the park. We headed to Clingman’s Dome, wished the weather could have been better. We had a cloudy morning but at least it was not raining. We were hoping for some great views at the Dome but the clouds got in the way. Next we headed towards Cherokeee and a quick stop at the  Mingus Mill, it is a interesting spot with some pretty fall trees around. Our next stop for the day was another waterfall. It was called Mingo Falls in Cherokee. The 200 steps going up to the waterfall overlook and down were a little much for my sore leg, I tore my hamstring a little more than two weeks before our trip. My Doc said it was ok to still go so I think the walking might have helped like therapy? We had dinner in Cherokee, a late lunch buffet. I can not remember the name of the place. It was good, I had the chicken and their peach cobbler was yummy. After dinner we headed back to the Cherokee visitor center in the park. We walked around the old homestead, I liked seeing the chickens walking around free. Leaving the visitors center heading back to Gatlinburg, we were excited to see a herd of elk. There was a crowd there but everyone and the park rangers were nice. I was happy there were no crazy photographers trying to chase down the animals for a closeup. The elk herd sighting was a great way to end the day and head back to our room for the night.


Clingman's Dome


Oct 7. Another morning to have the free and easy breakfast at our hotel. After breakfast we headed back out to the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Again almost near the same spot we sighted a very young bear and a bear jam. We watched it for a while on one side on the road then crossed over to the other side, it walked on a downed tree and then decided to climb another tree. I was happy to get my bear fix in for the morning. Not far off down the drive we sighted another bear, this time crossing the road right in front of our car. Another great bear sighting on the Roaring Fork. I just love this place, further along the drive we came across a group of wild turkeys standing in a field near an old homestead? After finishing up with this motor tour we head over to the Laurel Falls, we enjoyed this hike to the waterfalls. It is an easy paved trail and a very popular trail. Not sure when but we headed down the Blueridge Pkwy in the afternoon, it was a very foggy day so we decided not to continue and got off an exit. We ended up having dinner in one of the Sagebrush Steakhouses, I believe it was somewhere around Waynesville. After dinner we made our way back to Gatlingburg via the Foothills Parkway. The sky and fog was clearing up and the views were very pretty.

Laurel Falls


Oct. 8.  Time to start the long drive home to Maryland. We checked out of the Zoder’s ( I posted a separate review on Zoder’s Inn) we gassed up the car in Pigeon Forge which is much cheaper $3.39 , for some reason the gas stations in Gatlinburg did not advertise their prices. We stopped for a nice breakfast at Mel’s Diner in Pigeon Forge. We were both happy with omelets and usually enjoy diner food. Here we said goodbye to the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg and Tennessee. It was a great trip and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I am sorry for the long read. I would be happy to answer any questions. EileeninMd

Black bear seen in Shenandoah Nat'l Park on the way home

19 comments:

  1. Such a delightful journey. Haven't been to the Smokeys in many decades so thanks for the memories. The colors are like magic and seeing so many bears very exciting.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Gaelyn! Hubby and I love to visit the national parks. And seeing any kind of wildlife is fun for me, especially the bears.

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  2. Wow Eileen--you were pretty close to that bear! Wonderful photo!

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Pat! Seeing the bears is the best part of the trip for me.

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  3. The Smoky Mts look a beautiful area. That's blogger Betsy's stomping ground. Is it safe hiking with bears around?

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    1. Diane, the trail were so crowded with hikers, the bears would just be spooked by too many people. We saw this bear while we were in the car. He was next to the road. Yes, Betsy has posted often about the Smoky Mountains. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Wow--you all really did see alot during your short stay... I recognized everything you did ---but you have one up on me!!!! We've 'tried' to see elk at the Cherokee Visitor Center SEVERAL times --and have never seen them there. SO---you are a lucky gal!!!!!!

    Sorry about all of the traffic. As I've said many times, we stay away from that area during summer, October and holidays...

    We are headed to Asheville from Nov. 7-9 --and want to go on the Parkway and to Mt. Mitchell and Craggy Gardens before winter (since they close the parkway in winter). We all will head home on the parkway on the 9th --and want to go up Balsam Mtn. We'll go back by the visitor center and look for elk again... Wish us luck!!!! ha

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  5. What a nice trip ! I love the little mill and you even saw a bear ! Unfortunately there are always a lots of tourists in special places, if there were no tourists there would be nothing to see neither :) !

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  6. A lovely adventure, seeing a bear in the wild is so awesome. Would love such nature trails in my country. But I won't like to see too many tourists. :P

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  7. Thanks for telling about your lovely trip! The bear is impressive. It looks as if you were standing in front of him!
    Thanks for your visit and comment!
    I am glad that you are safe and sound after the tornado!

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  8. everyone I know all over ther world is talking about the Hurricane.

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  9. Wow what a wonderful trip - it is so good to read about these lovely places. It sounds like you had a really great time. :)

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  10. What chance to see a bear;-)
    Céline & Philippe

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  11. We saw most of this, except the bear...I remember the traffic was terrible in Pigeon Forge (which after we went to Gatlinburg, we weren't even sure why we wasted time at) AND at Gatlinburg. We loved Gatlinburg area though and the GS NP....

    I think I heard there was some storm damage in the Park this week?

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  12. I love the Great Smokey Mountains! Seeing these photos brought back some great memories or me. Thank you!

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  13. Thank You...I can travel through your eyes...and words!
    BShell

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  14. You have marvellous adventures. Happy to share yours!
    Cheers from Cottage Country!

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Hello, Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate all your visits.

BTW, I will not publish anonymous comments. Sorry!

Have a great day, Eileen