Great Smoky Mountains National Park Things to Do

  • Abrams Falls Trail
    Abrams Falls Trail
    by TravellerMel
  • Abrams Falls Trail
    Abrams Falls Trail
    by TravellerMel
  • Abrams Falls
    Abrams Falls
    by TravellerMel

Most Recent Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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    Bald-A unique natural occurence

    by soundsgoodtome Updated Aug 25, 2003

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    In the Smokies, a bald is not someone who has lost his or her hair. The best way I can describe a bald is that it is a naturally occuring treeless meadow on top of a mountain. In the Smokies, there are several balds spread throughout the park to which one can hike. They are mostly tall grassy meadows with some small shrubs and bushes. If I remember correctly, scientists are not sure why these balds occur, and the Smokies is one of the only, if not the only place they occur at in the world. The Appalachian Mountains are much smaller than the Rockies, and even the tallest peaks are well below the tree line.

    I'm not sure how many balds are in the park, I've only been to one so far, Andrew's Bald. Unfortunately, all the balds are located way out there, far from the roads and campgrounds. Andrew's Bald requires the shortest hike to get to, a little less than 2 miles one way. It's trailhead is at Clingman's Dome. All the other balds require at least 4 or 5 miles of hiking one way to get to, some are much more than this. If you are able and willing to make this long hike, I urge you to do so. You will not be disappointed.

    My friend Jordan and I on Andrew's Bald
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    Hiking is definitely a must!

    by soundsgoodtome Written Aug 25, 2003

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    What better way to experience the great outdoors than to just take a long hike through the park. The Smokies have hundreds, maybe thousands of miles of hiking trails, including the famous Appalachian Trail, which stretches over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. With such an abundance of trails, you have your choice of hiking along or to just about anything you like. If you prefer to be near water, there are dozens of mountain streams and rivers, large and small, many of which that have swimming holes in which you can cool off. You can hike along the peaks of the tallest mountains, or down in the lowest valleys, and everywhere in between. Everyone can enjoy the diverse flora that changes with the altitude, and some may be lucky enough to see rare wildlife, such as foxes and bears. Most animals tend to stay away from humans, unless you happen to sneak up on something, which i wouldn't advise. Take your time and enjoy the outdoors.

    small wooden bridge along hiking trail
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    Laurel Falls - Easy for Young and Old

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 2, 2003

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    Laurel Falls is a little west of the Sugarland Visitor Center, a popular hike through a dense forest to a small canyon a few miles away from the trailhead. The falls themselves are not spectacular, and in fact there are no truly substantial waterfalls in all of Smoky. However, the terminus is a popular location with kids, and fairly easy to reach by the young and old alike.

    Laurel Falls
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    Leave the Car a Moment If You Can

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 2, 2003

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    For much of its length, the park road runs alongside a number of sizeable creeks. When placid, their waters reflect the forests like a true mirror. When turbid, this is white water (or rather brown water) kayak country. In either case the aspect is ideal, and for those with limited time a brief stroll along its banks is a restful consideration.

    roadside creeks off Laurel Falls Road
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    Old Mill and Fresh-Ground Flour

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 2, 2003

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    The largest complex in Cades Cove has a well, the Cades Cove visitor center and gift shop, a mill and a homestead, and figures as the last important stop before you leave the loop. The mill to this day continues to grind grain into flour which you can purchase for a few dollars a bag, but if you think this is not self-promoting enough, every gift shop in the park offers a variety of local jams and molasses.

    Old Mill complex, Cades Cove
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    Dan Lawson's Place

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 2, 2003

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    Mr Lawson's homestead is the second most involved complex in the Cove, with living quarters separated from the barn and the tannery. These rustic settings are particularly charming when coupled with the timber rail fences at the curb, and the backdrop of forested mountains.

    Dan Lawson Place, Cades Cove
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    The Tipton House

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 2, 2003

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    Once halfway through your circuit, provided your wildlife cravings have been satisfied, you'll come upon a small collection of well-preserved pioneer homesteads. Despite the historic value of these primitive residences, the charm and even individuality of each tends to wear away, especially as your circuits multiply, watching for black bears on the meadow rather than Canadas geese, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer.

    Inside the Tipton House, Cades Cove
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    Steeples Per Capita

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 2, 2003

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    Despite a loop length of only eleven miles, the Cove has a relative wealth of primitive churches, strictly Baptist and Methodist houses of worship. As you might expect, the outsides are white, the architecture simple, the steeple rising over the single portal and the congregation entirely passed into history.

    Missionary Baptist Church, Cades Cove
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    Cades Cove - It's Where They Send You

    by mrclay2000 Updated May 2, 2003

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    Cades Cove is a short 11-mile one-way loop that crawls along at a snail's pace. The scene is characterized by a ring of mountains, with large glades and meadows delimited by endless groves of trees. Usually touted as a place where you can see how the pioneers lived, the Cove is also advertised as a wildlife-rich area of the park. Normally this means white-tailed deer, but on occasion a black bear and cubs.

    Cades Cove overview
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    A Home For the Birds

    by Basaic Written Jan 9, 2012

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    I thought this grouping of houses for birds looked neat. It was at the entrance to the Mountain Farm Museum.

    Birds Home Birds Home
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    Wood Working

    by Basaic Written Jan 9, 2012

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    This area was used to work with wood to make furniture, building materials or other items needed on the farm.

    Wood Working
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    Corn Cribs

    by Basaic Written Jan 9, 2012

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    These buildings protected another important crop to early farmers, corn. Corn fed livestock and the farmer and his family. It was consumed fresh or cooked into mush or cornbread.

    Corn Cribs Corn Cribs
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    Crops at Mountain Farm Museum

    by Basaic Written Jan 9, 2012

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    There were a couple of gardens showing typical crops and some harvested items throughout the museum grounds.

    Garden Crops
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    Blacksmith's Shop

    by Basaic Written Jan 9, 2012

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    Some farms had a blacksmith's shop on the property for the farmer to repair his tools, forge his own iron and sometimes to adapt old iron tools and implements for another use.

    Blacksmith's Shop Inside Blacksmith's Shop
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    Barns at Mountain Farm Museum

    by Basaic Written Jan 9, 2012

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    Another interesting set of displays are the different types of barns they used, the uses for the designs and the equipment.

    Barn Barn Equipment Inside Barn Inside Barn
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Things to Do

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