Oct 4- Oct 8 Blueridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountain Nat’l Park, Gatlinburg
A link to my photos: …smugmug.com/Vacation/…25830055_h2Gbd9
And I have been blogging about our trip also at: http://viewingnaturewitheileen.blogspot.com/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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