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kyteacher

Lagrange

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Posted: 03/02/18 09:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So my family and I are going to be down in Smoky Mtn NP the first week in April. We have a campsite booked, but are curious what the best trails, views, etc inside the park. My wife and 2 daughters (12,9) are adventurous, but we they don't do super long, strenuous hikes.

Any recommendations on places to go and things to see inside the park?

Halmfamily

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Posted: 03/03/18 04:57am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove our great. Clingmans will test your leg strength and Cades Cove is a good day trip with lots of stops. If you go early enough you can usually spot bears in the pastures


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Posted: 03/03/18 07:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

X2 on Clingman's Dome and Cades Cove - - 2 of the most popular areas of the park (stop at Newfound Gap on the way to Clingman's Dome). Make sure that you stop at the Sugarlands Visitor Center just outside of Gatlinburg to get a map of the area and a schedule of Ranger activities.

Laurel Falls is one of the most impressive in the park and fairly easy to get to. The trail to the falls is paved and about a 2 1/2 mile round trip from the parking area on Little River Rd (TN 73). You can stop there on your way to Cades Cove. Metcalf Bottoms picnic area is also on the way to Cades Cove. From there you can drive back to the Little Greenbrier area. You can visit the Little Greenbrier School (an old one room schoolhouse). Check at Sugarlands to see if the docent/guide will be there to tell you about the schoolhouse. (The 1st week in April may be too early in the season for all of the activities to be happening.)

Make sure that you take the Cherokee Orchard/Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail that takes you through the mountain area just outside Gatlinburg. Several old cabins and other trails (Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls) are accessible from the Motor Nature Trail. The Motor Nature Trails begins in Gatlinburg at the "Space Needle" - - I believe that's traffic light #8 on Rt 441 (main route through Gatlinburg).

Another more "off the beaten path" area of the park to explore if you have time is the Big Greenbrier area off of Rt. 321 heading towards Cosby. The gravel road follows the river and eventually ends at trail heads to more water falls (long hikes to the falls but even a short hike on these trails is worthwhile).


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ken56

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Posted: 03/03/18 07:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Have you looked on the NPS website for information on SMNP? Trails vary from easy and short to strenuous and long. Lots of water falls to go see. You could try calling the Sugarlands visitor center to see what they could help you out with. Clingmans Dome is worth the trip up the trail. Cades Cove is a great place to have a picnic. There are a few buildings and cabins you can go through too. You may even see lots of wildlife, from deer to maybe a bear while there. If you would like to see some elk then go over to the Cherokee side to The Oconaluftee visitor center. They have a small village to go through and the herd usually hangs around there. There is a grist mill just before you get to the visitor center too, go see it.

While in the area you might want to check out Forbiden Caverns. If you do then after you could do a lunch at the Bush Bean Factory Café not far up the road from the cave. Nice little museum attached to it too worth going through.

Dollywood will be open if you want to visit there.

Merrykalia

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Posted: 03/03/18 09:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Also, prepare for winter AND summer weather. April is extremely fickle and you may even see snow, or perhaps, 80 degrees all in the same week. Just be prepared for whichever you may have.


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kyteacher

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Posted: 03/03/18 11:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have looked at the website some and even downloaded the trails map. There are so many, it is a little overwhelming. Personally I like to hear what people have done with their families and have really liked. That probably will tell me what I am wanting to know.

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Posted: 03/03/18 01:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Chimney tops trail is a must do, however I believe the top (and best) section is still closed since the fires. Not sure when it will open up.

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magnusfide

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Posted: 03/03/18 01:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Clingman's Dome may be under repairs. Check their website for more info.

Definitely do Cade's Cove and if you go very early, you'll see wildlife and have less traffic. Our favorite time to go is Sunday morning and arrive around 7:30-8 am. We can take our time to see all the old buildings and the mill. There's even some old time church singing at one of the churches with fiddles and guitars. We always pack a brunch or breakfast to take with us so we can do the Cove in leisure.

Any waterfall up an easy trail is a must for the girls. Shoot a lot of video.

Our grandchildren loved spending a day at Dollywood.

On the NC side you can see the massive dam at Fontana lake and take a tour boat ride around the lake. You can learn a lot of history about that area from the tour boat guide.

There's an enjoyable train ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad in Bryson City, NC.
http://www.gsmr.com/


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Bob806

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Posted: 03/03/18 02:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Good ideas here so far. I'd add Max Patch mountain, a really nice easy hike with spectacular views.We learned about this just talking to some folks at our campground last year. It's worth the 40 minute drive from Gatlinburg area.

https://ashevilletrails.com/appalachian-trail-north-carolina/max-patch/

magnusfide

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Posted: 03/03/18 02:31pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nearly forgot.
The Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, TN just outside GSMNP. Our grandchildren liked this even better than Dollywood.

It's an underground lake in massive cavern rooms with an easy walking tour and a boat ride on what is claimed to be America's largest underground lake. This place also has nature trails and gold panning.
http://thelostsea.com/

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