Monday, July 4, 2016

Donuts, Quiet Walkways and Waterfalls

I love getting out in the morning before all the tourists wake up and hit the streets and trails!

One of our favorite early morning places is the Donut Friar located in the Village. We enjoy our donuts at one of the several small tables located right outside the door. The Village has several interesting shops and small eateries. The Donut Friar is the oldest business in the village and still in it's original location. The owner once told me that there was nothing but dirt from where the street is now back to his store. The donuts are absolutely delicious! You may want to pick up a loaf of the pull apart cinnamon bread to go. Expresso and coffee drinks are also on the menu. Take cash, they don't take credit cards.

The Village is also one of the spots in Gatlinburg where you can find public restrooms. There's a road up the hill to the right of the restrooms. Located at the top of the hill is one of the first cemeteries in town when Gatlinburg was called White Oak Flats. Another cemetery full of history!

After a donut and cup of coffee it's time to take a walk. There are several "Quiet Walkways" in the park. These spots are marked by small signs and offer some beautiful short hikes. One of our favorite ones is on Newfound Gap Rd. to Cherokee. It's the second Quiet Walkway past park headquarters on the left. The trail is wide and easy to walk. At the end of the trail you will be greeted by a beautiful river full of boulders and rushing water. We love to pull up a rock and just relax. Bring insect repellent the bugs can be a bother.

The parking lot.

George pulled up a rock and sat a spell!

Leave only footprints and only take pictures when you visit the park!  This is my trademark at sites I visit.

You'll pass a path off the trail to your right as you head down toward the river. There's an old cemetery back this path. Only two markers can be read and they're both from the 1800's. I love old cemeteries. They hold so much history of the people who once lived in the mountains before the National Park.

As you head  back out of the park towards Gatlinburg,  just after the headquarter's parking lot, you'll pass a road to your left that is marked "Park Headquarters". After you turn here you'll drive a short distance and see another road to your left marked Cataract Falls. Park here just before the bridge and take a short hike back to Cataract Falls. The trail is super easy to walk, a very pretty hike with several spots where you can play in the river. At the end of your short hike take a few minutes to sit, relax and enjoy the falls on the bench that's perfectly placed to do just that.

The trail is super easy.

Great place to sit, listen and enjoy nature!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Greenbrier, the quiet side of the Smokies!

The Great Smokey Mountains are full of beautiful places to visit . Most are crowded with tourists since the park has a few million visitors a year. One of the less visited areas in the park is Greenbrier. A thriving little town at one time, it is now great for hiking, playing  in streams and rivers and viewing spectacular wild flower displays in the Spring. The area is full of history. There are remains of several buildings and old cemeteries to explore. Ramsey Cascades waterfall is another destination in the Greenbrier area. This is a strenuous hike but worth the trip. I recommend picking up a brochure about Greenbrier before heading out if you're a history buff so that you don't miss any of the interesting sites it has to offer.
A BBQ restaurant just across the road from the entrance serves delicious food, Hungry Bear BBQ. They offer a variety of smoked meats with delicious side choices. Great place to pick up a picnic to enjoy at one of the picnic areas in Greenbrier.  .
Take you chairs and towels. There's plenty of spots to swim or just sit and put your toes in the water. An inner tube is also something to consider.  Nothing like floating down a river on a hot Summer's day.

It's a short drive from downtown Gatlinburg on E321 at Pittman Center. Turn right off E321, the entrance is across from Hungry Bear BBQ.  The blacktop road eventually becomes gravel but it's in good shape.