Category Archives: Hiking

NOC Great Outpost opening in Gatlinburg April 1st.

We noticed this when we were in town earlier this month.  The old “Open Hearth” restaurant building has been fully renovated, and will be opening April 1st as the NOC Outpost.  I’ve rafted down the Nantahala river before, and that’s a blast.  Well, you’ll be able to sign up for rafting trips at this new business, but it will be so much more. 

It looks like the perfect match for the last business before you head into the park.  You’ll also be able to buy hiking/camping supplies.  I can tell you we’ll be stopping by there, and it we like it, it could become a regular stop for us on future visits.  I’m glad to see something other than restaurants in the building.  We ate there a few years ago, and while it was nice, it wasn’t anything special.  There are too many special places to eat in the area to spend time in places that are not. 

Check it out for your next trip!

Here’s an older article from back in October on the plans…


***This post brought to you by Stay at The Smoky Mountain Tower for your trip to the Smokies this Spring/Summer.  You’ll be glad you did. That’s where we stay.***

Scheduled a new show on the Smoky Mountains for Tuesday at 1PM… Author J. Greg Johnson will talk with me about his book on the Smoky Mountains

On Tuesday, I’ll be talking with J. Greg Johnson on the latest episode of the Internet Talk Show.  He is the author of the book, “Sanctuary: Meditations from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”  He spent a lot of time hiking around the mountains prior to writing the book.  This book can probably best be described as a journey through the way the Smoky Mountains can and does impact each of us on a personal level. 

You can listen to the show live at 1PM on Tuesday, Jan. 12th.  Or listen later at the same link to the podcast archive.  Just click on the link below for both.  I think you’ll enjoy the show!


***This show is brought to you by the place we stay when we’re in the Smokies,  They have brand new rates for 2010.  My wife is in love with this home.  Check out what the house has to offer, and the views from Dave’s home, and you’ll want to make it your regular place to stay in the Smokies as well.  It is located between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge at the very top of the mountain with a view of Ober Gatlinburg.  Check it out!***

Our drive down the Foothills Parkway

Foothills Parkway view

When we go to the Smoky Mountains, we like to explore areas we’ve never been.  That’s how we found Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (if you’re laughing out loud wondering why someone would not know RFMNT exists, we also met a couple, THIS TRIP who visit Gatlinburg all the time… they were on their 10th anniversary trip, and they said they just discovered it as well.)

Foothills Parkway

We discovered a couple of things new during this trip.  One, as you can see above, is the Foothills Parkway.  Note the leaves on the ground (proof it’s fall:) While we’ve been on a little bit of the parkway in the past, I don’t think we’ve ever been on the parkway from Townsend to Look Rock.   I THOUGHT the fire tower at look rock was the brick tower that the Friends of the Smokies restored (Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower.)  However, even though I was wrong about that, on Saturday, our trip to Look Rock was worth it none-the-less. 

Look Rock Tower

The drive was a nice drive, and not too long.  When you have young kids in the car, they don’t want to be in the car for long stretches of time.  I think it was about 20 miles from Townsend, and almost always on beautiful roads.  It was quite foggy, so there wasn’t much of a view when we went up the tower… see below…

 Our view from Look Rock Tower

There were many, many beautiful photos just waiting to be taken…

Beautiful mushroom along the trail

I told my kids, sometimes being in the mountains makes me think God is bragging.  Gorgeous Vine in full fall color

My 10 year old rolled her eyes, but I think it might be true…

View from Look Rock Parking area

The photo above is from the Look Rock parking area.  There is a brick area to stand at and admire the beauty.  This is one view of that beauty.

More fall color in the Smokies

There were so many trees with beautiful leaves changing color…

Tree in the Smokies

The cloudy, foggy feel in the forest while we were walking through seemed like something out of a movie…

Cloudy day in the woods

Anyhow.. I hope you enjoyed this trip through the woods and to the Look Rock Tower.  This was only about an hour of our long weekend, and I’m only posting about 1/4 of the photos we took (we take too many photos.)

Canopy of trees

 I have a number of photos from just about everything we did this past weekend.  I’ll post them as a series of posts.  I know I love to see new pictures from the Smokies, so I assume you do as well.  There’s more to come.


***Some of our favorite pictures/times in the Smokies are spent at .  I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay there as much as we do.  Dave and his wife own the home, and they rent it out to their guests who love the Smokies.  You’ll see why we’ve stayed there several times when you stay at “the tower” :)***

Trip Report… Clingman’s Dome, Smith Family Theater and Dollywood

We arrived a little after midnight Wednesday night.  We settled into our home for the weekend and hit the sack. 

On Thursday morning, we decided to do something we RARELY get a chance to do… not set an alarm clock.  My wife woke up earlier in the morning, but I didn’t get up until around 11 or so.  It was awesome.  Then we went downtown for lunch.  (TIP: We almost always park behind Ripley’s Aquarium.  It’s $1.75 the first half hour, and $1 each additional hour, maximum $6. It’s also right in the middle of town) We ate TGIFriday’s for lunch, then walked back up to the Sky Lift.  Enjoyed both. Afterwards, the girls wanted to touch the huge 10,000 pound marble in front of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.  They had a great time there as usual.  If you have a young child, they will love playing with that for a few minutes (plus, it’s free.) After that, we walked back toward the car, stopping at Mahalia’s Candy shop so my wife could get some sugar-free fudge which she loves.  I told her not to buy too much, since we’re planning on stopping at the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory on the way home.  We stopped there last trip, and it was a great little place, so we’re going to make that a regular feature of our trips home.  I like to find little stops on the way home, because it makes the trip home go by quicker.  When we got back to the car, we headed for Clingman’s Dome.  It was probably 3-3:30PM by this time.  On the way up the mountain, we noticed the front right tire was making a funny noise as it turned (we bought this used car on Monday… a Kia Sedona Minivan, but it is in good shape, and we were excited about taking it on vacation.)  Anyhow, we made it to Clingman’s Dome without the tire tearing up.  We hiked Clingman’s Dome and enjoyed that trip completely.  I always enjoy Clingman’s Dome.  OH… I wanted to mention this one… The last couple times we’ve hiked Clingman’s Dome, I’ve been wanting to see if I could hike the whole way up without stopping to rest.  I took small steps at a time, but this trip, I didn’t have to stop ONCE!  That was a little victory for me:)  Anyhow, when we got back to the van, my wife and I were riding with the windows down listening for the tapping noise the tire was making, and we could still hear it.  On the way back down the mountain, I decided to stop the car and just look at the tire again.  I looked at the tire and touched it with my hand.  When I touched plastic hub cover it made that tapping sound.  I went around to the other tires and none of them tapped.  The plastic cover was a little bit loose!  I took off the cover and we got back in the car, NO MORE NOISE, LOL.  We were so happy.  I had considered going somewhere in the mountains to get my van fixed, when it was all just the plastic hub  cover.  The van is fine now.  By now, it was getting close to 6, and we had tickets to the Smith Family Theater in Pigeon Forge…. I’ll post all about that soon…. stay tuned:)



***When you head for the Smokies, make sure you head to when it’s time to relax and hit the sack.  It’s the perfect way to make your vacation all that it can be!***

Smoky Mountains “Trails Forever” program reaches $1 Million bucks…

The Friends of the Smokies has a program designed to help maintain trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park forever.  They are trying to raise a little more than $4 million dollars.  The interest on that fund could keep up the trails into the future.  Personally, I don’t know why we don’t fund schools this way, but I digress…


****When we get back from the hiking those trails, we love to spend time relaxing at The hot tub is a great way to relax the legs after a day of hiking****

VIDEO: Hike to the newly rebuild Icewater Spring Backcountry Shelter

This is a great video that takes you to the Icewater Spring Backcountry Shelter.  It also has some info you might need on backcountry hiking. Thanks to @FIRExNECK for sending me the link.

Please visit my sponsor, Stay in the Mountain Tower on your next visit to the Smokies. It is located right between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Trails forever program update… helping trails in the Smoky Mountains

I thought I’d put a link here to Jeff’s post over at hikinginthesmokys.  He has one of the best Smoky Mountain blogs out there.  This is an update on a trails program, and how it is helping keep the trails in the Smokies in good shape.  Enjoy!