This past weekend Amber and I decided to make our first trip north of Chattanooga and see the Great Smoky Mountains! We decided it would be best to leave at 5 in the morning to get up there as early as possible and try to be on the trail by 8. Unfortunately we didn’t anticipate how slow traffic would be going through Gatlinburg. The fact that we went through Gatlinburg to begin with probably showed we had not been to the area before! We got into the park around 8 am and ended up stopping all along the way to our destination, which was the Andrew’s Bald Trailhead at the Clingman’s Dome parking lot.
It was 9 am by the time we got to the trailhead. The mile and a half hike to Andrew’s Bald, the highest bald in the Smokies, is just under two miles and mostly down hill the whole way there (though not on the way out!). The trail was relatively quiet as we only ran into a hand full of people on the way there and at the bald, which is excellent for the Smokies at this time of year.
It took just over an hour to get out to the bald. The leaves had fully changed on just about every level of the mountains. The tops of the mountains were actually a little sparse, with the best color being seen in the middle to lower levels of the park. It was a beautiful sight and an incredible place to sit and relax. We probable spent about 45 min. and ate lunch before we decided to hike back out.
Once we got back to the parking lot it was like we were in a different world! When we arrived there were about 25 cars in the parking lot to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the Smokies and one of the biggest tourist spots. Once we hiked back out there were hundreds of people everywhere and cars waiting a half mile back just to get a parking spot! We couldn’t believe how busy it was and couldn’t have been more happy about coming as early as we did (admittedly in complete ignorance of how crowded the area would be later in the day). But it was a great trip and we can’t wait to go hiking again some time soon!
Here is a link to more photos of our Smokies Hiking Trip!