Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Since the Great Smokey Mountain National Park is just about a 5-6 hour RV drive from our home in Alabama, we have visited here many times. We always enjoy our visits. The mountains and hiking trails are beautiful regardless of the season. Today we decided to return to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It gets the “Roaring” in it’s name because of the numerous streams/creeks that come roaring down the mountain in various locations. It is a one-way, one lane, scenic drive that is 6 miles of twists and turns, several trail heads for great hikes, water falls and beauty everywhere you look.
Rainbow Falls was our hiking destination today. It’s about a 5.5 mile, 3-5 hour hike (took us a little over 3 hours). There are lots of rocks and roots in the trail to challenge your balance. A pleasant surprise as we increased in elevation, some of the rhododendrons were still in bloom. If you don’t want to complete the entire hike, there are several smaller falls before arriving at the 85 foot Rainbow Falls. What we have never seen before are the huge crowds of people. People were distanced out on the trail so we didn’t realize how many people were actually in the park. We did use our masks when passing people along the way.
RANT The only bad part of an otherwise great day was the people abusing the park. Smoking hiking up the trail and throwing lit butts on the ground, or going off trail and climbing on water falls, or throwing trash on the ground. We understand from one of the locals we talked to in a little country store that the Park is reporting 3 times the usual number of visitors since reopening this summer. Maybe things will return to normal soon before too much damage is done. Rant over. Anyway it was a wonderful day!