Smoky Mountains: Hiking (Part 2)
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this blog! If so, here is Part 2:
Distance: 4 miles round trip ( 2 miles one way)
Elevation: 4,753; 1,487 from the parking lot to the top
I am not going to lie to you, this hike is not easy. It’s 2 miles of steep elevation (including lots of stairs). My legs were quivering by the time I reached the car. Although it is a difficult hike, you can stop to take breaks anytime you want. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach the top, only if you do or not. And trust me, you want to see the top!
The first mile of the Chimney Tops Trail is the easier mile and has a few bridges that cross over cascades like the one pictured below. Once the second mile starts, you will notice that the trail becomes a little steeper and stairs start to pop up every now and then. If you don’t want to hike all the way to the top, you can always walk the first mile and just look at the beautiful cascades.
When you get to the top, there is a slanted rock face that you have to scramble up to get to the very top. There are no sides to this rock face, so if you are afraid of heights, this might not be the hike for you! There is still a little view if you don’t climb all the way to the top, but it is not nearly as good. There is a big tree at the base of the rock face whose roots provide little places to sit and rest if you are with a group and don’t want to climb to the top. I will warn you that the rocks will be slippery when they are wet, so be super duper careful, please!!
I am not in any way trying to scare you away from hiking this trail, just trying to make you informed of the situation before you make a decision! In fact, this was my favorite hike that I went on. I absolutely hated the hike up because it was so difficult for me, but if given the choice again, I would choose to climb to the top every time!
When I finally reached the top it actually thuderstormed! So, our group had to wait out the storm before we could climb to the top! (here’s another reason to always have rain gear: you never know when it’s going to rain here!)
Once you reach the very top, you get to see the most amazing views! My family that climbed to the top with me were a little freaked out to be so high ( My mom almost got stuck at the top because she was frightened to climb back down 🙂 ). On the other hand, I felt like I was on top of the world. Being up there made me feel so calm and relaxed which is odd since heights freak me out a little. You’re kind of on top of the world, and it’s amazing! I wanted a book and a snack so I could just hang up there for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, there were a few people who didn’t feel up to the task of climbing up the rock face, so we couldn’t stay at the top forever.
Even though the hike is hard, the views are well worth it. I would do it again and again if I could just so I could hang out at the top! This was my favorite hike and I highly recommend you give it a try. Remember, take breaks (and eat snacks and drink plenty of water) when you need to and be really careful. The view will not disappoint you!
Distance: 2.6 miles round trip ( 1.3 miles one way)
Elevation: 2,677 feet; 314 feet from the parking lot
Laurel Falls is a relatively easy hike that takes you to a small, pretty waterfall. The trail and the waterfall tend to be busy and I had trouble finding a place to park. Because of this, I would suggest that you get it done as early as possible. The trail is paved, but the pavement is uneven and has steep drop offs on your left as you hike up and your right as you hike down. Just be careful, watch where you are going, and stop walking if you want to check out the scenery. My grandma went with us on this hike and she kept getting precariously close to the edge looking at the scenery. About scared everyone to death! If you do take children (or grandma 🙂 ) with you on this hike, please watch them closely, as I’m being serious about the drop off!
It wasn’t my favorite hike, but I recommend that you do it. The waterfall is pretty, the water is cool and refreshing (I do not recommend that you drink it. Only splash it on yourself or stick you feet in it), and you can climb around on the lower half of the falls. The lower half was less crowded because there is a side path that you must take to get down to the lower part. I would recommend taking the side path to the bottom so that you can see the falls in its entirety and avoid some of the congestion. I wouldn’t recommend that you climb around on the actual waterfall part because the rocks are wet and the park has a sign asking you not to.
In all, I really loved the hikes that I took on this trip. Have you been to the Smoky Mountains? I would love to hear about what hikes you took and which were your favorite!
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Have a wonderful week and safe Travels!!! 🙂
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