Tuesday, October 19, 2021—Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

After an exciting and full day yesterday, our intent had been to visit Dollywood in Gatlinburg, but they were closed today. Consequently, hiking was moved up a day on the itinerary.

Matt suggested we find an old growth forest area in which to hike, and what a great idea it proved to be. Almost 99 percent of old-growth trees on the East Coast of the United States have been removed. However inside the half million acres of land within the GSMNP, about 100,000 acres of old growth forest can be found scattered about here and there. Most of the time to find these old growth areas, you are going to have to hike for a while to get into the middle of these areas. Matt found an exception, the Chimneys Picnic Area in near Gatlinburg. We hiked almost a mile up the Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, and found ourselves surrounded by a pristine section of old growth forest. Towering hardwoods with their limbs intertwined to shade the floor of the forest and create a canopy was mesmerizing.

A few flowers, mushrooms, and a caterpillar were also seen.

After the great hike among the towering trees, the kids (we’re all kids in heart if not in body) played among and on top of the huge, rounded car-sized boulders in the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. True to its name the Chimneys Picnic Area was filled to capacity with picnickers, but we felt almost alone among the giant boulders and trees.

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