After spending all our weekends at home for a couple months, we recently drove out to North Carolina for a wedding. It was a several hour drive, but the gorgeous scenery was well worth it. On our way home, we stopped for two beautiful hikes. The first was in Western North Carolina, about 45 minutes northeast of Asheville. I spent quite a bit of time researching online to find the hikes with the best views, and you know what I discovered? There are tons in that area!We ended up choosing Mt. Mitchell State Park because reviews said the terrain is more similar to Western Canada. (Most of you know that we took a trip to the Canadian Rockies this summer and loved it.)
Of course there are no snowy peaks in North Carolina at this time of year, but it was still about 20 degrees cooler at the summit than it was along the interstate. The one downside is that the 20-plus-mile road leading to the park is narrow and winding.
We drove as far as the road would take us, parked, and then walked five minutes up to the Mt. Mitchell Summit. The view was glorious!
At 6,684 feet elevation, Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Apparently the guy after whom the mountain is named lost his life proving that statistic.
We wanted some decent exercise, so we hiked two miles down the mountain on the Commissary Trail (very rocky but not too strenuous). On the way back up, we took the 2-mile Old Mitchell Trail (even rockier and much more strenuous).
The sun was setting quickly, so we had to jog part of it, but of course we still had to stop and take a few photos.
We spent the night at a cheap hotel in Asheville, walked around the shops of Historical Biltmore Village and then drove a couple hours to Gatlinburg to hike the 2.6-mile out-and-back Laurel Falls Trail.
It took about 30 minutes to reach the waterfall and 20 minutes to return. The trail is a decently steep incline, but due to erosion, it is paved (although still very bumpy). The waterfall was beautiful, as were the views along the way.
In downtown Gatlinburg, we stopped for BBQ at Calhoun’s, a Knoxville-based restaurant with nine locations. The ribs were some of the best we had ever tasted. And let me tell you, when your husband is as much of a ribs connoisseur as mine is, that’s saying a lot.
While driving through the area, we saw some of the damage from the November 2016 Gatlinburg fire, but the town has done a fantastic job of restoring and rebuilding.
It looks like you and Mr Handsome may have asked an attractive young lady to take that first picture of you two (ha, just joking)! Seriously, I'd say this is an inspiring article. I have a dog and get tired of walking the same routes. However I fear encounters with other dogs that may be out there. That does happen from time to time. I've run from a few locations to avoid a problem. So I',m wondering do you encounter many people with their dogs on these trails? Are they usually on leashes? And I know most dogs are a friendly joy but do you ever see scary ones out there? Thanks for your great posts and if you asnswer.
That picture was taken by my sister-in-law, lol. Some of the trails where we hike do not allow dogs. The trails that do allow them usually have signs requiring them to be on leashes. The dogs that we have encountered have been friendly, so far, and their owners usually make a point of keeping them away from people. What type of dog do you have?
The pictures look beautiful! Thanksgiving for sharing with us.
Did someone go with you to take the pictures?
Sorry suppose it have said Thanks. Not Thanksgiving
A few of my in-laws were with us for the first part of the trip, but the second part was just us.
Very beautiful area. It is interesting to me to read and learn about an area I will not see for myself. I really enjoy your travel posts. Did you know we have had some snow in the Canadian Rockies? Eileen
I agree, it's a very beautiful area. Glad you enjoy my travel posts. I hadn't heard that there is snow in the Rockies. How much have you had?
So glad we went when we did. It's a short summer season, for sure. Such wonderful memories!
Looks like you were in the Bates' area! Did you visit them?
It was a quick trip, and we knew we wouldn't have any extra time, so we didn't reach out to them. 🙂