Situated on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee stand some of the oldest mountains in the world and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Named after the haze created by humid southern air cooling in the Park’s high altitudes, “The Great Smokies” are home to 187,000 acres of old-growth hardwoods and hundreds of species of animals and plants.
We hiked up to Clingman’s Dome, a lookout tower that offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains. On our way, we passed part of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,179 mile long path that runs through most of the eastern states.
Driving on “Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail”, a lovely shady forested-area, we made several stops to walk to the creek and explore the remains of an old farm. During our drive we spotted a rafter of eight wild turkeys and most importantly, had our closest bear encounter yet! We parked our car when we saw a group of people claiming to have spotted a small bear. When we got out of the car, they said he was heading straight for us. Amazingly, he walked across a small clearing less than 20 feet in front of us. After stopping to look for brief moment, he was off to scavenge for more berries and acorns in the gorge. For Lisa, it was love at first sight, and she is pretty sure the bear was lovingly eyeing her too!
This is a beautiful park to visit during autumn!