“The most visited park in the country?

I’m back from three months in Europe. We hiked a great deal and it was all very different from the Southern Appalachians. But I realized how much I missed the Smokies when I went on a long hike yesterday. It’s part of my attempt to finish the Smokies 900, all the trails in the Smokies. I’m getting there, I have about 125 miles to go.

Janet and I drove through Bryson City and on the Road to Nowhere – for the history, see Hiking the Carolina Mountains and the Shuckstack-Lakeshore Loop. The purpose was to hike Bear Creek Trail – 5.9 miles one way. But first we had to get to that trail. We  walked through the tunnel, started on Lakeshore Trail and then a short distance on Forney Creek Trail. The Creek was running but the water level was low; you could really see the effect of our long-standing drought.

Finally after almost four miles, we started climbing Bear Creek Trail. We were walking the railroad grade up for 3,000 ft., a typical Smokies trail. Up and and down for 18.3 miles on a beautiful late-summer day.

We saw no one on the trail – nobody.  In this most visited park in the nation,  the trail was empty. We expected to see some folks hiking in for the weekend at campsite #74, less than four miles, but no one. When we got back to the car at 6:30 P.M., there were several cars on the road and one in the parking area. However, when we passed Swain County High School, there were heaps of cars in the parking lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *