I always say that there are no flat trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After all, we’re in the mountains. But Noland Creek is as flat as we’re likely to get. Friends of the Smokies hikers enjoyed a perfect autumn day, walking ten miles with only about 800 feet of ascent.
When we planned the 2016 Classic Hikes, back in November 2015, we wanted an easy low-altitude hike for November. We were concerned that it could be a wet, nasty day. Instead yesterday was a colorful, warm hike on a road bed which followed the creek the whole time.
Starting at Lakeview Drive (Road to Nowhere, to many people), we hiked down to the trail. We headed right and walked the wide trail/road that allowed us to converse.
Yellow and brown leaves fell like rain as we kicked and crunched them underfoot. We crosses several bridges.
Just before the last one, on the left on the trail, was a structure left over from a foundation that provided electrical power to the area.
I kept stressing that people lived here until the 1940s, and some people still call it the “new part of the park”. We were in the North Shore Road area which was flooded by Fontana Dam during World War II.
Our first destination was campsite 64, about 4.1 miles from the trail head. It’s a huge campsite with many picnic tables. I guess the park had the room so they really spread out the tables.
We brought an array of sweets to share – so many goodies that we ended up taking most of it home. See the picture below.
One of the regular FOTS hiker says that “It’s not a Smokies hike for Danny unless there’s a cemetery.”
So, yep, we had a cemetery stop.
On the way back, we split into two groups. The “fast” group took a detour on a steep path to a small cemetery. Back on the trail, we stopped at a large, obvious home site, with overgrown boxwoods and the remains of a rock fence.
Later we regrouped and walked the mile or so to the end of the trail and Fontana Lake. The photo at the top of this post shows a little cascade at the end of Noland Creek and the beginning of the Lake.
Some of us walked quite a bit to actually see the lake. Not only do we have a drought but Fontana Lake has been drawn down quite a bit. TVA controls the waters in the lake, not the park.
The last hike of the year will be on Tuesday December 6 to Grotto Falls on Trillium Gap Trail. Here’s how to sign up.