At just 4-4.5 hours from Atlanta, the Smoky Mountain National Park is a great getaway destination for the long weekend. We had been to Gatlinburg many a times in the past, but never to explore the Smoky Mountains. We used to admire the views on our drive and then hang out in the town. I doubt we even realized that there was more to the Smokies than the towns of Gatlingburg, Pigeon Forge and Severville.
For the long Labor Day weekend, friends invited us to come along to explore the Smokies. So we rented a cabin and off we went on a much needed break!
With my birthday miles quest (my next post!), we went on a lot of hikes and trail runs.
Laurel Falls is a very popular waterfall hike in the Smoky Mountain National Park and amongst the easiest hikes for Children. About 2.5 miles in round trip, the hike is an easy incline up. The trail is asphalt paved (which didn’t sit well with my snobbish 7yo trail runner) and there were several people with kids in strollers too. We ran a lot of this path up and down. Talk about hill repeats !!!
At the falls, Mr. FauxRunner climbed up rocks and all to get to a cool ledge. Another person followed him, only to slip and land flat on his back, so we decided to stick to normal ground.
The Unknown Trail by 441
We stumbled on this quaint trail by accident while searching for a place to picnic lunch. We saw a little clearing to park and some steps to a narrow trail leading down to the river.
After a picnic on the rocks by the river, we followed the narrow trail for quite a distance, making up a easy 4-5 mile hike/run.
Getting to Grotto Falls and then finding parking was an absolute nightmare. Cars were parked all sorts on the one way road.
We liked the terrain of this hike better than the asphalt of Laurel Falls. The hike to Grotto Falls is natural with rocks and tree roots sticking out. Although most of the hike is moderate, the rocks get a bit challenging as you get closer to the falls. My trail runner was in thrills over the pure trails and I chased her around quite a bit!!
It was supercool to walk behind the waterfall curtain, they all said it was refreshing while I took photos.
The cabin in the Ski Mountain to the SkyLift
While not an official hike, I’m including this since that was a lot of hill up and down! We went down to the sky lift and took the lift to the observation point and back. And I got some more miles in!
We stopped to stretch our legs at a random trailhead after the major turnoff to Clingmans Tower. And since it was to be our last hike, we took a bunch of photos with the views.
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