Not only does it mean cooler weather and great hiking, but it also signals the beginning of the holiday season. We listen to Christmas music and watch Hallmark movies nonstop until January. It's ridiculous and we love it.
However, fall in the Smokies means crowds. Like lines of cars miles long on the parkway and standstill traffic in popular places like Cades Cove. This is rough and can sap even the most enthusiastic of hot-chocolate-and-holiday-music fueled spirits.
A crowded trail is something you want to avoid, if possible, and easy enough to do with a little planning. Some research into the best times of day to start out and a search for off-the-beaten path hikes will help.
While it doesn't mean we are giving up on our tried-and-trues, we do want to see what else the park has to offer in the way of strenuous day hikes.
Here's what we're thinking...
1. Rich Mountain Loop (8.5 miles) - I've heard this trail is a great way to escape the crowds and to enjoy the beauty of Cades Cove in a more quiet, natural way.
2. Silers Bald (9.3 miles) - this is an ambitious one for us, but Ellison claims to be up to it. Honestly, it depends on the weather. If we go, we are planning on taking the Clingman's Dome route.
3. Baxter Creek Trail (Mount Sterling) (12.2 miles) - this is definitely something my husband and I would do, but I'm not sure that Ellison is quite up to it. This is one we may be saving for future trips. It is considered one of the most strenuous hikes in the Smokies - which is a large part of its appeal.
I know there are others that could make this list, but these are the ones that stood out to us.
And for sake of reminiscing, here are a few pictures from past trips.
Do you have any suggestions for our trip? Any trails we missed that you think should be on the list? We'd love to hear from you as we plan our visit!