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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Day in the Mountains (GSMNP)

This past weekend we decided to head up to Clingman's Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with all the kiddos plus an extra.  Unfortunately we did not make it all the way up there. 
Reason 1- I underestimated my ability to ride up a mountain in a boat (our suburban) without having a nervous breakdown. 
Reason 2- No one wanted to believe me when I said we should dress appropriately because it would be colder up there.                                                                                           
As a result when we stopped at the Newfound Gap Overlook for a pit stop everyone decided we were high enough, I mean the view was beautiful so all was well:-)  We have decided to take a trip ALL the way up to Clingman's Dome later in the Summer. 

 We had never visited this particular part of the park and it was beautiful.  Once again I have reminded myself that we must make a larger effort to take advantage of the beauty we have so close to us.  Once there we enjoyed a picnic in the car (it really was cold, exactly 19 degrees colder then it was at the bottom of the mountain).  We took in the views and then headed back down taking the time to stop a few times and check out some small cascades, and another overlook. 

They were freezing........

Perhaps our favorite part of the trip was the most unexpected.  When we made it back down to the bottom we pulled into Sugarlands Visitor Center so the kids could hit the restrooms for the trip home.  We walked around a little bit and discovered some really great hiking trails right there behind the center, one led to Cataract Falls and so off we went (we love waterfalls).  The trail itself was a little magical, it went along the water and had tons of hidden treasures along it.  Under bridges and around unusual trees we all enjoyed it.  It was an easy walk and just took about 30 minutes round trip.  After we made it back to the visitor center itself we decided to walk in and get some maps for a future visit.  We were in for another surprise and probably the favorite one for the boys.  The visitor center has a museum inside and it contains various (real) stuffed animals on display.  We were all pretty fascinated by this and spent some time reading all the animal facts provided. 


Even though we didn’t accomplish our original goal we had a wonderful day.  We will definitely plan on stopping at Sugarlands again on our trip to Clingman’s Dome.  On a side note if you plan on visiting the area in the future please be aware that the Chimney Top’s trail (one of the more popular trails on the mountain) and parking area are shut down.  A large tree took out a bridge and the rangers indicated it would be sometime before the area is open again.

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