The Great Smokey Mountains

By: Nancy Baker Faul
There is nothing like fresh mountain air to fill your lungs and warm your heart. Beach vacations are wonderful but when the family craves something new, the Smokey Mountains are the place to be. No pretentiousness, no giant expansions of concrete and steel to spoil the majesty of the towering mountain ranges and deep, luscious valleys. Take a ride along the Appalachian Trail, visit the Daniel Boone National Forrest or ride your motorcycle through ‘the Dragon’. No matter what you choose to do in these mountains it is an adventure. Just DON’T FEED THE BEARS!
If you enjoy seeing the colors change on the trees, from vibrant green to crimson red and golden yellow, then the autumn of 2011 in the Smokey Mountains will provide quite a spectacle. When you drive through the twisting and winding roads you can hear the soft call of whippoorwills as night falls. Perfect days are when the moon is full and the back woods critters come out in the moon light. Plan your trip to include a visit to Cumberland Falls to see one of only two “moon bows” in the world. Like a rainbow, the refracted light shows colors in the rising mist of Cumberland Falls and displays nature is at its finest.
Miles before you get to the Chattanooga, Tennessee area you will begin to notice ‘SEE ROCK CITY’ signs. Take the advice of the billboards and don’t miss this rare opportunity. Lush forestry, mossy green carpets and rocky crags abound here. Even on the hottest days, it is rather cool on the lazy, tree covered paths that wind up to the apex of the park. Once there you will feel like you are on top of the world! On a clear day you can stand atop ‘Lovers Leap’ and actually see 7 states. It is here that legend has it, that an Indian Brave and his beautiful love plunged themselves to their death when their opposing tribes and families tried to keep the young lovers apart.
Be sure and visit Ruby Falls. Your tour guide will take you 26 stories down where your journey begins. Ruby Falls was discovered by Leo Lambert well over 75 years ago. His wife, Ruby, used to accompany him on the arduous trek where she would spend hours enjoying the remarkable rock formations. The walk, in a comfortable 58 degrees, is a delightlful experience.
After you have emerged from the caverns of Ruby Falls it is highly recommended that you go the opposite direction and ride the “Incline” that transports passengers one mile straight up the side of Lookout Mountain. Billed as the worlds steepest incline railway, the 72.7% grade gives you a view like no other. If you are a history buff you will want to ride this attraction and hear of the battles fought on and around Lookout Mountain during the War between the States.
Don’t forget that you can route your path to go through Fort Payne, Alabama where the famed country music group “Alabama’”calls home. You can also travel through Oak Ridge, Tennessee and you might catch a glimpse of one of the Oak Ridge Boys. Have a wonderful mountain trip and keep our national parks clean and safe!
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