Spring Break Camping Recommendations

March 23, 2013 in Camping

Pitch a tent this spring break!

Pitch a tent this spring break!

If you prefer nights by a crackling fire and sleeping under the store instead of drunken crowds on the beach, then spring break is a great excuse to go camping!  Spring is the perfect time for camping – the nights are still cool but the days are warm and the bugs haven’t quite invaded yet!

Here are our recommendations for camping spots in Tennessee that have lots of great options for outdoor activities. Be sure to reserve your spot through the state’s new online campsite reservation system.

    • Smoky Mountain National Park - This one will be crowded, but if you don’t mind the crowds there are endless options for recommended good times in the Smokies. From mountain climbing to waterfall chasing to the sheer joy of lounging by the campfire, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the Smokies.
Don't forget the coffee for those chilly mornings!

Don’t forget the coffee for those chilly mornings!

  • Frozen Head State Park - If you’ve followed this blog for while you know that Frozen Head is the first place Nate took me camping when we started dating. Tucked away in east Tennessee, it’s a beautiful spot with tons of hiking options. And if Frozen Head is full, be sure to check out Rock Creek camp ground not too far away.
  • South Cumberland State Rec Area – Located between Chattanooga and Nashville, Big South Fork is another great spot with tons of different camping, hiking, rock climbing, swimming holes and all sorts of nature-loving activities. Be sure to check out the Stone Door trails if you’re up for a challenging hike!

And be sure to stock up for my favorite part of camping — the food! Check out our camp recipes page to for 25+ unique, delicious and easy campfire recipes.

Happy Spring Break!

Top Hiking Posts of 2012

January 1, 2013 in Hiking Trails

Base of Cummins Falls

Base of Cummins Falls

2012 Top Trail Reviews

So our last post was all about our favorite hikes of the year… but enough about us – it’s time to check out the hiking posts that all of you all liked best. Here’s the roundup of the most  popular hiking trail reviews from 2012.

Top Hiking Posts of 2012

  1. Alum Cave Trail on Mt. Leconte - Now on the side of Mt. LeConte, you begin to glimpse the first of many gorgeous vistas of the surrounding Smoky Mountains.
  2. Cummins Falls Trails - After crossing the river a few times and climbing over a few sets of small boulders we finally arrived at the base of the falls.
  3. Western Rim Trail at Cloudland Canyon SP - The reviews we had read of the Western Rim Trail lauded the variety of terrain and the many scenic overlooks and it lived up to the hype.
  4. Abrams Falls at Smoky Mountain National Park - While the rest of the trail provides some idyllic scenes, the main event comes with the arrival to Abrams Falls. While Abrams Fall is only 20′ tall, the volume of the falls is tremendous.
  5. Sky Pond and Glass Lake Trail - The greatest degree of difficulty comes during the scramble up the side of Timberline Falls to the mini-plateau above that houses Lake of Glass and Sky Pond. This portion was probably about 50′ of maneuvering up a crevasse in the mountain side.

2012 Top Trails

December 30, 2012 in Hiking Trails

Glass Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

Glass Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

2012 Top Trails

Who doesn’t love a year-end recap? This year’s hikes took us farther and higher than ever before and gave us new challenges that wore us out, but gave us a great sense of pride. Here’s a recap of our favorite hikes of 2012 – not surprisingly the bulk of them came from our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but there were also a few faves from Tennessee…

Favorite Trails of 2012

  1. Sky Pond and Glass Lake Trail - Once atop the waterfall climb, you’re greeted by a mini-valley of sorts that isn’t visible from the trail below. In just a few steps you’re at the edge of the Lake of Glass, another spot that offers stunning views.
  2. Alum Cave Trail on Mt. Leconte - With an elevation change just shy of 3,000′ in 5.5 miles (one way), this trail left us worn out and weary, but with a great sense of accomplishment. The difficulty of this trail is not just the distance, but the elevation change and occasionally tricky footing.
  3. Grays Peak - Nothing beats the view from the summit of a mountain… especially one that provides so many sweeping panoramic scenes…
  4. Emerald Lake Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park - The steep vertical cliffs of the surrounding mountains and huge boulders that surround the lakeside are striking against the clear waters of Emerald Lake.
  5. Cummins Falls Trails - As the state’s 8th largest waterfall by volume, Cummins Falls is a dramatic and inspiring sight. While the overlook provides a decent view of the falls, it pales in comparison to the view from the base.

Top Posts of 2012

  1. Alum Cave Trail on Mt. Leconte
  2. Cummins Falls Trails
  3. Western Rim Trail at Cloudland Canyon SP
  4. Abrams Falls at Smoky Mountain National Park
  5. Sky Pond and Glass Lake Trail

 

3 Hikes for Thanksgiving Weekend

November 21, 2012 in Tennessee Hiking Trails

Thanksgiving Hiking Hounds

Thanksgiving is for the dogs.

My personal favorite holiday is almost upon us (which means I’ve got to get to cookin’…). We hope you all enjoy a great Thanksgiving with family, friends and full bellies! Among dozens of other things, we’re thankful for the opportunity to get outdoors and share our stories with all of you. Thank you for your ongoing support!

If you’re looking for a good alternative to the frenzy of Black Friday shopping (ugh!), here’s our recommendations trails to hit up after you’ve done your best to conquer the Thanksgiving feast.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Abrams Falls at Smoky Mountain National Park

July 25, 2012 in Tennessee Hiking Trails

Abrams Falls Trailhead

Abrams Falls Trailhead

Abrams Falls Trail

We kicked off our trip to the Smoky Mountains with a trek along the very popular Abrams Falls Trail. Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the country and this trail certainly ranks among the most crowded that we’ve hiked. While it was crowded, this moderately difficult trail led us to the impressive Abrams Falls and swimming hole.

  1. Scenery:  3.5
  2. Difficulty:  3.0
  3. Length:  5.0 miles
  4. Dog Friendly Factor: 3.0
  5. Convenience:  1.5
  6. Bonus Funtimes: 5.0
Trail Map:

 

Abrams Creek

Abrams Creek

Scenery (3.5 out of 5.0): The Abrams Falls trailhead starts off at a bucolic setting along Abrams Creek. The creekside views are almost continual throughout the hike. As we hiked along the dirt path, the laurels were in bloom, which made it all the more scenic. The highest point along the trail provides a lovely view of the surrounding area.

While the rest of the trail provides some idyllic scenes, the main event comes with the arrival to Abrams Falls. While Abrams Fall is only 20′ tall, the volume of the falls is tremendous. The pool that forms at the base of the falls makes for a great swimming hole that was filled with people of all ages. If you can get around the crowds to the base of the falls there are some large boulders that are perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying the roar of the falls.

Base of Abrams Falls

Gorgeous Abrams Falls

Difficulty (3.0 out of 5.0): While the pathway is well maintained and the footing is very easy, there are a couple of good climbs during this 5 mile trek – an elevation change of about 1,800 feet. There were people of all ages on this trail – lots of kids who seemed in pretty good spirits on the way to the falls, but were definitely dragging on the ascent back up the highest ridge. While the end result of the trail is a beautiful, family friendly swimming hole, flip flops and strollers are not suggested for the 2.5  hike to get there.

Abrams Falls Trail Crowds

Hikers in drove to Abrams Falls

Length: 5.0 miles

Dog Friendly Factor (0 out of 5.0): Dogs are not allowed on trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so the pups stayed at home this day.

Convenience (2.0 out of 5.0): The trailhead for the Abrams Falls is about 4 hours from Nashville and located at the far end of the drive through Cade’s Cove. It’s an easy drive and readily accessible, just a ways away from Middle Tennessee.

Bonus Funtimes (5.0 out of 5.0): Aside from the awesome swimming hole at the base of Abrams Falls, you will certainly find plenty of ways to be entertained while at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are dozens of campgrounds and seemingly hundreds of trails. If lazing on the river is your preference, there are plenty of tubing outfitters and a few kayaking spots.