Showing posts with label HIKING. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HIKING. Show all posts

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Heintooga Mountain Road Trip (Smoky Mountains National Park)

Us at Balsam Mountain (along the Flat Creek Trail) enjoying the view from about 5500 feet
On  September 5, 2014,  George and I took a LONG Day Trip to the Smoky Mountain National Park.  When I say long,  I am saying 15 hours and about 300 miles total!!!!  On this trip,  we took photos from the Gatlinburg Bypass and then traveled over the mountain (on Highway 441) to Cherokee, North Carolina.   We then got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and turned left at mile marker 458.2, heading up the  Balsam Mountain Road and back into the Smoky Mountain National Park.

We took a short hike on Flat Creek Trail near the picnic area on the top of Balsam Mountain (at an elevation of about 5500 feet).  Here is where  (thanks to friend Sharon) we found an awesome overlook complete with benches.  WOW--what a gorgeous overlook.  I could have sat there forever just admiring the beauty.  The picture above is one of us enjoying the view at that overlook --and also enjoying each other!!!!

NEXT---the 'fun' began!!!!!  We headed DEEP into the mountains on a muddy/gravel one-way road.   We drove around and around those mountains going from 5500 feet down to 2000 feet when we finished.  George and Mrs. P (our Prius) did GREAT (as usual) driving on that old road... I was snapping pictures all along the way... How wonderful to be that far into the mountains with nobody else around!!!!!!

Here is what the area and our road looked like!  Since the Smokies get quite a bit of rain this time of year,  everything was so lush and gorgeous.  (NOTE:  This would be a great road to take in the Fall --if you want to see the beautiful Fall colors without alot of people around!!!)

Look  what two 'waterfall lovers' saw along that curvy road...  There were cascades coming down the mountains --and they 'sounded' marvelous!!!!  I wanted to take a chair outside there and just sit and listen to that water and enjoy nature at its finest.

We encountered some rain along our way --and I loved seeing it clinging to all of the greenery in that dense area.  WOW--you just needed to be there!!!!

AHHHHH---another pretty little cascade flowing down the mountain!!  Do you think these cascades were there just for US??????  Hmmmmmmm. 

I don't know how many of you enjoy being back in the mountains like I do --but I think there is just something truly magical and marvelous about areas like this... I love seeing the mountains from overlooks,  but from 'inside' --this, to me,  is nature at its very best.

We continued on that one-way road for a long time --and there were no other people anywhere near!!!  The mountains belonged to US --just for those few hours!!!

When the sun came out--after the rain---the leaves on the trees just seemed to be saying,  "Thank You.. Thank You..Thank You.."

Once we got down to Straight Fork Road,  we followed a gorgeous creek (appropriately named Straight Fork Creek).  AND of course,  we saw some gorgeous rapids in this creek.   For you fishermen out there,  HERE  is a link talking about the fishing in this creek.  Apparently,  there are some great trout there waiting to be caught for dinner...

Oh how I love this area with its tall trees --and now with the creek nearby!!!!!

And --we saw even more cascades when we got down near the creek...

As you can tell,  I LOVED driving along this road checking out all of the woods around us... Again,  like I said in a previous photo,  I loved it when the sun beamed down onto all of the trees!!!!

Here's only one of the MANY rapids/cascades we saw along Straight Fork Creek.  As you know,  George loves using his special filters when taking water pictures.  SO--he will have many beautiful photos to share with you sometime along this creek I am sure!

While George was taking special pictures along the creek,  I was admiring everything else including the water.  In this photo ---I loved seeing all of the GREEN MOSS covering the rocks.  This area of the Smokies reminded me of another favorite area of ours,  the area above Elkmont,  where the water rushes by tons of huge boulders.    (Remember the blog I did from there a year or so ago when it rained cats and dogs and we were soaked????)

There's my Sweetheart ---taking pictures all along that creek...  You can see Mrs. P in the distance... Oh how we love that car since 'she' takes us to so many gorgeous places.

Finally,  the 'big boss' is hollering at hubby saying,  "Come On... Let's go.  I'm getting hungry for some dinner at the Texas Roadhouse"......

Hope you enjoyed our little trip back into the Smoky Mountains.  This makes the second Day Trip we have taken recently.  We went to Cataloochee --by way of the back roads--on 8/22...  We had been wanting to take these two back-road trips for quite some time --so we finally  took them.. If you want to read more about the Auto Tours throughout the Smokies,  click HERE.  There are some great ones ---and the last two we took are never terribly crowded even in peak tourist seasons,  which is what we LOVE.

I'll close with one more picture of two people who absolutely LOVE the Smoky Mountains...This was also taken on the top of Balsam Mountain --along the Flat Creek Trail.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hiking up to the Craggy Pinnacle 8/3/14

On my Birthday Trip to North Carolina,  after our visit to the Biltmore House and Gardens on August 3, 2014, we then took the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to Blowing Rock (where we were spending the night)... It was a gorgeous day --and when we got up to the Craggy Gardens area  (at 5500 feet in elevation) along the parkway,  the weather was CLEAR... (NOTE:  it is usually foggy when we have been in that area in the past!!!).. We were so happy --so we decided to finally take that hike (which we had never done before) to the Craggy Pinnacle. Click on the photos for enlargements.

I loved seeing the American Flag blowing in the breeze at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.

Even though there is an elevation gain of almost 400 feet when hiking to the Pinnacle,  it is NOT a long hike (only 1.4 miles round trip)...   Once we got to the top,  there were two overlooks.  We took the higher one (so we ended up at 5892 feet in elevation with tons of great views).

The trail was in good shape and I would love to hike this one in June --when the Rhododendrons are blooming.  WOW!!!!   About halfway up the mountain there was a rock overlook.  I took this photo of George at this big rock.

I always look for wildflowers and interesting things along the trail.   I loved this interesting flower... I think it was a Queen Anne's Lace BEFORE the lace appeared!!!! HA

This  is one of many photos I took during that hike.... The sky/lighting looked different whichever direction you were facing.  Such beauty all around ---and another time one should visit this area is when the leaves change colors in Autumn.

George took this photo of me when we were at the TOP overlook at the Craggy Pinnacle (5892 feet)...  I felt like I was on TOP of the world.

Mountain range after mountain range could be viewed from that overlook... I love the pretty clouds also that day.

This is a view from the top of that mountain looking down on the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway where my first photo above was taken. Many of you have probably been to the Visitor Center --but have you been to the Craggy Pinnacle?  (Now look back at the first photo at the beginning of this blog post... That photo was taken from the visitor center looking up that mountain... We were on the top of that mountain when this photo was taken looking the other way. Amazing, huh?)

I was on another of the viewing areas (there were about 3-4 different areas up there) when I took this picture of George.

Here's another view from the top of Craggy Pinnacle.  What fantastic views from there!!!  Wow!!!

From that large overlook (which even had benches to sit and relax)---one can see from various viewpoints all around the area.   I loved seeing the SUNBEAMS in this photo, and of course,  those interesting clouds. (Looks like a group of animals dancing in the sky!  See them???)

The water you see in the distance is the Burnett Reservoir  (where Asheville,  NC gets some of its water).  Wouldn't it be fantastic to be here at this overlook  to see either a sunrise or a sunset????  Fantastic!!!

Hiking on that trail,  I (of course) had to take some pictures of the FERNS in that area...

I loved seeing the wildflowers from this angle ---with the Blue Ridge Parkway in the distance.

Here is another photo showing the Burnett Reservoir and the wildflowers.   Don't miss seeing the beautiful clouds also.

Here is another photo of the Craggy Pinnacle  (see the overlook WAY up there on the tippy-top?)  as taken from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center after our hike.

AND--here's one last photo  that George took of us (using his tripod) when we were on the top of that pinnacle at the overlook.  That hike was truly one of the highlights of our entire trip that week --although we always have fun no matter what we do!

If you ever get a chance to hike to the Craggy Pinnacle,  do it!!!!  That short hike is worth every bit of huffing-and-puffing you will do going UP that mountain!!!!! HA.... Seriously,  it's not a bad hike AT ALL....If you love mountain tops,  check this one out!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Falls of Hills Creek, West Virginia

Us at Middle Falls of Hills Creek -6/25/14  (45 feet high)
You know that we can NEVER go on a trip without checking out some waterfalls...  This time we visited the  Falls of Hills Creek in the Monongahela National Forest area of West Virginia (on 6/25/14).   Hope you enjoy the photos today.  Be sure to click on them for enlargements.

Beautiful Trail to visit the waterfalls

The photographer at work--as we cross a little bridge,  while on the trail

Me on one of the series of steps down to the waterfalls
Like the steps I showed you in my blog post from Grandview,  someone VERY SMART and CREATIVE has done a fantastic job of  building these steps and platforms... I read that there were about 400 steps down,  which means that there were 400 steps BACK UP (Pant Pant).... ha

But the area was so beautiful all around us... I would recommend these waterfalls to ALL of you---and even though there were alot of steps,  there were places to stop and rest if needed along the way... It was a VERY nice area/trail....

Are you hearing her saying to him:  "Wait for me"...... OR is he saying to her:  "Wait for me... You are moving too fast!!"   Hmmmmmm---I wonder!!!!! ha ha

Who is that peaking over the edge???
Once we got down to Middle Falls,  we had to go down a series of METAL steps in order to get to the bottom platform..

Middle Falls (45 feet);  This is my 'attempt' to take a  fancy photo like my hubby does.  His are MUCH better --but this one is okay I guess.

George heading down to the bottom platform at Lower Falls
When we got down to the area where we could see Lower Falls,  guess what we found????  YES---it was another set of steps DOWN......

See her --way up there?  She is asking George:  "Can we take the elevator back up?"  ha ha
See what a fantastic job they did of building all of these steps and platforms.  Wow---we were impressed.

Lower Falls of Hills Creek,  63 feet

My Hero doing his 'thing'--taking lots of fantastic photos

US at Lower Falls of Hills Creek,  West VA   6/25/14
Well---how did you like THAT hike?????  We loved it --even all of those steps! Such a gorgeous, woodsy area ---and very well-maintained!!!!!  Check it out--if you get to West VA.  If you want more information about this area,  click HERE.

Have a tremendous weekend..