Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to JULY!!!! Our Lilies are blooming now... So gorgeous!!! Here is one of my many favorites! Meet DIZZY.

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.