We left home at 7:30 and arrived at Elkmont at 11:30. We stopped for breakfast in Greenville before heading to TN. Our site was G23 which was okay as long as it didn’t rain because the back of the site looked muddy and boggy. We decided we liked the main loop the best (especially site F6).
After breakfast at 7am, we headed to the Alum Cave Bluffs trail. We only planned on hiking to the Bluffs and if we felt like it, we would go a little further. It took 45 minutes to get to Arch Rock and then another 45 minutes to the Bluffs (2.3 miles). After a short snack, we continued up (and I mean UP) the trail! . It took us 2 ½ hours to get to the Mt. LeConte Lodge (2.7 miles). We whined most of the way and thought about turning back but then decided we were so close that we hated to miss a chance to buy a t-shirt. It took us 4 ½ hours total to arrive but I’m glad we made it. I ended up buying 4 t-shirts, a bandana, and a magnet. After lunch and relaxing, we headed back down the mountain and it only took us 4 hours to get back to the car. Going downhill is much easier for me but it really bothered Don’s knees and ankles. When we got back to camp, we were too exhausted to cook much for dinner so we made one of the Knorr’s packet of rice dishes and then went to bed! By the end of the day I had walked over 15 miles!
We decided to take it easy and recuperate from yesterday. After breakfast we walked around the campground and relaxed until lunchtime. After lunch we played in the river, which was very refreshing, plus it helped our muscle aches. After dinner we watched a video until bedtime.
After breakfast we hiked 5 miles on the Little River Trail. For lunch we went to Gatlinburg for an Italian meal at the Best Italian restaurant (in the Elk’s Club Shopping Center). When we got back to camp, it looked like rain so we packed up the canopy and chairs before walking around the campground again. Then it started raining on us so after seeing that the weather would be rainy for the next 2 days, we packed it all up and headed for home. At 8pm we arrived home in the pouring rain.
Things I Learned:
1. Don’t forget to bring the mini cooler so you can bring drinks to the river.
2. We took the campground map and marked the sites we liked for future reference.
3. Texas Roadhouse was not open for lunch Mon. – Thursday.
4. Notable things we saw on the Mt. LeConte hike: salamander, pink turtleheads, purple gentians.
5. Notable things we saw on the Little River hike: butterflies, grape fern, rattlesnake fern, walking fern, Jack in the Pulpit berries, White Baneberry berries, Solomon’s Plume berries, millipedes, grasshoppers.
Original photo by Pat Hensley