On all minor holidays, I try to hit the National Park for a hike or some other such fun. Yesterday, our plans to hike Ramsay’s Cascade were thwarted due to a pending storm. Given the mountains are the park, they typically get snow and bad weather when town is completely clear. Unfortunately (for Jay and I at least) the park roads started shutting down hours before any weather hit .

The trail along the Sugarlands Visitor Center was the only one open, so Jay and I set out to see the sites, log a few miles, and hopefully be in the Park when the weather hit.

Depending on perspective its either fortunate (or not) that the Gatlinburg Trail from Sugarlands is close enough to town for cell service. This meant Jay heard his phone notification and took a business call while we should have been hiking.

I ended up trail “running” a half mile back and forth around him whilst he talked to his client. This trail would be excellent for real trail running (in proper gear, not carrying a pack), assuming it doesn’t get overrun with tourists in the summer.

Cataract Falls was a short, level hike – probably less than a half mile. Jay remarked about how wild it was we’d never done this trail, despite having done some of the most difficult in the park.

While not wheelchair accessible most of the trail was level enough to facility a jogging stroller.

I very much was glad I wore my mittens rather than gloves. This trail was a bit more easy than I would have liked, and the scenery much the same along the way. I used the flop open part of the mittens to take lots of pictures along the way.

We circled back and hit another trail, not sure where it would lead. We didn’t really care, we just wanted to hold out for the winter weather so we took every path we found. The second trail mostly just had signs designating trees and shrubbery. I’m sure it would have been much more interesting during spring/summer/fall when things are in bloom.

 The other cool part of this path was the old log home we found. My first picture was a Frugal-Family classic: a picture of someone taking a picture.

Once we got inside we just goofed around with more pictures before continuing up the trail.

The beams were low enough for even me to touch by raising my arms up and keeping my feet flat on the ground. (For reference I’m 5’4″)

This particular trail just loops back to the starting point of the Cataract Falls trail, so we just had a few hundred feet of walking to get to the Gatlinburg Trail-head. As we headed down the road and toward the path, there still was no precipitation in site.

While most of the path follows the creek, there are parts which are not-so-pretty. Like the home of the work trucks for the National Park. Jay and I joked about how pretty the orange barrel “flowers” were.

The trail is just under 2 miles and leads to a park entrance sign as well as a gorgeous bridge covering the creek. Most people access these two places from the road side, instead of walking on the trail we travel on. I think this summer we are planning to go back for him to fish and me to get a bit of trail running in.

As the name would suggest, the trail dumps out in Gatlinburg – putting us less than a quarter mile than one of our favorite spots in town.While we most often find ourselves in the Pigeon Forge location, Jay and I never pass up an opportunity to stop in the Smoky Mountain Brewery – even in Gburg.

I enjoyed my standard Black Bear ale and a house salad. They have some of the best salads – the house salad includes green peppers, banana peppers, olives, and mozzarella cheese.

Jay, however, hadn’t made weight for the day, and found himself barely sipping the glass of ice water that our server brought him. (I made weight first thing, so I was kind enough to finish it off for him.)

We had encountered some sleet on the way out, but not much. We could hear it hit better than we could see or feel it. The way back to the car wasn’t much more exciting.

A few pictures of old foundations and fireplace chimneys, and some more shots of the creek were about it for points of interest on the way back.

All told, I logged 6 miles in 2 hours of walking time. That’s about a 20 minute mile – fast for hiking, but slow (for me) walking. I certainly would have enjoyed one of our standard “epic” hikes better, but we made the best of the situation.

I hope that we are able to make it back and the trail isn’t too crowded this spring/summer (with people or bear activity) so that I can gets some miles on my trail running shoes!!

Do you have to seek out snow, or do you get plenty by your front door to play in?


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