Another “toss the boys in the car, pack as much as you can in 20 minutes, and hit to road” trip was on our agenda for this weekend! North Carolina was calling our names and the Florida heat was unbarable so, we packed up, and hit the road for our favorite trip yet!
Clingman’s Dome has been on hubby’s bucket list for quite some time now so, that was first on our list! Before we knew it, we were elevating to 6600 feet in no time but, made a few stops on the way!
If you’ve never visited the Smokeys, add it to your bucket list NOW! It’s the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen. There are river rapids you can view from the mountain side’s winding roads, waterfalls gushing out of the side of the mountain, and driving through clouds and tunnels dug out of a mountain is something that never gets old.
While on our drive up, we spotted a super cool 9 story tower that was only .50 cents a person to climb and free of any other people. So, we pulled over and climbed it! The boys loved the view and the climb was easy enough for our tiny legged two year old to take it one step at a time!
After our pit stop, we piled back into the car and headed further up the mountain. As I said before, there are these breathtaking river rapids that you can see from the road. When we first approached them, they looked pretty treacherous but, peeking further, we could see fishermen in our sights down below in the river! So, we pulled over to a somewhat-hidden start of the trail paralleling the river and walked down to the water for some exploring!
This was hands down one of my favorite experiences of our trip and really, of my 27 years on this planet. As you follow the trail, you come up on this wondrous view of the rapids under a bridge, i swear, it was straight out of a “Tom & Huck” movie. The boys didn’t hesitate to take their shoes off to dip their feet, toss rocks, and splash around while enjoying the sights under the bridge! The river rocks were HUGE and the water was more refreshing than any Florida spring that I’ve ever visited. (You can also rent tubes and ride them down the river, this is a must for us on our next trip back!)
Back in the car and elevating higher. After taking in all of the mountainside views, we finally reached the start of our hike up to Clingmans Dome. The cool thing about the hike is that a. It’s FREE and b. You have the option to hike on the pavement or through a wooden, dirt trail (Appalachian Trail). We hiked up the paved road and down the dirt trail (which was deff best of the two). When we reached the top, the clouds were heavy, normally you can see somewhere between 5 & 7 states from the top of Clingmans Dome but, on a hazy day like ours, you could only see the tops of the trees. So, we will be back ! The dirt trail down was my personal favorite. The rain started pouring down and the lush dirt was starting to puddle. One of the best things of being a mom is to see your kids having fun in nature so, to see mine jumping in dirt puddles and hiking through the rain down the side of a mountain was something I will treasure forever.
We hid under a tree for a few minutes as we took in the surroundings, listened to the birds, and created a plan to finish our hike down. I hiked up with little Keke on my back in our carrier up the mountain and Little Man was ready for a break on the way down so, I traded them out, hubs carried Keke and we made a run for it through the pouring rain! The rain was cold, refreshing but, cold and worth the soaking wet clothes by the time we reached bottom! The boys had so much fun hiking down through the rain and most people were huddled up under trees on top of rocks so the trails were clear of people, minus a few here and there!
After a long day or hiking, and a few car naps on the way back to our temporary home, we headed out for dinner and rested before our drive back to the Sunshine State! (Did I forget to mention the amazing herd of Elk on our way back?! Like 10 feet away from us stood these beautiful elk some with uber huge antlers! We had to wake the boys up to see “Santa’s Reindeer“! They loved it!!)
Our original plan was to stay 3 nights and 4 days but, we get home sick easily and wanted a relaxing day back in town to gather our thoughts and unpack before the work week started! So, we rested for a few hours, got up in the middle of the night and headed home! Even though we were really only able to enjoy the mountains for a full day, our 16 hours in the car was all worth it! We will absolutely be back and can’t wait to see what the next Great Smokey Mountain adventure brings us!
Take a peak at our trip in the video here and follow along to see more of our adventures!