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Fall Foliage in the Smokies

posted Oct 17, 2011, 6:08 AM by Justin P
I spent this past weekend in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hiking and checking out the falls colors.  We drove up Friday morning and set up camp at the Big Creek campground area.  After setting up camp, we hiked up the Big Creek Trail to see Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls, then headed back to camp for dinner.  The camp hosts and rangers told us that the week before, someone had been bitten by a bear and to take extra precautions with food.  Two rangers were camped out just outside the campsite with a bear trap and tranquilizer guns in case the bear returned, but he did not come back this weekend.  Saturday morning, after breakfast we hiked to Mount Cammerer, a strenuous 6-mile hike with 3000+ feet of elevation gain.  We hiked from the Big Creek Ranger Station up Chestnut Branch Trail to the Appalachian Trail.  We hiked west on the AT to the Mount Cammerer Trail and took it up to the lookout on top of the mountain.  The views of fall foliage were great!  We ate lunch up here and took pictures on top of Cammerer for a while, then hiked back to camp - a much quicker hike going down!  Sunday morning, we broke camp and headed to the Cataloochee area.  On the way in, we saw several wild turkeys and elk along the side of the road.  We parked at the trailhead and hiked a few miles along the Caldwell Fork trail.  The trail follows the creek and was a nice, relatively flat hike after a strenuous mountain hike the day before.  About two miles in, there was a footbridge out.  Although we were able to cross, we headed back at this bridge for time's sake, and drove back to the Raleigh area.