Day 5 – Last Day in the Mountains

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Today may have been my favorite day in the mountains. We started off with the Alum Cave Trail. It was a beautiful 2.5 mile hike that had everything you could ask for. We hiked along a river for about a mile before starting our incline which went through a cool little tunnel.

Morning View Along the River

Morning View Along the River

Once we really got up in the elevation, we had some spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains. About 10 minutes from a nice lookout spot spot was the Alum Cave. It was a really cool site to see, though it wasn’t technically a cave. We took our time getting down because we had nothing else planned for the day. When we got back to the lookout spot that we liked so much, we decided it would be a great lunch spot. We ate lunch and enjoyed the views.

Alum Cave

Alum Cave

Enjoying the sites on our way to Alum Cave

Beautiful Sites Near Alum Cave

We finished the 5 mile round trip hike and decided to drive the Newfoundland Gap. The gap connects Tennessee to North Carolina and has some amazing views along the way.

Newfoundland Gap

Newfoundland Gap

We enjoyed the 33 mile ride before heading up to Clingman’s Dome one more time. Yesterday wasn’t as clear as today, so we thought we might get some better views. We couldn’t have been more correct. We drove down the mountain and had enough time for one last hike.

Beautiful View of the Smoky Mountains

Beautiful View of the Smoky Mountains

The destination, Laurel Falls. After hiking 40+ miles over a four day span, this two mile round trip, paved hike seemed like the perfect way to finish the trip. The falls were beautiful, as advertised.

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

We were exhausted so we grabbed a quick dinner and now it’s bedtime. I almost forgot, we saw a bunch of black bears in broad daylight today! Before we got to the Laurel Falls trail head, we saw a bunch of cars pulled over on the side of the road, so naturally we decided to see what all the fuss was about. Everybody was looking at a momma bear and her two cubs. On our way back down the from the falls, same scenario, a mama and her two cubs. We tried to snap a few photos then got back into the car to get back to our hotel. Less than a mile down the road, 3 more bears. It was really a cool sight to see, 9 bears in total.

Baby Black Bear

Baby Black Bear

A few notes as we reflect on our hiking:

  • We met lots of people from Wisconsin
  • We loved our hiking boots. They were sturdy, and waterproof, and very comfortable.
    •  We witnessed all sorts of foot attire. Everything from tennis shoes, to flip flops, to loafers.
  • Water was our best friend.
  • For the future we will always make a plan. The first day we strayed from our plan and barely got back before dark.
  • The final thought, we enjoyed the hike we did today because we were in absolutely no rush. Taking our time was the best thing we could have done. It really helped us appreciate everything and take it all in.
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