Now I’m backtracking, but just realized I’d started a post about hiking on Valentines Day and never finished it. Well, here you have it!
Knoxville had great weather for Valentine’s Day. After a little breakfast of pink chocolate chip pancakes for Kevin and a short stack of “red” treats, it was off to school.
I had not been to the Smoky Mountains since our last visitors in November and was overdue for a visit. I didn’t have a lot of time but drove to the park entrance near Townsend 45 minutes away and had a peaceful drive along Little River Road. The park was very quiet, only passing occasional cars and a couple of bikers. My destination was Laurel Falls, one of the most popular hikes in the park that was about 20 minutes from the entrance.
On past trips to the park, I noticed as I passed the Laurel Falls parking area it was packed with cars, and there were many cars parked alongside the road before and after the area. This time, the lot was just full, with a few open spots. Hikers were heading up and down the 1.3 mile walk to the falls at regular intervals, so I was comfortable walking solo (had mace in my pocket just in case.) Unfortunately, I realized as I approached the area that the temperature was 40 degrees (versus the 54 degrees on my weather app which was scheduled for later in the afternoon) and I had left the house in just a t-shirt and red sweater. No fleece.
I saw some folks in winter garb getting out of their car. I figured I’d give it a shot, it was a beautiful clear, sunny day. Once I got walking, there was no issue with the cold and with the sun at my back, I was sweating just a tad. So glad I’d left the winter garb in the attic!
The walk was a smidge more uphill than I ‘d anticipated. I read it was a good walk for families with strollers, since though there are over 800 miles of paths in the Smokies, Laurel Falls is one of only a limited number of miles that are paved. It warns of steep drop offs though.
A path was paved back in the 1960’s when a fire lookout was built nearby and erosion was taking it’s toll on the path. I was walking at a good pace and made it to the falls in 30 minutes. A more relaxed hike would probably be 45 minutes or so. Not saying I’m wonder woman, just saying I was not dawdling.
Beautiful Laurel Falls.
Along the way there were tons of rhododendren which I imagine will be gorgeous when they bloom in June. I got corny and looked for heart shaped nature things and came across this rock. How artistic!
Totally worth the walk! You can continue on for Cove something up to an 8 mile walk, but after 10 minutes of enjoying the falls, I headed back as I needed to be at the school by 2:30 for an event. I was back in the car exactly one hour after I arrived, and while this was a quick trip, I loved it.
On the way back I stopped at a Country Store and saw an inscribed valentine frame that I jotted down to deliver in a homemade card to my sweetheart Tom who was stuck at work…while trying to keep a straight face…
“I know it is love when I can’t sleep because my reality is better than my wildest dreams.”
Sounded like something my brother in law Randy would come up with, but it certainly was a lovely day in the Smoky Mountains!