Monday, July 26, 2010

Hiking Las Vegas Invades the Smoky Mountains

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We were there and we came back with five of the best hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ramsey Cascade has been voted the best waterfall in the Smokies. It's eight miles with 2,375 feet elevation gain. We also did Rainbow Falls, another hike to waterfall. It's a 5.6 mile hike with 1,685 elevation gain.  Next we hiked to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains.  It stands at 6,643 feet and on a clear day you can see into seven states! It's actually a very easy hike, only one mile up and back. The hike ends at a observation tower. Without the tower there would be no view due to all the trees.

I have hike to well over 300 peaks, but never have I hiked to a summit with a lodge at the top until now! Mt. LeConte has a restaurant and a lodge at the summit. It was very cool. The lodge is the highest lodge east of the Mississippi. It's a 12 mile hike (up and back) with 2,750 feet of elevation gain. We saw a ranger near the lodge. He was in-shape, friendly and informative, just the opposite of Red Rock Rangers.

Our final hike was Chimney Tops and actually has a class 3 scramble at the end, a rarity for hikes in the Smokies. This summit also had some nice fews. At four miles, up and back, this is not a long hike, but it has some very steep sections.

It's nice to hike in a completely different area. I got a new perspective of the type of hiking people back east do. It's very different than out here in the west. All the trails were very well signed and we did not see much trash.
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