Loving mountains and living below sea level is one of my life's true ironies. I've spoken about my love for the mountains before, and I've visited quite a few different ones over the past year.
Despite my blood line coming from Asturias, a true mountainous Spanish terrain, the Smoky Mountains are some of my favorite here in the states. The smokey effect these bad boys are known for is definitely amongst my favorite qualities. It almost makes them look like volcanoes.
If you're planning to visit the North Carolina Smokies, there are 3 trails I'd highly recommend. Each is different, but I'll begin with my favorite because it's trippy and tagged with street art and graffiti love letters.
The Road To Nowhere
The Road to nowhere, as the Bryson City locals call it, is a 1/4 mile long trip through reality that sits quietly hidden in the Smoky Mountains. After a 6-mile scenic drive through windy mountain roads, you come to the entrance of a tunnel. This tunnel leads nowhere as it was never finished, hence its clever title. Inside the tunnel is my favorite part. If you don't have a flashlight, this 1/4 mile walk in darkness manipulates your senses and makes you feel as if you may not even be moving.
Below is a shot I took inside the tunnel. The blurred effect was not intentional. It was tricky to hold steady while walking and staring at the other entrance point. The silence is deafening but your eyes are able to catch echoes of passersby or leaves being blown through the dark road beneath you. It borders on creepy and trippy. Somewhere towards the middle (and you're never 100% sure that's where you are), you begin to seriously believe the light you see at the end is actually a mirage. You're walking but in effect going nowhere.
Once you reach the other side and take a minute to compose yourself, you are privy to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park where it dead ends. Here, you are able to see the street art locals and passersby have allotted to the site. Coming from Miami, I appreciate this as part of the scenery. Most of the graffiti has a message and I do think it gives the tunnel more character. If nothing else, I like to read the love notes colorfully etched in time.
From here, there are various hiking trails you can embark on. But it's worth the visit even if you just spend some time at the end of the tunnel.
Deep Creek is every hiker's dream. This national park, known for its streams and water falls, is a gem. While we took the hiking route, any way to experience this path is just as rewarding. We didn't do the 2 miles of hike available, but what we did experience was some of the prettiest natural scenes. I couldn't help but stop every few feet to snap a photo. I do wish we could have had more time as our visit was an impromptu field trip. My boyfriend's large family was gathered for a nice meal when his lovely aunt suggested we pile up in our cars and make the short drive. We were all a few glasses of wine in but that only made us all the more willing and spontaneous.
We passed a bunch of campers on our way in, who were happily gathered in the good weather and cheer. This place really does make you smile.
This trail is well known to mountain bikers. Its 40 miles of bike trail, including 4 loops, is famous around North Carolina. It's just a short drive from Bryson City.
We chose to walk what we could of the trail and it didn't disappoint. The windy roads made for great conversation, which stopped only when we arrived at the breathtaking body of water pictured below. We stopped, skipped rocks and let our friend's dog prance around for a bit. Perhaps one day when I'm brave enough to tackle a mountain bike, I'll come back and experience Tsali fully.
Do you have any favorite hiking routes? Have you been to any of these sites? Share with us in the comments below!