So, it’s been a couple of weeks (okay more like three+) since our trip to the mountains, and since then we’ve moved, recovered from sickness that knocked a couple of us out for a day or two and have celebrated a little one in our family turning two, TWO! So while we can still smell the fresh air in our memories, I didn’t want to leave out a few of our favorite little stops along our #BlueMountainTour in the Smoky Mountains.
While we thoroughly enjoyed hiking through our fears on the pitched stairs of Chimney Rock and splashing through the plethora of mountainside waterfalls, there are a few places I wanted to share in case you find yourselves on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and especially around Maggie Valley… like the best ice cream I think I’ve ever had at Maggie Valley Ice Cream & Yogurt. Seriously, the memory of that slow churned salted caramel treat still makes my mouth water.
When in the area, you can’t pass up the highest point in Tennessee, and the second highest point east of the Mississippi! Though it was about an hour drive from our cabin and then a good hike up a steep half-mile incline (and with a baby strapped to your chest, Best. Workout. Ever.) the views can’t be beat. At 6,643 feet, and a look into both Tennessee and North Carolina plus five more states on a clear day, Clingmans Dome is a must-experience place to cross off your Smoky Mountain bucket list.
Since I know you’ll make it there some day, when you head to the peak make sure to make it early in the day as the small parking lot at the base of the hike for the dome tends to fill up quickly as the hours tick on during the day. 😉 Although, I’ve also heard that sunset there is one of the most spectacular sights as well! (Something I’ll be back for.)
Coming down from the Dome, you can walk back the path you came, or take a longer, slightly more arduous journey on the Appalachian Trail, which is totally worth it… even if it’s just for bragging rights that you’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail! A few times we thought we may have gotten lost, but alas, it was just the fact that we were moving slowly with five littles and have covered less ground than we thought. We learned that it was totally okay to let others pass us when needed! Ha. The day was clear, the sun was shining bright and I just wanted to soak in each and every breathtaking view over the cliffs and around each and every bend.
We stopped a few times for restroom breaks and other little snacks and souvenirs at one of our favorite little family owned shops, Sutton’s Mountain Trading Post, which we became a fan of last fall when we were there. This time, we made sure to come home with some FROG and Traffic Jam, so good!
I’m so grateful for these times away with my family, times to expand our own horizons and take in new sights, sounds and experiences. It’s a special gift to yourself and to your family when you can just be together. Be who you are and be who you want to be… whether it’s exploring a mountainside, climbing a waterfall, snuggling on the couch for a movie night or playing board games on the floor together. We’re already planning our next trip to the cabin!
There’s something that so intrigues me about this great nation… there are so many different places to soak in and fall in love with. From the concrete jungle of NY, to the crisp clean air of the mountains, to the salty shore that we call home and everything in between, it all has a different part of me!
What have been some of your favorite travel destinations? I’d love to hear!