Monday, February 24, 2014

Newfound Gap!

One of my favorite car-accessible spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Newfound Gap. This is at the highest point on 441, which is the road that bisects the Park and allows visitors to drive from Gatlinburg TN on the north side of the Park over to Cherokee NC on the southern side.

Generally I can't stand being around traffic, lots of cars, and crowds. And you stand a really good chance of encountering all three at Newfound Gap. However, it's also a great way to achieve access to trails that take you to some of the most stunning scenery in the Great Smokies. The Appalachian Trail crosses at Newfound Gap, and you can head off either east or west and eventually find your way to just about any other trail in the Park from here. I have done so many, many times.

And so, although the road in many ways wrecks the wilderness aspect of the Park, it is a glorious place to stop your car and enjoy the scenery, or to begin a backpacking trip or a day-hike. Here's to Newfound Gap! Where Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

You want views? We got views.

From the viewing platform looking down on the parking lot.

More views.

From the parking area looking toward the overlook platform and the Appalachian Trail.

And the Appalachian Trail. March off in this direction and you'll reach one of my very favorite peaks in the Park: Charlies Bunion. Hang a left along the way and you'll travel along the trail called The Boulevard leading to the summit of Mount LeConte.

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