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Great Smoky Mountain Natonal Park

Photographs by Chris and Steve Spanoudis

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the Tennesee - North Carolina border, and is the most heavily used National Park in the United States, with millions of visitors annually. The park features broad mountain vistas, an abundance of plant and animal wildlife, sparkling streams and waterfalls, and an extensive system of hiking trails.


Mount LeConte, taken from Campbell Lead Road above Gatlinburg, TN

This is from the connecting road that peels off of the bypass around Gatlinburg. From here you can head over to Ski Mountain Road and take the very steep drive up to the ski lodge, or take the shorter (also steep) plunge down into town.



Laurel Falls

This is one of the most popular hikes in the park. The trail actually runs across a pool at the midpoint of the falls, which continue downward for at least another 50 feet. You can hear the stream further down as it continues to tumble down its rocky bed for hundreds of feet.



Wildflowers along the trail to Laurel Falls

Small and fragile, among the ferns.



Ferns on the trail to Grotto Falls

This trail, off Roaring Fork Road, winds behind the falls and eventually up to the top of Mount LeConte.



Farmhouse

The appalachian farmhouse from the Mountain Farm Museum on the North Carolina side of the park. A very rustic, working farm (animals and all).



Mingo Falls

One of the most beautiful and least visited spots around the park is Mingo Falls, hidden behind Mingo Campground on Big Glade Road in North Carolina. When I was there last, there was only a thin dirt trail leading up to the base of the falls, and a rougher trail with handholds for the adventurous (and very careful) to climb the 100 feet to the top of the falls, and beyond to the pools and smaller cascades above. I understand that this has been 'improved' for better tourism. Regardless, the thousands of small rocks create an amazing shower of glowing droplets in the sunshine.



Newfound Gap

Mist rising off the mountains after a rain, above Newfound Gap at the Tennesee/Carolina border.



Flame Azaleas, along the trail to Laurel Falls

They earn their name when the su reaches them through the trees.


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