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tentative plan

Marlborough...
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tentative plan

my husband, my 15 m.o. daughter, and i will be visiting my sister in law and her boyfriend outside of Asheville at the end of September. i would like to spend 2 days in GSMNP and i have a rough outline.

please help me fill in things to do on our path. or tell me if my plan stinks, or a better way to do it.

my husband and i are good hikers (nothing crazy or strenuous) but we will have our daughter with us who will be 17ish month old so any hikes have to be pretty level and not crazy long.

please let me know of any good stopping points for scenery or short hikes. looking at the map of the park im not sure what things are good stopping points or crazy hikes.

thanks!

-drive BRP from Asheville (technically Weaverville) to Cherokee

-drive NW on Newfound Gap Rd

-veer off and go West to Clingman's Dome for a brief stop off. from what i understand you can see Clingman's Dome w/o doing a crazy hike or you can do a short but very steep hike up to a lookout (?)

-head back east to where we were then back North to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

-spend night in Gatlinburg if can find hotel room

next day:

-head back way we came (dont think there are too many options on where to go?) then head over to Cataloochee. would be nice to be there early in the morning for wildlife viewing but i dont think that will happen so maybe there will still be some animal life midday.

-head back to Asheville

i see lots of stuff on the map like Balsam Mt, Newfound Gap, Sugarland Mt, etc but unsure what we can fit in.

and of course im open to stuff not on the map that's just what im using as a guide right now ;-)

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1. Re: tentative plan

Your first day sounds good. Yes you can still get a decent view(sometimes, if the weather cooperates) from the Clingman's Dome parking lot, but to actually get to the summit you have to hike a steep, 1/2 mile trail to the observation tower.

You will probably want to reserve a room in Gatlinburg though. I'm sure there will be rooms available but driving in circles to find one is never fun.

For your second day, you are not likely to see much wildlife at Cataloochee in the middle of the day. I would suggest maybe a hike or some more sightseeing first, then Hit Cataloochee about 6pm. Then you will see plenty of Elk. The end of September is the rut season, and you will get to hear the bugling calls of the bull Elk. You won't want to miss it. After leaving Cataloochee, you could jump right on I-40 and be back in Asheville in an hour..

Marlborough...
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2. Re: tentative plan

thanks! ill keep that in mind and try to get to Cataloochee in the evening rather than midday. since Asheville's not that far away it shouldnt be an issue. would love to see the elk rut. saw elk in Yellowstone a couple years ago but we were there in June so no rut.

i was planning on reserving a room in Gatlinburg beforehand if we go wiht this plan. i know in parks that have lodging in the park like Yellowstone you need to reserve stuff a year in advance so i wasnt sure if there would be rooms in Gatlinburg this close to the dates.

any tips on what to do on our second day along that route?

Melbourne, Florida
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3. Re: tentative plan

Hwy 441 travels thru the entire park from Cherokee to Gatlinburg. There are good view points along the way, mile markers where there are short hikes or something to see along the way. Stop at the Oconaluftee visitors center at the entrance to the park and get the brochures for the drive thru the park, cling mans dome, Roaring Fork, Cades cove and also get the one for the waterfall hikes.

At Oconalufftee is a farm with a stream beside, more photo ops. From 441 to Clingmans dome is about 8 miles to the view point. The uphill hike to the tower is steep but doable, altho I haven't tried it holding a little one! You might have enough time to fit in Roaring Fork that afternoon depending on how much time you spend in the park. You have to drive into Gatlinburg to get to RF.

I would do Cades Cove on your way back, get there early and you can be done in 2-3 hours. There is usually some type of wildlife around plus there are historical buildings to see. You can stop at any places you might have missed on the way back thru the park, maybe even stop and have a picnic lunch at one of the streams. Mingo Falls in Cherokee is all steps, not a trail and an easy hike to a great waterfall. Good photo ops there.

By then it should be late enough for Cataloochee, From there you can decide if you want to take back roads to Waynesville & get on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Ashville or go back to Cherokee and go thru Maggie Valley.

Marlborough...
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4. Re: tentative plan

my concern with Cades Cove is it is on the western end of the park. since we onyl really have 2 days in the park including all the driving i didnt want to stray too far from NC. no idea how far away Cades Cove is from Gatlinburg timewise though.

i have a carrier for our daughter so she can go on my back but it IS another 16+ lbs on me for the incline. luckily she is tiny!

Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: tentative plan

Let me help you with a time frame. If you left Gatlinburg early like 8 AM, you could be to Cades Cove at 930. Take 3 hours in Cades Cove. Head back to 441 and take it over the mountain to Cherokee. This will take you a little over 2 hours. On to Cataloochee. You will be there at about 4 PM. Perfect time to start seeing the elk. We have seen them at mid-day before. Back to Asheville.

Marlborough...
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6. Re: tentative plan

thanks for the time frames!

ill have to mull it over. we will have a toddler with us so we may just go with stopping somewhere near where we are to explore rather than being in the car more. though she naps well in the car so there's that!

i will keep it in my mind when planning. it's very helpful info thank you!

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7. Re: tentative plan

I'd be inclined to leave Cade's Cove out of the schedule too. It is out of the way and you don't want to be in a rush. There are plenty of things to do along the way from Gatlinburg to Cataloochee. Maybe grab some picnic items from a grocery and head to Chimneys Picnic Area. It is a wonderful spot. There are several hiking trails along 441 to explore as well.

Marlborough...
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8. Re: tentative plan

any recommendations for where to stay for one night in Gatlinburg? since we basically just need a place to sleep for one night our criteria would be "cheap but not disgusting"

Days Inn is $50 per night for the time frame we will be there. the tripadvisor reviews have the same number of reviews in each category (good, ok, terrible, etc)

we are very much not picky people

9. Re: tentative plan

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