Our last weekend before the kids started school we spent camping in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is just a few hours away from us and is a beautiful place to explore and enjoy with the family. We camped at the Cosby campground on the northeastern side of the park. It was a good choice, not too busy or crowded.
Kate commented that this pic makes it look like our tents and everything is Betty sized.
We decided to do a hike up to Hen Wallow Falls the next morning. The trail started at our campground and was supposed to be a "moderate difficulty" 5 mile hike. It took us a while with the kids but they did great!
Here's Elijah pointing out some Galax leaves he found towards the beginning of the hike.
There were a couple of log bridges like this along the way that the kids thought were pretty cool.
And here we are, we made it to the Falls! It was a fun place to explore and the kids felt like real adventurers! One of the things the Great Smoky Mountains are known for is their abundant salamanders of all kinds - we found some around the bottom of the falls but didn't get any good pictures of them.
Poor Betty. This is what happens when Daddy takes pictures. ;)
We took a long break on the rocks and logs and had a snack.
Time for selfies with Daddy! Here comes her cheese face!
Meanwhile the kids and I did some rock climbing.
On the way back, and still in good spirits!
That evening we went to a local apple orchard and had a nice meal at their restaurant, then got half a bushel of apples and some local honey to take home. We camped out again that evening and then the next day spent more time in the car, sightseeing. We checked out a few of other campsites, then drove along the Foothills Parkway and checked out all of the scenic overlooks.
Here we are at some of the overlooks.
After the Foothills Parkway we went through Gatlinburg, into the main entrance of the park, and headed for the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which has lots of fun stops along the way, including several historical homesteads. The kids liked seeing the old houses, but Cora remarked that she was glad that we live in the time we do now, and not back then. I agree.
There were also beautiful stops where we got out and let the kids explore nature a bit.
This spot was called the Place of a Thousand Drips, which has a rather Oriental feeling to me. The kids climbed up to the top with Ryan while I stayed back with Betty.
After the Motor Trail, we checked out the Visitor's Center, then we headed home.
It was a wonderful trip. The kids loved it and keep asking to go back. We left with tons of pictures, great memories, and pockets full of treasures like river rocks and acorns.