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More Cades Cove and Hen Wallow Falls-GSMNP

July 25 Wednesday  to July 28 Saturday, 2018                                                 Most Recent Posts
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Cades-Cove-MapI’ve taken to coming to Cades Cove every Wednesday and Saturday when they close the road to vehicles from 7am to 10am.

This Wednesday I drive to Nancy and Bill’s place and Bill drives us out to Cades Cove.  It is such a wonderful place to be in the early mornings when there are no cars. 

We get there at7am.  We start near the red star on the map and head down Cades Cove Loop road.  We turn left at Sparks Lane looking for birds and other wildlife.  Most of the bikers go straight down the Loop Road and do all or most of the 11 mile ride.

When we get to Abrams Creek where the rains have caused the creek to rise over the road.   Nancy and I walk on through since we have on our waterproof hiking boots.  We do tiptoe it since the water would be up over the laces.  But Bill isn’t having any of that so he takes off his shoes and to wade across.  

He’s giving it a good look.


In the thick of it.


Made it across.  Shoes and socks back on.


On our walk we spot a blue grossbeak. Such a beautiful bird and quite the singer.

As the sky beyond the grossbeak indicates it is a foggy morning in Cades Cove.  Beautiful none the less.


This is the only time of day you will see this road empty of vehicles.  The mountains are just beginning to show through in the distance.


The Eastern Wood Peewee is often on the fence lines. 


So is the juvenile blue bird.  Because I come so often, I’ve seen them grow.


Almost looks like he’s saying “You AGAIN?”


The youngsters look big enough to take care of themselves to me but the adults are always near by.

Bill spies this doe sneaking along the grass line just beyond the fence.  It’s our only 4 legged wildlife for today.

I did get a picture of another grossbeak singing his heart out.


I don’t remember exactly what Nancy was pointing out but I just really liked this picture of her with her camera doing what she loves to do.


Love the water droplets on the orange jewelweed, also known as touch-me-not.  I always think it means there must be poison ivy near by.


By the time we are heading back to give the road over to the cars, the fog has liften, the mountains are clear the sky is blue.


Other permanent residents we see often are the wild turkey.

I think the turkey gets a bum wrap.  They are actually very smart birds in their wild state before we have bread them to stupidity and hysteria.  Plus I think their patterns and colors are fantastic.
Look at the subtle bronze among other colors in their feathers.


What a face.  No wonder Mr. Tom shows off his fabulous feathers to attract his lady friends.


Map to Gabes Mountain TrailheadOn Thursday, it’s time for another waterfall hike.  This time I drive over to the Cosby campground where the trail head for the Hen Wallow Falls is located.  I also want to check out the campsites for a future potential stay while I’m there.  Staying inside the park at their various campgrounds makes it much easier to hike all the trails without an hour drive each way.

Today the distance is almost 35 miles but it takes nearly an hour to get there from where I’m staying.  This also means a later start than if I were closer.   I’m at the trailhead at 8am. But that is after about half an hour looking for where it was.  The directions say at the Cosby picnic area outside the campground.   So I’m walking all around, looking at the campground check in station for a map that shows its location.  Nope!   Finally I walk back down the road I came in and past the dump station and finally find it.  The sign is off the road.  This needs some attention.


From the beginning It is a steep hike up Snake Den Mountain with the usual rocks and roots.  It has some fun one log bridges and some big hemlock and poplar trees..


The trail is through a beautiful lush green forest with ferns and rhododendron.

At points it seems the trees and bushes are just about to grow over the trail.  If I keep going, will they just grow over me too?

At this point the Gabes Mountain Trail goes straight ahead on up the mountain.  To view the falls I take the fork off to the right which goes steeply down.    I realize that my thoughts that my steep up was over and it would be all down hill after the falls will have to be altered.

Apparently I’m the first person here today.  I have the spot all to myself for about 20 minutes.

Hen Wallow Falls (no idea where the name came from) is only two feet wide at the top but fans out to 20 feet at the base of its 90 foot drop.


It seems lovely and delicate as it slides down the rock.

I spend the better part of an hour here.  A family comes and goes.  They speak in hushed tones while they are here which I really appreciate.

When a group of five noisy hikers comes down the steep trail I know it’s time for me to go.

The hike from the falls back to the main trail is steep but short enough that my trip back is mostly down hill.  Ruby and I then take a drive through the campground and using a map I mark a site or two that would work for my requirements.  It would be a lot easier with a smaller rig though.  No way any rig over 35’ is going to get in her I don’t think.

Unfortunately, it is around noon when I hit Gatlinburg on my way back.  I spend some time at traffic lights in the never ending line and lanes of cars.   At least the streets were nearly empty when I came this morning and it was a great hike.


Friday night was the full moon and I am thrilled to see it sinking low in the sky on Saturday morning when I set out again at 6:25am for Cades Cove.



Another misty morning.  I love the mountains in the mist and the blanket that lies over the fields.


Although the sunrise was at 6:15 this morning, it is 7:45 before it burns white hot through the fog and takes it nearly another hour to make a dent in the white skies.


I can’t see a lot at a distance but I find some wonderful sights at my feet.  Such bright orange among a field of green, mostly ferns. 


Aren’t they amazing?


cadescove map2

Today, as on Wednesday, walk in on the loop road and turn left onto Sparks Lane.  On Wednesday Nancy, Bill and I walked only a short way down Sparks and then turned around to head back. 

Today I walk all the way on Sparks which includes a steep incline before reaching the back section of the loop road where I turn left.

There is a brown star on the map where I find a wide mowed trail into a beautiful field.   There is a small group of trees in the misty distance.  I head toward it.


When I get close enough, I see there is a partial fence around the trees.


It appears there are some field stones I assume are marking graves.


The mowed path continued beyond the copse of trees.


There were many flowers in the field.


As I slowly walked just enjoying my surroundings I saw what looked like perhaps a brown pole very far down near the clouds.


Putting my camera up to my eye which is a much better zoom than my binoculars, this is what I see at the other end of the mowed path. 

It seems as though he sees me too despite how far away I am but as can be seen in this video, he starts trotting toward me.


Tail up, he keeps coming.  He’s still a good distance away.


What a gorgeous creature he is.  This is the last picture I take before I raise my hands over my head and wave them as though I’m trying to signal a plane.   He does see me or the movement, snorts, stomps and runs off in the opposite direction.  I’m so sorry to see him go.


After he goes I follow the path down to the circle in which he was originally standing.

There is of course no sign of him at all.  This is the spot marked by the brown star on the map.


I retrace my steps.  I love the soft folds of the mountains here in the Appalachians.  I know they are not the jagged peaks so loved by those out west but I guess these are my mountains.

Reluctantly I walk out of the meadow and onto the loop road.  I’m going to make a circle back to my car so I turn left.  Along the way I find lovely streams.


Even tiny cascades are lovely.


I’m approaching the end of the loop road as are many bicyclists and runners.  They will be opening the gates to the cars soon although even the fastest of them does not make it around to this point for over an hour which is great for what happens next.

A little further up the road a group of people is standing looking  up into a tree.  That can only mean one thing.  Can you see h er within the small orange oval??




It’s a mom and her cub.  I watch for a long time and eventually they back down the tree.



Mom is checking out the possibility of crossing the road.


In my opinion, these folks were not giving her enough room. 


Baby bear climbs a little further up rather than coming down.  Too many people too close I thought.


But Mama is going so cub follows.



Mama must be used to these things because there were people in both directions rather hemming her in and she just went on across.  But baby bear was hoofing it as you can see by his blurred image in the picture.  This all took place at the red star on the map.


Another great day at Cades Cove.  No wonder I keep being drawn back here on a weekly and sometimes twice weekly basis.


  1. How great to see a mother and cub so close for such a long time. Very cool!

  2. I've really been enjoying your Smokies hikes. Gatlinburg was very crowded many years ago when we were visiting the park. Can't imagine what it must be like now.

  3. I saw your video before I read your post and I must say that I was getting a little nervous looking at that rack and at the way he was running towards you. He was gorgeous. All I can say about those idiots getting so close to that Mama Bear is that they would have deserved anything she gave them. What the heck? Anyway, it looks like a gorgeous hike. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Bill and I were just talking about the summer. We both thought that our time spent in Cades Cove (Wednesdays & Saturdays, before 10am) were about the most favorite thing we did:o)) You had a great day seeing the Buck and Bears!! BTW...I'm a turkey fan also;o))

  5. Enjoy reading your adventures, plan to visit Cades Cove in October. We live in Lakeland Florida and just a few years ago I got my husband to start exploring the Smoky Mountains in retirement.

  6. How cool to see the bears! Amazing how they can climb, too bad they are constantly annoyed by humans.

  7. With all that lush growth you woudn't want to sit too long or you might become part of the forest. But you know, that might be a good thing. Love the shroud of fog. Nice to be able to walk/bike on the road with no cars, at least for a little while. What a startling and awesome experience that bull gave you. And what is with people crowding wildlife, especially a mama bear and cub. Another lovely hike. I think you could/should be a Ranger either here or Acadia.

  8. Some great hikes and wildlife sightings, how great to have this area to enjoy. Nice that they close the road for awhile for bikers and walkers to enjoy.

  9. You are truly a bear whisperer! It's astonishing how many you see on your hikes. It's lovely that you were in the Smokies long enough to have the tradition of hiking Cades Cove twice a week on the mornings when the loop is closed to traffic. It really gave you the opportunity to experience the landscape in a deeper way. I agree with Gaeyln, you would be a wonderful ranger in the Smokies.

  10. So much to love about this post!! From the pretty birds to the amazing bear encounter - just wonderful! Love the moon and the rising sun - what a gift. The trees in the field with the bit of fog look like a magical place at the end of a quest. And the orange fungus!!!

  11. The stag is quite impressive. Turkeys look like such characters.

  12. Wow bear sightings again! When we drove on that road, I was really praying I can see these bears hanging on or climbing to a tree, but no luck. While you always manage to spot them and give them a good shot. The stag must be guarding for he seems to watch you and tried to approach you, but what a great photo of the handsome deer.

  13. Very cool bear sighting again! How cute to see the baby climbing the tree. Incredible :)

  14. What a great post. Bears, waterfalls, birds, and a magnificent buck. You hit the jackpot. Thanks, as always, for taking us along.

  15. You again? Haha! What lovely birds and great pictures of them. That moon and the pictures of the landscape at sunrise are gorgeous. Definitely worth the drive to see the buck and bears. Loved the buck video...he was so stately! Love the mountain folds...truly beautiful...for sure a special place.


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