A few weeks ago, we headed back to the Smokies and tackled another hiking trail. This time, the Rich Mountain Loop was the one on our radar. The trail is 8.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1,736 feet. Since it makes one big loop, there's no backtracking and you get new scenery for most of the trek!
Scrambled egg sammich. The perfect pre-hike breakfast following a long day and night of work and less than 5 hours of sleep!
The locals understand that the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop can be a wonderful drive, or a cuss-word-inducing trek through traffic hell. Rich Mountain Loop appealed to us because the trailhead starts just before you get to the one-way section of the loop. So in other words, when we finished we could GETTHEHECKOUTOFTHERE!
This is a popular trail for horseback riders. We saw these tracks all over the place!
There's nothing terribly fancy waiting for you at the end of this trail. It's just a nice little stroll through the woods. Ok, so it's not really a stroll since the first 4.2 miles is a steep climb, but you get the idea. We started early enough to avoid the hottest parts of the day, but the heavy shade was much appreciated.
There are quite a few other trails that could have caused us to get rather lost, but we learned quickly to "stay to the right!"
Fallen tree across the trail #1 of 459
After awhile you end up right behind one of Cades Coves popular stops.. the John Oliver cabin.
I like that sign! The trail, it be thisaway!
Fallen tree across the trail #2 of 459
Fallen tree #... holy heck, this thing counts for #4-50 of 459.
Told ya it was shady. Too bad shade doesn't cut through the humidity. I had sweat running down my... well, let's just say I was rather sweaty.
Well, what do we have here?
Hello, pretty lady! She was munchin' peacefully on some shrubbery and let us get pretty darn close to her before frolicking off into the woods. It's a good thing it was just a deer and not a black bear, otherwise I would have needed a new pair of underpants. I prefer seeing bears from the safety of a vehicle, thankyouverymuch.
There wasn't a ton of color on the trail, but we did find a few things in bloom.
Flame azaleas with butterflies!
There are a few places where the trail opens up for views of Townsend, but it was a bit too hazy to see much.
Ahh, finally!! Halfway through, the trail leveled off at the top, and that means.. lunch! We found a patch of flat rocks in the middle of the trail and sat ourselves down right in the middle of it. We only saw a few other hikers the whole day, so we figured no one would mind.
My usual trail lunch is a fluffernutter, and Matt usually goes for roast beef. Those cookies on the right are none other than Grandma's peanut butter. Remember those? From elementary school? Yellow package? Yeah.. we got a little nostalgic and picked them up for lunch. Matt got greedy and took a bite before I had a chance to take a photo.
Downhill, oh yeah!
Another trail conquered!