The Annual Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival

 

The Annual Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival will be held Saturday-Sunday, June 17-18 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Roan Mountain State Park, located on Highway 143 in Roan Mountain, TN. This two-day event celebrates the blooming of hundreds of spectacular Alpine Catawba Rhododendron which tower more than 20-ft. high along a trail that loops through the main garden. Along the way wooden platform decks offers spectacular views of surrounding mountains, and nearby is the site of the old Cloudland Hotel, once a popular destination for people seeking a respite from the long hot days of summer. The USFS charges a small fee to enter the garden area.

This event, celebrated continually for the past 60 years and once held at the top of Roan Mountain, was moved in recent years to the lower elevation of Roan Mountain State Park. In addition to the fabulous Rhododendron display, visitors can also sample a variety of traditional southern foods, check out the offerings of regional artisans and sit back and enjoy authentic Appalachian music provided by The Roan Mountain Hill toppers, a well-known old-time string band. This family band has performed at such venues as the Smithsonian Museum’s American Folk Life Festival, the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN, and the Country Music hall of Fame in Nashville.
You might want to pack some swim gear and take advantage of the pool, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. –7 pm. on Sunday. A $5 fee is charged per person and a $3 fee is charged for cabin and camping guests. Lifeguards are on duty and a small wading pool provides a safe and fun spot for younger visitors.

Thirty rental cabins and tent and RV camping are provided for at the 107-site Roan Mountain State Park campground, which encompasses more that 2,000 acres and is located at the base of the 6,285 foot Roan Mountain. Cabins have fully equipped kitchens, a full bath, wood-burning stoves and gas/electric heart. Campsites are equipped with a grill and picnic table. A bathhouse offering hot showers is located nearby.Wildlife is abundant in the area and The Friends of Roan Mountain have compiled a checklist for the flora and fauna in the park along with amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals and reptiles, which is available by visiting Friends of Roan Mountain.

DIRECTIONS:

Interstate 26 to Exit 31 (Elizabethton), U.S Route 321 to Elizabethton and then U.S. Highway 19-E at Elizabethton then south into Roan Mountain, TN.
U.S. 19 splits into U.S. 19E and U.S. 19W in Bluff City, TN., north of Elizabethton.The routes rejoin in rural Yancey County, N.C. While U.S. 19W heads

Finding Roan Mountain is half the fun! Be sure and take the scenic route, your honey will thank you! Photo credit ACTS-Syracuse.org

directly for Interstate 26 at exits 35 and 36 in Johnson, City Tennessee, U.S. 19E takes a 70 mile path through the heart of the Unaka Mountains. U.S. 19W splits from I-26 just before the Tennessee-North Carolina border and meanders through the mountains of Yancey County, N.C.

Alternate U.S. 19W is co-signed with Interstate 26 for much of its length in Tennessee. U.S. 19E in Tennessee runs concurrently with State Route 37. Tennessee State Route 143 intersects U.S.-19E in the Roan Mountain community and connects the area with both the state park and Carvers Gap, a low point in the ridgeline of Roan Mountain. As you ascend you exit Roan Mountain State Park and enter Cherokee National Forest. A parking lot at the gap provides access to the Appalachian Trail that crosses a series of grassy balds offering spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. This 10-mile stretch of balds is said by many hikers to be the most beautiful section of the entire Appalachian Trail. Beyond the balds, the AT climbs to 6,285 foot Roan High Knob, the highest point of the Roan Mountain Ridge.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES

FISHING: Anglers will enjoy the Doe River which is cool enough year-round to provide a habitat for native brook trout, along with rainbow and brown trout which are stocked regularly. Bring a fly rod and test your skills against the abundant, but elusive, trout or fish for Bass, Walleye and Catfish on nearby Wautauga River.

HIKING AND BIKING: You are sure to find the perfect spot to hike or bike on some of the 12 miles of hiking trails and more than three miles of mountain bike trails which range from easy to strenuous.

Even the smallest endeavor yields great rewards on Roan Mountain. Take a break from the car and hit the trail!

Blue 2 Trail- a multi-use, easy trail runs for 1.35 miles. The trail climbs and descends steeply in short sections and features narrow switchback turns.

Moonshiners Run Trail is an easy to moderate multi-use trail that runs 1.85 miles along the Doe River. Although wide and level in sections, the trail narrows to a single track in the last mile.

Chestnut Ridge Trail is easily the most challenging in the park. The trail climbs steeply through deciduous forest and rhododendron thickets, gaining elevation on its way to the Miller Farmstead on Strawberry Mountain. The reward for this strenuous activity is the stunning view of the Roan Highlands from an overlook platform. CAUTION: BLACK BEARS ARE KNOWN TO FREQUENT THIS REMOTE AREA AND HIKERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO HIKE IN PAIRS AND MAKE NOISE ALONG THE TRAIL.

Cloudland Trail, a moderate half-mile hike is self-guided with the help of informational brochures that are available at the visitor’s center. The trail winds along the Doe River and continues over a couple of small ridges.

Forest Road Trail is the longest trail in the park at 2.75 miles. Classified as easy to difficult the trail connects the visitor center and the campground as well as a link to several other trails. The Southern section is rated easy, while further north if changes to moderately difficult. The section from the Turkey Trot Junction to Hwy 143 is very steep, but early spring hikers will be rewarded by the sight of a carpeting of spring flowers along the trail. The hike features rhododendron tunnels, a bridge crossing over the Doe River and amazing views of Roan Mountain during the winter months.

Fred Behrend Trail is a moderate to difficult 2.35 mild hike that loops around the entire campground and leads along the Doe River before entering lush thickets of rhododendron. Expect to see lots of mountain hollows and experience stream crossings.

Peg Leg Mine Trail is a .35 miles leads to the ruins of an iron ore mine once operated in the late 1800s. Entry to the mine is prohibited due to safety precautions.

Raven Rock Overlook Trail is a one-mile difficult trail ascending quickly to the crest of Heaton Ridge and is one of the most popular trails in the park. It offers amazing views of the Roan Valley and is one of the best spots to watch a Roan Mountain Sunset.

Riverside Trail runs for a half-mile and provides access from the cabin area to picnic shelter 2 via a boardwalk installed over a restored wetland.
Turkey Trot Trail runs for only a quarter-mile yet is categorized as moderate-strenuous. It begins at the cabin overflow parking lot and ends at the top of the ridge.

Extra nearby fun:

The Miller Farmstead is a great place to learn about the grit of our mountain pioneers!

Step back in time at The Miller Farmstead, located just before entering Roan Mountain State Park. Drive up a winding road and discover the hardiness and self-sufficiency of early Appalachian settlers. The white-frame Miller farmhouse, built in 1908 by Nathaniel Miller, is preserved as it appeared then, along with a barn, corn crib, hog pen, root cellar, smoke house, chicken house, spring house and the ever-necessary outhouse, as a testament to the ingenuity and industriousness of these early settlers who farmed the ridges of the southern Appalachians. On Saturdays, during the summer months, local musicians, storytellers and folks demonstrating traditional farm skills share their talents. The farmhouse location is picture perfect during October’s fiery autumn colors, and beginning in November the house is festooned with greenery and other natural decorations for the annul Old time Yule at the Farmstead when hot apple cider and snacks are offered and live music echoes throughout the house. The farmstead is open Memorial Day to Labor Day from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday and on weekends in October. No admission is charged for this site which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Smoky Mountain Fathers Day Fun Activities!

Happy Fathers Day Smoky Mountain Style! Photo credit Chedzcakes.

 Smoky Mountain Fathers Day Fun Activities! Ten ways to celebrate Father’s Day in The Great Smoky Mountains Sunday, June 18, 2017. The Great Smoky Mountains offer a myriad of ways to celebrate Dad’s special day. Whether your Dad prefers, hiking, biking, fishing, great food or a cold brewski, the forests, towns and valleys located around the park have lots to offer.

1: Begin with breakfast by enjoying a stack of golden pancakes at the Log Cabin Pancake House up the hill on Airport Road after turning at red light # 8 in Gatlinburg ( readily identified by the covered wagon on the roof.) The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. and features a full breakfast. Parking is available in a lot just behind the building which is handicapped accessible. Not up for a large meal? Mosey on down the cobblestone alley in The Village (located at traffic light #6) downtown Gatlinburg and enter the Donut Friar’s, which offers an amazing variety of delicious donuts and pastries. The Friar also features great coffee, including espressos and cappuccinos. Cake donuts are available beginning at 5 a.m. and you can park on the street until 9 a.m. After 9, the staff recommends turning at traffic light #6 to access one of the city parking lots.

2: Pack a basket with delectable food and head to one of the many beautiful picnic facilities in the great Smoky Mountain National Park (My Dad’s personal favorite was the Chimney’s located a few miles south of Gatlinburg on Newfound Gap Road.) Most are located near flowing rivers, and feature tables and grills to make preparing that special treat for Dad an easy task. Don’t want to cook? Many local restaurants and sandwich shops like Old Dad’s General Store on the strip in Gatlinburg offer take-outs with all the fixings. All you need is a cooler, a bag of ice and a big jug of iced tea. Don’t forget to take folding chairs (all the better to sit in while dipping your toes in that cold mountain stream) and a couple of blankets for an afternoon nap.

3: Angling for the best present? A gift certificate from Smoky Mountain Angler provides beginning and advanced fly-fishing

Fathers Day Catch of the Day!

lessons. You can also book a professional guide which will allow Dad to test his fishing skills at some of the more remote areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If Dad wants to test his luck solo, plan a trip to the Oconaluftee River, one of the best stocked trout streams in North Carolina, located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Cherokee, N.C.. Required tribal permits cost $10 per day and are available online or at the welcome center or fly-fishing shop. Anglers may keep up to 10 fish per day UNLESS you are fly-fishing on a 2.2 mile stretch on Big Cove Road which is catch and release only.

4: Has Dad’s outdoor gear had it? Check out some of the innovative new gear at GSM Outfitters. Camping has come a long way since the days of the clunky folding camp stove. Space-age technology has introduced lightweight and efficient ways to enjoy the outdoors. Most gear (tents, stoves, etc.) are compact enough to make backpacking a pleasure. Hiking boots are waterproof and the addition of Gore-Tex and other materials makes for warmer toes on winter hikes. Clothing has also undergone a transformation. T-shirts and shorts are designed to wick away moisture and will quickly dry after a dip (unexpected or otherwise) in a mountain stream.

5: Hike your way to big fun on Father’s Day in the park with a

There are over 800 miles of hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

leisurely stroll down one of the many nature paths like Fighting Creek trail at Sugarlands Visitors Center or something a little more strenuous. Your intrepid dad will enjoy a hike two miles up to Alum Cave Bluffs. This hike has it all with amazing views, a climb through arch rock, rushing streams, and a diverse forest. If you have the energy you can continue on to the summit of Mount LeConte for the best view in the Smokies!

6: Plan an overnight camping trip to one of the dozens of  campgrounds located in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whether Dad prefers “glamping” in a luxiourous motor home, or less glamorous pop-ups and tents, or opts to really rough it in the backcountry, Park campgrounds offer an opportunity to reconnect with nature. Some of the more popular sites include Elkmont, Smokemont and Cosby. It is not too late to catch a late night firefly show or watch for shooting stars in the dark summer skies as you are lulled to sleep by the soothing (and sometimes a bit startling) sounds of Mother Nature.

7: Maybe dad is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but at Smoky Mountain Knife Works on highway 66 in Sevierville he does not have to be. The knife works offers the worlds finest selection of blades you can imagine. Don’t forget to check out the kitchen gadgets in the basement. You won’t be disappointed!

8: Looking for an adult beverage option for Dad? Check out the Smoky Mountain Brewery and restaurant located on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge ( the brewery also has sites in Knoxville and Gatlinburg) and enjoy one of the six locally crafted beers on tap. The facility is open from 11 a.m.-midnight and features live local music nearly every night. Or, cheer Dad at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery which specializes in dozens of flavors and proofs of corn liquor in downtown Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Live music in an outdoor setting is featured regularly. Check out the HeySmokies events calendar to find the dates and times!

9: Dining options abound in and around the Smokies. The iconic Smoky Mountain Trout House is a long-time favorite and a great place to chow down on delicious mountain Rainbow Trout. Another visitor favorite is the Cherokee Grill and Steakhouse. The Boursin Filet is to die for! For a more down-home meal, check out the Bush Beans Café located about 15 miles east of Sevierville, just across Highway 411 from the massive Bush Bean manufacturing plant. We enjoyed the fried catfish, fried okra and a heaping bowl of greens. While there check out the country store that offers a variety of Bush products and the museum that provides a history of the Bush family and the manufacturing process. The cafe is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; the store from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and the museum from 10 a.m -4 p.m.

10: If all else fails and you need one more idea for a Smoky Mountain Fathers Day gift just give ol’ Dad a great big HeySmokies bear hug. They are free, feel great, and never get old. It may be the best gift ever invented!

Let Dad know you love him! Photo credit Mabelhood.

 

 

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park “Womens Work” Day Saturday, June 17, 2017

Nancy Larson demonstrates an antique sock knitting machine.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park “Womens Work” Day Saturday, June 17, 2017. On Saturday, June 17, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual Women’s Work Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum. This event honors the vast contributions made by the women of Southern Appalachia showcasing traditional work led by women on mountain farms in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The event is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Demonstrations among the historic buildings will include hearth cooking, soap making, corn shuck crafts, and spinning. Exhibits of artifacts and historic photographs will provide a glimpse into the many roles of rural women. The Davis-Queen house will be open and available for touring and will highlight an audio presentation of memoirs collected from last child born in the house.

In addition to the Women’s Work Festival, visitors will also be treated to a music jam session on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Music jam sessions are held every first and third Saturday of the month on the porch from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All activities are free to the public. The Mountain Farm Museum is located on U.S. Highway 441 adjacent to the national park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. For additional information call the visitor center at 828-497-1904.

The next event at the Mountain Farm Museum is the annual Mountain Life Festival on Saturday, September 16, 2017.

Art sale to benefit Wears Valley Ranch Saturday June 10, 2017

Find the perfect piece of art for your home at the Wears Valley Ranch Art Sale!

Art sale to benefit Wears Valley Ranch Saturday June 10, 2017. Local artisans and residents of Wears Valley Ranch will offer unique crafts and art at a sale in beautiful Wears Valley, Tennessee. Wears Valley Ranch, a non-profit organization, is celebrating 25 years of service to children from families in crisis situations.

The event, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ranch which is located between Pigeon Forge and Townsend, just off Wears Valley Road at Lyon Springs Road, will feature vintage goods, innovative crafts, jewelry, furniture, pottery and a variety of food and live music. Behind-the-scenes ranch tours will be offered at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Make plans now to enjoy a fun day in a delightful setting while helping to raise funds for a worthy cause.

For GPS directions to the ranch use 3601 Lyon Springs Road, Sevierville. To learn more about Wears Valley Ranch go to ART.

HeySmokies.com blog owner puts spare change to good use!

                                    Shelter gains $10,000.00 to help area animals.

HeySmokies.com blog owner puts spare change to good use! Brad Knight, the owner of HeySmokies.com recently presented Pets Without Parents a donation check bringing the amount donated by HeySmokies.com up to $10,000.00. For the past two years the Sevierville company placed donation boxes inside Sevier County businesses to collect spare change from locals and visitors who generously contributed to help reach this milestone.

That spare change has been put to good use at the animal shelter which offers a refuge to many pets who otherwise would be homeless. Pets Without Parents is Sevier Counties only no kill animal facility.

“I am honored to help Pets Without Parents,” said Brad Knight, “this donation program helps with a portion of the shelters monthly expenses which can exceed $10,000.00.”