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The Place for Fall Foilage - Review by S C | U S Gov Great Smoky Mountain National Park

U S Gov Great Smoky Mountain National Park

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The Place for Fall Foilage 9/27/2006

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited parks in the country -- and fall is one of the main reasons. Few places offer as many scenic views of the fall foliage. And, while it does peak, the variety of plants in the park is huge, making the foliage last just a little longer. Admission is free for all park areas for both vehicles and hikers. The park does charge for camping. Hikers who are going to be in the back country are required to register their hiking plans with the park service. (This isn't big brother; several people get lost in the park each year. If a hiker hasn't left a route, it can take days to find him or her.) The best places for fall foliage, in my opinion, are Cades Cove, Newfoundland Gap and the stretch of Highway 411 running from Gatlinburg to Cherokee. Unfortunately, those places are always crowded...I mean really crowded with bumper-to-bumper traffic. All highways do offer areas where you can pull off to the side of the road and take pictures. For walking, you may want to try some of the "quiet walkways" that are marked with small wooden signs. Park rangers at the Sugarlands Visitors Center, just about a mile after you leave Gatlinburg, can offer advice on these walkways with details like how strenuous these are and which ones have waterfalls. The quiet walkways are not paved like many of the park's popular trails, so it feels a little more like you're in the backwoods. Within a few minutes of hitting the trail, you won't be able to hear traffic or anything. more
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