Friday, August 29, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Old Sugarlands Trail

After my week of training in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I figured I owed it to myself to get out and go for a hike. I opted for the Old Sugarlands Trail since it is close to Gatlinburg and a relatively easy, and not too long hike. I parked at the small parking area off of the Newfound Gap Road
trailhead
and immediately hit the trail.

The trail closely paralleled the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River
river
and soon followed the obvious roadbed of an old road.
old road
Much of what I've now read refer to this road as old Tennessee Highway 71. The road bed made for some fast hiking and I soon found myself at an area where I found lots of evidence of former habitation. I guessed that this might be the site of an old CCC camp and my internet research seems to bear this out. There was an old stone structure referred to as the old CCC Camp incinerator,
old structure
the old CCC clock "tower"
old sign
and an old garbage dump site.
metao pieces


Soon after leaving the old CCC site the trail actually became a well maintained gravel road.
gravel road
I'm guessing it is maintained to provide access to a cemetery that I did not visit. The gravel road got a bit steep, but not too bad. I saw lots of cardinal flower
cardinal flower
growing along the side of the road as well as some possible primrose and other assorted wildflowers.
primrose
I saw a few deer,
deer
but not any bears. I did see plenty of evidence of bears though.
bear scat
When I reached the intersection with the Bullhead Trail I drank some water and turned around to retrace my steps back to my vehicle. Due to the day's humidity and heat, I was drenched with sweat by the time I returned to the car and cranked up the air conditioner.           

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