What a day to be outside! Today was the first real day of fall here in East Tennessee. I'm glad I had the opportunity to enjoy it. I awoke this morning at 6 am and hit the road, headed towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I stopped in Newport for a quick breakfast and then hopped on I-40 east. I had intended to get off the interstate at the exit for Big Creek and drive up to Mount Sterling Gap, but as the exit was not signed for Big Creek like I thought it would be, I passed right by it. The next exit is not for another 7 miles and rather than drive an extra 14 miles, I opted to head over to Cataloochee to explore the area and hike the Boogerman Loop. Missing my exit turned out to be a good mistake!
It was a long winding drive from I-40 to Cataloochee. Shortly after entering the park I was treated to some solitude at a really nice overlook of the valley and surrounding mountains.
Palmer Chapel was an impressive, yet simple, church located at the edge of where the woods meet the fields.
After Beech Grove School I headed further up the road to explore the Caldwell House. To get to the house you cross Rough Fork on a small wooden bridge.
From the Caldwell House I drove back the way I came, squeezing past cars headed in the other direction. I was headed to the Boogerman Loop Trailhead for a walk into some big trees. After my hike I drove out of Cataloochee via the road that goes past the Palmer House.