Saturday, November 14, 2015

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Roundtop Trail

I made it to the trailhead at Wear Cove Gap by about 8:30 this morning and immediately hiked a short portion of the road to the Roundtop Trail.
trailhead
It was a cold and frosty morning and the thick, downed leaves coated with ice crystals were a bit slippery.
frosty leaves
I started the hike with lots of views towards the summit of the trail's namesake: Roundtop.
Roundtop
This early portion of the trail closely followed the park boundary,
benchmark
and I found myself with lots of view of large rustic-style homes. The trail even veered practically into someone's backyard living area.
outdoor living area


It was an exceedingly pleasant day for a hike.
Eric on trail
The trail was never really that steep (except for one short extremely steep section) and there were still a few trees with leaves clinging to their branches.
colorful leaves
With most of the leaves down, there were lots of nice views through the tree branches of the surrounding mountains.
view through the trees
While I didn't see any flowers in bloom, there were lots of seeds clinging onto the stems, including these milkweed seeds.
milkweed seeds

The trail ascended to Joint Ridge and then started a long, but gentle descent down to the Little River at the Townsend Wye. The lower portions of trail traversed some sections where rock had been blasted away to form a ledge for the trail.
hiking along cliff
Soon I found myself at the river,
Little River 2
the junction of Middle Prong, West Prong and the Little River.
Townsend Wye
I explored the area a bit and found an old metal ring.
ring
Was there a bridge here at one time? Then I found a nice rock to sit on and eat a snack. There were lots of people out along the river on the other side. I had my side of the river all to myself. After my snack I packed up my stuff and started to make my way back to the trailhead. The return trip featured lots of great views of Cove Mountain
Cove Mountain
which I had hiked about a year ago in the snow.

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