Trail Miles Completed: 2.2
Trail Miles Hiked: 4.4
7 Oct. 2010
Fall is definitely in the air around here. Chilly nights and warm sunny days. And it's fall break at UT so we decided to go for a one-night camping trip last night since we've got other obligations coming up this weekend.
We've been camping at the Cosby campground in the Smokies a couple of times before, and really enjoyed it. Compared to our usual haunts (mostly Elkmont, occasionally Cades Cove) the Cosby campground is lightly used, and last night was no exception. While there were other campers around we didn't see or hear much of them.
We got a nice fire going, fixed our hobo meals, and mostly sat around the fire relaxing and talking. That was something Sarah & I both really needed after some long, stressful weeks. The night was chilly, but we were snug in our tent and sleeping bags and after a breakfast of pancakes & sausages we packed up and got ready to hit the trail.
There are several trails in the Cosby area, and I've never been on any of them. When I saw that the Gabes Mtn. trail led to Henwallow Falls in just 2.2 miles I thought that would be a perfect family hike.
The trail head is near the entrance to the Cosby campground. The trail winds gently (for the most part) up about 800 ft in elevation gain to the side trail to Henwallow Falls. It's a beautiful trail - lined with rhododendrons, magnolias, hemlocks, and maples, and has several creek crossings on log bridges. The weather was perfect - cool, but sunny - great hiking weather!
About half-way to the falls you reach an area that "Hiking Trails of the Smokies" describes as a "traffic loop" - apparently an old road used to come in from Cosby and Henwallow Falls was a popular destination for an afternoon drive. There's a sign here telling you how far you are from either end of the trail.
The book also mentions that there were some homesites in this area and that chimneys and foundations can still be found. We looked, but didn't find any old home sites, but I did find something odd. Not far off the trail was what looked like a grave marker - a small stone marker that just said "Jennifer" - no birth or death date, or anything else. I'm very curious why this is here and who it's for.
From here the trail gets a bit steeper, but in just over a mile you find yourself at the spur trail that leads down to Henwallow Falls.
The trail down is steep and full of rocks and roots. At the bottom of this spur trail you come to the falls.
It's a very pretty place, and was a great spot to stop for lunch and a rest. Good rocks to climb on for a 9-year old, and some good rocks for sitting on for the rest of us.
The trip back was mostly down hill and went quickly. It was really nice to get away from everything for a couple of days, and a fantastic hike with the family. I look forward to seeing what the other end of the Gabes Mtn. trail looks like someday soon, and exploring more of the trails around Cosby eventually.
Til next time, happy hiking!