Monday, December 26, 2011

Birthday Hike - Twin Creeks Trail

New Trail Miles Completed: 1.9
Total Trail Miles Hiked: 3.8
26 Dec. 2011

Today is my birthday!  So I gathered up my boys (18 and 11 years old respectively) and we headed down to Gatlinburg.  I wanted something nice and easy for today - just a chance to get out and spend some time on the trail with my sons.

Twin Creeks trail is just under 2 miles long and parallels Cherokee Orchard Road just inside the park from Gatlinburg.  We started our hike at the trailhead near the park boundary, just as Cherokee Orchard Road enters the park.  The trail travels along an area that was heavily settled before the park, and you can see numerous reminders of the previous inhabitants in the form of rock walls and fallen-down chimneys.

The trail also parallels LeConte Creek for much of the way and it was full of water and joyously noisy today.

Along the way we almost ran into (literally) a doe that seemed completely unperturbed by our arrival.  All three of us walked to within 5 feet of her and she just stood and watched us and then meandered away.

The Twin Creeks trail passes by the fairly new Twin Creeks Science & Education Center.  This is a great facility that helps park and associated scientists both do research within the park and share that research with area students.

Finally, the Twin Creeks trail runs into the Noah "Bud" Ogle Nature trail that leads back toward Cherokee Orchard Road and the Noah "Bud" Ogle Cabin.  This little plot contains both a cabin (which appears to actually be a hybrid of 2 cabins stuck together) and a barn.  Both are typical of the construction of the Smokies from the 1800s.

After exploring the cabin and barn we turned around and headed back down the trail to the car.  The elevation difference between the upper and lower ends is pretty small (~ 600 feet) and while I never really noticed the elevation gain as we went up, it seemed like we were flying down the trail on our way back.  Overall this is a pleasant trail - the proximity to the road is strange, but the cultural history that the trail encompasses is pretty rich, and walking along LeConte creek is very nice.  The weather was great - the sun peeked in and out during the day, and the temperatures in the mid-40s were perfect for hiking.  Best of all I got to hang out with my boys - something that happens more rarely now that Jesse is in college.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day!  Til next time, happy hiking.