Thursday, June 28, 2018

Oconaluftee River Trail

New Miles Completed: 1.5
Total Miles Hiked: 3.0
28 June 2018

I was in Cherokee NC today for a meeting, and took the opportunity before heading home to stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center, and hike the short Oconaluftee River Trail. The trail starts at the visitor's center, and heads south for 1.5 miles to the park border / Qualla Boundary border. The trail essentially follows the corridor between the Oconaluftee River on the east side, and US Highway 441 on the west.

Interesting tidbit: the Oconaluftee River trail and the Gatlinburg trail are the only two trails in the GSMNP that allow pets.

Oconaluftee River trailhead

Oconaluftee Mountain Farm Museum
As the trail follows the river and road, it is absolutely flat. It's wide and graveled, and easy walking. Today it was a bit muddy because of the torrential early morning rains, but still quite walkable.

Rosebay Rhododendron in bud
Rosebay Rhododendron in flower

The trail was lined with Rosebay Rhododendron which is still in flower. Other typical riverbank species were common like stinging nettle, and touch-me-not.

Oconaluftee River

We had a LOT of rain over the last 24 hours in the area, so all of the park's rivers and streams were running high. Several roads were closed early in the day, and campers were evacuated from Elkmont campground for fear of flooding. The Oconaluftee River was running high, and fast, and muddy.

Trailside marker and bench
This is a nice trail for meandering and learning a little history. There are benches and educational signs at several points along the trail.

Cherokee NC end of the trail
The trail ends at the Qualla Boundary border at the edge of Cherokee NC. This was a fun and quick little trip that allowed me to stretch my legs after sitting in meetings all day, and to check off one more trail.

Been battling a foot injury, so I haven't been hiking much lately. Hope to get out and do some more this summer, and certainly in the fall. Time to head to the NC side and do some long backpacking trips!

Til next time, happy hiking!

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