Sugarland Mountain Trail

The plan was to hike the Chimney Tops trail, but Newfound Gap Road was closed for icy weather. Instead, I hiked about 5 miles worth of the Sugarland Mountain Trail.

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It was a chilly, magical walk. The Forrest was wrapped in thick fog, with occasional hissing showers of a sleet/snow hybrid. Snow and ice still clung to branches at the tops of hill

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Lots more photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/oTfRYAw2TcezYZRv9

Hike: Rich Mountain Loop Trail

I did this hike last Thursday, but it took me this long get around to making an album.

Lovely trail; 8.5 miles starting with a strenuous ascent but paying off with a long, easy ridgeline descent back down into the cove. Lots of great views along the way. As you’ll see if you check out the gallery, highlights included some tussling buck deer, and an up-close-and-personal encounter with a pileated woodpecker.

Photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/jX2XjedpCfTSvwK77

Hike: Abrams Falls Trail

Today I hiked the Abrams Falls Trail, at the east end of Cade’s Cove. On a weekday morning in January, the Cove was almost completely empty of tourists, which was wonderful. The trail is reportedly one of the most popular in the Smokies, but I had it almost to myself today.

Lots of photos here, including a coyote, a flock of wild turkey, some surreal ice formations, and, of course, the falls:

https://goo.gl/photos/aLj9rrwyWmts3rFn9