Summer may not last forever, but that doesn’t mean that great vacation destinations disappear when seasons change. Fall in Eastern Tennessee is, in fact, uniquely special, with its cooler-but-still-comfortable temperatures, drier climate, and spectacular foliage covering every mountainside. Great views abound in the region, but there are 5 in particular you’ll want to make sure you visit. Check them out below!
The Look Rock Tower/The Foothills Parkway
Whether you hike the whole 11-mile Foothills Parkway Trail to the top, or you drive on the 16.9-mile Foothills Parkway and pull up to the parking lot that’s a half-mile away, you’ll be rewarded by a great view when you make it to the top of Look Rock Tower. With its short distance and gentle slope, the Look Rock Tower is especially friendly to non-hikers, boasts a view comparable to that from Clingmans Dome, and is less likely to be crowded than the Dome on weekends and holiday weeks.
The Lumber Ridge Trail
This approximately 8-mile hike is a great way to get up close and personal with the changing seasons. The trail was named for the logging expeditions that once took place in the region, but hikers taking on this moderately challenging day hike with occasional mountain views can expect peace, quiet, and plenty of foliage. The logging companies are long gone, but you won’t find a crowd of tourists here, either.
Floating on Fort Loudon Lake
Some anglers hang up their poles when summer ends, but Fort Loudon Lake attracts fishermen and women who are on the hunt for bass and crappie when the temperature drops. Anyone who owns or can rent a boat and is in search of a spectacular fall panorama can find all that, plus a side of serious relaxation, with an afternoon spent on a boat in Fort Loudon Lake or other Eastern Tennessee waterways.
The Elkmont Historic District
Not every fall scene is going to be about a perfect vista, though there are plenty for the taking in Blount County. Fall also features a popular holiday that’s a little bit spooky and a little bit scary, and those who want to celebrate that side of the season can have their chance to do so by visiting the Elkmont Historic District. These abandoned vacation homes from the 1900s have been left to their own devices inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and checking them out is a (safe) way to feel a little bit of a tingle in your spine. The fall foliage is everywhere, too – there’s no one there to rake up the fallen leaves, after all.
It may be popular and well-known, but why wouldn’t it be? Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and its height does offer a bit of a guarantee – if you make the climb, you’ll get quite an eyeful, that’s for sure. Expect trees as far as the eye can see, with brighter colors in valleys, and darker browns at higher elevations, where trees tend to shed their leaves earlier.
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