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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Smoky Mountains Birthday

Posted September 1, 2009 11:44 a.m. EDT

How many of you have ever visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee?  What are your favorite memories of America’s most visited national park?

Back in the 80’s I carved out a week each autumn to hike the trails of this marvelous park which celebrates its 75th anniversary this week with a rededication ceremony. My favorite trail is Alum Cave which leads up to Mount LeConte and a rustic lodge. I spent a week at LeConte lodge one October and hiked all five trails leading up to this peak of nearly 6600 feet. It was one of the more spiritual periods of my life and I treasure the insights I gained during those trail journeys.  The highlight of each day here was to watch the sunset.  It was plenty of entertainment all by itself.

Cades Cove and Newfound Gap are two other favorite spots in the park situated between Cherokee on the NC side and Gatlinburg on the Tennessee side.

What about you and your Smoky Mountain memories?