Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cardinal Run Park...

Today, the family and i decided to continue to capitalize on the amazing Fall weather we've been having here in Lexington. So we picked a park we had not been to in a long time -- and we were well rewarded.

Cardinal Run Park is located off of Parker's Mill Rd making it a bit out of the way from the normal Lexington traffic which is both good and bad. Good because the crowds are small - making it very peaceful and leaving the trails wide open for all 4 of us. Bad in that it does not get the respect and visitors that it deserves.

If you are looking for a new outdoor location to explore I highly recommend checking out the trails here. They are tree-lined and well paved. And for this time of year the fall foilage makes it extremely picture-esque.

(Unfortunately i left my phone in the car and got no photos -- the best that i could do is this rendering of the park layout)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Discovery...the other Gatlinburg

This past weekend my family decided to take our Fall Break trip to the Gatlinburg Area. This is certainly not uncommon to us and i have enjoyed this area of Tennessee in the Fall of the year for most of my 35 years.

However, i am sad to admit that for the first time in a long time i truly took advantage of the "outdoors" side of this area. Usually i/we fall prey to the usual tourist traps of shops, restaurants, entertainment centers etc. There have been trips in the past where we would make the trip to Clingman's Dome or a pleasant drive through Cades Cove, but never one where we did a little homework and pushed ourselves to explore off the easy/popular outdoor trips.
This time we did so and we were so truly grateful for the experiences we had. My wife Emily found a great/simple website that offers both short hikes & day hikes. It even includes a map of the area with all of the trails listed (this was very helpful).
The specific area we chose to explore was the Roaring Fork Motor Trail (go to stoplight #8 in Gatlinburg and turn left). From there we first chose the Rainbow Falls trail & it was incredibly rewarding. Most of the hike leads uphill along the creek flowing through the rocks and the ferns. This trail was very picturesque and i can only imagine it has been captured and used as screen savers or nature calendars.
For lunch we did a picnic along the creek after the first hike and then headed on to the our next hike to Grotto Falls. This trail was not near as picturesque but still very rewarding as the hike leads to a waterfall where one can actually walk behind the falls. Very cool.
All this to say...the next time you visit the Gatlinburg Area (and you know there will be a next time) i challenge you to avoid the easy tourist traps and go off road. This area has such an excellent variety of outdoor recreation and trails that it should be known for but unfortunately all the other "stuff" often gets in the way.

So when you visit...take the road less traveled and create a better story. Get outdoors in Gatlinburg, TN.