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June 4, 2018

Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Many of our guests are fishing enthusiasts.  They find the Buckhorn Inn makes a great base of operations for spending the day on the water and returning home to pampered comfort.  Reports are that the fishing is good this spring.  Today we welcome guest blogger, CJ Stancil, to give us the latest.

This time of year is a beautiful time to fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Not only are the trout biting but the scenery is amazing.  The Park has abundant species of wild flowers and plant life that are just now coming into peak.  Wildlife that call the Smokies home in its half-million acre wilderness are black bear, whitetail deer, turkey and elk.

Area Known for Good Fishing

The Park has nearly 800 miles of fishable waters that hold trout.  Wild brown trout, rainbow trout, and native brook trout are the species you will find here.

The trout here make the Park one of the country's most popular fishing destinations.

The Park has more than 800 miles of fishable water.

The trout here make the Great Smoky Mountains National Park one of the country’s most popular fishing destinations.  Even a beginner can expect to catch these wild trout.  Heavy rain has made the waters rise recently but the forecast is looking better.  Cooler temperatures and sunny weather should last most of the week.  Dry flies are getting a lot of action.  Try running a dry dropper setup.  If the water is high and stained, throw an indicator rig.  Work combinations like a pheasant tail, pats rubber let, or a squirmy worm.  Make sure you are getting the flies down deep and fast.  Good luck and tight lines!  CJ Stancil

Many of our guests have fished with CJ and report a great experience.  You may contact him to book a trip through the Smoky Mountain Angler http://www.smokymountainangler.com or by email info@smokymountainangler.com.  CJ also has offered his phone number 931-801-4204.  To see some photos of beautiful trout, be sure to follow him on Instagram at @dancewithtrout. 

 

April 3, 2018

Elk Thrive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park look forward to spotting our large wildlife–namely bear and elk.  We are fortunate indeed to be located near such splendor.  

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a herd of elk.

A bull elk is a magnificent sight.

Did you know that once large numbers of elk freely roamed the Appalachian Mountains and eastern United States?  Unfortunately, overhunting and destruction of habitat severely lowered their numbers.  Conservation groups became concerned that the animals would eventually become extinct.  The last of the magnificent beasts disappeared from Tennessee in the mid 1800’s.  

In 2001 the National Park Service reintroduced elk to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Twenty-five of the animals were moved to the park then, and 27 more were placed here in 2002.  The elk (or wapiti) wear radio collars and ear tags to aid conservationists in tracking their range and movements.  The herd now numbers as many as 200 animals.

These are the largest animals in the Smokies.  The bulls weigh 600 to 700 pounds, measure 7 to 10 feet long, and sport antlers that can measure 5 feet from tip to tip.

Safe Viewing of Elk in the Park

The best times to view these animals are early in the morning and late in the evening.  They also are more active after storms or on cloudy days.  Most of them are located in the Cataloochee area in the southeastern section of the park, easily accessible from the Buckhorn Inn.  This is a lovely area to hike and picnic as well.  Always view these wild animals from a safe distance, using binoculars or a camera for close-ups.  Be especially careful of  calves as there likely is an anxious mother nearby.  The males may perceive you as a challenger and charge.  The National Park Service offers a short video about safely viewing elk.  You may find a link to it at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/elk.htm 

During March and April the animals begin to shed their antlers.  Please note that it is not legal to remove antlers from the park.  The discarded antlers are a rich source of calcium for other wildlife in the park.  

 

 

February 26, 2018

Hikes to Cemeteries of the Smokies

Did you know that their are roughly 150 cemeteries scattered throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?  The land for the park was purchased from families, many of whom lived in this area since the 1800’s.  Along with homes, churches, farm buildings, and stone walls, many of their cemeteries are part of the park land.  Some are near main trails, others can be found with a map, and a few are slowly becoming overgrown and disappearing.  

The book "Cemeteries of the Smokies" includes directions to all 152 cemeteries within the park.

More than 150 cemeteries can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“Cemeteries of the Smokies” Guidebook

One of the most popular books published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association is “Cemeteries of the Smokies”.  The book provides directions to all 152 graveyards in the park.  For each site, the book provides a complete listing of burials and dates, kinship links, and epitaphs.  There is also an index of local family names.  These historic spots provide a tangible link with our area’s past.  They can provide us with insight into customs, religious beliefs, cultural and ethnic influences, and the community development of our ancestors.

The Hiking 101 program sponsored by the Great Smoky Mountains Association takes its inspiration from this book.  They have designed 12 guided hikes and a bus tour to take participants to the sacred spaces within the boundaries.  These hikes are not all easy, but the hiker is rewarded by coming to know those who lived and died here, and remain buried in lost graves, family plots, and in church burial grounds.  Registration for these hikes is now open.  For program details and to register, please visit http://www.smokiesinformation.org.

The hikes are limited to 15 individuals each and run from March 17 through October 16 2018.  It is important to note that the Park Service frowns on creating “rubbings” of inscriptions on the headstones.  The pressure needed to make a clear rubbing can damage the surface.  The Great Smoky Mountain Association asks for your help in ensuring the preservation of these plots for future generations.

 

October 23, 2017

Mount Le Conte is Buckhorn Inn’s Backyard

Mount Le Conte is a beautiful backdrop to dinner at the Inn.

The view of Mount Le Conte from the Buckhorn Inn veranda is breathtaking.

Rising 6,593 feet, Mount Le Conte accounts for the majestic view from the Buckhorn Inn veranda.  It is the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is entirely within the state of Tennessee.  It is the third-highest peak in the national park, behind Clingman’s Dome and Mount Guyot.  

Who is Mount Le Conte named after?  There is a bit of controversy about that.  Joseph Le Conte is listed by the United States Geological Survey as the famous geologist for whom the mountain was named.  Others believe the mountain was in fact named for Joseph’s brother, John Le Conte, who was a physicist at South Carolina College.  What we do know for sure is that Paul Adams, an enthusiastic hiker, had a major impact on this area.  In 1924 he joined the Great Smoky Mountain Conservation Association, whose mission was to make the region into a national park.  As part of the campaign Adams led a group of Washington DC dignitaries on a hike up the mountain so that they could appreciate first-hand its rugged beauty.  The trip was successful and eventually the entire region became protected as part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There are five trails that hikers may use to reach the summit of Mount Le Conte.  They are the Alum Cave, Boulevard, Bullhead, Rainbow Falls, and Trillium Gap Trails.  Millions of years of erosion and weathering have given Mount Le Conte its gently sloping shape.  It is composed largely of sandstone, siltstone, and shale that was formed hundreds of millions of years ago.  One remnant of the Ice Age can be seen today–a dense stand of Southern Appalachian Spruce-Fir Forest blankets the upper slopes.

Lodging at the Top of Mount Le Conte

The Le Conte Lodge, established in 1925, is the inn with the highest elevation in the eastern United States.  Guests may only access the lodge by hiking.  Its inaccessibility means that supplies are brought to the lodge by llama train and helicopter.  http://www.lecontelodge.com

During your next visit to the Buckhorn Inn we encourage you to appreciate Mount Le Conte, whether that means hiking to the summit or enjoying the view, spiced tea in hand, from one of our veranda rocking chairs.

September 25, 2017

Fall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fall is a great time to be in eastern Tennessee!  The experts are predicting a magnificent display of colors this year and the Buckhorn Inn is so convenient to the Park.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers have planned many free activities to help you enjoy the park.  Here are some of our favorites!

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park explodes with color in the fall.

Fall is a beautiful time of year in eastern Tennessee.

Evening Campfire

A ranger is available to tell stories and histories around the campfire from 7:30 to 8:30 pm in the Elkmont Campground.  The campfire program runs on Friday and Saturday evenings from September 16 through October 28.

The “Good Ol’ Days”

Walk the Mountain Farm Museum with a ranger and learn about the early settlers in this area.  The Museum is located by the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.  This event is available every Saturday at 10:30 am from September 16 through October 28.

Porters Creek Hike

Join a ranger in “our own backyard” to engage in an eye-opening exploration of how much, and how little, things have changed over the years in the Greenbrier Cove area.  The hike is conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Hikers should meet at the Porters Creek trailhead.

Fall Amble

This is one of our favorite ways to take in all the beautiful colors of fall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Locations for this hike vary as the ranger will take you to the elevation where the leaves currently are at their peak.  The hikes begin at 10:30 and are classified as moderately difficult.  This hike is available on Sundays and Wednesdays from September 17 through October 25.

School Days at Little Greenbrier

Discover what it was like to live in a mountain community and to attend a one-room school house.  This trip back in time happens every Tuesday through October 24 at 11 am and 2 pm.  Meet at the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse near the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area.

All of these events, and many more, are detailed at the National Park Service website.  Please visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/calendar.  We look forward to seeing you this fall!

 

July 31, 2017

Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Many of our guests spend quite a few of the hours they have here hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  One of our favorite trails for hikes is the one which leads to the Grotto Falls.  The Grotto Falls are the only falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which you can walk behind!

Hikes to Grotto Falls are beautiful, especially in the morning.

The hike to Grotto Falls is very popular with Buckhorn Inn guests.

The Trillium Gap Trail leads to, and behind, the Grotto Falls.  The trail winds through old-growth forests and many large eastern hemlocks.  The path is wide and well-worn, but be careful of the rocks and exposed roots!  Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring water.  The Buckhorn Inn has hearty and delicious sack lunches available if you choose to take one on your hike.  The trail is a moderate climb.  The roundtrip to the Falls and back takes about 2-3 hours.   During the hike you will cross four small streams.  In the springtime watch for the blooms of white and yellow trillium, white violets, and Dutchman’s breeches.  The Dutchman’s breeches are so called because the flowers resemble men’s trousers hanging by the cuffs on a clothesline.

Hikes on the  Grotto Falls trail feature many spring wild flowers.

White trillium are plentiful in the spring on the hike to Grotto Falls.

The Grotto Falls cascade down 25 feet.  The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has all the elements for beautiful waterfalls–ample rainfall and an elevation gradient.  In an average year, the mountains receive more than 85 inches of rain.  The rain trickles, then rushes down the mountainsides, cascading beautifully onto the large boulders below.  

Directions to Grotto Falls for Hikes

From the Parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at light number 8.  Follow the Historic Nature Trail into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to the large parking area near stop number 5.  You will see a sign for the trailhead.  For more information on planning your hike, visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/grotto-falls.htm  Happy hiking!

June 14, 2017

Buckhorn Inn is Gateway to Greenbrier Area

Just 1.5 miles from the Buckhorn Inn is the Greenbrier entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Often referred to as “the locals entrance to the park”, the Greenbrier largely is undiscovered by tourists.  The Greenbrier area of the park boasts the Ramsey Cascades–the tallest cascades in the Smokies.  In the Greenbrier, named for the thorny vines common in this area, one can find beautiful hiking trails, fishing, and picnic areas tucked among the towering hemlock and maple trees.

History of the Greenbrier Area

During the Ice Age, the high mountain slopes fractured, creating boulder fields.  The natural forces of erosion carried smaller boulders to lower elevations.  The early settlers in this area used these stones to build long rock walls, many of which are still standing today.  In fact, the Old Settlers Trail has dozens of these picturesque rock walls.  You will notice that the streambeds in this area are lined with sandstone and slate rocks of all sizes.

Natural forces carried the rocks from the high mountain slopes.

The stone walls built by early residents of Greenbrier still stand.

The first inhabitants of the area were the Cherokee, who had a seasonal community at Porters Flat.  The first recorded residents of European descent in the area were brothers William and Middleton Whaley who settled here around 1800.  In 1818 John Ownby and his family joined the area.  They were subsistence farmers, who supplemented their income by hunting and trapping.  By the early 1900’s, the population of the Greenbrier area was near 500.  The Greenbrier area has many streams which have cut deeply into the terrain.  Because of this natural feature, residents lived in many small communities along the streams, rather than being part of one large community.  General stores in the area provided a venue for residents to trade chickens, eggs, and animal furs for such necessities as clothing, medicine, and coal oil.  They farmed corn and potatoes, and dug ginseng.

Hiking along the trails in the Greenbrier, one can easily imagine the lives of the previous residents of this beautiful area.  This is a special place to spend one, or many, days exploring.  Guests at the Buckhorn Inn can keep up their exploring stamina by pre-ordering hearty, delicious sack lunches to take with them.  

Sandwiches and yummy treats for the Greenbrier hiker.

Gourmet sandwiches are the mainstay of Buckhorn Inn sack lunches to enjoy in the Greenbrier area.

http://www.buckhorninn.com/dining  We will see you on the trail!