Light exercise before breakfast. Walking about half a mile, approximately 30 minutes to Clingmans Dome (weather permitting); paved, steep trail with 332' elevation gain. Sweater or jacket recommended. Short hike of approximately two miles or less on the Appalachian Trail to view high elevation plants and trees. Walking over uneven ground at Mingus Mill and the Mountain Farm Museum for up to an additional mile.
The Lambuth Inn breakfast buffet offers a rotating variety of choices such as an egg dish, breakfast meat, hot/cold cereals, fruit, breads, milk, juice, coffee & water.
Today we will get acclimated to the elevation and visit many of the major sites in the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If the weather is inclement, we may revise the day’s activities. We’ll board our van and travel through the Appalachian forests. En route, our instructor will share about the area’s history as well as point out local flora and fauna. Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the GSMNP, is 6,643 feet. Weather permitting, we will walk up a steep half-mile paved trail that will bring us to the Dome's observation tower with 360-degree views of the mountains of both Tennessee and North Carolina (if the mountain mist is not present). After re-boarding our van, we will travel a short distance down the road to Wagon Road Gap where we will hike a short section of the Appalachian Trail to view high elevation plants and trees. Along the route to the next stop, we will see Newfound Gap, where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940.
We’ll enjoy boxed lunches at a scenic location in the Park.
We will drive about half an hour from Newfound Gap to Mingus Mill, a water-powered grist mill built in 1886. Our naturalist will share about the mill and its importance to the community. Participants can view the multiple floors of the mill’s interior and walk a short trail to view Mingus Creek and the millrace which directs water to the mill. After boarding the van, we’ll travel just five minutes down the road to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, featuring educational exhibits recounting human activity and dwellings in the Smokies from the early Cherokee to the present Park. The walk through the Mountain Farm Museum, outside the Visitor Center, brings us into authentic homes, barns, and gardens of Appalachia's early Scots-Irish settlers. We’ll return to the hotel for dinner.
Dining room buffet.
In a slideshow presentation, a local expert will tell us about the development of the GSMNP, expanding on what we learned throughout the day.