Roaring Fork

On the Tennessee side of the Park is a great auto tour of the Roaring Fork community. The ride is beautiful any time of year, but especially so in early spring when the wildflowers are blooming and the waterfalls are full, and the fall when leaf color is at its peak. The creek has many small waterfalls in it as it runs along the side of the road, and there are plenty of pull off spots for photographs. Bears are most active between 6am and 11am, and also in the evening after 4pm. You might want to stay overnight in Gatlinburg and start this tour early in the morning.

The first cabin to visit is the former home of Noah “Bud” Ogle, who was descended from the first settlers of what is now Gatlinburg. The original cabin was enlarged as the family grew, and a porch added across the front and back. The rocky land looks too unforgiving to farm, but the Ogle family built their house and barn here in 1879.  It has survived more than 125 years of weather better than it has the tourists who carved their names into it. A long window that stretches across last room gives an interesting view of the barn. A flash is necessary to get the best picture from this angle.

The self-guided tour starts after the Ogle house, and booklets are available in a box on the side of the road. Numbers at each stop correspond to the descriptions in the booklet. I was there at the height of leaf season, and there were no parking places the waterfalls but the rest of the tour was not crowded.Grotto Falls is a 4-mile hike to a 25’ waterfall. “The Place of a Thousand Drips” is right next to the road with a good parking area. The old cabins lend themselves nicely to b&w with such fine detail for the weathered logs.

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