A serene escape.

Divided loyalties.

A few turns from the busy roads of the Sevierville-Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg Terzetto finds one shrouded by towering hemlocks, pine, and oak. Forest Bathing, Smoky Mountains style.

There are a few trailheads along the route, leading to falls and on to the summit of Mt. Le Conte (6594′) but CTF tagged along on this tour, part of the GSMNP, so hiking was a no-go. Water entrances, however, were highly encouraged.

We followed the instructions in the guide booklet picked up at the entrance and opened the windows and sunroof to feel fresh air as well as fresh temperatures. “Outside” this forest the temperature, a sweltering 30C; inside, the wagon was reading a blissful 22C.

This auto trail was settled by the Roaring Fork community more than 150 years ago; before them, by Cherokee. In this new frontier of 1830 a dozen or so families established their hamlet. When the GSMNP was established a century later the families, with some exception, had to leave, with many finding a new life in the budding tourism industry of the Terzetto.

One of the larger homesteads in the park.

The Alfred Reagan Place. Like other men along this mountainside Alfred was first and foremost a farmer; but he was quite handy and also had a business sense about him. The rocky terrain was hard on equipment and wagons; Alfred made a little side money on repairs, some of which went to purchase “all three colors that Sears and Roebucks had” to paint their house!

By the turn of the century Roaring Fork was large enough that it needed a general store, so Alfred built one. Stocking it from the bustling metropolis of Knoxville was a several-days trip by wagon. We can sympathize; sometimes the traffic on U.S. 321 still feels like a several-days trip when we’re trying to drive home, a full century later. 😉

Scenic Overlook.

Scenic Overlook with Favorite Photobomber.

Roaring Fork certainly lives up to its name. A classic mountain stream, it was clear, cold, fast and loud!

An old mill that once harnessed the hydropower necessary to grind the corn into meal.

Near the end of the trail is, “The Place of a Thousand Drips,” a waterfall cutting away at the bedrock to create a side canyon. If we lived closer I would visit this spot on a regular basis simply to sit and listen.

“Known as “Old Man Ely”, Andrew Jefferson Ely was a Yale law school graduate, a practicing Tennessee lawyer and a printer. Disenchanted with city life after the death of his wife, he bought this 25 acre tract in an effort to live a healthy life.”  Now part of the tract is a general store, a final stop before driving across the “Boundary” and back into the real world.

In the store Anna Grace grabbed a can of Cheerwine, a Southern cherry soda that she pronounced “appropriately Southern sweet.”  The clerk detected our (lack of) accents and asked, “Where Y’all From?” I never quite know how to answer that question (the subject of a post in the works), so I usually respond with, “We currently live in Knoxville.”

To which the clerk replied, “Oh, the big city.” 🤣

Speaking of water entrances, our Lass was insistent on building a cairn. Along the drive out of the park we found a perfect construction site and she waded in.