The most hiked section of the Appalachian Trail
The southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains, with its temperate climate, slow changes in elevation and lush greenery, is a haven to hikers from around the world. People flock to the Smokies especially to spend time on any number of trails, but the trail that is most popular and the one that a lot of people want to tackle part of is the Appalachian Trail. One end of the AT starts in the Smokies, in northern Georgia. From that point you can work your way north to the heart of the Smokies in North Carolina and Tennessee, passing through state parks and national parks along the way. It is a gradual climb that will inspire both awe and a renewed sense of respect for the mountain folk and Native Americans that hiked these trails season after season in the time before their were European style cities in the area.
In North Georgia, you will start at Springer Mountain, one of the southern most areas of the Smokies. Technically you are in the foothills of the Smokies at this point. The gentle slopes, the gradual climb, the verdant landscapes will help to build your anticipation as you progress north. In this area, you will pass near towns and civilization. The hike takes you near several state parks with facilities that are open almost year round, depending on the weather. The North Georgia part of the AT is some of the easiest hiking that the trail has to offer. Even if you start here when it is late spring you will find that the elevation is not high enough to give you the extremely cold temps that you will encounter in the highest elevations.
One of the next high points on the trail that you will come across is Fontana Dam. At this point on the AT you have made your way into North Carolina, your second state if you are heading north from Georgia. Fontana Lake is one of those TVA created lakes that took in the small towns of Judson and Proctor (near present day Bryson City) when Fontana Dam was established in the early part of the 20th century. As the trail winds around Fontana Dam, you are going to start to gain some serious altitude. The elevation change will start to reveal a change in the wildlife and the flora around you. Just north of Fontana Lake and Dam, yes you follow the dam as you start up the mountain, you will climb until you are walking the ridge of the Great Smoky Mountains in the GSMNP. You are also walking the Tennessee / North Carolina line at this point on the trail.
Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap Road
The top of the world in the Smokies is Clingman’s Dome. You will go all the way to the top of this part of the mountain as you progress northward on the AT. The climb to Clingman’s Dome will take some time even for the most seasoned of hikers but the breath taking views from these peaks are like no other you will find east of the Mississippi River. As you reach the summit of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will immediately start back down again. Soon you will arrive at the most visited portion of the GSMNP, the piece of the Appalachian Trail that starts at the Newfound Gap parking area and trailhead. From this point you can hike almost 2 miles of the AT, the most hiked portion of the 2,200 mile trail.
Roan Mountain State Park
If you were to hike from the Newfound Gap trailhead and continue northward the next focal point you are going to come to is Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee. If you happen to plan your hike through accordingly you can spend some time at the top of the mountain in the rhododendron garden while it is in bloom. Bring a camera and prepare to take a lot of pictures. With the Catawbas in bloom it is a pink and purple wonderland of color. Roan Mountain also has lots of facilities that a Thru-Hiker might need to take advantage of like campgrounds and other amenities.
Hike the various pieces of the Appalachian Trail int he Smoky Mountains. Take in the terrain and the sights and the sounds of nature from the trails that make up the AT. Hike the most hiked portion of the trail and then you too can say that you hiked the AT!
If you are visiting the Smokies and you are looking for a truly epic meal, then let me recommend going to the Dillard House in Dillard GA. The restaurant is part of one of the best family run inns in the Smokies and the food is to die for. The entire meal is served family style and all you can est. So, the rule of the day is come hungry and plan to be there for a while.
The Dillard House is first and foremost an inn, a place to stay. It has been a place to rest your head since 1917 when Carrie and Arthur Dillard open the doors to travelers passing through the Georgia Mountains. These folks were in the foothills of the Smokies and after the founding of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the volume of people through the area increased and the inn has grown right along with the demand. People of the early 20th century expected a place to eat that went right along with the place they were staying, the dining room opened and meals started to be served. Over time the food they were turning out was so good that it started turning heads as well. People began to come to the inn just to eat.
Nowadays, not only are people flocking to the restaurant as well as the inn, it has been written up in magazines such as Southern Living and it has been on TV on shows like the Fix 5 Atlanta Morning Show. This publicity has made the restaurant a destination. And the food they are turning out is incredible. For instance, this is what the dinner menu looks like:
- Fried Chicken
- Virginia Sugar Cured Ham
- Country Steak
- Prime Rib
- BBQ Chicken
- Potatoes au Gratin
- Green Beans
- Creamed Corn
- Steamed Broccoli
- Glazed Carrots
- Harvard Beets
- Ford Hook Lima Beans
- Cole Slaw
- Yeast Rolls
- Cobbler a la Mode
All of this is delivered to your table at one time and if you find that one particular thing ran out a little too quick then you can just ask for more and they will bring it and keep bringing it until you are done!
Here is what to expect. If you get there right around supper time you are probably going to have a little bit of a wait. Between the people that come out from the inn and the people that are coming in just to eat. After you are seated and they get your drink order you are going to notcie one thing very quickly – the huge platters of food being delivered to the tables around you. In a few moments, one of those platters with the mountains of food will come to your table. And whether you are just there with that special someone or whether you are with a huge group the same kind of food comes out to each table. Start passing the sides and the entrees around the table, make sure that everyone gets a share. Start trying to figure out what your favorite is and of course besure to leave room for dessert.
Dillard House needs to be on your itinerary the next time you end up in North Georgia. Stay at the end but make sure that you eat at least one meal at the Dillard House. Come hungry and leave after having one of the best meals that you will have while you are on vacation.
768 Franklin St
One of the main draws to Dillard, Ga is the sheer number of antique shops that line the main street of this small Smoky Mountain town. Shops and galleries of ever shape and size line both sides of the road, allowing you to park your car and walk from store to store while you browse through the artifacts of a time that has passed into antiquity.
Dillard, GA is a lazy little mountain town. Home to several great inns and lots of good food, the big draw in the last 15 years has been the antique shops. Most of these shops are mall style shops were vendors rent out spaces and the owner of the building take sin the money and keeps an eye on their wares. The vendors can bring in whatever they want to sell and then the owner of the mall can have an ever changing inventory. These malls have an enormous selection of items, they are full of Americana and that really might be the biggest draw of the antique mall.
The ability to explore an antique mall, to roam through the halls and rows, browsing through stacks of paintings, clothing, furniture and the such gives you an opportunity to step back into your childhood. For most people they are getting to see things that they might not have seen since their childhoods. If you have brought your kids with you may find yourself answer tons of questions as they ask you what things are and why things are designed the way that they are. You will lose yourself reminiscing about the past, about the bed that you found that looks just like your aunt’s bed from when you were a kid, the china that your great grandmother used or maybe you found a suit that looks like the one your dad used to wear when he was younger.
Let the nostalgia of a trip back through time suck you into a full day of shopping through the antique malls of Dillard, GA. Teach your kids some history, tell stories that you might not have talked about in years and maybe you will find that piece of the past that you need to complete the collection you have been working on since you were young. The antique malls of Dillard are a destination and a shopping experience that you need to invest your time in the next trip you take to the Smoky Mountains.
Dillard, GA is one of the northern most towns in Georgia and is on the edge of the Smoky Mountains. This is small-town-USA at its finest. With a thriving tourism industry, Dillard brings in thousands each year to eat, shopping and browse through the art galleries.
John Dillard and his son James purchased the land around Rabun County and helped to form the town of Dillard. The establishment of the Dillard House helped to bring visitors to the area. In recent years the antique industry and art galleries began to pop up around town and now this gorgeous area has an arts and crafts community and a bustling downtown for those people looking to do some antique shopping. Add to all of this the beauty of the Smoky Mountains and the local hiking trails and this is agreat place to start your trip into the mountains.
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- Dillard House - If you are visiting the Smokies and you are looking for a truly epic meal, then let me recommend going to the Dillard House in Dillard GA. The restaurant is part of one of the best family run inns in the Smokies and the food is to die for. The entire meal is served family … Continue reading "Dillard House"
- Dillard Antique Shops - One of the main draws to Dillard, Ga is the sheer number of antique shops that line the main street of this small Smoky Mountain town. Shops and galleries of ever shape and size line both sides of the road, allowing you to park your car and walk from store to store while you browse through the … Continue reading "Dillard Antique Shops"
- Dillard, GA - Dillard, GA is one of the northern most towns in Georgia and is on the edge of the Smoky Mountains. This is small-town-USA at its finest. With a thriving tourism industry, Dillard brings in thousands each year to eat, shopping and browse through the art galleries. John Dillard and his son James purchased the land … Continue reading "Dillard, GA"