Continued from Part 3.
As expected from the weather reports, the next day was a rainy one. We decided to start with the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It seemed like a good idea to do a driving tour to avoid getting too wet early in the morning. The road was nice and paved, but long ago it wasn't so those living the mountain farming life had a much harder time getting around, I'm sure.
One the features of this nature trail is the Noah "Bud" Ogle Farm. Bud lived on the farm from 1883 up until 1925. Though it was raining, it was nice to get out and take a short walk to check it out.
Another attraction was Grotto Falls. To get to the falls, we had to do a nice little hike. We even saw a salamander (guessing it was one of the Two-Lined Salamanders) chilling in a puddle of water.
And, then there's a weird house that was occupied by one of the more prominent members of the Roaring Fork community, Alfred Reagan. At some point, he decided to paint the house with the best colors available at Sears. Tacky as the colors may be, he went ahead with it. You can go inside the house and check it out, but there's really not too much to see.
After seeing what we wanted to see on the this motor trail, we drove around without much of a plan and stopped at random spots where we explored a few things here and there. We ended the day a little early, but thought it'd be nice to get some rest especially given both wet weather and the fact that it was starting to get a bit cold.
In the evening, we went to the Peddler restaurant. It was really nice, and I would highly recommend it. In addition to well-prepared food, they had an awesome salad bar, which comes with the meal. We're talking smoked oysters, anchovies, chicken, and pretty much everything else you'd expect from a salad bar.
The servers were friendly, and it was here that we learned that the fall colors that we had been so dazzled by were "not the best this year." Turns out that due to lack of rain shortly before the peaking, the colors this year were not as vibrant. This was a shocker... maybe I'll have to do another trip out here in the future.
The next day, we opted for a more strenuous hike. So, we headed for the Ramsey Cascades Trail. The hike is a total of 8 miles (out to the cascades and back) with a good amount of elevation gain (2400ft). Given that everything was wet made it just a bit more difficult. Good thing we had decent hiking poles to work with.
After this hike, we were fairly tired and we made our way to Cherokee, North Carolina. On the way there, we stopped to take a few photos of the Great Smokies, and we noticed that at the higher elevations it had snowed. So, I guess we caught the first snow of the year.
Eventually, we made it to Cherokee and we ate at Paul's Restaurant. While the trout I had was okay, I can't really recommend this place, except that there are not many choices for you here. I learned later that there is a Harrah's Cherokee Casino, so if you are ever there maybe you'll have better luck finding food there. One thing I wanted to mention that I found really odd was that a good number of businesses in town were labeled "Indian Owned" or "American Owned" -- not sure if this was evidence of some kind of segregationist mentality or not, just really strange for us to see.
Shortly after dinner, we hit the sack. The next day would be our final day for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains.
Continue to Part 5