One thing that was recommended as a must see was the Roaring Fork Nature Trail. While it is only 5 miles long with frequent stops and a narrow, slow road it takes about a hour to go around. There is a guidebook which explains the different areas through which the trail passes. Part of the trail is an old cart path which connected the community of Roaring Fork to Gatlinburg and some of the homes and outbuildings have been preserved.
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park and there is a 1/2 mile trail uphill to an observation tower. Did I mention uphill? Well, it is a 300 foot climb and it is crowded. There are lots of benches on the way up and, luckily, we have a 4 year old who is going through a shy spell. When she thought she was too tired we said she could rest at the next bench – inevitably the next bench was taken and she wasn’t about to share so we said to walk to the next one – this got us up the hill!
Near the top, the trail to the tower joins the Appalachian Trail, so now we can say we have hiked a little bit of the AT – who knows, maybe it will lead to more. These hikers were resting below the observation tower – drying out socks, attending to blisters etc. I heard them say they had been on the trail about 3 weeks heading north.The walk down was much easier and Isabelle practically ran down – chasing our shadows most of the way. She even decided she was having fun.