Monday, July 9, 2012

Road Prong Trail

I was back on the trail today and it felt so good.  Well, good until I fell down and lost a significant amount of skin from my right elbow.  Even with a nasty fall, it was great to be hiking after so much time with settling into our new home. Gene didn’t go with me today.  I was off on a girls trip with a couple of my hiking buddies from Nashville.

We did Road Prong Trail today.  We started our hike from Clingman’s Dome Road and hiked down hill 2.4 miles to the junction with Chimney Tops Trail.  Since there were plenty of cars amongst us ladies, we could have run a shuttle and hiked this trail from Clingman’s Dome Road down to Chimney Tops Trail and continued on to Newfound Gap Road for a total distance of 3.3 miles.  However, Chimney Tops Trail is closed right now for some major repairs so that option was available to us.  It really didn’t matter.  We wanted to hike and going back up the hill gave us a really good workout.

Road Prong Trail is a narrow foot path now, but back in the day it was the Oconaluftee Turnpike, the main road between Sevierville, TN and Cherokee, NC.  It was a wide, rutted thoroughfare used to drive livestock across the mountain.  During the Civil War cannon and ammunition were moved over this road.

Today the trail follows Road Prong for most of the length of the trail.  The trail is a narrow path, steep in places, and generally rocky.  A short segment seems to be routed right down the middle of Road Prong.  The water was not too deep today, so the numerous crossings were easy rock hops.  It was at one of these easy rock hops that I slipped and went down pretty hard.  Since nothing was broken--no bones, not my glasses, and not the camera--all is well.  I’ll probably be pretty sore in the morning.

There are a couple small waterfalls on Road Prong.  With the summer vegetation, it was hard to get a good camera view of the little falls, but we could see them through the leaves.  One in particular had a nice swimming hole at the bottom of the falls.  We may have been more tempted to take a quick dip if thunder hadn’t been rumbling in the distance.

Despite the steep, rocky, wet trail it was beautiful today.  We started high in the spruce-fir forest (I always love that) and descended to mid-level elevation where the rosebay rhododendron were in full bloom.  All along the way we passed huge patches of bee-balm and sunflowers growing almost over our heads.  Add to that the sound of rushing water and many, many small cascades and we had ourselves an almost perfect hike.  Since we had no pressing obligations, we took our time and spent almost all day in this little piece of heaven.  It was wonderful.

Great spot for our first break
My friends, Sue and Garnett, will be spending the rest of the month on trails in the Smokies.  I won’t be hiking with them everyday, but several and Gene may tag along with us some.  It’s gonna be a great July.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for tagging along.


  1. I love hiking with my girlfriends. Glad to hear you weren't hurt badly. Love the photo of the flowers. Very nice!

  2. You made my day with that shot of the bee balm! The flowers here are just struggling to survive, much less thrive. Our bee balm in the front yard only got about knee high, threw out a couple of half-hearted blooms and dropped petal pretty much right away.