Hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains National park can be educationally exhausting

We love to go hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and have found it to be filled with history and beauty. Hiking can be a great activity to do with the whole family and is a great way to see some amazing places. We picked three hikes this week that would be educational, beautiful with lots of water falls, picturesque, and easy to walk.

IMG_1356We like doing easy to moderate hikes and to get the kids not to complain by giving them a prize at the end. In our house if the kids don’t complain, then they get a sweet treat of their  choosing on the way home, like, Dairy Queen, Krispy Kreme, or our new favorite, Chocolate Monkey. The Chocolate Monkey specializes in everything dipped in chocolate, from strawberries, Oreos, s’mores, cherries and they even offer chocolate truffles and ice cream.

IMG_1377We started our week of with a bang, hiking the Hen Wallow Falls near Cosby. This hike had pretty steep inclines, lots of roots on the path and loose rocks. The last 10th of mile was almost straight down and extremely hard to get back up. The water fall was huge, rushing water but we went right after a heavy rain. Make sure you have plenty of water, and bring a lunch. We found some large rocks by the waterfall to sit, eat and rest. I would say this hike is moderate-hard six mile hike.

IMG_1481Our plan was to do the Abrams Falls, which is 7th best hikes in the Smokey Mountains National Park, and one of the hardest hikes. We decided against it because we drove the Cades Cove Loop which has lots of small hikes to the historic buildings. It was neat to see the homestead homes, outhouses, and churches built in late 1800s. The best part of our adventure was the end, The Shields home. We are related to the Shields and my parents were happy to see the pictures. We found several grave stones of some of the Shields and read a little history about our Tolman family ancestors.

IMG_1494Our last adventure was finding a Ghost Town, Cumberland Gap, in the middle of the Smokey Mountains National Park. At the beginning of the path you will find cottages that were built in the 1920s and used as summer homes for the affluent people of Knoxville. The path starts easy and level with a steady incline for about 2.5 miles. The right turn at Cucumber Gap Trail back to the parking lot get a little harder. I would give this a moderate rating but the last half is full of loose rocks, roots and somewhat steep incline. Round trip was about 7 miles but the walk is gorgeous with butterflies everywhere, birds chirping, rushing water and lots of small water falls. If you go around late April you will see lots of wild flowers in bloom and may even see an otter playing along the river.

Here is some more reading and movies that you can watch before or after your hikes:


About Chrissie

Follow our crazy journey across America as we visit roadside oddities, historical land marks and beautiful landscapes. I have ton of ideas and review educational products that will help you get the most on your home school adventure. We are an Unschool family that believes the world is our classroom and is teaching our children to self direct their education to a better future.

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