I love to go hiking and have made it a personal mission to go to all of the national parks through the United States. This past fall, I visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The ranger's station had a lot of information, as well as great maps. I had a backpack packed with all of the essentials, including bottled water and a trail mix. The ranger that was there asked if I was hiking alone, which I was. He was friendly and took down a lot of my personal information. It was done for security in case I did not check back before sunset so they knew to be on the lookout for me.
Since there were wild bears and other animals in the park, I was actually thankful for this security measure.
The tracks that I took were well marked, but if I wanted to go up to the rainbow falls, it would be over a mile hike off the standard trains that everyone took. The rainbow falls were one of the main reasons I was planning to hike through the park. Many people had taken photos of them and they were absolutely gorgeous.
Going in the fall, it was cooler and the leaves were all starting to change. It had rained a few days before and you could still smell the fresh rain through the trees. Some of the rocks were slippery, which made it hard to hike all the way up to some of the photo points, but it was still a lot of fun to go through the park.
The map showed me where to turn and they had a lot of wooden signage. Some of the rain had knocked branches and foliage down, so I made a mess of myself pulling it off the signs so I could be sure where I was going.
Being able to walk in silence through the park was so relaxing. Once I finally came to the rainbow falls, I spent hours listening to the water crash on the rocks below and take photos of it all. I guess no one else wanted to make this hike because I was the only one out there, which made it that much more peaceful.
Once I had taken plenty of photos, I strapped my backpack back on and made my way back down to the ranger station. I checked in with the ranger so they knew I was back. He asked me what paths I followed and made some suggestions on where I could hike the next time I was in town. I thanked him, asked if I could keep the map, and left, fully enjoying my hike for the day.