With an extra $500,000 dangling in front of the construction company working diligently on the road construction project would you expect anything less than a completion date over a month ahead of schedule? Well, if you did, they have proved you wrong; but in the end they have truly surprised and excited the businesses the rely on that section of road to bring in many tourists every year. Just in time for the tourist season to set in and having US-441 back open has changed the grim outlook many businesses had on the upcoming season to smiles and enthusiasm!
US-441 is one of our favorite drives in Western North Carolina because there are just so many things that you can do and see along the way! Here is a list of our favorite things to do while driving through the National Park on any given day, however, you may have to make multiple trips to complete the list.
– Mingus Mill: This neat old structure provides and easily accessible hike for all visitors and make for a nice little leg stretch and fresh air session.
– Picnicking – The US-441 drive is full of great secluded pull-offs that make for a great place to have a family picnic while enjoying the beauty of the park. Don’t feed the bears though! Picnic areas are located at Big Creek, Chimneys, Cades Cove, Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Heintooga, Look Rock, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks.
– Newfound Gap – Just past/before the Clingmans Dome road turn-off is Newfound Gap, which is where a lot of cars stop to take a break and enjoy the view, have a picnic, or take advantage of the restroom. This is the about the mid-point of the drive and its all downhill from here on out, unless you go on a hike!
– Charlies Bunion – This popular day hike is about 8 miles round trip, but is relatively flat and well maintained. If you want to say that you have walked on the Appalachian Trail then this is the hike that you need to do, and the view at the end is pretty awesome. There is also a chance for you to see an Appalachian Trail shelter and drink out of a mountain spring!
– Mountian Farm Museum: These historic structures were once part of a functioning Appalachian community that was tucked away in the Great Smokies. Now these structure rest at the entrance to 441 and if you can catch the live demonstrations that go on you will most likely learn something new.
– Mount LeConte – This awesome peak is rare in the National Park because it offers the highest lodging and dinning facility to guests in the eastern United States! At 6593ft it is the third highest peak in the National Park but still provides awesome views. There are four different ways to hike up to Mount LeConte. The most popular along US-441 is going to be the Alum Bluff Cave Trail which will take you straight up the mountain and along cliffsides for about 4.9 miles. This is a great day hike for the family looking for a challenge, you legs will be soar, guaranteed!
– Chimney Tops – This hake is another one of those steep incline ones, but again it is worth the work once you get to the top. The unique jagged rock formations at the top make for some creative and careful climbing, but it is a great place to sit, relax, take in the view over a snack or picnic. This is a great day hike, and if you get to hot on the hike then the river at the bottom is a great place to let the kids play and cool off!
– Clingmans Dome – This is one of the most popular stops along this section of road. Clingmans Dome takes you to 6643ft in elevation and if you are there on a low smog day then you will be able to see forever! The hike up to the lookout tower is about a mile and a pretty good incline, but is is a paved trail, which make for easier walking. The hike is well worth the reward once you get to the top!
– Cades Cove – Now this place is truly breathtaking, however, you do have to venture off of 441 for a bit to reach Cades Cove but it is an awesome spot. This motorway creates a loop that visitors can drive along and view historic buildings and sometimes wildlife. In the peak of tourist season though you can bet on a line of traffic because I am not the first person to write about Cades Cove, it is a very popular spot! Now on the weekends if you get there early enough there are no cars allowed on the road, just bikes, you can bring your own or rent one, but the rentals go fast.
There are many more things to be enjoyed and seen along the US-441 section of road, I have merely skimmed the surface and provided you with some ideas to get you going. We hope to see you soon in Western North Carolina and if you are looking for a cabin don’t forget about Yellow Rose Realty and their great options!
See ya soon,
The Team at Yellow Rose Realty