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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maloney Point sunrise in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

this is the sunrise view from Maloney Point looking  down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. next
Maloney  Point is an overlook on Little River Road a few miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are a couple of paved pullouts with limited parking areas here; there should be a signpost with a number one on it to help identify this spot; as  you head west on Little River Road from the visitor's center, watch for this area after climbing up a couple of steep hairpin curves. This is a nice spot to catch sunrise and gives a nice view of the valley down to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Oconaluftee River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

this is autumn color along the Oconaluftee River in North Carolina in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. next
The Oconaluftee River tumbles from high in the Smoky Mountains until exiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park and eventually flowing through Cherokee, North Carolina. The Oconaluftee River is noted for  flyfishing, it contains a healthy population of brown and rainbow trout. US 441 (Newfound Gap Road) follows alongside much of the river as it flows toward Cherokee,  I saw this spot from the road and soon joined several photographers at this popular spot; the tree had particularly vibrant foliage that really stood out. Smokemont Campground is located on the banks of this river and is one of the best campgrounds in the park; fairly quiet and beautiful (no showers though), also Kephart Prong trailhead is in this area and starts right from the river. I would encourage a stop a little further down US 441 at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center; in addition, the Oconaluftee River Trail starts at the Visitor Center and takes you along the river into Cherokee.   next
this is a view of the Oconaluftee drainage from just below Newfound Gap.  next
another view of this area.  next
this is another angle.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hammerschmidt Falls near Low Gap, Arkansas

this is Hammerschmidt Falls at the top of Indian Creek Canyon near Low Gap, Arkansas.   next
Hammerschmidt Falls is a 43' waterfall near Low Gap,  Arkansas  that flows into Indian Creek, which flows into the Buffalo River. Indian Creek flows through a very steep canyon; according to Tim Ernst, the Park Service records more injuries in this canyon from hikers, etc. than any other area in this region;it certainly looks steep enough for that to be the case.  You can access this falls just off of  hwy 74; either 2.4 miles east of Low Gap, or  2.8 miles west of the Kyles Landing turnoff. Either way, you start the hike by heading north  on an unsigned  dirt road by a fence (right across from the Horseshoe Canyon turnoff); there is a very pretty farm to your left as you hike downhill; the road will curve to your right(east) for a distance; when you come to a little creek, head left (north) for a short distance until you come to the top of the falls. If you walk down the rim of the small canyon below the falls, there are places to drop down to the creek; expect to get wet and muddy; during heavy rain, water will be pouring off of the entire canyon rim! Be careful; this is a great place to take a fall; also, the surrounding area looks to be private land; if you are not sure of access, call the Park Service  for more details.  next
this is a detail of the cascade below the waterfall.  next