We set out from Alabama, heading for the tranquility of the Great Smoky Mountains...
Five hours later, we came to the small town of Sylva, where we would begin our backwoods journey through small, typically-unmarked roads, to a place that brought me peace and solace in my younger days. The boys were required to do a day hike as part of their Cub Scout requirements (for the meetings we were missing), so this worked out nicely.We parked in a little clearing and set off down the steep, rocky incline that heads the trail. It had cooled off at least twenty degrees!
Deeper and deeper into the forest we went, and I noticed how much the trail had changed over the years. At times, we couldn't hear the waterfalls at all, while other times they sounded two feet away! It was a beautiful day for a hike.
Science & Physical EducationFinally, we came to the trail's end, but were unable to actually get down into the falls due to erosion. Many years ago, a person could climb down into the falls and have a picnic or take a short nap on that large boulder in the middle of the stream. Unfortunately, it would have been too dangerous to try and get down to it, but we were able to sit serenely and enjoy the view for a while. Then we hiked back....the trail itself still being very safe.
On the way back uphill, we found a small cavern that the boys explored. Then we sat down to do some bird watching.
We also started exploring the local plant life...mushrooms, ferns, and rhododendron trees. We took pictures for further exploration in the hotel that night. We learned that these are two types of inedible mushrooms.
Getting Lost...then FoundBack at the head of the trail, we played with the camera's timer and managed to get a shot of the three of us. There wasn't a soul for miles around!
As the sun began to set, I knew we needed to make tracks. Every road around here is full of hairpin curves, and many wind on forever. Our GPS doesn't do too well through the mountains, either....on the trek out of here, we were directed to drive into a lake, a cornfield, and a house.
A few hours later, we landed safely at our next hotel....ready for the next day's adventure!!!
Want to Visit Paradise Falls???
Directions from I-40.....and please be careful when hiking.
- Take the Maggie Valley exit (27)
- Follow Highway 276-S to the intersection of 19/23/74
- Go West on 19/23/74 into Sylva (exit 83)
- Left at second traffic light (107-S toward WCU)
- From 107-S, take Sylva exit
- Go a couple of miles, and cross the bridge
- Keep going. :)
- Approximately 10 miles in, turn left onto Highway 281
- Approximately 10 more miles on Highway 281 into Little Canada
- Go around the hairpin turn at the community center (you'll see the back, and then the front)
- Wolf Creek Baptist Church will be on the right side
- If you reach Wolf Creek Dam, you went too far
- About 100 yards past the church there is a clearing with a tiny "National Park Parking" sign and a trail to the public grounds