Category Archives: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cataloochee: Palmer Chapel

Cataloochee: Palmer Chapel

Palmer Chapel in Cataloochee Valley
Palmer Chapel in Cataloochee Valley © William Britten use with permission only

Cataloochee Valley is one of the hidden wonders of the Smoky Mountains. The best way from Gatlinburg is to schedule an entire day for the journey to Cataloochee. Either take the back road from Cosby, or exit 20 off I40 in North Carolina, then meander into Catalochee on NC284.

Palmer Chapel dates from 1898, and is still in great condition in a very picturesque setting. The photo above was actually created from three vertical panels. I use this technique when there is not enough room to step back from a structure and level the camera to make the walls perpendicular.

Church Interior
Church Interior © William Britten use with permission only
View from the pulpit
View from the pulpit © William Britten use with permission only

The image above shows the interior of Palmer Chapel from the preacher’s perspective! Services in the chapel were conducted by circuit riders from the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Palmer Chapel
Palmer Chapel © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Footbridges

Smoky Mountains Footbridges

Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only

If you do much hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ve certainly found yourself in the situation pictured above.

Love them or hate them, footbridges are common along Smokies trails. Some are vertigo-inducing challenges, and others are tame alternatives to hopping rocks across the stream.

Most of them are simple log bridges spanning the creek, while others are much more elaborate, as in the snow-covered footbridge on the Ramsay Cascades Trail pictured below.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge  © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains Footbridge © William Britten use with permission only
Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte

Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte

Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte © William Britten use with permission only
Spring Snow on Mt. LeConte © William Britten use with permission only

A spring snow dusted Mt. LeConte  on Tuesday night, closing the road to Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s not unusual to see the contrasts of winter and spring in one scene as in the picture above. The summit of Mt. LeConte is around 6500 feet, while the green trees in the foreground are down around 1500 feet.

The photo above was taken from the same vantage point near my home in the Glades area of Gatlinburg as Smoky Mountain Moonrise,  which shows snow on the summit of Mt. LeConte and fall foliage below.

Stop in and visit me at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Click on the image above to view a dramatic hi-resolution version.

Smoky Mountain Cantilever barns

Smoky Mountain Cantilever barns

Smoky Mountains cantilever barn © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains cantilever barn © William Britten use with permission only

The picture above is from the Tipton Homeplace in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a great example of the vernacular architecture known as the cantilever barn. The style of hanging a large upper loft area over two cribs below is unique to the area in and around the Smoky Mountains during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Of just over 300 of these barns known to have existed, about 290 were in the two Tennessee counties bordering the Great Smoky Mountains.

To me, this style of barn architecture reflects the Appalachian mountain peoples’ clever and practical solutions to everyday problems. In this case, the climate around the mountains was very humid, which presented a challenge to keep the hayloft dry and mold-free.  Solution: air circulation between the loft and the moist ground.

The example below is a modified cantilever, with supports on both ends. This is the John Messer barn along the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It stands near the historic Smoky Mountains Hiking Club cabin.

On your next trip to the Smokies please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

 

Cantilever barn in the Smoky Mountains
Cantilever barn in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountain Llamas

Smoky Mountain Llamas

Smoky Mountain Llamas © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountain Llamas © William Britten use with permission only

A packtrain of llamas is used to carry bed linens and supplies to Mt. LeConte Lodge. The llamas are easier on the heavily used Great Smoky Mountains National Park trails than horses.

In the picture below the llamas are passing behind Grotto Falls. Normally, the packtrain makes the trip from the Grotto Falls Parking area on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Departure is often just around daybreak, and return between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon.

Llamas behind Grotto Falls © William Britten use with permission only
Llamas behind Grotto Falls © William Britten use with permission only

Those Crazy Kayakers

Those Crazy Kayakers

Kayaking in the Smoky Mountains
Kayaking on the Little Pigeon River in the Greenbrier

Smoky Mountain Kayaker
Kayaking in the Smokies

Whenever the creeks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park swell with rainfall, which is often in the springtime, the kayakers come forth.

It seems like a daring adventure to me, and a paradoxical compromise between going with the flow and aggressively making your own path.

These folks must watch the weather like tornado chasers, ready to strap the kayak on the roof of the car at a moment’s notice.

The confluence of  the Ramsays Prong and Porters Creek in the Greenbrier section seems to offer an attractive, boulder-strewn course. And similar conditions can be found with a good launching area in the Chimneys Picnic Area.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Kayaking in the Smoky Mountains
Going with the Flow
Kayaking in the Smoky Mountains
Kayaking near the Chimneys Picnic Area

Green Rocks of the Roaring Fork

Green Rocks of the Roaring Fork

Moss-covered rock of the Roaring Fork

Something green for St. Patrick’s Day. Nothing greener in the Great Smoky Mountains than the moss-covered rocks of the Roaring Fork.  Conditions on the north face of Mt. LeConte create an extremely wet environment and a rich lushness of plant life. There may be no better example than the amazing green rocks and boulders along the Roaring Fork creek, with moss so thick  that it becomes a world unto itself.

Moss-covered rock of the Roaring Fork

Detail of moss on a boulder

The Roaring Fork makes it’s steep run from the summit of Mt. LeConte to the condos of Gatlinburg through a jumble of green-carpeted boulders. See the Featured Photo: Place of 1000 Drips for another example of how constant moisture gives the moss an exceptional foothold along the Roaring Fork.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Roaring Fork creek in the Smoky Mountains

Detail of moss and flowing water

The Life of Wood

The Life of Wood

Smoky Mountain Cabin detail

There are many old pioneer cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of them were constructed from native wood, shaped with hand tools such as the broad ax, froe, adz, and drawknife.

The wood in these buildings seems unique and different, with a life of its own. Or perhaps it is the life of the pioneers that remains within the wood. The example above is a classic dove-tail joint used to stack the log walls and keep them tight. The cabin is one you can see in the Cades Cove area of the Park.

The two images below are from cabins at the Mountain Farm Museum near the Cherokee entrance to the Smokies. Notice the nifty crude hinges made from  horse-shoes on the barn door in the lower right image.

Smoky Mountain log barn detailSmoky Mountain log cabin detail

The final two pictures below are from the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club cabin on the Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier Section of the Park. The first image shows another example of a dovetail joint.

Smoky Mountain log cabib dovetail joint

Smoky Mountain log cabib detail

Smoky Mountain Spirituality

Smoky Mountain Spirituality

Snowy footbridge

The picture above is the footbridge leading to the Ramsey Cascades Trail in the Greenbrier section of the Smoky Mountains. Yes, it’s still cold and quiet around here. Another cold, snowy scene from the Greenbrier is below.

But to warm things up on the waning days of winter, there’s a gallery of quotations down below. If the words are hard to read, click on any image, and you should get a full size slide show. (put your mouse over the right or left side of each picture to rotate through the slide show) I’ve tried to set each of the quotations within a supportive image.

Winter bridge

words-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdomwords-of-wisdom

Finding Deep Peace in Wild Places

Finding Deep Peace in Wild Places

Deep Peace in the Smokies
Deep Peace in the Smokies © William Britten use with permission only

These are stressful times. So much strife in the world, polarized beliefs, and intolerance. Some days it’s too much for a sensitive person, and I have to turn off the news and turn off my thoughts. I use nature, and the grand expanse of Smoky Mountains at my doorstep, to recalibrate and rebalance. I feel lucky to live in such a spiritual place.

My Smoky Mountains photos reflect this search for deep peace and reassurance in nature. The image above especially captures the dark and moody woods juxtaposed with the bright and hopeful morning sunlight. It’s a place to sit by the never-ending cascade and contemplate the cycles of life. The sunlight changes by the minute and yet is forever the same. The rocks sit in the stream for eons, and yet they too are following a cycle of upheaval and settling.

The next time you visit the Smokies, try pulling off the road to sit by the deep woods cascades of the Roaring Fork or the awesome views of Cades Cove. And please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery on the historic Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Road in Gatlinburg. In my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos you may find a special memory to remember the peace of the mountains.

Autumn Snow in the Smokies

Autumn Snow in the Smokies

Smoky Mountains with Snow above Gatlinburg
Smoky Mountains with Snow above Gatlinburg © William Britten use with permission only

The last week of October 2012, the long arms of Hurricane Sandy produced a Smoky Mountains wonderland of snow in autumn. The Smokies offered stunning photos from all the overlooks. The photo above was taken from the Gatlinburg by-pass, with the Park Vista hotel in the lower left corner, and the Roaring Fork Motor Trail heading up the valley in the center of the picture. This was the same location that produced some fabulous photos last April of a spring snowfall.

The photo below was taken from Campbell Overlook, showing the western shoulder of Mt. LeConte. Total snowfall in the highest elevations was nearly 3 feet!

Mt. LeConte from Campbell Overlook
Mt. LeConte from Campbell Overlook © William Britten use with permission only

The trail to the Chimneys is a favorite Smoky Mountains hike.  In the photos below the Chimneys are the two bumps on the left side. This is a rugged climb under the best of conditions, but snow and ice make it a special challenge.

If you are visiting the Smokies, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg. The gallery features Smoky Mountains landscape photos, as well as magnets, mugs, and notecards.

Chimneys after autumn snow
Chimneys after autumn snow © William Britten use with permission only
Cades Cove: Elijah Oliver Homestead

Cades Cove: Elijah Oliver Homestead

Elijah Oliver Cabin
Elijah Oliver Cabin © William Britten photos use with permission only

All of the Smoky Mtns photos on this page are of the Elijah Oliver cabin. Elijah was John Oliver’s son, and he was born in Cades Cove in 1824. After a time away from the Smoky Mountains, he returned to Cades Cove after the Civil War. Notice the “strangers room” enclosed on the front porch. Smoky Mountains hospitality was so well known that hunters and fishermen travelled, knowing that the mountaineers would give them lodging at no charge.

This homestead is one of the stops along the Cades Cove Loop Road in the Smoky Mountains. Park your car and take the short hike to the cabin and outbuildings–it is very much worth the time and effort to see this fine example of an Early American log cabin and barn.

A Homestead Barn © William Britten use with permission only
A Homestead Barn © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of my Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located in Morning Mist Village, along the historic Arts and Crafts loop on Glades Rd.

Smoky Mtns photos © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mtns photos © William Britten use with permission only
Smoky Mountains History: Rainbow Falls

Smoky Mountains History: Rainbow Falls

Smoky Mtns photos: Rainbow Falls (colorized)
Smoky Mtns photos: Rainbow Falls (colorized) © Knox County Public Library

Rainbow Falls has been a popular Smokies hiking destination since long before the formation of the National Park. LeConte Creek plunges near 80 feet over a massive cliff face that Harvey Broome called an “ethereal diorama,” creating the highest single-drop waterfall in the Smokies. The photos on this page were taken by Knoxville photographer Jim Thompson at various times in the 1920s and 1930s.

The trailhead to the waterfall is located on Cherokee Orchard Road, at the start of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, just outside Gatlinburg. For most of the 2.6 mile route to Rainbow Falls, you will have LeConte Creek as your companion. It’s a steady climb as you begin the ascent of Mt. LeConte. If you follow the trail all the way to the LeConte summit, you will have gained almost 4000 feet in elevation over a 6.7 mile hike.

During the time of homesteaders, before the advent of the National Park, LeConte Creek was known as Mill Creek … so named because of nearly a dozen grist mills that supported the surrounding farming community.

Rainbow Falls, Winter 1925
Rainbow Falls, Winter 1925 © Knox County Public Library

Thompson’s notes on the winter scene above: “A Wintery phenomenon at Rainbow Falls, a stalactite 24 feet long and a stalagmite 36 feet high formed on Le Conte Creek during below zero weather. A misty stream is all that is left unfrozen to fall through the cylinder opening of the formation.”

Photos used with permission of C.M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library.

If you’re vacationing in the Smokies, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery, located along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg. You’ll find my complete display of Smoky Mtns photos, plus magnets, notecards and mugs.

Smoky Mtns Photos
Smoky Mtns Photos © Knox County Public Library
Cades Cove: Henry Whitehead Cabin

Cades Cove: Henry Whitehead Cabin

Henry Whitehead cabin in Cades Cove
Henry Whitehead cabin in Cades Cove © William Britten use with permission only

Matilda “Aunt Tildy” Shields married Henry Whitehead after her first husband ran off. Henry built the house pictured above in the Chestnut Flats area of Cades Cove in 1895. Notice the brick chimney! This structure might be called the ultimate log cabin, or sometime called a “transition house” due to its near-perfect construction from logs sawed straight and flat at a nearby mill. Soon the mill-sawed lumber would replace log cabins with frame construction.

Look more closely, and you will see that behind the grand transition cabin sits a much more crude and smaller cabin of logs with a stone rubble chimney. Matilda’s brothers quickly built this cabin when her husband deserted her, and before Henry Whitehead courted and married her, and built her Smoky Mountains dream home.

Henry Whitehead Cabin © William Britten use with permission only
Henry Whitehead Cabin © William Britten use with permission only

Matilda’s son from her first marriage, Josiah “Joe Banty” Gregory, became a prominent producer of moonshine in Cades Cove during Prohibition.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located in Morning Mist Village, along the historic Arts and Crafts loop on Glades Rd.

Look Up!

Look Up!

In the Treetops
In the Treetops © William Britten use with permission only

It’s a Spiritual Sunday again. Time to ponder whatever comes to mind. Like walking in the Smokies with your head pointed upwards. Watch the squirrels jump from treetop to treetop. Appreciate the soft sunlight filtering down through the canopy. Maybe spot a woodpecker at work.

These two Smoky Mtns photos illustrate a simple philosophy: look up!  Studies show that a positive outlook and reaction to life’s unexpected detours are a key to happiness and longevity. It’s not always easy, and it takes some faith to know that the even the dark areas in your life’s picture add to the overall beauty.  Just as in these pictures, it’s the contrasts between light and dark that give the scene some “pop.”

The treetops pictured above are some of the big trees along the trail above Laurel Falls. The photo below is a stand of Poplars along the Roaring Fork. They probably took over the cleared forest after the logging operations of the 1920s, or after the homesteaders moved out. They’re all competing for a small piece of the sunshine pie. No time to relax and stretch your limbs. No time to be an individual. You need to grow fast and straight to establish yourself, just like those around you.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located in Morning Mist Village, along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd.

Smoky Mtns Photos: Tall Trees
Smoky Mtns Photos: Tall Trees © William Britten use with permission only
Featured Photo: Dogwood Rain

Featured Photo: Dogwood Rain

Smoky Mtns photos: Dogwood Rain
Smoky Mtns photos: Dogwood Rain © William Britten use with permission only

Dogwood Rain is one of my most enduring Smoky Mtns photos. This shot was taken along the Middle Prong in the Tremont area of the Smokies, which is one of my favorite locations. The photograph was taken in a light drizzle, umbrella in hand. With the rainy mist hanging over the creek, and the focus on the dogwood blooms on the overhanging branch, the photo has a three-dimensional look.

I recently gave Dogwood Rain a bit of a make-over, enhancing the contrast and the green color of the leaves.

The road to Tremont is a left turn just past the Townsend entrance to the Smokies, going west towards Cades Cove. After the road turns to gravel, this view presents itself on a sharp curve, with an unobstructed view of the Middle Prong of the Little River. If the dogwoods blooms are at their peak, (second and third weeks of April), and the light is good, it’s a simple matter to set up a tripod and take the shot.

Dogwood Rain is offered in all sizes. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on at the bottom of the How to Buy page. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mtns Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.  The Gallery is located in Morning Mist Village, along the historic Arts and Crafts loop on Glades Rd.

Cades Cove: John Oliver Homestead

Cades Cove: John Oliver Homestead

John Oliver Homestead
John Oliver Homestead © William Britten use with permission only

John Oliver was a pioneer who built his log cabin around 1826 in the Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains. The homestead is typical of the time with logs trimmed with a broad ax, fit together with dovetail corner joints, and the cracks filled in with a mortar that is little more than dried clay. Today, nearly 200 years after the Olivers took up residence in the Cove, this  homestead is the first stop along the Cades Cove Loop Road. It’s a short walk from the parking area, up through a hay meadow where you may often see deer grazing. The cabin is framed nicely with a split rail fence, and offers many opportunities for iconic Smoky  Mountains photos.

John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove © William Britten use with permission only
John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove © William Britten use with permission only

The image at the top of the page is a conversion to black and white with a sepia tone. This works especially well with pictures of old wood, such as fences and log cabins. I discuss this technique in a previous blog post with several other black and white conversions of Smoky Mountains photos in Cades Cove.

If you are vacationing in the Gatlinburg area, please stop in for a visit to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. There are framed and matted prints, as well as mugs, magnets, posters and notecards.

John Oliver Cabin and Split Rail Fence © William Britten use with permission only
John Oliver Cabin and Split Rail Fence © William Britten use with permission only

 

The Roaring Fork in Black and White

The Roaring Fork in Black and White

Sunrise on the Roaring Fork
Sunrise on the Roaring Fork © William Britten use with permission only

Lately I’ve become hooked on black and white conversions. A couple of weeks ago I posted some black and white Smoky Mountains photos from Cades Cove. Today’s offerings are from along the Roaring Fork.

In the digital era the camera’s sensor records everything in color. Unlike the monochromatic film of yore, you must start with a color image and then do a conversion. But the basics of black and white photography have not changed. Not every scene lends itself to a monochrome presentation. All you have to work with are shades of gray and dark and light. It’s all about contrasts in the areas of light. I think that photos of creeks are good candidates, especially the boulder-strewn Roaring Fork. The natural colors here are mostly whites of the water and grays of the rocks, so you have a lot of neutral shades to work with. Add some dramatic lighting, and you might just have a great black and white photo. The photos on this page were converted using Lightroom, including the addition of a sepia tone that gives each image a warm coloring.

Recently I’ve added some black and white panoramas to my gallery of Smoky Mountains photos. These, and all of my Smokies landscapes are on display at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg.

Smoky Mountains photos: Roaring Fork Morning
Smoky Mountains photos: Roaring Fork Morning © William Britten use with permission only
Cades Cove: Carter Shields Cabin

Cades Cove: Carter Shields Cabin

Carter Shields cabin in Cades Cove
Carter Shields cabin in Cades Cove © William Britten use with permission only

George Washington “Carter” Shields lived on this homestead from around 1910 to 1920, although the cabin dates from the 1830s.  Carter Shields place is one of the stops along the Cades Cove loop road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Carter Shields was a Civil War veteran, crippled at the Battle of Shiloh on April 1862 in Southwestern Tennessee.

In the springtime, the dogwood trees and split rail fence create many opportunities for memorable Smoky Mountains photos here.  The Shields cabin is also very attractive to deer … perhaps a salt lick under the porch … and you often find an extra bonus for your photos.

This scene, along with the dogwoods and fence, are in one of my Featured Photos, called Dogwood Home.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. All of my landscape images offered both matted and framed, as well as a selection of magnets, mugs, and notecards. The Gallery is located along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg.

Shields Cabin © William Britten use with permission only
Shields Cabin © William Britten use with permission only
Along the Roaring Fork: Jim Bales Place

Along the Roaring Fork: Jim Bales Place

Jim Bales Homestead © William Britten use with permission only
Jim Bales Homestead © William Britten use with permission only

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a narrow, one-way loop and a wonderful opportunity for Smoky Mountains photos. Start from stoplight number 8 in Gatlinburg, proceed up the hill and enter the Smokies at the Cherokee Orchard entrance. The six-mile route will take you past several cabins of the early settlers of the area. Jim Bales place is one of several early homesteads that are preserved in the Park.

Who was Jim Bales? James Wesley Bales was born in 1869.  Jim and his older brother, Ephraim, spent most of their lives from the 1860s to the 1930s on the Roaring Fork. Jim married Emma Ogle, a young woman from a neighboring homestead.

The cabin pictured above was actually the Alex Cole cabin moved by the Park Service from the Sugarlands area of the Smokies. But the corncrib and barn, seen below, are what remains of Jim Bales’ life on the Roaring Fork.

The view from Jim's Place © William Britten use with permission only
The view from Jim's Place © William Britten use with permission only

The Roaring Fork cuts down right next the the Bales homestead and provides some fine angles for photos — especially when the dogwoods and rhododendron bloom.

Smoky Mountains photos along the Roaring Fork
Smoky Mountains photos along the Roaring Fork © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in for a visit to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop along Glades Rd.  And if you are a facebook follower, please consider following my facebook page for daily updates and more Smoky Mountains photos.

The Road to Serenity

The Road to Serenity

Smoky Mountains photography: miles away
Smoky Mountains photography: miles away © William Britten use with permission only

Welcome to Friday. A weekend! Gratitude for another day. The simple beauty of dawn drifting towards the fullness of the day, weather becoming whatever it will. The road beckons, cares and worries in the rearview mirror. Miles away.

Leave it all behind
Leave it all behind © William Britten use with permission only

There are many opportunities in the Smoky Mountains to let the road carry you away. Even some of the very popular driving areas like Cades Cove or the Roaring Fork can be deserted and ethereal in the very early morning mist. You can turn off the air conditioner, roll down the windows, and just be one with the softness of the moment. You’ll probably see some wildlife enjoying the quiet of their morning too.

Head east out of Gatlinburg on Route 321. After three or four miles, look for the right turn at the Greenbrier entrance of the National Park. Just follow the road, you can’t get lost. Get out whenever you want, sit by the creek a moment. Or keep on driving past Greenbrier, on over to Cosby. Turn right at the stop sign, toward Cosby campground. But go on by the campground and just wander for miles, way over to the Cataloochee Valley, watching the trees roll by. The road gets a little rough, but not for long. Keep on going for a real experience.

Serenity Road
Serenity Road © William Britten use with permission only

Perhaps your road of wandering will lead you to the Arts and Crafts Loop along Glades Road outside Gatlinburg. If so, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Morning Mist Village.

High Season for AT Hikers

High Season for AT Hikers

Three Young Hikers
Three Young Hikers

If you follow this blog, you know that I enjoy volunteering to help shuttle Appalachian Trail hikers between Gatlinburg and the Trail. I love to get up early, pick up the hikers at their hotel, and head up the mountain. Everyone has a story, and they are all happy to be off on their adventure. It’s fun to see them head down the trail, sometimes in rain or fog, sometimes in snow, but always in high spirits.

This is the high season for Appalachian Trail hikers. The “through hikers” have started in Geogia and are attempting to make it all the way to Mt. Katahdin in Maine before cold weather sets in. See the sign below … 1972 miles to go before the trail ends in Maine!  There are also many “sectional hikers” who are doing segments of the trail, and many of these hikers have a goal of completing the entire trail, one section at a time.

This week I have made two early morning runs up the mountain, both to help out folks doing sectional hikes. The three gentlemen in the photo above are from Houston, and they started in Georgia with a 5-week time allotment. They will complete the entire 70-mile traverse of the Smoky Mountains, plus some more.  The couple below have been Appalachian Trail hikers working on their sections for 15 years, and are nearly complet. This was their first hike in the Smoky Mountains.

Whether you’re a serious hiker or a vacationer in the Gatlinburg area, please consider a trek out to the William Britten Gallery. I’m located on Glades Rd along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop.  My complete display of photography from the Smoky Mountains is on display. There just might be a special memory of the Smokies for you to take home.

Another Section Hike
Another Section Hike
Deep Woods

Deep Woods

Deep Woods in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Deep Woods in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

It’s another Spiritual Sunday. Today we are in the Deep Woods.

Something about being among Big Trees speaks to a person’s soul. If you’ve ever stood in a grove of California Redwoods, you know the feeling. They’ve lived for so long, and withstood so many of nature’s hardships. They tower above their peers, leaving you to gaze at the massive trunk, or crane your neck to look up into their canopy. If you hike the same Smoky Mountains trails again and again, some of these giants become like friends. To stand in a forest of old-growth big trees is to be within Nature’s cathedral.

Smoky Mountains photos: Big Trees
Smoky Mountains photos: Big Trees © William Britten use with permission only

Where to find Big Trees in the Smoky Mountains? Since much of the Smokies was cut for timber before the Park was formed, there are only a few large groves left. One accessible spot, where both of the pictures above were taken, is above Laurel Falls. Most folks take the popular hike to the falls and then turn around. But if you continue on for another half mile or so, there is a nice grove of old growth trees.  Another one can be found along the Ramsay Cascades Trail in the Greenbier section of the Smoky Mountains. And of course, a great experience with Deep Woods can be found outside the National Park, in the Joyce Kilmer National Forest near Robbinsville, NC.

Smoky Mountains photos: Deep Dark Woods
Smoky Mountains photos: Deep Dark Woods © William Britten use with permission only

If you are on vacation or traveling through the Gatlinburg area, please stop in for a visit to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located in Morning Mist Village along Glades Rd. in the historic Arts and Crafts district.

Featured Photo: Dogwood Home

Featured Photo: Dogwood Home

Dogwood Home
Dogwood Home © William Britten use with permission only

Dogwood Home is a featured photo at the William Britten Gallery. It is offered in all sizes up to 20×30. Details of sizes and prices can be found on the How to Buy page. You can also purchase framed or unframed versions of this image from my online store

The dogwood blooms were especially pretty in the Cades Cove area of the Smoky Mountains during the spring of 2012 when this picture of Carter Shields cabin was taken. This is one of the older cabins along the loop road, dating from the mid-1800s. George Washington “Carter” Shields fought in the Civil War, and returned to live in Cades Cove during the early 1900s.

For me, this picture evokes the idyllic tranquility of another era, and the dogwoods add a symbolic touch of love and peace, and the promise of rebirth that comes with every spring. Even though life in this rustic cabin would have been harsh in the 1800s, it’s fun to imagine living here as an antidote to our hectic modern lifestyles.

A side-note on this picture: when I set up for the shot another photographer was working up by the cabin. I waited a while for him to finish, but finally I gave up and positioned him behind the tree to the right. He stayed there for about 30 minutes while I worked on this shot.

Please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg, TN. The Gallery features all of my landscapes of the Smoky Mountains.  There just might be a picture waiting to go home with you!

Springtime on Sparks Lane

Springtime on Sparks Lane

Springtime in Cades Cove
Springtime in Cades Cove © William Britten use with permission only

It’s a glorious springtime in Cades Cove. The dogwood blooms have come early, and the Smoky Mountains are dressed in their spring finery. There are opportunities for Smoky Mountains photos everywhere you look. The pictures on this page were taken along Sparks Lane, the first cut-through in Cades Cove. Early in the morning, soon after the Park Rangers opened the gate for the day.

The other cut-through road along the loop road is Hyatt Lane. Both of these roads are gravel and are bordered by old fenceposts and wire, which will give your photos that old-time country lane look.  With the Smoky Mountains rising in the distance, these two country lanes offer some exceptional vistas.

Whenever you’re in Gatlinburg, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. My display of  Smoky Mountains photos might just contain a special memory for you to take home.

Smoky Mountains Photos: Dogwood Time in Cades Cove
Smoky Mountains Photos: Dogwood Time in Cades Cove © William Britten use with permission only
AT Hiking Adventures

AT Hiking Adventures

Gary, Rachel, Lisa and Blake
Gary, Rachel, Lisa and Blake

Readers of this blog know that I enjoy volunteering to help Appalachian Trail hikers shuttle between Gatlinburg and the trail. Most of these folks have spent a lot of time planning and dreaming of their adventure, and it warms my heart to assist them in some small way.

This week I was scheduled to give a ride to the family pictured above. Lisa was in quest of a Girl Scout badge, and her family joined in on a hike to LeConte Lodge and then on to one of the back-country shelters.  The group gathered at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, and ran into Candy and Wendy, pictured below. They were former college pals, also headed up the trail to LeConte for a special time together.

As always when you take a break from hiking, the welcome mat is out at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg.  All of my Smoky Mountains landscape photos are on display in lots of sizes, framed and unframed, and magnets cards and mugs too.

Candy and Wendy
Candy and Wendy
Featured Photo: Greenbrier Springtime

Featured Photo: Greenbrier Springtime

Smoky Mountain creek in springtime
Greenbrier Springtime © William Britten - use with permission only

Greenbrier Spring was taken just downstream from the bridge leading up the Ramsay Prong Road in the Greenbrier section of the Smoky Mountains. The creek entering from the right is the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River, and straight ahead is the Ramsay Prong entering.  A beautiful spring day after the dogwood blooms have faded, and the creeks are singing following a lot of rain.

The final image above is the result of merging three panels, each with the camera in the vertical position. And in fact each of the three panels was composed of three separate photos needed to capture the extreme highlights in the water, as well as the deep shadows in the woods. So, a total of 9 photos were merged together to create this one stunning picture.

Greenbrier Spring has great detail and is especially suited to large sizes. It is offered in all sizes up to 20×30. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on the How to Buy page.

The picture below is from the same vantage point during a late winter snow.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located in the historic Arts and Crafts Community along Glades Rd.

Smoky Mountains creek in winter
Smoky Mountains creek in winter © William Britten - use with permission only
Morton Overlook

Morton Overlook

Morton Overlook with Light Snow and Mist
Morton Overlook with Light Snow and Mist © William Britten use with permission only

Morton Overlook is one of the classic locations for Smoky Mountains photos.  You could stop here every day for 365 days in a row and never see the same scene twice. The overlook is on Newfound Gap Rd, near the top, and there is an identifying sign, so it’s easy to spot.  The photo above was taken after a light dusting of snow. The view from here is back down the mountain towards Gatlinburg. You can’t see it in this picture, but the Newfound Gap Road climbs up through the valley in the center of the scene.

In summer the sun sets directly in the V of the mountains, making for all sorts of dramatic possibilities. One of the best opportunities is after a stormy day, when the sun sets just below the clouds and bathes everything in a syrupy golden light, as in the picture below. In late summer the sun has moved so much to the left that it is not as photogenic here, and better sunset photos are found from the Clingmans Dome parking area.

Smoky Mountains photos: Dramatic Sunset
Smoky Mountains photos: Dramatic Sunset © William Britten use with permission only

Below is one of my Featured Photos, titled Spiritual Light. Just another example of what sunlight can do late in the day from this spot.

When you travel to the Smokies, please stop in to see my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos at the William Britten Gallery. I’m out on Glades Road, along the Arts and Crafts Loop. And for additional updates from the Smokies, and lots more spontaneous pictures, please become a follower of my facebook page by pressing the “Like” button to the right on this page.

Featured Photo: Spiritual Light
Featured Photo: Spiritual Light © William Britten use with permission only
Historical Topo Maps

Historical Topo Maps

Smoky Mountains 1949 Topo Map
Smoky Mountains 1949 Topo Map

The images on this page are from a 1949 US Geological Survey Map of the Smoky Mountains, which was based on the 1931 map created at the time the National Park came into existence. A copy of this historical topo map can be downloaded from http://williambritten.com/GSM/  If you right-mouse-click on the file named GSMNP_topo.jpg you can save the file to your computer.

This is a very large (66MB) file! One way that I use it is to open it full size and then crop it in the area that you wish to take a hike. Then print out just that area. The map shows some old road placements, such as in the Greenbrier area above, as well as some now-undocumented areas of the Smokies.

You can also download the original 1931 topo maps of the Smoky Mountains at the same address above, labeled 1931east.jpg and 1931west.jpg. The  1931 maps show home sites, which makes them useful for exploring old rock walls, chimneys, and other remains of old homesteads.

Click on either of the images on this page to see a full-size version.

As always, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop along Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN. My complete display of Smoky Mountains photos might include just the Smokies memory for you to take home.

Smoky Mountains History: Topographical Map
Smoky Mountains History: Topographical Map
Spiritual Sunday: Calm and Bright

Spiritual Sunday: Calm and Bright

The Chimneys Glisten with Ice and Snow
The Chimneys Glisten with Ice and Snow © William Britten use with permission only

The Smokies got a short-lived winter snowstorm earlier this week. By lunchtime the weather turned warm and sunny, and the snow was but a memory.  I was out early, hoping to get up to Newfound Gap while the scenery was still fresh, but the route over the mountains was closed. I spent an hour on Little River Rd. waiting for the road to open, and the photos from that area were posted a few days ago. It was a wonderful morning for winter Smoky Mtns photos.

Once the road opened, I stopped first at Campbell Overlook and took in the scene below. The sun was already beginning to warm the cold mists, and they were rising rapidly on the face of Balsam Point on the western side of Mt. LeConte. The calm and bright mountain contrasted with the frantic activity of tourists zipping into the parking area to grab a quick snapshot before zooming off to the lure of higher elevations and the promise of even more snow. I lingered a while, watching the movement of mist, and thinking of the many different moods and views that this overlook offers during the course of the seasons.

The drive on up to Newfound Gap was a wonderland of heavy wet snow on the tree branches. Unfortunately when I arrived at the top there was very little snow!  So I headed back down to capture some of the scenes I’d passed by along the way. The photo above is one of them: the Chimneys glistening in ice and sunshine. It turned out that the best of the snowstorm had hit in the area of the Chimneys picnic area.

If you are visiting the Smokies during this quiet time of year, or any time, please consider stopping in to see my complete display of Smoky Mtns photos at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg. I’ve got framed versions of all my Featured Photos, plus magnets, mugs and notecards.

Mt. LeConte in Mist and Snow
Mt. LeConte in Mist and Snow © William Britten use with permission only

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