Category Archives: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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.

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
Short-lived winter snowstorm

Short-lived winter snowstorm

Smoky Mountains photos: snow panorama
Smoky Mountains photos: snow panorama © William Britten use with permission only

This week we awoke to what has been a rare sight this winter: a blanket of snow! However, the forecast was for temperatures in the 50s, so I scampered out to take some Smoky Mountains photos of the winter scenery before it all disappeared.  My plan was to head up to Newfound Gap, stopping at the various overlooks along the way, but that road was closed, so I headed west along Little River Road … just driving and enjoying the snow and beauty.

The panorama above was taken from one of the parking areas along Little River Road as it climbs west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center towards the Laurel Falls trailhead. If you click on the image above, there is a larger version that will open. The photo below was just up from the overlook. The sunrise shot posted earlier this week was also in this area. Eventually the road to Newfound Gap opened, and I was able to get some more shots which I’ll post later.

There may not be much snow, but it’s a quiet, peaceful, and beautiful time of year to visit the Smokies. If you do, come on out to the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Loop on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg.  You’ll find my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos, and there may be a special memory for you to take home with you.

Smoky Mountains after snow
Smoky Mountains after snow © William Britten use with permission only
Winter: Quiet and Peaceful

Winter: Quiet and Peaceful

Newfound Gap in Winter © William Britten use with permission only
Newfound Gap in Winter © William Britten use with permission only

It’s definately the winter time here folks. The excitement of the holidays is a fading memory. The Smoky Mountains are currently shrouded in a half-hearted, left-over snow. Clingman’s Dome road and the Roaring Fork are closed for the winter.

The picture above was taken from the Oconaluftee Overlook …. same place as the glorious summer sunrise immortalized in Listening to Silence and Morning Majesty.

I’m down in the Gallery doing wintertime stuff … cutting mat boards, getting the inventory and spreadsheets ready for the new year, doing housekeeping on the hard drives from the 10,000+ images that I take in a typical year.  It’s really a nice time to catch my breath from the very busy October – December period.

If you’re in town, stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery out on Glades Rd here in Gatlinburg.

Clingman's Dome road closed © William Britten use with permission only
Clingman's Dome road closed © William Britten use with permission only
Featured Photo: Place of 1000 Drips

Featured Photo: Place of 1000 Drips

Waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains
Place of 1000 Drips © William Britten - use with permission only

Place of 1000 Drips is one of my oldest and most enduring Smoky Mountains photos. This is a popular roadside waterfall along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Turn at stoplight #8 in Gatlinburg, bearing to the right at the top of the hill, you will enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and begin a 6-mile one-way journey on a winding, narrow road through a carefree and timeless canopy of Smoky Mountains paradise. Towards the end of your journey, keep an eye out to the left for this waterfall.  Certain times of the year the flow of water is reduced to literally a group of drips, but in spring especially it can be quite impressive.

This photograph was taken in April, and if you look closely there is a White Trillium on the bank to the left. Balancing my tripod and myself on the slippery rocks, the picture was captured with a wide-angle lens.

Place of 1000 Drips is offered in all sizes up to 20×30. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on 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 Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. I’m located in the Morning Mist shopping area along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd.

Smoky Mountains in Black and White

Smoky Mountains in Black and White

Mortons Overlook
Mortons Overlook © William Britten use with permission only

Smoky Mountains photos need not always be in color, as these three vistas illustrate. The photo above is the classic shot from Mortons Overlook near the top of Newfound Gap Rd. Looking down the valley back towards Gatlinburg, with the Chimneys visible in the upper left. A nice mist rising up the hillsides.

The photo below is from the Oconaluftee Overlook just below Newfound Gap on the North Carolina side. This is a monochrome version of my popular photo, Listening to Silence.

Oconaluftee Overlook
Oconaluftee Overlook © William Britten use with permission only

The final image below was taken from about 10 miles away, on a ridge above Upper Middle Creek Rd. It’s a head-on view of the north face of Mt. LeConte after a winter storm.

If you’re in the Smokies for a visit, please stop in to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains photos at the William Britten Gallery on the historic Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg, TN.  There’s plenty of color on the gallery walls, and there may be a special Smoky Mountains memory waiting for you!

Mt. LeConte in Winter
Mt. LeConte in Winter © William Britten use with permission only
Time to Enjoy Nature

Time to Enjoy Nature

Driving through a Smoky Mountains Autumn
Driving through a Smoky Mountains Autumn © William Britten use with permission only

It’s the last day of October, and it has been an exceptionally busy month in my Gallery and at the October Craftsmens Fair in Gatlinburg. I want to thank everyone who stopped by to say hello, and if you bought one of my Smoky Mountains photos, thank you again and I hope it gives you enjoyment all year long!

While I am thankful for the successful fall season, it has left me little time to get out and enjoy the autumn leaf colors! This past weekend Sarah and I headed over to Asheville NC for a family visit. Instead of taking the quick interstate route, we took the slow, winding back road from Cosby over to the Big Creek section. There was virtually no traffic on this little-known gem tucked away in the north-eastern corner of the Smokies, but there was a breathtaking display of autumn leaf color.

This route provides some wonderful vantage points where the steep mountainside drops away so quickly that you can photograph the woods as if you were in the tree-tops! In the photos below I love the added dimension that the many vertical tree trunks give the photos. And the rainy day was perfect to saturate the colors and make everything sparkly and bright.

Smoky Mountains photos: autumn woods
Smoky Mountains photos: autumn woods © William Britten use with permission only

If you’ve got a late fall trip to the Smokies planned, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery on the historic Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN. My complete display of Smoky Mountains photos might contain a special memory for you to take home.

Smoky Mountains photos of Autumn woods
Smoky Mountains photos of Autumn woods © William Britten use with permission only
Featured Photo: Spiritual Light

Featured Photo: Spiritual Light

Smoky Mountains Sunset
Spiritual Light © William Britten - use with permission only

Spiritual Light is one of my Smoky Mountains photos taken from the Morton Overlook near Newfound Gap. The dramatic rays of sunset filtering through the trees lasted only a moment or two, so I had to be quick with the camera!

The vantage point from Morton Overlook is good for sunset photos during the summer months, but after late August the sun does not set in the valley looking down towards Gatlinburg. In late summer and fall it’s better to move on out to Clingmans Dome for sunsets.

Spiritual Light is available in all sizes up to 11×17, framed and unframed. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on the How to Buy page.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Road in Gatlinburg, TN.

Early Morning Walk in Cades Cove

Early Morning Walk in Cades Cove

Sunrise from Sparks Lane
Sunrise from Sparks Lane © William Britten use with permission only

Today is my wife, Sarah’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Sarah!

Last week we got up very early … before 5am … and drove over to Cades Cove to walk along the Loop Rd as the sun came up. It was one of the days when the loop is closed to car traffic until 10am, which makes for a delightful walk in a special place. These Smoky Mountains photos were some of the sights we saw along our walk.

The photo above shows the sun peaking into the eastern end of the Cove, seen from along Sparks Lane.  Below are a few of the horses from Cades Cove Riding Stables relaxing in the morning mist before their day gets started.

Riding Horses Relaxing
Riding Horses Relaxing © William Britten use with permission only

As we walked along before the sun came up, a group of deer crossed the road in front of us, headed for the woods after a night of grazing. The sounds around us were so quiet, and the smells of earth so welcoming. We talked about how these are moments like no others, and ones to be savored.

Below is a shot from the backside of the loop road, showing how wonderful it can be early in the morning without bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The walk we did was a 4-mile loop taking the Sparks Lane cut-through. Walking on out to Hyatt Lane would make for a longer 7 or 8 miles, and of course you could walk the entire loop road for an 11 mile excursion.

If you are visiting the Smokies on vacation, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg. My complete collection of Smoky Mountains photos is on display and may contain a special memory for you to take  home. Most days either Sarah or I will be there to greet you.

Quiet morning along the loop road
Quiet morning along the loop road © William Britten use with permission only

Featured Photo: Noah “Bud” Ogle Cabin

Autumn at the Ogle Cabin

Noah “Bud” Ogle was a Smoky Mountain farmer who lived from 1863 to 1913. The cabin was built in the 1880’s and consists of two cabins sharing a single chimney, known as a “saddlebag” style. The Ogle farm is the first stop on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.   From stoplight number 8 in Gatlinburg, head up to the top of the hill and bear left onto Cherokee Orchard Rd, entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Ogle place will be just up the road on the right and before the road enters it’s one-way loop for the Motor Nature Trail. There is also a very nice short hike available along the Ogle Nature Trail, which begins just off the back porch!

The three Smoky Mountains photos on this page show the cabin in two seasons. The morning in October in the photo above when I set up my tripod between the cabin and barn, the autumn leaves were at the height of their color, and an early rain shower put a sparkle on the whole scene. The shots below are taken from almost the same location after a winter snow. In these images the browns and whites of the winter scene blend perfectly with the weathered logs of Bud’s cabin.

All of the Bud Ogle Cabin images are available in sizes up to 16×24, in both matted prints and framed. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on the How to Buy page.

Smoky Mountains photos in Winter
Smoky Mountains photos in Winter © William Britten use with permission only
Bud Ogle place in Winter
Bud Ogle place in Winter © William Britten use with permission only

When you visit the Smokies, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd. in Gatlinburg, TN.

Featured Photo: Dogwood Tapestry

Featured Photo: Dogwood Tapestry

Smoky Mountains Dogwood
Dogwood Tapestry © William Britten - use with permission only

Dogwood Tapestry is one of my premier Smoky Mountains photos in a vertical format.  The scene is along the Middle Prong of the Little River, in the Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This photo is from the same area as Dogwood Rain.

The finished photograph is actually a mild double exposure. One image is normal and sharp, while the second photo is blurred out of focus. By combining the two pictures, a soft, delicate glow appears around the white blossoms. This photo pairs nicely with Place of 1000 Drips to create a large horizontal statement on a wall by using two vertical photos.

Dogwood Tapestry is available in all sizes up to 20×30. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on the How to Buy page.

Whenever you travel to the Smokies, please consider a visit to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery on the historic Arts and Crafts Trail along Glades Road in Gatlinburg, TN.

Featured Photo: Listening to Silence

Featured Photo: Listening to Silence

Listening to Silence © William Britten use with permission only
Listening to Silence © William Britten use with permission only

A commitment is required to experience the quiet grandeur of a Smoky Mountains dawn such as this. With close to an hour drive from the Gatlinburg area, it’s a very early wake-up call. And it’s a gamble, since on any given day you may experience only dense fog at the mile-high elevation. But the rewards can be enormous as you witness the beginning of one single day on planet Earth. The colors changing so fast you can’t take your eyes away. The ridges appearing out of the gloom with their soft pillow of fog, more than a dozen of them adding to the sense of depth in this picture.

Listening to Silence is one of my more recent Smoky Mountains photos. It was taken from the Oconaluftee Valley Overlook on the Newfound Gap road, looking east into North Carolina at sunrise. This is a picture that can command a large space, a picture that you can stand in front of and get lost inside it. It’s offered in all sizes, including the largest 20×30. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on the How to Buy page.

Like most of my photographs, Listening to Silence is quiet and contemplative.  It has a way of drawing you into an easy-going, meditative space. And it has an almost magical quality of changing as the light in a room changes. Any light, whether from a lamp or a window, will cause this photo to glow.

If time allows during your Smokies vacation, please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photos at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, TN. There may be a special mountain memory for you to take home with you!

Featured Photo: Cades Cove Morning

Featured Photo: Cades Cove Morning

Cades Cove Morning
Cades Cove Morning © William Britten use with permission only

Cades Cove Morning is a fairly new addition to the William Britten Gallery, taken from Hyatt Lane in the Cades Cove section of the Smoky Mountains. This photo was taken just after 7:00, when the morning was bathed in a golden, syrupy light, and the mist still lingering on the valley floor.

This photo draws the viewer into the scene with a series of triangles along the lower part. Low-angled sunlight creates dramatic shadows and contrast. The mist scooting along the valley floor is just icing on the cake! As often happens with a successful photo, conditions were perfect on this day. I went back just a few days later to see if I could improve on the photo, but the Park Service had trimmed the grass around the fence posts! And there was no mist on the second day.

Cades Cove Morning is offered in all sizes. Details of sizes and pricing can be found on at the bottom of the How to Buy page.

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountains Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN. There may be a Smokies photo memory for you to take home with you.

End of another Smoky Mountains Day

End of another Smoky Mountains Day

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

I made a late-evening run up to Newfound Gap to deliver a hiker to the Appalachian Trail. This was Moises (pictured below), who had called me from Chicago. It was his first AT hike, and he’d been on a bus since 4:00am!  As darkness was fast approaching, we decided to ride a few miles out Clingmans Dome Rd to get him a little closer to the nearest shelter. I dropped Moises off at Indian Gap, and continued on to Clingmans Dome to see if there might be an opportunity for a sunset photo. Nothing but fog up there, but on the way back down a coyote ran out in front of me. I pulled to a stop, and we stared at each other before he bolted into the brush, before I could get my camera.

Coming down off Newfound Gap the prospects for a sunset looked a little better, so I pulled over just below Mortons Overlook and walked back up to where the construction crew has taken over this choice view location. I set up my tripod next to a couple of other photographers, and we all enjoyed a very pretty end of the day.

Sunset after a clearing storm
Sunset after a clearing storm © William Britten use with permission only

If you are on a Smoky Mountains vacation, please come out to the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd. I’m on the historic Arts and Crafts Trail, in Morning Mist Village. The Gallery has my complete display of Smoky Mountains photos.

Moises ready for the trail
Moises ready for the trail
Easy High-elevation Hikes

Easy High-elevation Hikes

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

There are some wonderful and easy Smoky Mountains hikes at 5000 feet and above that will transport you from the dense hardwood forests of the Southeast to the balsam-scented spruce and fir forests of the Great North Woods.

You don’t need to be a back-country camper or Appalachian Trail through-hiker to find the surreal serenity of being transported to another natural zone. I’ve talked before about living in an area that features great changes in altitude, and this is another example of the changes when you go up to the top of the Smoky Mountains.

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

The easiest high-elevation hike of all might be the Spruce-Fir Nature Trail off Clingmans Dome Road. This trail, shown in the photo below, is less than a half-mile loop with most of the way on a boardwalk conveniently above the wet ground. Park the car and stroll through this musky pine-smelling world of ferns and fallen giants. Even in summer the air will be noticeably cooler than down in Gatlinburg.

I like to head to Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome on a foggy day. At first it might seem like the weather is against you on such a day, but the fog-shrouded woods are so beautiful that it’s worth putting up with a little damp and mist. The photos above are two examples of such a day.

Parking at Newfound Gap, you can hop on the Appalachian Trail going either east or west. Both start out fairly level, and you can hike a mile or less just to experience the high-elevation terrain before turning around.  There are also some trails that depart from Clingmans Dome Road, such as Noland Divide, Fork Ridge, and Andrews Bald Trails.

Spruce-Fir Nature Trail
Spruce-Fir Nature Trail © William Britten use with permission only

Whenever you take a break from your hikes on the trails, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery along the Arts and Crafts Trail on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg. You’ll find my complete collection of Smoky Mountains Photos.

Along the Noland Divide Trail
Along the Noland Divide Trail © William Britten use with permission only
The Sinks

The Sinks

The Sinks in the Smoky Mountains
The Sinks in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

The Sinks is a popular Smoky Mountains waterfall stop along Little River Road. Especially after a rainfall, it can be quite dramatic to stand in the observation area opposite the falls.

The Sinks is also of geological interest. From the back of the parking area you can see an old dry riverbed which was once the route of the Little River perhaps millions of years ago. This ancient riverbed winds around a rock formation and joins up with the Meigs Creek Trail. The current path of the Little River, over the falls, was formed when the river broke through the rocks, creating a short-cut.

Dangerous waterfall in the Smoky Mountains
Dangerous waterfall in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

Signs such as the one pictured above warn of the dangers here. And yet the Sinks draws daredevils such as the kayaker below.

After your sightseeing, please consider a visit to the William Britten Gallery on Glades Rd in Gatlinburg, along the historic Arts and Crafts Trail.

Kayaker goes over the Waterfall
Kayaker goes over the Waterfall © William Britten use with permission only
Moody Mountain Monday Morning

Moody Mountain Monday Morning

Moody Smoky Mtn Morning
Moody Smoky Mtn Morning © William Britten use with permission only

It’s a moody Smoky Mtn Monday in early May. The valley is lush with spring green, while the upper elevations are still shrugging off winter. The vantage point for this view is the Oconaluftee Valley Overlook, gazing into North Carolina from the parking area off Newfound Gap Rd.

This is a spot for the usual quick zoom-in-take-the-photo-zoom-out. But here’s an idea: throw a couple of lawn chairs in the trunk, come early with a take-out breakfast and coffee, and settle in to watch the morning arrive. You won’t be sorry you gave the time to it.

Some days from this spot you will see rivers of fog flowing like pillows along the valley. Other days might feature a dramatic colored sky and sunrise, as was the case the day I took a best-selling photo, Listening to Silence. But no matter what the mood of the day, it is a place to listen to the dramatic silence of a Smoky Mtn dawn.

The William Britten Gallery features all of my Smoky Mountain photos. They are meant to be contemplative and serene, and bring the spirit of the mountains back home with you.

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