One of my favorite places in the Smoky Mountains opens today after the annual winter closure. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a goldmine for pictures. Pioneer homesteads, amazing moss-covered boulders, waterfalls, and trails. On a typical year, I will go around the Roaring Fork a dozen or fifteen times, watching the seasons change along this familiar route. One of my most popular waterfall pictures, Place of 1000 Drips, can be found right beside the road near the end of the 5 mile motor trail.
One of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains is also along the one-way loop. I last hiked the trail to Grotto Falls in late November, just before the Roaring Fork was closed for the winter. If you’re lucky, you might take a picture of the famous Smoky Mountains llamas ferrying supplies up to LeConte Lodge.
The Roaring Fork also features one of the best displays of Mountain Laurel to be found in the Smoky Mountains. It’s at the top of a hill, beside one of the pull-offs to the right. The large and thick grove of laurel bushes is most amazing if you get out and walk inside it. The laurel usually bloom in the second week of May. A few weeks before this, you will see lots of Trillium and other wildflowers. And don’t forget the dogwood bloom in mid-April!
At the end of the ride, you’ll exit onto Rt. 321. Take a right turn, and head out to Glades Rd. Turn left on Glades, go a mile or so, and look for the Morning Mist Village shops. If you got this far, please stop in at the William Britten Gallery to see my complete display of pictures from the Smokies. And If you are a Facebook user, you can get my daily Smoky Mountains news and photos by becoming a fan of the William Britten Photography Facebook Page.