Last Thursday (9 June 2022) our hiking group took a walk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along the Little River and beyond. The temperature was late July hot and the humidity, elevated by an overnight rain, was visible.
For the first few miles, we hiked on the Little River Trail. Once a logging road for the Little River Lumber Company, the gravel trail is now a popular hiking destination for young and old. The trail is a gradual uphill with several options to turn onto connecting trails and explore other sections of the park.
The trail was wide and hiking easy, so we walked side by side, chatting about our summer plans. Our conversation was frequently muffled by the sound of river water as it rushed off the mountain, twisting and turning through a pre-determined course of river rocks.
We turned off at the Cucumber Gap Trail junction and headed roughly back to the car. The terrain changed significantly at this point, a narrow path with exposed roots.
The GSMNP is considered one of the most diverse temperate rainforests in the world. I am always awed by the lush summer vegetation. We were early for summer wildflowers but did find one Mountain Laurel still in bloom.
The last half of the hike went quickly. The temperature was uncomfortable, and we were getting hungry. The hike totaled just over 5.5-miles in just under 2.5-hours. We concluded with a picnic lunch by the river.