Podcast

Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains – Podcast Bonus Episode.

Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains is a magical time of year. Join Chuck Schmidt, travel host for a tour of the area’s best events, attractions and holiday shows.

Just think of it, 15-Million lights in just 25 miles, that’s what you’ll experience at Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains. Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge pull out all the stops in creating a winter wonderland everyone has to see in their lifetimes. Add the special experience of Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas and thier 5 million lights on display and you’ll soon make this visit a family tradition.

Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains runs from November 22nd through February 15th. Winterfest in Pigeon Forge kicks off on Thanksgiving evening with fireworks at the Titanic Museum at 7pm . Another must-see is on November 23rd and it’s the lighting of the Christmas Trees at The Island in Pigeon Forge with nearly 40,000 ornaments, half a million lights and more than 5,000 feet of garland.

Gatlinburg’s winter calendar of events is packed with fun seasonal activities like Winterfest, Great Smoky Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Show, Festival of Trees, Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales, the Great Smoky Christmas Arts & Crafts Show, the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, and the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and Fireworks show, just to name a few.

In Sevierville special Winterfest attractions, like Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at Smokies Stadium (November 15, 2019 – January 5, 2020), add to the excitement. This 1.5-mile drive through LED light and music experience features fun extra activities for the kids, including crafts and photos with Santa (beginning after Thanksgiving).

Winterfest lights in Pigeon Forge shine from November 22nd through February 17th. See more than 5 million shining Pigeon Forge holiday lights when you take the Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights!

Along your driving tour, you’ll see bear, deer, fox and other critters native to the Smoky Mountains “wandering” through Pigeon Forge. Sparkling lights, giant ornaments, and tall, tall trees are seen on Island Drive and throughout the Island in Pigeon Forge. Even the 200-foot-tall Great Smoky Mountain Wheel shows off the holiday spirit with red, green and white lights.

Download your Winterfest Driving Tour Map here

Another highlight of Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains are all the holiday shows at the dinner theaters. Including; Twas the fight before Christmas at the Hatfield & McCoy Christmas Disaster Dinner Feud™, Christmas at Dolly Parton’s Stampede! , Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry. That’s just a few, there are more Christmas shows at The Comedy Barn, Magic Beyond Belief, Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, Country Tonite and more.

If you’re looking for a memory to last a lifetime than consider a ride on the THE POLAR EXPRESS™ . Over 90,000 guests rode THE POLAR EXPRESS™ with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in 2018 and anticipate the same in 2019! The 1¼ hour round-trip excursion comes to life as the train departs the Bryson City depot for a journey through the quiet wilderness for a special visit at the North Pole.

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with the magical story. Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the North Pole to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa will board THE POLAR EXPRESS™, greeting each child and presenting them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung as they return back to the Bryson City Depot.

Those are just a few of the events, attractions and experiences you can expect at Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains. For more details list to the bonus episode of our podcast – An Outsiders Guide to the Smoky Mountains.

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Episode 011 – Moonshine, Wine and Whiskey in the Smokies Podcast

Join Chuck Schmidt, travel host for a tour of the best moonshine wine and whiskey in the Smoky Mountains on this Podcast.  Learn about the flavorful selection of moonshines, whiskeys and wines as we explore Kodak, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in search of our favorite spirits.

Tennessee is known the world over for their music and hospitality. And their whiskey. Tennessee has been a leader in distilling spirits throughout our nation’s history. That includes the time before, during, and after Prohibition. That pride in craftsmanship and their spirit of independence led Tennesseans to make some of the world’s finest whiskey and some of the nation’s most sought after moonshine.

Today Tennessee distillers are crafting distilled spirits as diverse as the music born in this State. From Blues to Bluegrass and from vodka to Tennessee Whiskey, In this episode we’re going to take a look at the various distilleries and wineries making moonshine, wine and whiskey in the immediate Smoky Mountains area of Kodak, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

In this episode we’ll be taking a look at the following moonshine and whiskey distilleries: Old Tennessee Distilling Co. – Kodak, D&S Distilling Company – Sevierville, Tennessee Legend Distillery – Sevierville, Tennessee Shine Company – Pigeon Forge, Smith Creek Distillery – Pigeon Forge, Old Forge Distillery – Pigeon Forge, Doc Collier Moonshine – Gatlinburg, Sugarland’s Distilling Co. – Gatlinburg and Ole Smoky Distillery – Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge.

Continuing our episode on moonshine, wine and whiskey the wineries are: Apple Barn Winery – Sevierville, Mountain Valley Winery – Pigeon Forge, Mill Bridge Winery – Pigeon Forge, Hillside Winery – Sevierville, Sugarland Cellars – Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Wine Cellar – Gatlinburg, Tennessee Homemade Wines – Gatlinburg, Smoky Mountains Winery – Gatlinburg, Goodwater Vineyards – Gatlinburg, Bootleggers Homemade Wine – Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge.

Some unique flavors of moonshine, wine and whiskey are: Bananashine, Orange Dreamsickle, Fiery Mango Margarita, Blue Houdini, Oatmeal Cookie, Kettle Corn moonshines. Unique wine flavors: 2018 Blackberry Molasses Cider and 2019 Jalapeño Apple. Our most unique flavored whiskey…Peanut Butter Cup Whiskey.

Hopefully you’ll find Episode 010 Fall in the Smokies Podcast helpful in planning your Fall getaway!

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Episode 010 – Fall in the Smokies Podcast

As I’m writing these notes it’s the last week in August but for many visitors booking your trip over Labor Day weekend is critical. The Smoky Mountains National Park area hosts the most visitors in the fall during the last three weeks of October, when the peak foliage is most likely to occur. If possible, plan your trip at least two to three months in advance, or even earlier. In Episode 010 – Fall in the Smokies Podcast, Join Chuck Schmidt, travel host for an overview in his Fall in the Smokies Podcast.  Learn about the best places to see the brilliant colors of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well events and festivals in the surrounding communities.  Learn about attractions, hiking trails, driving tours and more.

Bear eating a piece of pepperoni pizza.  Title of "An Outsoders Guide to the Smoky Mountains".

Not surprisingly, the most popular way to see the foliage is driving. Be aware that Cades Cove and Newfound Gap Road (US 441) in the Park become congested in mid-October. Consider taking a bike on Cades Cove to beat the traffic. From early to mid-October, fall colors develop above 4,000 feet. To enjoy them, drive the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway east or west.  Roaring Forks Motor Trail is beautiful also.

To get away from the crowds consider some of the driving tours in Sevierville; Boyd’s Creek Fall Foliage Tour, English Mountain Driving Tour, The Middle Prong Driving Tour

Hiking has become an increasingly popular alternative, with the Appalachian Trail, Inspiration Point on the Alum Cave Trail, Look Rock Tower, Oconaluftee River Trail and Sutton Ridge Overlook within the park boundaries. Other hikes include; Andrews Bald, Gregory Bald, Mt Cammerer and Mt LeConte via Alum Cave. Check out Episode 010 – Fall in the Smokies Podcast for details about each of these hikes.

Other ways to travel include helicopter & airplane tours, motorcycle rentals and Hot Air Balloon.

As for area events and festivals each town has their own unique twist.  Pigeon Forge has Dollywood’s  Harvest Festival, thousands of carved and illuminated jack-o-lanterns immersing families in fabulous fall fun. The largest addition ever made to Dollywood’s fall festival, Great Pumpkin LumiNights features artistic sculptures, whimsical scenes and delightful, family-friendly fun throughout Timber Canyon.

Gatlinburg has Ober Gatlinburg’s 10th Annual OktOBERfest, Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival, Gatlinburg’s Taste of Autumn, Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, Trick or Treat Kick Off Karnival, Chili Cookoff presented by Bush’s Chili Beans and a stirring Veterans Day Obervance Ceremony.  Check out Episode 010 – Fall in the Smokies Podcast for details about each of these events.

Sevierville hosts; 12th Annual Kyker Farms Corn Maze, The Trail and Zombie Blasterz at Kyker Farms, History & Haunts – Have a howling good time in historic downtown Sevierville each Saturday evening in October from 5pm until 9pm. Each event brings a new harvest of activities everyone will enjoy, from guided historic walking tours and costume contests to storytellers, live music and lawn games. 

Wears Valley, Townsend also have festivals and events sure to entertain you this fall season.  Don’t miss a trip the Bryson City and the Great Smoky Mountins Railway and their PEANUTS™ The Great Pumpkin Patch Express, Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience and Uncorked! A Unique Rail Line and Wine experience.  Again Episode 010 – Fall in the Smokies Podcast has details about each of these events.

Hopefully you’ll find Episode 010 Fall in the Smokies Podcast helpful in planning your Fall getaway!

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Episode 009 – Touring Wears Valley, Cades Cove and Townsend a Smoky Mountains Podcast.

Join Chuck Schmidt, travel host and go touring Wears Valley, Cades Cove, Townsend and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as surrounding communities.  In this Smoky Mountains Podcast learn about attractions, hiking trails, the best places to dine as well as tips and suggestions for saving time and saving money on your vacation.

Show Notes Episode 009 – Touring Wears Valley, Cades Cove and Townsend. 

In this episode on the Smoky Mountains podcast you’ll learn about Wears Valley attractions such as:

Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster,  the Granddaddy of mountain coasters in the Smokies. It was the first mountain coaster in the Smokies opening in 2003. The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is the longest downhill ride in the United States, with over 1 mile of track! The vehicles are designed to carry two visitors in comfort but can be handled easily by one alone.  

The Coaster at Goats on the Roof, Measuring nearly a mile in length and reaching top speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof offers thrills for all ages, and because you the passenger are in control of the brake, you can make the experience as tame or as hair-raising as you’re comfortable with.

Wears Valley Zip Line Adventures – 43 private unspoiled acres with unmatched views of Mount LeConte and he Geat Smoky Mountains National Park. They have 5, 6 and 7 zipline courses extending up to 1.5 miles of ziplines.

Friendly Falls Gem Mine– Miners are welcome to grab a bucket up at the store and take it down to the peaceful creekside mining flume. Scoop your sand into the sifting box, put it in the rushing water of the flume, shake it around and see all the beautiful gemstones for you to take home.

This Smoky Mountins Podcast also focuses on different dining available in Wears Valley as well as hiking trails and point of interest inside GSMNP.

As for the attractions in Townsend this Smoky Mountins podcast covers:

Tuckaleechee Caverns- is a massive cave / cavern system The “Big Room” is the largest cave/cavern room that is open to the public in the eastern United States could almost fit a football stadium. Many stalagmites reach over 24 feet tall with flow-stone formations over hundreds of feet in length and width. Tuckaleechee Caverns is proud to have the tallest underground waterfall in the eastern United States, named “Silver Falls”, a 210 foot two-tier waterfall. Be prepared for going up and down flights of stairways and uneven terrain. OPEN – MARCH 15 to NOVEMBER 15th

Next to Heaven Adventure – Ziplines and horse back riding. You will zip from mountain to mountain on 3 separate lines ranging from 1000 ft up to at 1/4 mile. We offer the most beautiful scenic unguided ride in the smokies. The unguided horseback ride up the mountain is absolutely beautiful. The view at the top is breath taking. This is a true trail ride, if the unguided part concerns you the do have guides that can take you and your party.

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum The Townsend-in-the-Smokies Chamber of Commerce established a non-profit organization to found the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company museum in 1982. A Shay engine that had been used in the logging operation, No. 2147, was restored for the project. The depot at Walland was moved to Townsend and memorabilia was collected from the days of the railroad and lumber operations.

Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center preserves, interprets and shares the history and culture of the diverse peoples and Native Americans who have inhabited the Southern Appalachians including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This Smoky Mountains Podcast also focuses on different dining available in Townsend as well as hiking trails and point of interest inside GSMNP.

As for Cades Cove, you’ll learn about driving the loop and the best times to avoid the traffic.  Learn about bicycling the loop as well as hiking trails in the area; Abrams Falls, Spruce Flats Falls, The Schoolhouse Gap Trail, West Prong Trail, Gregory Bald and the Rich Loop Trail.

Hopefully you found this Episode 009 Touring Wears Valley, Cades Cove and Townsend helpful.

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:   https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Episode 008 – Touring Dandridge, Douglas Lake and Cosby

Join Chuck Schmidt, travel host and go touring Dandridge, Douglas Lake and Cosby TN. Learn about different things to do on the other side of the park from waterfall hikes to boating to scenic drives. Discover the history of Dandridge, the recreation of Douglas Lake and the outdoor opportunities of Cosby  There’s a ton to do on the other side of the Smokies, don’t miss it!

Dandridge- Founded in 1783, Dandridge, TN, named after Martha Dandridge Washington, the First U.S. President’s wife,  is the state’s second oldest town.  When the Tennessee Valley Authority started construction of the Douglas Dam in the 1942, The construction of Douglas Dam in 1942 flooded much of the best farmland in Jefferson County, and threatened to flood most all of downtown Dandridge, which was situated below the proposed reservoir’s high-water mark. Residents of the town successfully petitioned then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, pointing out that Dandridge was the only town in the United States named for the wife of George Washington.  They were successful a stone and earth dike was built to keep the rising waters from flooding the town.

Douglas Lake is probably the main attraction. The lake is a beautiful 33,000 acre area, approx 30 miles long and 525 miles of shoreline. The lake attracts more than 1.7 million visitors each year.

Lots to do there: quiet coves for swimming, boating, jet skis, kayaking, fishing.  There are rental properties right on the lake there is also RV parking and camping sites available.

There are wonderful places to have a picnic with views of the dam and inspiring views of the Smokies as your backdrop.

There is a beautiful scenic overlook of the lake the dam and the Smokies that’s not to be missed.

They drain the lake in September and refill it again in March. To prepare for the winter, TVA lowers the water level to make room for the runoff from winter storms. When there is a storm, TVA holds the water back by reducing releases from the dam, and when the rain stops, TVA gradually lets the water out to prepare for the next storm. In the summer when there is less risk of floods, TVA keeps lake levels higher to support recreation. In a year with normal rainfall, Douglas Lake’s water level varies about 44 feet from summer to winter.

The downtown of Dandridge is a registered National Historic District that has boutiques, antique shops and restaurants.  The best way to go touring Dandridge is on foot. Make sure to stop by the 1820 coach house that is now the town’s Visitor Center to pick up a a self-guided walking tour map that features 21 sites of historic interest downtown as well as 17 sites that are just a short drive away. The historic district comprises Dandridge’s downtown area. Significant properties in the district include the second Jefferson County courthouse, a Greek Revival building completed in 1845, as well as four of the town’s original taverns, Roper Tavern, Hickman Tavern, Shepherd’s Inn, and Thomas Tavern.

Cosby is one of the least visited side of the Smoky Mountains National Park. There are several great hiking trails in this area.

Porters Creek Trail – The first mile of the Porters Creek Trail is actually an old gravel road, which meanders through a lush forest of moss covered trees and rocks as it follows along the banks of Porters Creek. If you happen to have the opportunity to hike this trail during the spring you’ll likely be treated to an absolutely awesome display of yellow trillium near the trailhead.

Roughly two-thirds of a mile from the trailhead several old stone walls will appear on your right. These are remnants from the farmstead, who settled in the Porters Creek community in the early 1900s. Also on your right, just past the stone walls, is the Ownby Cemetery, which also dates back to the early part of the 20th century.

Roughly one mile from the trailhead, after crossing over a footbridge, hikers will reach a fork in the road. The spur trail on the right leads to an historic farm site. A short hike of roughly 250 yards will take you to the John Messer farm site, which includes a cantilevered barn that was built by John Whaley around 1875. There’s also a cabin on this site that was built by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club in the mid-1930s.

At roughly 2 miles hikers will arrive at the 60-foot Fern Branch Falls, which drops off the ridge on the left side of the trail. During high water flows this can be a fairly spectacular waterfall.

The Porters Creek Trail is also an excellent choice when snow makes foot travel difficult in the higher elevations, or when it forces the closure of roads throughout other parts of the park. 4.0 miles,  5.4 DR

Hen Wallow Falls –This was a fun hike but as with all hikes it depends on your abilities. I’m 57, a tad overweight and I love to hike. This hike is definitely moderate in difficulty. Tons of roots, lots of rocks and a very steep decent for .1 down to the falls. If it’s raining that decent down to the falls would be slick and treacherous. Bring lots of water because you will work up a sweat on the uphill trek. Hiking poles and hiking boots are recommended. Total hike time to the falls for me was 1:18, and as I said I’m not the fastest hiker on the trail so the 3-4 hour estimate is spot on.  4.4 miles,  6.2 DR

Ramsey Cascades – Be prepared and know what you’re getting into, adhear to that and enjoy a great hike. The first 1.7 miles is essentially a pleasant nature trail, if your not ready for a long hike turn around here and head back to your car. This is where the old logging road ends.

From the sign at 1.7 miles to the first foot bridge at 2.1 miles the trail narrows and the road is now gone and trail difficulty increases slightly. You’ll cross the second foot bridge at 2.9 miles, once crossing that bridge ratchet up the difficulty to the next level.

At this point tree roots and rocks are much more abundant. Rock stairs pop up from time to time. What’s nice about this trail are the scattered level sections to hike. It’s not like a solid accent at Baskins Creek Falls, there are plenty of places to catch your breath on this trail.

During the 2.9 mile to the 3.5 mile stretch you’ll hike away from the water and into the woods. Once you start hearing the water again you’ll be getting close to the end. The final approach to the fall will include climbing over large boulders at this point keep your eyes open and you’ll catch a glimpse of the falls to come. One last steep climb and you’re there and the falls are some of the best in the Smokys. 8.0 miles,  12.38 DR

Hopefully you found this Episode 008 Touring Dandridge, Douglas Lake and Cosby TN helpful.

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://wordpress.com/post/dancingbearfoot.blog/53

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/