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/

Podcast

Episode 007 – Touring Cherokee and Bryson City

Recently I read a travelers Facebook post and someone asked if there was anything to do in Cherokee or Bryson City and someone answered quickly with an abrupt “NO”. How wrong they are. If your spend any time touring Cherokee and Bryson City you’ll quickly find out what an important historical area this really is. Plus a bevy of beautiful waterfalls, hikes, tubing and a great railway. Did I mention the casino?

Cherokee culture can be seen as a book filled with 13,000 years of artistic invention and intellectual achievement, survival and perseverance, featuring a peace-loving people who proudly dealt with the savagery of war and overcame.  While touring Cherokee and Bryson City you can explore the age-old arts and crafts of the Cherokee artisans at Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc.; see them made and demonstrated at Oconaluftee Indian Village, with its incredibly vivid recreation of an historic Cherokee village. Attend the spectacular outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” under a starry night or take a hike to Mingo Falls to feel the spray that the ancient Cherokees have felt on their faces through history. Don’t forget the interactive cultural exhibits waiting at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, or the hundreds of opportunities to find the Cherokee culture outdoors. 

Attractions in Cherokee:

Santa’s Land Fun Park • It is great for kids. There is no waiting for the rides, there is a zoo, a pond with paddle boats, a train, magic show, and more….plus you can visit with Santa! Small kids need to experience the Rudycoaster, the Ferris wheel, playgrounds, there’s tons of shaded areas. This is a classic amusement park and zoo, a great slow down day.

Pan Fer Gold •“Pan Fer Gold” is the perfect family adventure, located in the heart of the Smokies. The suspense of washing away dirt in hopes of striking it rich by discovering natural gold or gems is fun for everyone. Everyone takes home a treasure!

The Bears Project •The Bears Project started in 2005 with the intention of showcasing the variety of talented artists within the Qualla Boundary. There are 20 bears in Cherokee that are decorated.

Fire Mountain Trails • Fire Mountain Trails are Cherokee’s newest source for big adventure—a multi-use trail system that’s made to mountain bike, hike, or run. The network of trails is more than 10.5 miles total, so there’s plenty of room for everyone. If you like your trails with a nice flow of features, with fun berms and quick hits of elevation that are manageable and fun, Fire Mountain is made for you.

Bryson City Attractions:

Smoky Mountains RailwayNantahala Gorge This 4-1/2 hour excursion makes a 44 mile round trip to the Nantahala Gorge, crossing the historic Fontana Lake trestle. There’s a 1-hour layover at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), and options for packages including rafting, zip-lining and jeep tours. Trains to the gorge in summer and fall also include an all-adult first class moonshine car – The Carolina Shine – featuring spirits from NC craft distilleries.

Tuckasegee River This 4-hour excursion makes a 32 mile round trip to the quaint village of Dillsboro, passing by the train wreck set in The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and through a tunnel. There is a 1-1/2 hour layover in Dillsboro. 

Themed Trains:  Polar Express Christmas excursion making it one of the most popular holiday events in the Smokies. Other family-oriented excursions include two PEANUTS-themed events — the Easter Beagle Express in spring, and the Great Pumpkin Patch Express in October. As well as the July 4 Freedom Train. Special dining events include BBQ & Brews and “Uncorked” wine experience.

Nantahala Outdoor Center Zip Line Adventure Park : Race on dual zip lines at over 550’ in the air and enter NOC’s Zip Line Adventure Park – a multi-level ropes challenge course with over 16 aerial obstacles! Our signature course is NOC’s Mountaintop Zip Line Tour. There are many zip line canopy tours, but there are none like the Mountaintop. The Mountaintop is perched on the rim of the Nantahala Gorge, over 600 feet above the Nantahala River below, featuring 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala Gorge. 

These are just a few of the attractions we’ll talk about on the podcast Touring Cherokee and Bryson City.

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/

Podcast

Episode 006 – Tips on Renting the Perfect Cabin

Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than staying in a cabin that’s dirty, poorly maintained, hard to get to, misrepresented in its listing and has no cell service or Wi-Fi.  Join Chuck Schmidt, travel host for his tips on renting the perfect cabin. Save yourself time, money and aggravation by following some common sense advise and maybe a few things you hadn’t considered.

In Episode 006 – Tips on Renting the Perfect Cabin, Chuck Schmidt pulls no punches with honest advise taking to task both guests and cabin owner/managers when it comes to renting cabins. From the dead relative excuse in cancelling reservations to cabin owners posting ten year old pictures of their cabin in their listings, you’ll get 20 different pieces of advice on how to avoid these situations.

With the popularity of Airbnb, VRBO and others, renting cabins has never been so splintered between individual owners and property managements companies. Making an informed decision has never been so complicated. Hopefully these tips will help you make a smarter decision.

Tips such as: Importance of doing proper research, Why low cost cabins are not necessarily your best bargain, Location, location, location, The price you’ll pay for a cabin with a view and we’re not talking money, What to do if something in the cabin is broken, Right-sizing your cabin, Being honest with the owners, How technology is breaking up the party scene, Learn what “RTFM” means and more.

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/

Podcast

Episode 005 – Visiting Smoky Mountains National Park

Finally we’re visiting Smoky Mountains National Park on the podcast! Join Chuck Schmidt, Travel Host on a look at the Smokies. Whether you want to hike, drive or tour historical settlements then podcast has information for you to use.

We take a closer look at some of the most popular things to do when visiting Smoky Mountains National Park including; waterfall hikes, historical settlements, driving tours, hikes for kids and what to bring with you to be prepared. Waterfall hikes include: Laurel Falls, Grotto Falls, Abrams Falls, Rainbow Falls and Ramsey Cascades. Other hikes include interesting items to fins including; tunnels, steam engines, abandoned fire towers and more.

This podcast also contains information on visiting Cades Cove, Clingman’s Dome great driving tour including Roaring Forks Motor Trail, Foothills Parkway and some other less traveled tours.

Other tips when visiting Smoky Mountains National Park include; what to pack, what to wear, pets in the park, bears bells and bear spray.

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 Visserhttps://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Episode 003 – Touring Pigeon Forge

We’re up to our 3rd episode on our podcast “An Outsider Guide to the Smoky Mountains”. This episode is on Touring Pigeon Forge, the attractions, the shows, dining, some things to make your visit easier and some things to avoid.

Pigeon Forge is home to 11 millions visitors a year. In Episode 003 Touring Pigeon Forge we discuss tips on visiting Dollywood, which restaurants have long lines (The Old Mill), when to avoid traveling to the area such as during the multiple car show events.

Find out which remnants from a long gone theme park are still part of a popular attraction today in “Bearly Accurate History”.

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 Visserhttps://www.kentonvisser.com/