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.
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.
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!
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
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
As for the attractions in Townsend this Smoky Mountins
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
are wonderful places to have a picnic with views of the dam and inspiring views
of the Smokies as your backdrop.
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
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
ThePorters 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.
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 Railway – Nantahala 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.