In Episode 35, we discuss preparing for a bear encounter, Newfound Gap, and our Spotlight Hike of the Week….The Bullhead Trail. Let’s Go!
Preparing for a Bear Encounter
A bear encounter can be the most exciting thing you see in the Smokies. But being safe and smart is the way to go.
- Keep your distance (no close up pictures)
- Don’t run! You will loose that race
- Don’t fight! You are way overmatched
- Scare them off. Clang together hiking poles, pans, or blow a whistle
- Simply stop, give them space, and let them pass
At 5,046 feet, Newfound Gap is the highest mountain pass in the Smokies. The views are truly amazing, and there is even more here than just great views. Get a picture at the North Carolina/Tennessee state line sign, stand atop the historic Rockefeller Memorial. There are also restrooms (real bathrooms) as well as the historic Appalachian Trail. The road actually crosses the AT. If you haven’t been to Newfound Gap, you haven’t been to the Smoky Mountains.
Spotlight Hike of the Week
The Bullhead Trail is one of five routes to the top of Mount LeConte. But today we are doing it as a stand alone hike. Our total mileage round-trip will be 6 miles on this strenuous hike. To get to the trailhead, take Traffic Light #8 in Gatlinburg and onto the one-way Cherokee-Orchard road. After .5 mile, park at the area on the right. The trailhead is at the gate.
This trail shares a parking area with the Rainbow Falls trail, but they are very different. Once on the trailhead, take a left after .4 mile onto the Bullhead trail. You will follow this hike for three miles until you get to the rock wall where you have great views as well as a place to sit and rest. So what does this hike offer?
it is all about views and solitude in a place that is busy all around. The trail is tough, there are no major landmarks, but all the same, it is a great place to hike. If you are doing a hike to LeConte, it is a great one to do up Bullhead and down Rainbow Falls since both take you to the same parking lot.
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