It was a lovely, dry morning, just perfect for a walk in the woods. We were pretty tired out from the previous day’s long drive, so we decided to do an easy hike.
We started out at the Elkmont Nature Trail, but after about 30 minutes in, we came across a large muddy scree, so instead of tiptoeing through it, we decided to cut our losses and head for the Little River Trail instead.
The Little River Trail is quite near the Elkmont campsite, and runs alongside a fast flowing river. The path itself used to be a gravel railroad bed, so it is very wide and level
The area was so idyllic, it was unsurprising to find out that it was a popular holiday destination for the Knoxville hoi polloi in the 1920s. The holiday cottages are still standing derelict along the riverside, with some of them being actively restored by the National Park Service and the Aged P took J and Little E into a few of them to have a look-see.
J really enjoyed exploring the decrepit old houses, using a stick to poke into crevices in the walls and tap on the floorboards. Little E was okay for a while, but became increasing more agitated inside the dark and empty rooms in what she described as “witch houses”.
Halfway through this little adventure, Little E became immobilised by intense fear, so I coaxed her out and then sat her down on a nearby bench to recover. Meanwhile, The Aged P and J continued their exploration of condemned buildings for a little while more.
The Little River Trail is actually a 5 mile round trip and reaches a lovely 20 foot waterfall called Huskey Branch Falls. We never did reach the falls, because we decided not to push the children on a full hike and just let them wander at their own pace, to give them plenty of time to enjoy their surroundings. They scrambled up boulders to throw pebbles into the river and played hide-and-seek behind the trees, and ran along the gravel path dragging their makeshift walking sticks behind them. It was very pleasant to stroll along, watching the two bright red coats bobbing and flitting through the trees, whilst listening to the harmonic gurgle of cascading waters and the crackle-crunch of dry leaves underfoot.
After walking for most of the morning, we had worked up quite an appetite, so we decided to head to Sevierville to visit The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store and have lunch at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant – where we enjoyed some delicious apple fritters and mugs of hot apple cider! Yum Yum!