Day One – Saturday Oct. 24
We took to the road around Noon with an overnight stop planned for the Quality Inn of London KY. Travel was leisurely on US Rtes 62 & 68 and I-75. We arrived in time to take an hours rest then have dinner at the local Cracker Barrel. The QI is a good value with a comfortable room, although they never could get the WIFI to connect.
Day Two – Sunday Oct. 25
After a quick trip to the breakfast bar at QI we packed up and headed out. Today’s route was to be I-75, US 25E and I-40 to Maggie Valley. Along the way we took side trips to Pine Mountain Park (KY) and Cumberland Gap Nat’l Historical Park. This gave us some photo ops and chances to stretch our legs. The panoramic views from Chain Rock and The Pinnacle are fantastic, especially with the fall foliage well on the way to peak colors.
When we arrived in Newport TN we were surprised to find I-40 Eastbound closed to traffic. With a quick check of radio broadcasts we found out about the rock slide causing the road blocks. Our Tom-Tom was adjusted to select an alternate route which turned out to be a ‘long and winding road’ over US 25 to Hot Springs NC where I decided to head down NC Rte 209. This took us over lightly traveled roads through scenic farm valleys and mountain forests. Again the colorful leaves helped ease the twisting route. Once we had intersected I-40 it was a quick trip to our rental house in the Smoky Falls area outside Maggie Valley. A short nap revived us enough to cook a nice pasta supper and get unpacked and settled in. We had looked forward to our arrival at Dancing Wolves Lodge and fear not, we were amazed at what a fantastic rental this is. With floor to ceiling windows in the upstairs living area the views of Maggie Valley below were great. The deck outside provided a nightly viewpoint for some star gazing at night and relaxing in the swing watching the leaves falls by day.
Day Three – Monday Oct. 26
We awoke to a nice sunrise over Maggie Valley and the surrounding mountains. It was nice to sit in front of the many windows and enjoy the view along with our breakfast and coffee. While DW prepared lunches and snacks I set about programming the Tom-Tom for our trip through the Cullasaja River Gorge and Nantahala Nat’l Forest. We headed East on the Blue Ridge Pkwy exiting at Rte. 23 and drove to Franklin NC where we headed East on US Rte 64. The highway follows the river upstream allowing some great views of a number of waterfalls. The first major stopping point was Dry Falls with a newly paved and expanded parking area. A short walk down the stone steps and trail puts you at the bottom of the falls where you can walk directly under and behind the water. Due to the recent rains the falls were anything but dry. The tumbling waters were quite loud and mist was everywhere! What a way to view a waterfall, from the inside out!
The next waterfall encounter was with Bridal Veil Falls where old Hwy 64 passes behind the falls, yet another opportunity to get inside a waterfall. This provided more photo ops for us.
Leaving here, we again headed East on Rte 64 we stopped at Whiteside Mountain climbing area to enjoy our lunch. This looks to be a great rock climbing venue for those interested in the sport.
Back on the road after fortifying ourselves with ham sandwiches, we set sights on Rte. 107 near Cashiers which would take us to Whitewater Falls. After a couple of unintended side trips into the river valley we found the parking area for the Whitewater overlook. A pleasant walk on a paved trail brought us to the viewpoint at the top of the falls. From here a set of steps leads to another vantage about half down the falls where you can see both the upper and lower portions of the highest waterfall East of the Rockies. Be prepared to stop and rest coming back up the stairs, maybe at around stair #100 or so, they will wind you!
A quick stop at a grocery in Brevard for beer and wine and on to one last falls for the day. Catching Rte. 276 N took us to Looking Glass Falls, yet another thundering cascade. A brief stop for photos and on we went over the mountain and through the woods to Waynesville where we picked up take out at Fat Buddies Ribs and BBQ. Most delicious smoked pork sandwiches, the Big ‘Un is enough for two, with sides of slaw and BBQ beans. Back to the lodge where we were glad to sit back with a cold one and some ‘Q while watching the sunset color the mountain sides around us.