Winter Wandering

Photo be Nathan Szwarc

Don’t let the cold scare you indoors

Winter in East Tennessee can bring a variety of weather, from a light frost to inches of snow. This time of year offers the chance to see and experience local hiking trails in a new way—tree branches are outlined with a dusting of snow, frozen water droplets sparkle on leaves, and the air is simply crisper. As for gear, hiking boots are a must to maintain balance on slick ground and layers are necessary to keep you warm and dry. Per all hikes, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water, and keep an eye on the weather as storms can roll in quickly. 

Walk  For a close-to-home winter walk, we recommend Meads Quarry Park. Although the quarry is very popular in summer months, it can be just as fun in the winter time. There are several easy loops through Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness; you can stroll up the train tracks that are no longer in use, or hike up to the historical Stanton Cemetery along Tharp Trace. 

Hike  Nothing is more awe-inspiring than a waterfall frozen in time. Visit your usual Smoky Mountains’ favorites such as Abrams Falls in Cades Cove in the winter months to see icy cascades of all shapes and sizes. When temperatures are cold enough, Grotto Falls freezes and forms a tall, unique ice sculpture that visitors can walk behind. 

Snowshoe  Closed from December through March, the unplowed road to the Clingmans Dome parking area allows park visitors the chance to experience cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the South. Begin at Newfound Gap and follow Clingmans Dome Road for a 15-mile round-trip expedition that will offer a panoramic view minus the usual crowds. 

We recommend warming up after your adventure with a cup of hot cocoa from Coffee & Chocolate or a hot toddy made with Silver Release from Knox Whiskey Works.

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