The Great Smoky Mountains ~ The Ogle Homestead and Roaring Fork Auto Tour

Ogle Farm 4 1200If you are planning a visit to the Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg areas, how would you like to incorporate some outdoor experiences and history into your vacation?  The beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers both in abundance!

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I am an affiliate of Amazon, and will receive a small commission if a link on this page is used to make a purchase.

Noah “Bud” Ogle Homestead

Not too far from downtown Gatlinburg is the Historic Nature Trail, a road that leads into the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This is a great place to visit if you love the outdoors and history.  We first stopped at the Noah “Bud” Ogle Cabin on Cherokee Orchard Road.  This 19th-century mountain homestead included a farm and mill.  Still standing is the house and the barn, which are open to the public at no fee.  Take your children to this peaceful spot and point out the “saddlebag” cabin and the “four-pen” barn.  My 5-year-old enjoyed running around the grounds, and exploring the house and cabin.  A nice opportunity to walk around and imagine what mountain life was like in the late 19th century.

Ogle Farm 5

The old homestead is on a slight hill and the ground is a bit rocky.  The grandparents had a easy time walking to the cabin and enjoyed sitting on the porch, but declined climbing the hill to the barn.

Ogle Farm 3Hikers will enjoy walking up to the tub mill, about one half-mile from the cabin (we didn’t go to to the mill – but you can find out more on Wikipedia).  And, there is a stream very near the house if you need to cool your feet.

We have visited this area two or three times over the past several years, and it’s always been quiet.  However I noticed that the park sometimes offers activities at the cabin – check the Great Smoky Mountains National Park web site for their schedule.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Keep going on Cherokee Orchard Road and you will reach the Roaring Fork Auto Tour.  I recommend investing $1.00 in the guidebook available at the the start of the tour. There are 15 stops with parking available so you can get out and stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery more closely.  There are also bathrooms and picnic tables available.  Roaring Fork is open May through November – before your visit, you may want to check the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Roaring Fork web page for updates.

Roaring Fork Drive 1200

We visited the Great Smoky Mountains in late May, so we enjoyed wild azaleas and other flowering trees and plants.  This would be a great tour during the fall also, when the leaves are changing colors. If you are studying botany in your home school, this trail offers an abundance of flora and fauna – check the guidebook for more information.  There are also several historic buildings on the tour, and the guidebook tells the stories of some of the people who lived in the area before it became a park.

Trillium Gap Trail Waterfall 4

The bulk of our time was spent – accidentally – at spot number 5 in the guidebook.  The Trillium Gap Trail leads to Grotto Falls, a 25-foot waterfall that “can be reached by a short hike” and is “fairly easy” according to the guidebook.  I’ve hiked in the past, but I wasn’t sure what a “short hike” meant.  We decided to try it.  It turns out that a short hike is 1.4 miles one way.  And it was fairly easy for me – and my 5-1/2 year old did pretty well too (I bribed her with the promise of dessert if she didn’t complain – it worked).  We actually saw kids of all ages on the trail.  It was a little nerve wracking keeping her to the inside of the trail – there are quite a few spots with potentially dangerous drops.  My husband had a bum knee AND foot, and he managed it ok, although he was pretty sore at the end.

Trillium Gap Trail Waterfall 5

Trillium Gap Trail Waterfall 3The beautiful scenery and the waterfall at the end was worth it, though.  My daughter and I were able to walk behind it and to the other side of the stream.  The round trip plus the stop at the waterfall took us a little less than 3 hours.  You may need less time or a little more depending on your circumstances.

The Trillium Gap Trail ends on the top of Mt. Le Conte, but for us it ended at Grotto Falls!  I’m looking forward to returning to Roaring Fork to visit some of the other spots in the guidebook.

Do you have a favorite hiking or historical place in the Great Smoky Mountains?  Please let me know in the comment section below!

Copyright 2015 Kathryn Depew

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I am an affiliate of Amazon, and will receive a small commission if a link on this page is used to make a purchase.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *