The midnight before we set out, I decided that I'd like to go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After checking out the map and reviewing other bloggers' reviews of trails on the nps.gov website, I settled on hiking the Angel Falls trail to a backcountry campsite and hiking out on Deep Creek Trail the next day. It did not take much to convince John to join.
The two trails are connected by several shorter 'loop' trails. Unfortunately, John and I were illiterate to clearly marked trail signs and took a different connector trail than I had planned for us to. This connector trail was a steep one mile uphill and one mile downhill hike that took us prematurely to Deep Creek Trail. We continued on Deep Creek Trail to our site, set up camp, and got some rest.
Navigational mistakes aside, the trail was beautiful. The stunning water falls were all at the beginning of Angel Falls Trail. This was nice, because it allowed us to take pictures and marvel at the falls before setting a pace for our hike. Both trails followed right along their respective creeks and provided wonderful glimpses of the mountains through the trees.
All in all, the roughly 12 mile journey took us exactly 24 hours to complete. This was the best 24 hour trip I've been on and serves as proof that you don't need to spend a lot of time, money, or effort planning to have a great trip to a National Park.
The drive to and from the National Park is beautiful. We drove through Nantahala National Forrest and Cherokee National Forrest. Both were homes to events in the 1996 Olympics.
[Other stops along the way included the Chattanooga Brewery and Urban Stack in Chattanooga, TN.]