Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Cosby Tennessee fall color report for the Great Smoky Mountains.

Cosby Tennessee is one of the quieter sections of the Great Smoky Mountains national park very close to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville and the hiking trails and the picnic areas are in full peak colors right now.

The entrance to the Cosby area of the Great Smoky Mountains national park is just off 321 and is a picturesque drive just east of Gatlinburg. Here you will pass by mountain vistas, wooded areas, golf courses and farms all sporting great fall colors.

As you pull into the picnic area which is also the parking area for the hiking trails, you will be overwhelmed by the fall colors in the trees and the mountain in front of you. Large shade trees over the picnic tables are all bursting forth in bright colors.

Cosby parking lot in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

The most popular hiking trail is Hen Wallow Falls, a moderate 4 mile hike that ends up at a wonderful cascade that water flows down more than 80 feet jumping over rocks and flowing down the rest of the mountain surrounded by rock faces and huge boulders.

As soon as you are about to cross the first log bridge the forest canopy becomes a bright yellow for the leaves in the trees. This is a very quiet autumn hiking trail and the sound of the water flowing in the stream is very soothing.

trees showing yellow fall colors in the Smoky Mountains

Even though this area of the Smoky Mountains was originally heavily settled and logged there are still a few large old trees in the forest. Most of the trees here in Cosby are still light yellow and light green so the color will last a while but there are huge areas that a just a riot of color.

trees here in Cosby are still light yellow and light green

Look among the old chestnut trees and hemlock logs covered in moss on the forest floor draped in fresh autumn leaves and you will see plenty of chipmunks is you look carefully as they scamper into holes and hiding places quickly. Their chirping and squeaks will be hard to miss though.

On the Hen Wallow Hiking Trail you will pass through some large areas of Rhododendrons and hemlocks that will remain green throughout all of fall and even winter. Some of the ground cover here changes colors into bright yellows and reds but some will also remain green all year long.

Don't just look at the great fall colors in the trees or you will miss some of the beauty the forest has to offer in autumn.

Look around on the forest floor and you can still see some wildflowers blooming like this late blooming blue gentian that was on the north side of the trail. In wetter spots with more sunlight you will see purple asters with large clumps of their pretty small flowers.

The trail on the way to Hen Wallow Falls gradually climbs the whole way. Be sure to take your time and admire the scenery. As you pass by some of the large boulders and rock faces on your left look at the different mosses and small plants growing on the rocks and forming tiny communities.

If you look carefully to the right between the colorful fall leaves in the trees there are some areas you can look out at the mountain range across from you which is also sporting bright reds and oranges mixed in with greens.

Hen Wallow Falls in Cosby TN

Eventually you come to an intersection when the falls are off to the right and a climb downhill on the trail. At the bottom you see some huge rocks scattered about and the waterfall cascade down the side of the hill.

Right after a rainfall is a great time to see these falls when the whole wall is a sheet of water. Since the weather here in the Smokies has been so great the waterfall right now doesn't have a large flow of water.

It can get color here down by the water in the shade and this makes a great place to relax and have a snack. Just make sure to take out any trash or food scraps you may have so you don't attract any bear.

Hen Wallow Falls and the hiking trails in Cosby are all in peak fall colors right now in the lower and mid elevations and being so close to Gatlinburg a real short trip for anyone here in the Smokies.

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