November 17, 2013 – I enjoyed each visit to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and finally hiked the Middle Prong Trail, where I’d heard about the multitudes of cascades and waterfalls found right alongside the trail. I love this place more every time I visit!
You get to it after driving about 7 miles down the gravel road that starts after the visitors’ center to the end where there is a parking area. Cross over the footbridge and you’ll see this fork with trails on either side. The one to the right is a short one, also pretty, but not the Middle Prong. See main Tremont Institute page for that.
Take the trail to the left marked with the sign, “Quiet Walkway.” The first couple of miles follow an old railroad bed that was used for logging.
This shows the trail alongside the Little River. What a wonderful walking companion!
Just one of so many wonderful scenes along the way.
There are a few of these benches on the trail where you can just sit and give thanks for being here. I did a lot of that.
Loved the diverse textures and natural features, including fallen limbs and fall leaves. This is really a wonderful season for a hike here.
This was my favorite bridge. Although the path is wide, it was pretty rocky in a lot of places. And while all the fallen leaves were an added bonus in terms of beauty, it did make it a little harder to tell where the rocks were everywhere but here.
My favorite rock – looked like an inverted heart to me.
The natural carving in this one looked like a skull to me.
And this big boulder winked at me – can you see? I play a lot of “that looks like” games on my hikes to amuse myself…
On the trail, I met some really nice folks and got a tip about an old abandoned Cadillac just off the trail and told me how to find it. It’s from the late 1920’s or early 1930’s and supposedly belonged to the supervisor of the logging operation who dumped it here when it no longer ran.
The car is almost exactly 2 miles from the start and is marked by some stacked rocks on the right side of the trail, but not totally visible if you’re not looking for them (I almost missed them and started to turn around right when I finally saw them). There are actually two sets close to each other, but I didn’t see the second one until I was on the way back. Go down the little path to the side of them and you’ll see the Cadillac shortly.
This is where I turned around and started heading back – and the views looked completely different this way!
Short YouTube video with the soothing cascade sounds to get the true full picture and peaceful feeling you’ll find here: