In January, we decided it was time for a wintry hike in the Smokies on a weekend when the upper elevations received a nice dusting of snow. Our buddies, the Brownes, tagged along with us up the Rich Mountain Loop.
The loop starts at the Cades Cove parking lot just before starting down the Cades Cove Loop Road. The trail is a total of 8.5 miles with an elevation gain of 1736 feet and just as the name implies it takes you on a loop up Rich Mountain, so you get all new scenery for the duration of the trail. Once you hit the loop part of the trail, you can go either left or right, but we chose to go left. Going right will get you to the top quicker, but you face the brutally steep elevation climbs. Although coming down when it was wet and muddy from snow trying not the slide the rest of the way down the mountain wasn’t much more fun.
The Cove early morning is so quiet and serene.
This trail has several streams that you pass over and this time of year they are dripping with icicles.
About a mile and half in, you run into the back of the John Oliver Cabin that sits in the Cove. If you are driving the Cades Cove Loop road, this is the first cabin you can stop to see. There was still a dusting of snow on the roof.
That’s Mr. Brown having too much fun with an icicle.
Trekking along up the trail.
Where we came from…
Where we are going…
Stopping for lunch and to admire my husbands amazing hair.
Ah, finally, a view at the top of the Cove below.
Heading down the trail.