Tennessee

Hiking the Smoky Mountains

A few weeks ago, I road tripped down to Memphis, Tennessee to visit a friend of mine. The drive was an intimidating 30 hours, so I scheduled in an interesting pit stop: hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I didn’t want to veer too far from my route so I chose to stop in the town of Cosby, which lies on Route 81. The rural town was desolate and covered in thick, lush forest. Its location within the mountains didn’t allow for cell phone reception but made it an ideal place for a quick escape into nature. After nervously navigating through the forest, I came across Cosby Campground. The campground was the perfect starting point for a hike through the Smokies. There were many trails to choose from, but I finally decided to hike the Lower Gap and Appalachian trails.

The Trail was a few miles long and relatively difficult. I navigated both streams and steep, rocky inclines. On my journey, I failed to pass another hiker, which was slightly unnerving. However, my apprehension quickly faded as I focused on the green trees, fresh air and melodic sounds of nature.

Finally, I came to a sign that read “Sutton Ridge Overlook”. I followed the trail marker and was rewarded with a panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains. I put my trusty, Kelty Redwing pack down and walked to the edge of the cliff to observe the surreal view. Apparently, someone else had already claimed this territory. I heard the sound of a snake hissing and looked down at my feet to find a slithering reptile ready to lunge. It aggressively darted towards my ankles as I screamed like a little girl and ran away.

Fortunately, my solo hike was not impeded by a snake bite as I managed to escape. From then on, I kept a safe distance between myself and the snake and relished in the beauty of the National Forest.

As the sun started to go down, I hiked back to my car and headed to my Air Bnb in Cosby. By utilizing my inner compass, I discovered an unpaved driveway marked with a sign that read “Camp Grits”. I pulled in, recognizing the red, vintage camper I had booked online.

The host had met me at the camper with homemade almond milk and bread. She then proceeded to graciously show me the campground. There was a wooden outhouse and outdoor shower, as well as a fire-pit. It was simple, quaint and screamed 1970’s. It provided me with all the earthy vibes my hippie heart yearned for.

The camper was also simple, containing a small bed, a gas oven and dining area. Though I didn’t have the opportunity to try many of the campground features, I slept stoically that night, with the sound of crickets chirping harmoniously in the background. The next morning, I woke with the sunrise and enjoyed some sweet, almond milk before continuing on my journey to Memphis.

If you find yourself in the Smoky Mountains, I highly suggest staying at Rosie’s Vintage Camper which she calls Camp Grits. It is the perfect getaway from fast-paced, urban life. This little campground transports you back in time, where you can be free of your phone and instead, immerse yourself in nature.