National Forest or National Park?

I had no idea there was a difference. In fact I’ve probably been heard using ‘Forest’ and ‘Park’ interchangeably all my life when referencing our National treasures. Today I found out the nuances. Ancora imparo.

Turns out a National Forest serves many purposes for United States residents; grazing, timber, recreation, and animal habitats. A National Park is mostly preserved as it exists, the only changes being natural. They are each managed by a different department of the government as well. The National Forest Foundation explains this and gives further statistics about some of our existing Forests and Parks.

I chose to hike a spot in Great Smoky National Park today that is not frequented, and I’m so happy I did! I was on the path alone and thoroughly enjoyed the gems I found. I took a right at this sign to see the Cemetery – it was fenced and gated so I didn’t go in. I could see both old and new gravestones from my spot on the road. A quick turnaround and I was off to Jakes Creek Trail.

Although I think I’ve been down this trail a few years ago, it looks so very different now. The only thing left standing from a long ago past of summer cottages are the fireplaces. And they are lined up one after another all along the river. They almost look like soldiers. I’m curious why they all seem to be on the same side of the houses that are no longer present?

Then there was this one across the road – all alone. Weird.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The single remaining structure on this road was once inhabited by Col. David Chapman who was tasked with raising the funds to preserve these lands as Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Thank you Col. Chapman!

 

 

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Little River Trail in Elkmont

DSCN3677Elkmont is now a campground in the park, but the area is also chock full of history. Elkmont was a very busy place during the logging of the area. In addition to the logging, families from Knoxville and the surrounding area would vacation here during the summers. Homes were built and fun was had in the cool mountain air. Some of these buildings still exist, but are condemned and you can only view them from the road.

Two of the buildings are available for day use; The Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin. See the Park website for more information and to make a reservation.

DSCN3737      Appalachian Clubhouse

When I hiked the Little River Trail in Elkmont. I found many wildflowers in bloom and enjoyed the relatively easy hike. The trail is an old gravel road so it is very wide and easy to walk. The Little River runs right next to the trail, and there is a creek on the other side for some of the trail. I think it is a very pretty trail. The trail combines the best of the park.I love that is has water for the entire distance, beautiful vegetation, historic buildings, large boulders, and is easy to hike.

Warning for the squeamish – there is a snake and spider in the pictures below.