Smoky Mountain Lifestyle in East Tennessee

Dogs on hike 

From the top: Wiley, Lyle & Roxy

Last weekend I went on a wonderful back country camping trip with three of my dogs.  We visited Joyce Kilmer Wilderness which is partly in East Tennessee and partly in Western North Carolina.  I decided to go here because of its proximity, rugged beauty, natural diversity and because dogs are not allowed in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  

Joyce Kilmer reminds me of the Smokies.  One loop from this trail head gains over 4,500 feet of elevation.  We went the easy route and dropped down to Slick Rock Creek Basin.  The trail meanders along the creek and offers wonderful campsites and plenty of swim holes as well as a diverse forest.  One thing I really liked, unlike in the Smokies (where you have to camp in designated areas) is that you can set up camp where ever you like.  After hiking about seven miles we found a secluded spot by the creek, pitched the tent, filtered some stream water, built a fire, cooked dinner and then enjoyed the dark night forest.  It is amazing how many stars you can see from the wilderness.  We are definitely going back to make the big 4,500 foot climb up to Bob Stratton Bald and the Hangover Overlook.  Now that I know all the dogs can carry our food without complaint, I can make the climb with a little less weight.  This just may be the best back county secret yet!  Should this sort of activity interest you check out our local town information.