Lake Wappapello State Park

Lake Wappapello State Park

My first hike of 2018 was one of the coldest I have ever done. During the two and a half hour drive to Lake Wappapello State Park the temperature fluctuated between -4° and 3° F, finally settling at 5° by the time I arrived. It warmed up a little while I was there, but not by much. 

Before going to the State Park I planned out my trip using the park map and Google Earth. While considering the longest trail at the park, I found that it travels near  a spot called Chaonia (shaw-nee) Landing. It looked interesting so I decided to make it my first stop on the trip. The landing is actually a resort with cabins, camp sites, and a small marina you can rent boats from.

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Trail of Tears State Park

Trail of Tears State Park

With only enough time left to visit a handful of parks this year, I wanted to visit areas that were unlike the parks I have been to up until now. While researching parks that would be interesting to visit I stumbled across the Trail of Tears State Park. It is a 3,415 acre preserve with some of the most rugged land along the Mississippi River, featuring steep ravines and towering bluffs. As it’s name indicates, The park is a memorial site along the Trail of Tears. One of the parks that falls within this category is the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. You may be familiar with the area if you have watched Netflix’s show *Ozark*. I can’t comment on the accuracy of the show, but I can state for a fact that it is an incredible area. 

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Tennessee Part IV: Exploring Knoxville

Tennessee Part IV: Exploring Knoxville

After five days of non-stop activity, we were looking forward to a couple days of rest in Knoxville. Our Airbnb was a giant loft in Old City above a coffee shop. The name, Awaken Coffee, is an obvious play on words, especially because there is a church that operates out of their back room.

For breakfast we decided to stop in. After we finished our meal of fresh local donuts and New Orleans style chicory cold brew, we set off to explore our surroundings. 

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Tennessee Part III: Climbing Mount LeConte

Tennessee Part III: Climbing Mount LeConte

For our fifth and final day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we wanted to climb Mount LeConte, the third tallest peak in the park. We woke up before sunrise to a silent campground, stars still shining in the sky. We rolled up our sleeping pads and tent, and heated water for coffee and a warm breakfast of hikers granola. The sun was just starting to rise as we began the long drive across the park back to Trillium Gap Trailhead.

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Tennessee part II: Hiking in the Smokies

Tennessee part II: Hiking in the Smokies

We began our last morning at the Little Black Cabin like the previous one, with a breakfast of fresh eggs and homemade bread. We packed up the car, bid farewell to the cabin, and set off towards our first destination of the day: Clingman’s Dome.

The drive into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was phenomenal. The winding roads were fun to drive, and offered many breathtaking views of the mountains. While it was an incredible sight, the scars from last year's unfortunate fire were evident, especially on Chimney Top Mountain which was a barren black rock at the top.

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Tennessee part I: Camp GRITS and Hen Wallow Falls

Tennessee part I: Camp GRITS  and Hen Wallow Falls

Welcome to my new travel blog! I am excited to begin sharing more stories from my trips than I am able to on Instagram and Facebook. 

Earlier this year my wife and I began planning a vacation to Tennessee. We initially made plans to visit Knoxville because it looked like a vibrant city, and it was close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After listing out everything we wanted to do, we realized that we could easily spend all of our time at the National Park. We decided to split the difference and spend four days in the park and three days in Knoxville. 

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