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Autumn in the Tennessee mountains

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the cool weather, football season, and the way everything seems to burst into color. When the season begins to change I feel a longing to head to the mountains and witness the changing season up close. So with camera gear packed and ready I set off deep into the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina to find what adventure may await.

I began my journey by visiting some of the state parks along the way that I had never experienced. First on my list was Burgess Falls. I had seen many images of this beautiful area but had never been here personally. The images of this place did not do justice to how beautiful it is this time of year. The colors seemed to explode along the trail and the weather was perfect. I set about to capture as much as I could in the limited time available.

I was shooting at every turn of the trail, not realizing how long I had been there. Suddenly I heard a voice over a loudspeaker saying that the park was closed. In a sort of panic I began to run back to the parking area, afraid of being locked in and bringing an abrupt end to my trip. I made it out just as the sun went down, back on the road to my destination, Tellico.

After an exhausting day of driving hiking I arrived in Tellico Plains TN, the gateway into the Nantahala National Forest. Early the next morning I set out on the road for a long day of traveling up into the mountains and over into North Carolina. I began my journey on the Cherohala Parkway, winding its way out of Tennessee toward the border.

Although not very cold, as I reached the top of the mountains ice began to appear on the road and the trees became white with frost. The Cherohala parkway has some absolutely stunning scenery, a beautiful landscape appears around every turn.

My first destination was the bald river falls, nestled deep in the forest well off the main road. These falls are huge, and a very popular place for photographers. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find myself the only one there. The spray of the falls freezing mist washing over me I began to capture the power and beauty of this place. As the sun began to rise over the falls, and a few others began to arrive, I decided to move on.

Bald River Falls at sunrise

Crossing over into North Carolina I headed for my next destination of the Joyce Kilmer National Forest. This forest is known for its stands of giant trees and it definitely did not disappoint. There is a 2 mile trail that winds through the woods leading past several waterfalls and deep into the woods.

Amongst the giants

As I arrived in Robinsville NC, I settled in for a nigh of rest, preparing for the most exciting part of my journey yet, The tail of the dragon.

The Tail of the Dragon is what brought me to this part of the world. I had read the stories, and watched countless videos about the famous stretch of US 129. Known for having 318 curves in 11 miles, people come from all over the country to test their skills, and cars and bikes.

check out these curves.

I hit the road early the next morning, intent of getting a feel for this dangerous and challenging stretch of road. After a test run it was time for the fun to begin. Now this road is a blast to drive, but care must be taken as it is very busy and people are pushing their ability, sometimes above. After several runs I felt like I had accomplished what I came for.

As I left the Dragon for the last time I settled in for the long drive home. As I passed out of the Cherokee forest I made one more stop to take in the beauty of this place before returning home.

#travel #travelphotography #tennessee #northcarolina #smokymountains #thegreatsmokymountains #tailofthedragon #tailofthedragonroad #cherohalaparkway #nantahalanationalforest #cherokeenationalforest

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