We spent the week between Christmas and New Years in the Smoky Mountains.  It’s my second visit to the area so I’ve started to learn a lot more about this interesting and beautiful area.  Like the Ozarks, the Smokies change dramatically with the seasons. I’ve only seen the Smokies in winter, so I am sure it would be interesting to see another season when the deciduous trees aren’t bare.  Many people may not think of winter as a time to hike, but it’s actually one of my favorite times to be out.  The cold doesn’t bother me and it’s usually very quiet and peaceful!


The weather was fairly nasty the first day, but as a photographer I love bad weather because it often makes for more interesting scenes.


The namesake “smoke” formed from the misty clouds that often drape the mountainsides.


The Smokies have an interesting range of forest types. The lowest elevations are a mix of Pine, Hemlock, and various hardwoods.  The middle elevations are mostly hardwood and the highest elevations contain Spruce, Fir, and Birch, a forest type similar to what is found up in New England.


I took Emma on a long and challenging hike, almost 10 miles with some very significant elevation gain. It was a beautiful trail and Emma is quite the hiker.


Here we are at a beautiful overlook.


I love this photo hiking back in the later afternoon.  It looks almost heavenly, which is often how I feel when hiking through the forest!


The girls soaking up some winter sun on a beautiful afternoon while hiking a short trail to a cabin.


The girls love to play around streams.  Fortunately streams are not in short supply here!


One day I hiked a trail up to the top of a mountain.  The first couple miles of the trail were along this cascading stream.


I enjoyed a nice lunch at this spot.