Day 2 started early at Emerts Cove Covered Bridge. The bridge is located just outside of Gatlinburg and across from the Greenbrier entrance. Tennessee and North Carolina have been in a severe drought and it couldn't be any more obvious than at this bridge or any of the waterfalls that we visited. Last year I brought along knee high rain boots so that I could wade out into the water and take the picture of the bridge that I wanted. This year, the rocks were all sticking up out of the water. The other thing that you will notice is that we had way less fall color than last year. Color is just starting in the lower elevations at this time. The sun wasn't yet up and my daughter was a little nervous about all of the no trespassing signs. I do believe that they are posted all around so that people don't park on any of the properties in this neighborhood. Nonetheless, we didn't stay as long as I would have wanted to. Here's the link to last year's photos if you are interested in comparing the water/color difference. 2015 Emerts Cove Bridge
We next drove Newfound Gap/US 441 all the way to the other side and headed to Bryson City, NC. I was very excited to take Kaley on the 3 waterfall hike at Deep Creek, but when we started to near Bryson City, the air was thick with smoke. We pulled up at Deep Creek, but quickly left due to the smell. There was no way we could breathe that air and hike for a couple of hours. I was beyond disappointed. Below are a couple of phone images of the smoke as we drove towards Bryson. None of the locals seemed to know what it was, but I later found out that there was a large 300 acre brush fire not too far away. We did go into to downtown Bryson to have lunch. We ate at The Filling Station, which I highly recommend. We also picked up some chocolates from The Chocolate Shoppe a few doors down.
Due to the fire and smoke, we got an earlier start for our drive along the Cherahola Skyway. This is a drive that I've been wanting to do for a few years now, but there's just never enough time in the day. This was a gorgeous, fall filled drive and worth every mile it took to get there and back. This is a lesser traveled scenic route, as I think it's too far for many to put on their to do lists. It was by far the highlight of this day.
Close to the end of the skyway is a turnoff for Bald River Falls, several miles outside of Tellico Plains. It was already getting late in the day and the sun disappears early in the mountains. Still, we had just enough light for some nice fall colors at this waterfall. From here we headed back to Pigeon Forge. Since we drove the skyway somewhat backwards, starting from Bryson City (most folks drive this starting at the visitor center in Tellico Plains), it left us about 2 hours from the hotel. We did arrive back just as the sun was setting. Although I wasn't out photographing it, it was beautiful pink sunset that we viewed from the car.