We start this part of the hike walking on a narrow rock ledge. This is a slightly tricky section of the trail. It's an easy place to lose a pet or person so we pick our way across carefully. The path becomes nice and flat again while we cruise past rocks and water. Pools of calm water form in natural hollows and beaver ponds. Trout inhabit the waters of Laurel Fork. Far upstream beyond the Dennis Cove campground special trout fishing rules apply. Search "trout regulations" for this stream at the TWRA site for details. We aren't fly fishing today so we walk on.
Soon our journey takes us to the first bridge crossing. After walking this far you should be able to appreciate the effort of the people who built these well constructed bridges. We take a minute to snap a photo looking back downstream.
The trail runs mostly level through a green world of rosebay rhododendron. In this lush place they grow large. It's no wonder the pioneers called these dense patches hells. Imagine trying to walk through that without a trail. They bloom earlier in the summer with large slightly pink white flowers.
After a stretch along this side, it is time to cross back over on the second bridge. One of the common features of creek hikes in the Appalachians are frequent water crossings. Some of the trails in the Smoky Mountains have numerous places to ford creeks. The bridges make this trail much easier in that respect. It's almost civilized. Let's not get too complacent though. There'll be plenty of opportunities ahead to avoid serious injury.
Sometimes it's the little things, like these wildflowers, that really make a walk interesting. All through the warm months, plants bloom at different times and altitudes. Every day sees something different. These just happen to be out today. The red ones are Cardinal Flowers. Luckily for us, they bloom late in the summer and add a splash of color to the scenery.
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