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Outdoors | Walking among the clouds in the Great Smoky Mountains

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GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK — There is something breathtaking about driving among the clouds. Walking among the clouds is even more of an experience. 

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John Oliver's cabin is dwarfed by the mountains of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The cabin is located in Cades Cove, an area that housed about 700 residents during the Civil War.

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Driving through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s impossible not to stop at some of the scenic overlooks, particularly early in the morning or near sunset. To look down at the valleys below and see the signature mist hanging in the valleys is both an enlightening and spiritual moment. 

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Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park often amounts to a walk among the clouds. 

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And, just when you think it’s impossible to see something more beautiful, you turn around and look in the opposite direction. The views are gorgeous any time of the year, but on a crisp fall morning with the sunshine highlighting the colors of the changing leaves and illuminating the clouds … it’s unparalleled. 

Then, when you think your brain cannot possibly absorb any more beauty, you hop out of your car and walk one of the mountain trails. 

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The view of the forest colors on the trail to Laurel Falls at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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In addition to the stunning overlooks, walking the trails puts you in direct contact with the colors of the changing seasons. Nearly every color on the palette is represented, ranging from the soft greens of trees stubbornly clinging to their summer clothes, the darker shades of the evergreens, various shades of yellows, oranges and reds, and, occasionally, you’ll catch a glimpse of azure blue skies. 

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The waterfalls tumbling down the mountainsides only accentuate the experience, but there are also the valleys, such as Cades Cove, an area that offers a bit of everything. 

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The lower portion of Mingo Falls, the tallest waterfall in North Carolina.

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 A side portion of Laurel Falls in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

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Mingo Falls is the highest waterfall in North Carolina, tumbling 120 feet down a mountain side on Cherokee Tribal Territory just outside Cherokee, North Carolina.

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