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The Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most famous parks in the United States. The park is known for its beautiful mountains and streams, clean air, and frequent rain. My local part of the park is Cosby, located in the Great Smoky Mountains eighty-two miles west of the East Tennessee State University campus (www.nps.gov.grsm.prcoscg.htm). The park is a wonderful, activity-filled stop for any student wanting to get away for a few days.
The drive to Cosby passes by quickly because of all the interesting sites along the way. For example, Newport is home of the Thai Kitchen which has the best food I have ever tasted for only about $8.00 per person. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes such as chicken fried rice, spicy chicken basil fried rice, beef and broccoli and the excellent appetizers of egg rolls and crispy wontons. After stopping for dinner at the Thai Kitchen, you can travel 11 miles west to the Kyle Carver Orchard. The Kyle Carver Orchard was established in 1942 and spreads for over 75 acres. The orchard is known for its fresh cider and delicious apple pies that are fresh baked throughout the day (Heritage Tour 1). After eating your dessert at the Kyle Carver Orchard, you can travel the remaining seven miles to the park.
Cosby is nestled in a prime spot located thirty minutes from Douglas Lake, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Dollywood. The park has a large picnic area that is known for its frequent visits by the bears that love to snack on the tourists' picnic lunches. The park also offers year-around camping with a special camping area designated for those people with horses. The park has 175 camping sites, so the camping areas are very plentiful for any student wanting to camp for a few days (www.nps.gov/grsm/prcoscg.htm).
Personally, my favorite things about the park are its hiking trails, the Low Gap and Appalachian Trails. The Low Gap hiking trail passes through the freezing Cosby Creek and continues along a beautiful scenic path. The paths are for hikers of any age because of their moderate trail grade. The paths host a variety of unusual flora and fauna including deer, snakes, and bears. In fact, I have never been on the trail without seeing a snake slithering along its path swimming in the creek.
My favorite attraction along the Low Gap Trail is the natural spring that is piped down from the mountains.
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After finishing the hike, campers can return to their campsite where they can roast marshmallows and enjoy the animal sounds of the surrounding forest. I would only plan to camp for a few days because of the poor conditions of the outdated restrooms. These restrooms do not have showers, electricity, flushable toilets, or any other modern day conveniences, but the beautiful foliage, hiking, and rafting still make Cosby a worthwhile site to spend a weekend.
After having a good night's sleep, a camper can wake up and put on their bathing suit and get ready for an adventure. The campers' adventure begins by walking down to the Cosby Creek to an area known as the Night Hole for its ice cold water that the sun supposedly never shines upon. Here, the water is about 12 feet deep and the pools make a great place for rock jumping. Each warm day in Cosby, you can find several groups of tourist waiting their turn to jump off the rock of their choice into the freezing water. The water is a thrilling shock after the long, hot hike to the pools. While rock jumping, a tourist needs to bring along an old pair of shoes because the rocks are sharp along the bottom of the creek bed, but this small discomfort is definitely worth the thrill. Next, a tourist should continue their adventure by making a stop at the Pigeon River Rafting Company located sixteen miles east of the park. The Pigeon River Rafting Company is a new company recently established in 1998. Here, a tourist can enjoy a three-mile rafting trip with several exciting class three and four rapids. For the more inexperienced rafter, the company provides a lazy river ride for children and the elderly where very little paddling is involved. Prices range from $15 to $40 depending on the group number and type of trip taken (Heritage 1).
Cosby is an ideal travel location for any student wanting to escape the pressures of college for a weekend. The trip is not very expensive and has various activities such as swimming, camping, and hiking that any student would enjoy.
"Cosby." Internet. www.nps.gov.grsm.prcoscg.htm. 1998.
"Cosby." Smoky Mountain Heritage Tour. Brochure. 1999.