If you’re looking for a scenic, off the beaten path road trip, look no further than Heintooga Round Bottom Road.
How to find the Heintooga Round Bottom Road
Located off the beaten path Blue Ridge Mountain Life describes the road as “rough, remote, [incredibley] scenic, and long.” Heintooga Round Bottom Road is located off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is found just outside of Maggie Valley. According to Blue Ridge Mountain Life, if you’re coming down the Blue Ridge Parkway towards Cherokee, North Carolina, turn right on Heintooga/Balsam Mountain Road at Milepost 458.2. Luckily, the entrance is described as obvious with three separate entryways going into the entrance.
Keep in mind that Heintooga Round Bottom Road is normally open from late May through October. However, the road can close at any time due to inclement weather or fallen trees. Luckily you can check with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway websites for closure information.
What you’ll see along the road
This is a serene road trip. There aren’t any major attractions long this path. However, there are plenty of beautiful nature sights to take in. There are waterfalls, wildflowers, a descent into the mountains, and a bridge over beautiful scenery. Excitingly, there is also a significant amount of wildlife indigenous to the area. For example, you could see black bears, elk, and deer.
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“Good ol’ Rocky Top!” -Felice and Boudleaux Bryant- Located on the #AppalachianTrail, Rocky Top is a steep and difficult #hike ranging between 10-15 miles round trip, depending on your selected route. While this isn’t the exact peak that inspired the song, it is the only mountain officially named Rocky Top in the Park and it’s well worth the climb! #rockytop The most popular trails for hikers to reach Rocky Top are either the Anthony Creek Trail or Lead Cove Trail out of Cades Cove. #trailstuesday Remember to Plan and Prepare accordingly before heading out on your hike. To help you plan your route up to Rocky Top or other places of interest in the Park you can download a Smokies Trail Map here: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/GSMNP-Map_JULY19-4.pdf Photos: J. Hoeper
If you’re up for a hike, there are several trailheads along the Heintooga Round Bottom Road. These trailheads go into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Highlighted among bloggers is the trail into the Cataloochee Valley. The winding road takes you from 5,535 feet in elevation to below 2,00 feet in Cherokee, North Carolina. Keep in mind that the road is narrow, but Blue Ridge Mountain Life advises that you don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic until further down the road.
A couple things to do in Maggie Valley, North Carolina
There are a couple of small towns along the way to the Heintooga Round Bottom Road trip. If you start your scenic nature trail from Maggie Vally, North Carolina, Topping off the ratings on Trip Advisor for restaurants in Maggie Valle is Joey’s Pancake House. Excitingly, Joey’s Pancake House is a Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice 2020 award holder. Joey’s Pancake House is located at 4309 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751.
Additionally, you don’t have to worry about dietary restrictions. Joey’s Pancake House offers American, Vegetarian Friendly, and vegan options. Remarkably, Joey’s Pancake House seems to have a loyal following. One Trip Advisor review reads, “I have eaten at Joey’s since the very early 1970s. It was always the best. I sure enjoyed our visit in July and loved the friendly people and the excellent service as well as the best breakfast ever.”
If you’re looking for some souvenirs along the way, or maybe you saving up gifts for Christmas, travelers highly recommend Maggie Mountaineer Crafts. Trip Advisor rates Maggie Mountaineer Crafts as number one out of the 13 gift and specialty shops in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Just a short way up the road from Joey’s Pancake House, Maggie Mountaineer Crafts is located at 2394 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751.
While fudge may not make for the best Christmas gift (depending on when you visit Maggie Valley), many of the reviews of Maggie Mountaineer Crafts are absolute raves of the fudge. You can also expect to find, mountain memorabilia, shirts, hats, and a variety of good old-fashioned canned sauces, jams, BBQ, and pickled foods.
So if you’re looking for a beautiful scenic fall drive, keep Heintooga Round Bottom Road in mind. Whether you just want to take in the pristine forest views, or maybe grab a bite to eat and shop a smidge- Maggie Valley, North Carolina seems like a great place to start. Check back with The Lexington Yankee for more ideas of things to do this fall.