Fall Beauty Without The Crowds or 5 Tips on How to Maximize Solitude in Nature

Don’t you hate when the longing for aloneness brings you and 5000 other people together? We certainly had a difficult time finding fall hikes without the crowds around Knoxville, Tennessee. In recent years, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has become heavy with car and people traffic. It no longer provides a peaceful respite. That’s why this year, fall hikes without the crowds and how to maximize solitude in nature became our quest.

On the last week of October, my husband and I ventured out into the less popular area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We discovered the roads less traveled with breathtaking scenery, plentiful pull-offs with views that touch the horizon, easy-to-access hikes of varying distances, and no crowds!

I was surprised that there were barely any people on the roads and hikes. While most popular sites such as Graveyard Fields were busy, there were plenty of other paths that one can enjoy alone. I want to come to Blue Ridge Parkway again and again for the joy of tête-à-tête with nature.

5 tips on how to maximize your solitude, yet catch the fall beauty of the mountains:

  1. Avoid National Parks’ main attractions during peak season as everyone has the same idea
  2. Go mid-week as weekends from September till almost the end of October are especially crowded
  3. Go early in the morning to avoid crowds of families and kids
  4. Seek and research the off-the-beaten-path hikes
  5. Go in the last week of October or the first week of November you will still see beautiful colors

3 less-traveled trails on our hike without crowds list:

1. Mountain-to-Sea Trail at Holloway Mountain Road

GPS: 36.13978, -81.75740

Type of hike: Out-and-back

Distance: 3.8 miles (7.6 miles roundtrip)

Difficulty: Moderately easy: the trail is in good shape, and the elevation gains moderate

2. Mount Mitchell Summit Hike

Although the highest peak in the North East, the trail is less traveled due to its strenuous nature.

Location: 35°46’02.5″N 82°15’52.3″W

Starting at the Black Mountain Campground on the Toe River, this hike gains 3600 ft in elevation over 5 1/2 miles to reach the summit of the East’s highest peak, making it one of the toughest continuous climbs in the region, near the limit of what most people will want to tackle in a day hike.

Type of hike: Out-and-back

Distance: 6.00 miles, one way (12 miles roundtrip)

Difficulty: Strenuous

Description: Start at the Black Mountain Campground and climb to the summit of Mount Mitchell. Requires 4.5 hours to the top and 3.5 to return.

3. Mountains-to-Sea Trail at Devil’s Garden Overlook

Devil’s Garden Overlook, Milepost 235.7, Blue Ridge Parkway.

Location: From Milepost 298.6 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, head west on Holloway Mountain

GPS: 35.450885, -82.709130

Type of hike: Out-and-back

Distance: 3.6 miles (7.2 out-and-back)

Difficulty: Relatively easy: good trail surface and moderate elevation change

Give yourself a chance to be in solitude. Have some alone time in nature so that you can hear the voice of your own soul. Let your senses synchronize, at least for a little bit, to nature’s timeless tranquility.

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