DeanoRolls Epic Ground Pounds

My favorite hikes…ever…in my life…

  1. Mt. LeConte (Via Alum Cave Trail) @ Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee – 8/1/2020 – 13.98 miles, 2,937 feet elevation gain. We spent 8 days hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for our 25-year anniversary. We started off day one on the longest hike of our life. It is one of the most popular trails in the park, Mt. LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail. Along the way, we saw Arch Rock. It was a hike to remember for sure. Mainly because I did it with my best friend of 25+ years. I’d go as far as saying this is THE most epic hike I’ve ever been on in my life. Click HERE for a post and video about this hike.
  2. Hermit Peak @ Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico – 7/30/2011 & 7/26/2012 – 7.45 miles, 2,776 feet elevation gain.  Hermit Peak is a 10,267-foot-tall mountain outside Las Vegas, New Mexico.  It is near Pop’s cabin in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  We’ve driven past it for years and heard stories of the actual hermit who lived in a cave at the top of the mountain in the late 1800s.  One year my brother-in-law, Cameron, and I decided we were going to climb it.  In 2011, before I was in good enough shape to be doing it, we did it.  The next year we went again with our wives.  Both times were awesome and there is nothing much more satisfying than climbing to the top of a mountain.  There is something about getting to the top and looking out (down) that is just gratifying.  This mountain juts up pretty much out of nowhere in the New Mexico desert.  Once you get up top you can see for what feels like forever in all directions.  We hike up in the AM, eat lunch at the top, and then hike back down.  We usually stop at the hot springs on the way home to soak our aching feet.
  3. The Narrows @ Zion National Park, Utah– 7/26/2019 – 6 miles, 335 feet elevation gain.  We only had two days on our visit to Zion National Park and made sure to get The Narrows hike in.  We went during the monsoon season which is not the best time to go hiking in the Narrows due to the pop-up showers and the risk of flash flooding.  The hike was closed down a month before our trip due to the water level being too high.  There were numerous warnings about what to do if conditions began to appear that a flash flood was imminent.  It was Emily and I with Max, Cameron, and Miles (we lost Jayne and Georgia as soon as we got off the path and into the water).  We started the 6-mile hike basically scared out of our minds of imminent death from flash floods (and not without good reason).  Regardless, we made the hike back to the intersection of two major canyons.  The majority of the hike you are in the water.  We rented water boots and walking sticks and both were lifesavers and worth every penny.  All that death stuff aside, the hike was incredible and the slot canyons that you are hiking in are phenomenal.  We will likely do this hike again when we go back to Zion to do other things we didn’t have time to do this time.  We’ll hopefully go at a time when the whole thing is a bit safer.  I just kept saying that at least if we all died someone could say “well at least they died doing what they loved” which instantly makes everything better!  This could easily be the number one hike on this list except that I almost gave myself a panic attack for the first 3 miles of it.  This cut down on the enjoyment!  Ha! Click HERE for a post and video about this hike.
  4. Navajo Loop Trail @ Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah – 7/24/2019 – 2.6 miles, 623 feet elevation gain. Emily and I really liked Bryce Canyon the landscape is very interesting.  We didn’t really intend to hike at all the day we were there.  We started at the back of the park and had hit all the stops back to the entrance.  We ended up the day in the main amphitheater near Sunset Point (around sunset).  As we were looking at the view, we noticed a trail that went down into the canyon.  We decided we’d do it.  Quick gear change and we were headed down the path.  This hike was so freaking cool.  Everywhere you looked there was something beautiful to look at.  I probably took more pictures per step on this hike than any hike I’ve ever been on.  We were so glad we did it.  It was not a super long hike, but it did have some pretty intense elevation drop/gain and the trail was very cool as you snaked down into the canyon (and then back up).  We did it in the late afternoon around sunset and I think that is probably the best time to do it.  It was not as hot as it could have been and the sunset/shadows on everything made for great photo-taking opportunities.  Emily said it was the best hike she’d ever been on.  From a sheer scenic standpoint, I’d have to agree.  The only reason it is not higher on my list is it was a little on the short side to make it truly epic.  We could have done a few other trails that connected to the one we were on.  This could have been super fun and might have moved this hike up the all-time epic list.  Regardless, for a hike that we didn’t even set out to do it was a total surprise and we are so glad we did it. Click HERE for a post and video about this hike.
  5. Ute Trail @ Aspen Mountain, Colorado – 7/18/2015 – 3.25 miles 3,230 feet elevation gain.  The Ute Trail is a popular trail in Aspen Colorado that starts in town and goes to the top of Aspen mountain.  We’ve stayed at The Gant each time we’ve been to Aspen and this trail starts in a neighborhood right behind this hotel.  It isn’t a long hike but it is steep!  You wind up at an altitude of 11,211 feet when you get to the top.  This is not terribly high but for a fat boy from a much lower altitude of Nashville, it did produce some heavy breathing!  Emily and I did this hike with Cameron.  Everyone else met us at the top by taking the gondola?!!?  Cheaters!  The view at the top is very pretty, and you can eat a very nice lunch in the lodge overlooking it all, and then ride the gondola back down.  Not a bad deal!  I promise!
  6. Fiery Gizzard Trail @ Grundy Forest State Natural Area, Tennessee– 11/7/2015 – 9.6 miles, 1,243 feet elevation gain.  Disclaimer: We did not hike the entire Fiery Gizzard Trail.  We started on the Grundy Forest State Natural Area side and wound up doing about half of it.  That was about all we could handle by the way!  I was with my friend, Michael, and it was raining when we started.  We hiked the Dog Hole Trail up to the Raven’s Point Overlook.  The waterfalls on the way up were beautiful.  The overlook at Raven’s point was spectacular.  I did rename it Rainin’ Point because of the weather that day.  It is not for the vertigo challenged.  Then we hiked back down the very challenging (even more so when wet) Fiery Gizzard Trail.  We should have done the loop counterclockwise to be fresh for the Fiery Gizzard Trail part (but we didn’t really know that was a thing).  A lot of this was not even hiking but there was lots of rock scrambling in the rock fields.  The rocks were like walking on ice all day because they were wet.  We both fell and busted our @$$ at least once.  My GPS watch died somewhere around mile 7.7 but in total the hike took all day and was 9.6 miles.  I died somewhere at about the same time as my watch.  Michael died somewhere about the same time.  This was a grueling hike and towards the end we both just walked somewhat separated in silence just suffering on our own.  We were trying to hump it to make it out of the woods before dark set in.  We somehow made it back to civilization and to a Waffle House where my normal meal there had never tasted so good.  It was a great hike but a tough one in pretty tough conditions and will not soon be forgotten!
  7. Red, White and Blue Trails @ Percy Warner Park & Edwin Warner Park, Tennessee – 7/4/2016 – 12.27 miles, 1,794 feet elevation gain.  It was the Fourth of July and I decided the best way to celebrate was to hike three aptly named trails in Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks.  These trails have official names, but the trail marker colors (and their unofficial names) work much better for this day (red, white and blue).  I’ve probably hiked these trails over 100 times separately but on this day Emily and I put them all together.  We even got rained on halfway through.  I think this was the longest hike we’ve ever done and it even had a good bit of elevation gain due to all the hills.  These are some of our favorite trails and I consider my home location based on proximity to them.  The hike combined these trails:
    1. Mossy Ridge Trail (Red 4.5 Mile) – This is the biggest trail in Percy Warner and one we usually save up for weekend hikes.  You can hop on it at the Deep Wells entrance or at the new Chickering entrance.
    1. Warner Woods Trail (White 2.5 Mile) – This is the second biggest trail in Percy Warner and easy to get to from the Belle Meade entrance or the Deep Wells entrance.  Emily and I hiked this a ton when we lived near that entrance.
    1. Harpeth Woods Trail (Blue 2.5 Mile) – This is the biggest trail in Edwin Warner.  Emily and I hike it constantly these days because it is right down the street from our condo.
    1. Cane Connector Trail (Candy Stripe 1 Mile) – This is a flat trail that connects the two parks.  1 mile each way.
  8. Winding Stairs, Lafayette, Tennessee – 7/19/2020 – 5.2 miles, 1,990 feet elevation gain.  We went here not expecting too much (a mile and a half hike). We wound up spending 3 hours hiking 5 miles up and down this beautiful site. It was a beautiful afternoon and worth the drive off the beaten path. Click HERE for a post and video about this hike.
  9. Cummins Falls State Park, Tennessee – 5/12/2013 – 2.1 miles, 334 feet elevation gain.  We packed the whole family in the car and took Mom on a Mother’s Day hike.  A rare day where the whole clan spends a Sunday afternoon together.  It was a fun adventure and a spectacular view from the top and bottom sides of the falls.  This was a pretty new state park when we went and is very popular.
  10. Clingmans Dome @ Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee – 8/19/1998 & 10/9/2014 – 1.2 miles, 331 feet elevation gain.  Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park (at 6,634 feet) and it is about equal with the highest points east of the Mississippi (3rd on the list).  At the top, there is an observation tower that gives an awesome view of the surrounding mountains.  It is a pretty short hike and it is paved but it made the list for two particular hikes we did (we’ve hiked it more times than that).  In 1998 we (Emily, Preston and a new Emmaline) hiked it with my parents…enough said…the laughs were many!  In 2014 we (Emily, Emmaline, and Molly) got up before sunrise and made it to the top just in time to see a Smokey Mountain sunrise.  It was phenomenal (and cold)!
  11. Ganier Ridge @ Radnor Lake State Park, Tennessee – 8/9/2011 – 3.62 miles, 355 feet elevation gain.  We’ve hiked all the trails around Radnor tons of times.  It is pretty neat to have a State Park right down the road from our house.  This was the first time we ever hiked Ganier Ridge…and it wasn’t the last!
  12. Highland and Creek Trails @ Beaman Park, Tennessee 7/12/2015 – 5.39 miles, 522 feet elevation gain. I describe this park/trail as like Percy Warner without the crowds.  It takes a bit to get to it on the north side of Nashville (where I’m from).  I’ve never seen it crowded and it provides very nice (and quiet) woods.  So, if that is your deal…go here!

Sunrise and Sunset While Hiking Clingmans Dome (in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

We’ve hiked the trail to Clingmans Dome (in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) several times over the years.  It is a quick, steep hike.  We did it a few fairly spectacular times.  One time in 2014 for a sunrise which was one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen in my life.  This year after …

Hiking Winding Stairs Trail (Red Oak, Milk Pail, Jacob’s Ladder, and Cascades) in Lafayette, TN

We drove up to Lafayette, TN (while up at Bledsoe Creek State Park) for what we thought would be a short, mile and a half long hike.  Our target was Winding Stairs Trail.  5+ miles, a couple of thousand feet of elevation, and almost 3 hours later we finished a very enjoyable hike!  There were …

Hiking The Narrows (and the Riverside Walk Trail) in Zion National Park

The Narrows @ Zion National Park, Utah– 7/26/2019 – 6 miles, 335 feet elevation gain.  We only had two days on our visit to Zion National Park and made sure to get The Narrows hike in.  We went during the monsoon season which is not the best time to go hiking in the Narrows due …

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