Tail of the Dragon, Tennessee

My wife and I decide to take our five-year-old son for a hike—what he likes to call a “nature walk.” Since we live less than an hour from the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the mountains have become our antidote to the strip malls and sprawl of suburban life. We choose a modest half-mile trail to an open-air lookout tower, from which one can see the surrounding countryside. It’s early spring, and we can see nothing but green peaks and valleys shrouded in the bluish fog that gives the park its name. From here one can see in to the deep interior otherwise accessible only by foot. Before our son was born, my wife and I liked to go into the backcountry to get away.

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