One of my life goals is to visit every national park in America. With a reputation for some of the most imposing peaks in the eastern U.S., Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been high on my list for many years. So naturally I jumped at the opportunity when a friend asked if I might be interested in joining him on a trip to the park over the Labor Day weekend. Together we made the 11 hour drive down from Northeastern Pennsylvania for a terrific weekend of hiking, camping, and photography.

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famed for attracting the most visitors of any national park in the U.S, with over 9 million visits per year. Nevertheless, we managed to mostly avoid the crowds by being out before dawn every morning and by hiking on a few of the less popular trails.

Here are a few photos from the weekend, with more to follow next week. Enjoy!

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