For about a year now my buddy Toribio and I have been wanting to hike the Jump Off Trail. We had met Bob Carr after hiking out to Charlies Bunion, and he filled us in on the spot, we later saw his images and knew we needed to head out to this spot.
We started our hike at 2:30 a.m. at Newfound Gap along the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As a big guy, I much prefer hiking early in the morning as the temperature is always much lower. This part of the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky's is mostly uphill for the first two miles; it's rocky and full of roots as well. Once we made it to the Boulevard trail, it was just .1 miles to the Jump Off Trail, which looked nothing like a trail, but rather a scene from the Blair Witch Project.
The Jump Off Trail isn't much of a trail; it just seemed to be a creek bed that went down the ridge. Loose rocks covered the path the majority of the way, and certain parts of the trail didn't appear to be a trail. One section was entirely grown-up. Even though this section was just half a mile, it was very challenging.
Once we got to the end of the trail, a small section opened up to one of the most spectacular views of the Smoky's I have ever seen. We arrived about 45 minutes before sunrise, just enough time to set up our camera gear and eat a little bit. We could see the lights to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the distance.
My favorite time to shoot started (The blue hour) and I had noticed an "S" curve in the mountains. My favorite shot of the day happened during the Blue Hour; I shot a beautiful panoramic image showcasing that "S" curve and the basin below. Once light started to fill the area, we could begin to see why they called this place the Jump Off. It was a straight drop down, a long way down.
The sun had come up over the horizon, and I captured another beautiful panoramic image with a lovely sunburst and a superb lens flare. I also captured a fabulous golden hour shot of the ridge-line leading to Charlies Bunion. Before we knew it, it was time to head back down the mountain and grab something hearty to eat.
Hiking back down the mountain was much more easygoing in the daylight, but the Jump Off Trail was still pretty rough. Below you will find images from our trip along with a video I created for YouTube, which I hope you take the time to watch. To support my channel, please like and subscribe and don't forget to turn the notifications on!
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