Ramsey Cascades Trail

We decided to do this hike the last minute because we can't decide where to go. We hike quite a bit but this hike was tougher than we imagined. You have to cross a rushing stream/river several times, climb slick and unstable rocks. It took us almost 6 hrs for the entire hike and we were paying for it the next day a total of 8 miles there and back. The heat and the rain was unbearable. Either way it was quite an adventure for us, and that we will never forget.

Tips pack as light as you can and take snacks and water along with a good hiking shoes/boots.  If waterfalls and soreness are your thing then go! People say it's worth it, but it really just depends on what kind of hike you are looking for, if you're an experienced hiker and want an extra challenge this is it.If you're wanting to enjoy nice views, easy strides and non threatening terrains then this is not for you.

Direction: To reach the Ramsey Cascades trail from Knoxville, go to Sevierville and turn left onto Highway 411 (Dolly Parton Parkway). Stay on 411 for 3.4 miles and turn right onto State Route 416. Stay on Route 416 for 14.5 miles (following the signs to Pittman Center) until you reach the "T" intersection with Highway 321. Turn right onto 321 and take a quick left into the Greenbrier entrance to the park.

Follow the Greenbrier Road for 3.1 miles and turn left at the bridge following the sign to the Ramsey Cascades Trail. The trailhead is another 1.5 miles at the end of the road.

From the Greenbriar entrance
The rocks step was a challenge and we had to use our hands to climb up sometimes
Little Pigeon River

The biggest tree in the park is a Tulipwood tree
One of the many foot logs we crossed

The Majestic Ramsey Cascades

The Five Cleanest Beaches in Florida’s Southwest

Florida Beaches are some of the most famous in the world. Florida has party beaches and secluded beaches, private beaches and wide open public beaches. Finding the right beach for you and your family can even present something of a challenge.

The only beach that’s ever going to bring you down is the beach that’s simply not well-tended. Beaches need to be cleaned, and regularly, and sadly, many are not. Here’s our quick list of the cleanest and most attractive beaches (and beach areas) in Florida’s southwest – by and large – already some of the most world-class beaches in Florida.

1) Greater Fort Myers Beaches
photo source: Google
Fort Myers is already a universe of the spectacular. The entire range from secluded and quiet to loaded-with-people-and-fun is there. Estero Island stretches some seven miles lined with 25 public beaches and development, night spots and eateries and all ending with the Fort Myers Beach Fishing Pier.

Lovers Key State Park is a lot quieter, but as a state park, it’s also a little more meticulously maintained. With West Indian manatees and dolphins calling it all home, it’s got to be kept up to keep things nice for them. On the very northern tip of the island, Bowditch Point Regional Park features another natural setting and plenty of space for picnics and quiet days. 

2) Sanibel Island Beaches
photo source: Google
Sanibel Island is one we talk about a lot, in part because it’s a little more developed than our own North Captiva Island. Sanibel is happily connected to the mainland by a road and it’s still one of the best places in the world for collecting seashells. Sanibel’s best are world’s way from everything you’ve experienced and these are just a couple of the best.

Tarpon Bay Beach sees some of the roughest water in the area, though it’s seldom more than choppy. Gulfside City Park is similar and even longer, stretching all the way to Lighthouse Beach on the very eastern end of the island. A little more dramatic, the Causeway Beaches line the

Sanibel Causeway that connect Sanibel with Punta Rassa on the mainland. These couple of smaller islands are taken up mostly by roadway (Causeway), but they’re still surprisingly refreshing and offer a relatively rare dog-friendly beach experience.

3) Captiva Island Beaches

photo source: Google

Due to their striking Caribbean waters and white sands, the beaches along the full five miles of Captiva Island are the pride of the Gulf. The single most popular of these beaches are in and around Alison Hagerup Beach Park, nearly the only place likely to be crowded anywhere on the island – and even then, not exactly wall-to-wall people. Restrictions like motorized vehicles and alcohol are a lot more broadly enforced here, but all that goes towards a nearly always pristine beach experience, too. 

Of course, just across Blind Pass, the North Captiva Island beaches are just as inviting, and a little more natural, owing to the fact that most of the beaches here are on the edges of the island’s considerable nature preserve (similar to what you’ll find on Sanibel Island).

4) Marco Island Beaches

photo source: Google

For many south Florida beachgoers, Marco Island is exactly what the doctor ordered. This is not your barren undeveloped desert island, but then civilization does have its advantages. You’ll not want for refreshments, organized tours and activities or pretty much anything. If you do want to go in for something more natural, Tigertail Beach just to the north of the main strip is a paradise for birds, picnics and secluded waterfront. And as secluded as things get, you’re still quite close to all that civilization. Of course, heading north again towards Naples, beachgoers are greeted again by some of the area’s most acclaimed beaches of all. Naples, Florida greets a magnificent sea with white sand, usually intelligent development and plenty to see and do. 

5) Boca Grande Beaches

photo source: Google

Northern neighbors of North Captiva Island, Boca Grande is just beyond Cayo Costa State Park, an island of paradise beachfront all its own. But Boca Grande is beloved for its mix of charming 19th century history and blue-blood self-confidence. Some very well-heeled visitors spend winters here. They do so because the edges of Boca Grande are remarkably well maintained. Service and some exceptional fishing are widely available and the beaches are some to be reckoned with. Most visitors stick to the beaches of Gasparilla Island State Park, but nearly the entire Gulf side of the island is wide open, with a few privately maintained exceptions. Some very wild and untouched beachfront exists here too. So do your best to hide your tracks and don’t leave anything behind when you visit.

From North Captiva Island, we’re frequently ushering guests to the boat or ferry service that will whisk them off for a day of fun and sun – fishing, wildlife watching and more. But of course, we’d be thrilled to hear your experience of any of the beaches above, or a favorite we may have left out. Just let us know in the comments or drop us an email.

Kayaking on Melton Hill Lake

Hiking together provides a wonderful time for us to talk, be together, and get fit.  In my head, kayaking would provide the same.  So far, I was wrong.  Going on a Tandem Kayak was a challenge we paddle differently (don't judge we both first timer) . I sit at the front , while my husband is in the back trying to  give me a lesson the right way to paddle. It rained that day we can't hear each other and I am too scared that I might flip over the kayak if I look back. This was not what I was expecting.  It reminded me of toddlers who get together for playdates, yet they play next to each other and not with each other.  We need to figure this out for future trips. But overall we had a great time in the end, my arms were quite sore;  his not so much.  This experience definitely left us wanting for more.

If you get a chance to visit our beautiful City of Oak Ridge. Adventures Outdoors is open for business on Houseboat Row at Melton Lake Park!  Bikes, trikkes, and kayaks are available for rent Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-8pm each week.  Call 865-680-1516 for more information.

Kayak rental rates: – $10/hour or $25 half day rental – 2 person kayak $15/hour or $25 half day rental Bike rental rates: – $6/hour, $15 half day, or $25 full day rental Trikke rental rates: – $10/hour, $15 half day, or $25 full day rental. 

Our challenging journey begins from here!

Taken through a tunnel under Melton Lake Drive

 Going under the tunnel was a new experience.
After the rain we finally enjoy the experience and the views 
We typically work well together, until we are put in a two sitter kayak. (ha ha)

The Florida Aquarium

I have been to a different aquariums a few times. This one is actually smaller than most I have been in. However this aquarium is presented very nicely throughout on the inside. It is a great place for families and young children to visit. There is a lot of educational things for the young ones to learn about the marine life. There is also a nice water play area outside for the young ones to enjoy. The cafe area has great food selections to choose from and reasonably priced. This is a must visit when coming to Tampa. Learn about the Tampa Bay ecosystem from Swamp to Coral Reef. They also have a swim with the Sharks program for those that feel adventurous.

Address: 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602; Phone number (813) 273-4000 ; Regular Admission ticket  Adult $23.95 and Child $18.95

Ray Statue in front of  Florida Aquarium


A swim with the Sharks program for those that feel adventurous.
Finding Nemo in the Fish Tank 

Octopus upclose

Gatlinburg Skylift

As we board the Gatlinburg Sky Lift in downtown Gatlinburg and start to climb higher and higher, we see the amazing view of the city, the mountains, the trees and flowers from a vantage point we can't experience anywhere else. I imagine myself sailing slowly above the trees, up into the Smoky Mountains, as this chair lift transports you to an unparalleled view of the mountains and the town below.

At the top of the mountain, an elevation of 1,800 feet, you can take some time to enjoy the view and even have a picnic lunch. This popular, awe-inspiring Gatlinburg attraction is suited for all ages, and is a great activity for any family traveling to this area. So grab your camera and come prepared to experience beauty and all that Mother Nature has to offer.

Address: 765 Parkway, Center of town at traffic light # 7, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Phone Number: 865-436-4307; Ticket cost $15.00/person

A great way to see the mountains. We really enjoyed it. Even if your not a fan of height (like me) the view will be worth the fear.

A very nice, gentle ride, up the side of a mountain overlooking Gatlinburg

We took it in the late afternoon and there was no wait. I especially enjoyed the observation deck halfway through the ride.


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