It’s not often we get a glimpse into the road not taken.
There was a movement in the early 1900s to preserve the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains and create the national park.
But that movement came with consequences. Whether those consequences were good or bad depends on your point of view.
Ultimately, people lost their homes, their land and their way of life for the greater good. Communities were erased. Bizarre fairly lands built for the amusement of the ultra-rich were abandoned back to the mountains.
Loggers who were clearing great swaths of the forest were forced to look elsewhere.
I think by and large, we’re all quite pleased with how things turned out. We love the national park, and the areas surrounding the park drive the local economy.
But what if things had turned out differently? What if the parks had remained private land?
Maybe it would have turned out like Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park, located not far from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Sevierville.
It’s a wonderful place with lots of manmade adventure, where you can hike the natural beauty of the Smokies.
Foxfire Family Adventure Park in Sevierville
The park was founded by the Postlewaite family. Prior to 2009, it was chiefly a cattle farm. By 2009, the family was ready to sell the farm for financial reasons.
However, during an Alaskan vacation, Marc tried ziplining. They called the realtor, took Foxfire off the market and built an adventure park, offering some of the best ziplining in the region.
Today, the park features two ziplines and acres of land for hiking, obstacle courses, camping and glamping (coming soon).
Sometimes, Foxfire Adventure Park will offer discounts on Groupon.
The Foxfire Mountain swinging bridge
Foxfire Mountain is situated on 150 acres of mountain forests and creeks. It features beautiful vistas and cow and llama pastures.
The easy to moderate trails cross multiple unique bridges, and one of the most popular points of interest includes America’s longest swinging bridge.
Longer than a football field, it expands about 70 feet above the east prong of the Little Pigeon.
The lesser known, hidden gem: Lost Mine Falls
The park offers miles of hiking trails around Prosperity Mountain and beyond with stops at the historic Lost Mine Falls.
This lesser-known gem features a view down into the Sweden Furnace Iron Mine, hiding behind the falls.
For safety reasons, you’re not allowed to go into the mine, but you can see down into the operation that provided ore for the famed Sweden Furnace, which began its life as the Short Mountain Furnace in 1820.
The furnace – which used local ore to make “pig iron” – changed owners and names in 1836. The furnace closed in 1840 on the heels of economic panic and the deterioration of the ore.
How to see the Sweden Furnace Iron Mine
To see the mine, take River Walk Trail to Lost Mine Falls. It’s about a half-mile hike to the base of the falls. There’s a wooden pathway and stairs that will take you up to see through the falls and into the mine.
According to the Foxfire Mountain website, the park embraces the Scottish-Irish tradition of Cairns, basically a snowman-like pile of rocks.
“The stacked stone custom originated in Scotland where it is traditional to carry a stone from the bottom of a hill to place on the cairn at the top of the hill or at the base of a spectacular waterfall.”
There is an old Gaelic blessing that goes:
Cuiridh miclach air do chàrn
I’ll put a stone on your cairn
This was a way of wishing someone health, wealth and prosperity.
Editor’s note: If you’re elsewhere in the Smoky Mountains, do not stack stones. It hurts the salamander population.
At the end of America’s Bridge to Prosperity, there are many stones perfect for building cairns. You may build one at the base of Prosperity Mountain or you may pick a stone to carry to the cairn at the base of Lost Mine Falls.
Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park coupons
Pricing for the ziplines is $98.85 per person for the Goliath – the longest, highest and fastest zip line in the Smokies. It’s $89.95 for the Waterfall Canopy Tour.
The price of both zip lines includes a Discover Foxfire Overview pass. The pass is $24.95 for adults (ages 7 and up) and $11.95 for children (ages 4 to 6).
Children under 4 are free. The Discover Foxfire pass is included at no charge with any other paid adventure at Foxfire Mountain. Sometimes, you can find discounts on Groupon.
Foxfire Mountain features a barbecue restaurant and an on-property cider house. The owners encourage picnicking down by Dunn’s Creek as part of your adventure.
To learn more about Foxfire, visit them online.
Have you been to Foxfire Mountain? Let us know in the comments.
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