When is Close, too Close?
Yesterday I walked up Laurel Falls Trail and down the Cove Mountain Trail. The day started gray but it was still dry as Lenny and I climbed up. The skies opened up about 11:30 A.M. when we got to the Cove Mt. Tower and it rained most of the way down.
The Cove Mountain Trail is right on the park boundary. About halfway down, we noted two new houses discreetly off to the left. The trail around the houses had been planted with new white pines because these trees are fast growing. We saw blackberry vines starting to take over. These invasive plants grow whenever soil is disturbed and it was obviously disturbed when those houses were built.
The trail down went back to hemlocks and rhododendrons, much more typical of that area. Further down we saw the house pictured above which was right on the trail. Well, to be fair about it, I know that it did not step over into park property. Besides the Private sign, they had a "Never mind the dog, beware of the owner sign" and a hand-penciled drawing of a mean dog with his fangs showing. As I think about it, the dog drawing could not have been hand-drawn on a piece of paper because it could not have survived the downpour.
I know the park has to end someplace and then private property takes over. That house right on the trail may have been a product of the last couple of decades when it was considered so cool to say that your house was right in the Smokies. But now, developers are getting smarter and building discreetly away from the trail. Home owners can still walk right from their house into the park, if they are hikers. Now if builders can only do something about blackberries and other invasives.