History, Heritage, Nature, and Scenery Await Exploration!
The Cades Cove Loop Road has new paving and pulloffs. Enjoy this scenic and historic drive, and while you are in the area, take the opportunity to strike out and experience the suggested tours, below. And be sure to contact the Townsend Visitors Center, 865-448-6134 or 800-525-6824, as you make your travel plans. For an itinerary of four days of fun in four seasons, click here: Four Days of Fun
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In the Cades Cove area
Laurel Creek Road from Townsend to Cades Cove, Cades Cove Campground, Picnic Area, Campground Store, Horseback Riding Stables, Pine-Oak Nature Trail (park at the Store lot and follow signs to Campground C), Rich Mountain Trail (across from the Orientation Shelter). There are many other beautiful trails originating in Cades Cove. Some are loops, some are short hikes, and others long trails leading to high country destinations such as Gregory Bald, Spence Field, Russell Field and Rocky Top!
Check out these wonderful places that offer everything from mountain views, to steamside hikes, to wildlife and wildflowers, to historic structures!
Logging History Tour, up the road from Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont (GSMIT). Pick up a guide booklet at the Townsend Visitors Center, the Institute office, or from the box by the road.
Spectacular mountain scenery from Walland 18 miles across Chilhowee Mountain to Highway 129 at Chilhowee Lake. Hike 1/2 mile to Look Rock Tower on the Parkway. At Look Rock there is a very nice National Park campground, but may not open until later in the Spring, since it is situated at about 2,400 feet elevation.
Little River Road
At the Townsend "Wye", park and take a stroll up Chestnut Top trail for a beautiful array of many early spring blossoms. Walk carefully and watch your step because there are steep sections, and the path is narrow.
From the Townsend "Wye" heading toward Gatlinburg, enjoy displays of wildflowers along the roadside from March through May. Stop at the overlook to Meigs Falls and at the Sinks. There are places to pull off and enjoy the Little River for fishing, photography, or just sitting on a rock and putting your feet in the cold, clear water.
Metcalf Bottoms, Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse, and the Walker Sisters Homestead
Just about 5 miles from the Townsend "Wye" is Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, a lovely place to relax.
From Metcalf Bottoms, take a short hike, or a drive, to Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse, where young folks attended school in the mid 1800's to the time the Park was established. You might even meet an old-fashioned schoolmarm!
Take a hike about 2 miles further and you will find a very special place, the Walker Sisters Homestead, where six sisters lived on their own and farmed, gardened, raised livestock, made their own clothes, and all in all led rich lives in the early 1900's.
Elkmont Historic District
Turn off Little River Road toward Elkmont Campground and explore the community of rustic vacation homes dating from the early 1900's. The Little River Trail leads up along the river, and you can do a 5 mile loop back by way of Cucumber Gap Trail to enjoy both the stream and many spring wildflowers.
Abrams Creek Area
Across the Foothills Parkway and then through Happy Valley is the Abrams Creek Campground and access to Abrams Falls and other trails.
Just at the edge of the National Park entrance, Townsend offers lodging, restaurants, shops, as well as river recreation, horseback riding, a bicycle path (approximately 10 miles) with the accompanying "Shadows of the Past" brochure about historic places, Tuckaleechee Caverns, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, Little River Railroad Museum, and many other activities. Find out more at the Townsend Visitors Center, 865-448-6134 or 800-525-6134, and elsewhere on www.smokymountains.org
For more details about the Cades Cove Loop Road, see the National Park webpage.