Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Slow Down in the Smokies- Part 1 Wears Valley & Townsend Tennessee

I really hate to admit this but I suppose the "older" you get, the less patience you have for the crowds and traffic congestion of the larger tourist areas of the Smoky Mountains..

Granted, I do love the convenience of a Super Walmart in Sevierville, various shopping outlets, fun, entertainment and lots of restaurant choices in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area........... but I also love slipping away from all of that to relax in the Wears Valley community just outside of Pigeon Forge TN.

I have found that I truly appreciate a slower, less hectic pace - particularly during vacation and it's only about 10 miles from all the action!! That's why I wanted to enlighten some of you that have not ventured over to the "peaceful or slower" side of the Smokies into Wears Valley, Townsend or Cades Cove TN. You really need to make the trip and SLOW down just for a while!

“Wears Valley” really begins just a couple miles after turning at stoplight # 3 – Hwy 321/Wears Valley Rd off the main Parkway in Pigeon Forge. The heart of the community really begins about 7 miles out… You will begin to see cows grazing by the creek and beautiful meadows with a backdrop of Cove Mountain in all its splendor..... Yes, Wears Valley has become a hot spot for lots of new cabin rental developments but it still has that special country charm for now..

You can have a great country breakfast at Grandmothers Kitchen in Wears Valley, big fluffy biscuits and pork tenderloin. If you are an antique or “junktique” lover, stop by Wears Valley Antique & Craft Gallery about 7.8 miles out on the right or visit the website Wears Valley Gallery. There are other antique stops there also..

One of the great secrets in Wears Valley is the little known access into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. About 9 miles from Pigeon Forge, turn left onto Lyon Springs Road, follow this road into the GSMNP (a couple miles). You will cross the Little River bridge at the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area.

This is a beautiful shady picnic spot by the river. You can also take a short hike and step back in time to the "Little Greenbrier School" and the "Walker Sisters" home place.

Park at Metcalf Bottoms and walk across the bridge. Take the Metcalf Bottoms Trail 0.6 mile to the Little Greenbrier School. If you wish, you can continue 1.0 mile from the school to the Walker Sister's farmstead on the Little Brier Gap Trail. The Little Brier Gap Trail starts at the barricade uphill from the school.

Try this Route from Wears Valley to Gatlinburg – Scenic !
***If you come via Lyon Springs Rd to the stop at Metcalf Bottoms, you can turn left and follow the River Rd for a scenic drive to Gatlinburg through the National Park(right will take you to Cades Cove-scenic/longer**). This route will bring you out at the end of Gatlinburg(stoplight #10) at the Sugarland Visitor Center, hook a left to go into town about a 25 – 30 minute drive depending on traffic.

**A shorter drive to Cades Cove from our cabins or the heart of Wears Valley is to follow Hwy 321/Wears Valley Rd all the way to Townsend (about 6-7 miles), at the light in Townsend, turn left – follow signs to Cades Cove.

Traveling on Hwy 321/Wears Valley Rd about another mile past Lyon Springs Rd, you will pass Happy Hollow Rd on the right (which leads to Glimpse of Heaven and Inspiration Point cabins).

Just a short distance further, you should surely slow down for the Rocky Top Country Store on the left, if you are a chocolate lover...... Fresh homemade FUDGE takes top billing here !! They have every imaginable flavor. They also have gifts, local jams and jellies....... but who can resist that fudge …

Just a short distance past Rocky Top Store, you will find another historical treasure, Headrick Chapel Church –See the blog entry here about Headrick Chapel Church in Wears Valley.

Stay Tuned for Slow Down in the Smokies - Part 2