When my husband and I first went to Pigeon Forge, we fell in love with the area. My husband likes to relax on vacation. To me, vacation is something to be conquered. I need to go and see everything that the area has to offer. Pigeon Forge has something for every age and agenda. There is so much to do that I never get bored I have also found that sitting and relaxing and gazing at those beautiful Smoky Mountains can be an enjoyable activity as well. Check out this video which highlights a lot of the things the area has to offer.
There are so many Things to see and do in Gatlinburg Tennessee. I have been going there for years and still do not have many things on my Gatlinburg bucket list crossed off. Mainly because I love doing certain things that I have to hit every time I am in the area. Check out this you tube video for some highlights.
A Walk in the Woods tour guides
The staff are very knowledgeable and will gear their walk to your interests. You will enjoy botany and biology lessons the whole way along. Hopefully you will learn a great deal from your time on the hikes. You won’t be disappointed in the experience and amazing nuances! This is so educational and the guides are willing to share amazing historical and native stories about our Great Smoky Mountains.
There are group tours and individual tours. The “personalized” tours are amazing. There are all different hikes and levels. For example, there are Half Day hikes with a moderate level. The guide will explain a few things about the hike. They may also provide you with a walking stick. You will get to stop for a snack half way into the tour.
Some of the paths ,can be a little bit tough but it will absolutely be worth it and beautiful. It will be challenging and rewarding at the same time.
The company is knowledgeable and so passionate about what they do. The guides have so much information to share that you will feel that you don’t even exhaust their things to talk about.
When I was growing up I heard about a train that wrecked on Clingmans Dome and rolled down the mountain. Of course that was a definate legend to chase! So, a few years ago I found that it was a MYTH. Here is the story as I know it. Before 1926 the Norwood Lumber Company clear-cut basically the south side of Clingmans Dome. There is a lot of evidence remaining. Many RailRoad grades, skidder trails, rails, coal, etc. are all over the mountain. The “train” that is below the Dome is actually a boiler which produced steam to operate a winch to pull logs up the mountain to train cars. If you have been to the massive piece of metal it is lying in its side.
Metcalf Bottoms Swimming Area
This picnic area located between Gatlinburg and Townsend offers great access to the Little Greenbrier River. Several shallow swimming holes are scattered along this picnic area. The area is wide and makes for a perfect spot to throw a tube into the water and relax. It’s also the perfect swimming area to have a nice picnic, with many tables sitting along the water. If you visit Metcalf Bottoms in summer and spend much time at the river it is likely you will spot at least one water snake (especially if you’re looking for them). The good news is that they are not poisonous and are actively afraid of people. So if you have a strong aversion to snakes you may want to stay out of the water here.
Just across the bridge from the picnic area is a trail that leads to the Little Greenbrier schoolhouse. The trail is only a half mile or so and leads through the woods. If you don’t want to walk off your picnic lunch you can also drive to the school. Just cross the bridge and follow the road about half a mile to a gravel road on the right leading to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse.
The schoolhouse still contains the desks and blackboard left there when it was last in use in the 1930’s. Grades 1-8 were taught at Greenbrier school by a single teacher. During summer months in the past the National Park Service has offered presentations on mountain schooling. Information on the schedule should be available by the end of March. On the hillside just outside the schoolhouse you will find an old community cemetery.
If you have a few extra hours to spend in Metcalf Bottoms visit the Walker Sisters’ home site. The trailhead to their home is located off the parking lot for the Greenbrier Schoolhouse. The sisters were some of the last living residents inside what is now the National Park. When the federal government decided to establish a national park in the Smokies the five sisters refused to sell their land. They eventually came to an agreement with the government whereby they sold their land but retained a lifetime lease on the property. The Walker sisters claimed their land produced everything they needed except sugar, coffee, soda and salt. And until the last sister passed away in 1964 they farmed the land while supplementing their efforts with the sale of souvenirs to tourists.
The Metcalf Bottoms are also close to many other attractions in the area, so you can fit in a swim, a picnic, a hike and even some antique shopping. To get in some shopping before heading back to the cabin, take Lyons Spring Road to Wears Valley. Here you will experience beautiful mountain views, cute antique stores, and some small local shops.
Directions: Take US-441 into the park. At the Sugarlands Visitor Center turn right onto Little River Rd. toward Elkmont. Travel about six miles to the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area on the right.
Greenbrier Swimming Holes on the Little Pigeon River One of the clearest mountain rivers in the park, the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River flows through the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is a favorite spot for tubers and swimmers to splash and play in the pristine pools that collect below small rapids.
Directions: From Gatlinburg at light #3, head east on Hwy 321. Travel for approximately 7 miles and turn right on Greenbrier Road. Swimming pools are located on your left along the road before you reach the ranger station.
Local legend has it that there once was a logging train that derailed here and plummeted into the Little River. No train was ever recovered and since the mysterious crash occurred this area has been referred to as The Sinks. This is one of the easier swimming holes to access and as such is usually popular on hot summer days. The Sinks offers visitors a beautiful waterfall with small cliff and rocks that flow down into a reservoir below. This swimming hole is a mix of rapids and deep pools. Remember this area is very rocky,the waterfall is massive and there are often strong currents; be cautious and never go behind or around the waterfall as this is very dangerous. The Sinks is a very rocky area with massive waterfalls and is a very dangerous swimming area. This it the Smokies’ deepest swimming hole!
Take a relaxing drive through the mountains and enjoy your views on your way to. The view alone is worth the drive.
Directions:From the resort head southeast on Powdermill Rd toward Elk Spring Way, turn right to stay on Powdermill Rd, take a right onto Glades Rd for about 1.7 miles then turn right onto East Pkwy. Take a left onto US-441 S/Parkway until you reach Little River Road where you will turn right onto it.
The Chimney Top Trail
This swimming hole is for the adventurer and skilled hiker. The Chimney Top trail is one of the most popular hikes in the area and is great spot to enjoy a swim, beautiful mountain views, and a challenging 1,700 feet climb in a two mile radius (for more advanced hikers in good shape and not afraid of heights). For those of you who are just looking for a place to cool off, this is where you can enjoy the refreshing Little Pigeon River. There are plenty of rocks to jump off into the river, however, be sure that the water levels are high enough for jumping (average level runs about six to eight feet deep). Glide into the nice cool waters and enjoy a lovely picnic with your family. The cascading waters are calming and a great relax. If you’re there for the hike follow the trailhead and be prepared for an exciting and challenging excursion. This 2 mile hike is filled with a rocky ridge-line and once you reach the top a near 360 degree view that is stunning.
Directions: Head southeast on Powdermill Rd toward Elk Spring Way, Turn right to stay on Powdermill Rd, Turn right onto Glades Rd, Turn right onto East Pkwy, Turn left onto US-441 S/Parkway, Continue to follow US-441 S into the park and past the visitor center. Continue on the 441 S until you reach the entrance to the Chimneys picnic area and trailhead.
The Townsend Y Swimming Area
The Townsend Y is where the Little River and the Middle Prong of Little River join. Probably the most easily accessed and popular swimming hole, this wide pool is located provides fun for the whole family. Located just after the Townsend entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this swimming area provides plenty of water to play in. Visitors can also sunbathe or enjoy a great picnic on the sloping hill above the pools and watch as sightseers enter the park.
Directions: From Gatlinburg head North on US 441 for 8.4 miles. Take a left on Wears Valley Road and follow for 12 miles. Turn left on TN-73 until you reach the intersection of Little River and Laurel Creek Road.
Abrams Falls Swimming Hole
This waterfall and creek are named for Cherokee Chief Abram, or Abrams, whose village once stood several miles downstream. Located in Cades Cove, this swimming hole is a Kodak moment waiting to happen. Although Abrams falls is only 20 feet high, the large volume of water rushing over the falls makes up for its lack of height. The water plunges into a large 100-foot pool at the base that sparkles with laughter and light. While there is a bit of hike to this swimming hole, 2.5 miles from the trailhead, viewing Abrams Falls and lounging in the swimming hole make your arduous hike worth the effort. Don’t forget your camera and swimsuit for this picture perfect spot!
Directions: The turnoff to the trailhead that will take you to Abrams Falls is located past stop #10 on the Cades Cove Loop Road. To get to Cades Creek Loop Road from Gatlinburg head north on US 441 for 8.4 miles. Take a left on Wears Valley Road and follow for 12 miles. Turn left on TN-73 and follow into the park. When you reach the intersection of Little River and Laurel Creek Road turn right onto Laurel Creek Road and follow until it dead ends into Cades Cove Loop Road. http://www.pigeonforgetourism.com/swimmingholes#
The Little Pigeon River, which got its name because the birds seemed to favor the area, has long been at the center of Pigeon Forge’s beauty and history. Little Pigeon River is located entirely within Sevier County, Tennessee and is made up of a series of streams which flow together on the dividing line between Tennessee and North Carolina inside the boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The river is subdivided with three separate tributaries: East, Middle, and West. The East Prong is paralleled for most of its length by State Route 416, and the Middle Prong emerges from the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Six miles of mostly gravel road follow the river and its tributaries into the upper Greenbrier area. The Greenbrier area of the park is renowned for its wildflowers.
The West Prong is far better known because it drains the major tourist towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The West Prong of the river has helped to provide the area with fresh ground corn and wheat from the Old Mill located along its banks. This is a central meeting place for the community and place to enjoy the scenic view that makes Pigeon Forge so special.
In the old days, the Mill was the heart of the community and served as a gathering spot for villagers. During the Civil War, looms were set up on the second floor to make woven articles for soldiers. The area around the Old Mill was first settled by pioneers in the early 1800s. William Love dammed up the Little Pigeon River and began construction of the first building of the Old Mill. The mill has been in continuous daily operation since its completion in 1830. William Love utilized 40-foot-long, 14″-by-14″ Yellow Poplar logs, which are clearly visible even today. Huge river rocks serve as pillars to support the structure. This is one of the most photographed structures in Tennessee.
Besides the beauty and history of the Little Pigeon River, there are many activities on and in the river. People can enjoy White Water Rafting, Gatlinburg’s Annual River Raft Regatta, Fly Fishing, Tubing and countless other activities.
This route follows the Little Pigeon River to Trillium Gap. No trucks, trailers or RVs are allowed. The road leads to the John Messer Barn and the trailhead to Ramsay Cascades, arguably the best waterfall in the Park. The hike is 8 miles roundtrip and is challenging. A lesser visited area of the Park, the Greenbrier section is one of our favorites. Besides the Ramsay Cascades, the visitor has the opportunity to view large stands of virgin growth such as northern red oak, eastern hemlock, and red maple. In fact, the Great Smoky Mountains are home to 21 champion-size trees. When the Park was created in 1934, old-growth forests were saved from the lumber companies and preserved for Smokies visitors. To get to Greenbrier Road, leave Gatlinburg at light #3 and head east on Hwy 321. Travel for approximately 7 miles and turn right on Greenbrier Road. If you include the hike to Ramsay Cascades, expect this tour to take upwards of 5 hours.
You can easily leave the road and walk down to the river and walk on the large bolders to get right in the middle of the river and little waterfalls. There are a lot of areas to swim in or just sit on a rock and enjoy the beauty of nature at its best it is so very relaxing. There is also some great hiking trails. The Porters Creek Trail is one of the best known trails for spring wildflowers. There are often lots of butterflies and many varieties of birds to enjoy. You will find creeks, some historical areas and a small picnic area. If you come ot the Smokies for peace and quiet, they can often be found at Greenbrier.
Address – 3635 Taliluna Ave., Unit 1 B, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN 37919
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