Townsend, Tennessee is one of the 3 gateway entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains. Unlike the entrances at Gatlinburg and Cherokee, Tennessee, Townsend boasts itself as being the peaceful side to the Great Smoky Mountains. This is because the commercial development that is found at the 2 other gateways is not present in the small community of 250 located in the southeastern side of the state.
Accommodations in Townsend, Tennessee
When visiting the Great Smoky Mountains through Townsend, Tennessee you can check into the many accommodations provided at the Townsend Inn and Townsend Bed and Breakfast locations that are available through the attached links. You can click to find rates, availability and locations to compliment your Great Smoky Mountain adventure.
Taking the Cades Cove Heritage Tour
c/o Townsend Visitor Center
7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Townsend, Tennessee 37882
One of the ways to discover the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains is through the Cades Cove Heritage Tour. The tour begins at a parking lot adjacent to Townsend that takes you 7 miles into the mountain on your way to an 11-mile loop that will bring you back. During your journey you will see many of the cabins and churches built by some of the earlier settlers as far back as 1821. Many of these homes and structures are still standing and open for exploration and tour.
Walker Sisters Home
Little Greenbrier, Tennessee
Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains from Townsend can take a 1-1/2 mile hike from Little Greenbrier School located in the Metcalf Bottoms to the old Walker Sisters Home. The residence, which is over 160 years old, first built in the 1840s, was home to the last living residents of the mountain, the Walker Sisters. The last of the sisters died in 1964 and the home has become a living memorial to the period craftsmanship and furniture and other items of the times. The homesite is open to visitors and maintained, in part, by the U.S. National Park Service.
Smoky Mountain Bicycle Routes
There are several bicycle routes that lead you from Townsend into the Great Smoky Mountains. Along with the paved 11-mile one-way loop that is the Cades Cove Heritage Trail (discussed above), there is the Ellejoy Jaunt, Little River Run and Townsend Bicycle Trail. You can pack your own bike or rent a bike for about $16-$17 a day or $3.25 an hour.
The Ellejoy Jaunt is one of the longer routes at 20-1/2 miles (or a much shorter 10-1/2 mile ride is available). The jaunt is made on mostly paved roads with some hills and features scenic views of farmland, the mountains, streams and various historic sites. Little River Run is an 11-mile ride on mostly easy graded paved roads. For those looking for shopping and restaurants, take the Townsend Bicycle Trail which, at a mere 3 miles, is the shortest of the bicycle routes.