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Episode 022 -Secret Places in the Smokies

Fairy House 
Secret Places in the Smokies
Fairy House

Hello Everyone, I’m Chuck Schmidt and I am the Outsider. This is an episode of some pretty cool secret places scattered about in the Smoky Mountains area.  Most people just walk or drive by many of these things and never realize what the just missed. A set of carefully hidden stairs that leads to a beautiful cabin, a bridge fit for a troll, a hidden tunnel under the road to Clingman’s Dome.  We’re going to explore these secrets and a whole lot more on this episode Secret Places of the Smokies.

Fairy House

One of the lesser known spots is the fairy house along Twin Creeks Trail. We want to tell you all about this cool little spot.

Before we talk about how to get to the fairy house, we want to share the history of this spot with you. A man named Louis E. Voorheis bought and developed land from 1928 to 1944. He owned 38 acres of land in what is now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Voorheis wanted this area to be a mountain retreat to get away from crowds of people.

Voorheis enjoyed experimenting with water power, which is probably why he chose the property where two creeks run across it. Soon after he bought his land, he started working on a dam for hydroelectric power. He also built a water powered mill and many gardens where water features were prominent. Voorheis liked to use water features as part of the landscape, and he also built a pool, as well as the springhouse, known as the House of the Fairies. Just in case you’re not familiar with a springhouse it’s a  small building constructed over a spring, formerly used for refrigeration.

Getting to the Fairy House

To get to the House of the Fairies, you will have to hike the Twin Creeks Trail. To get to the trailhead, you can park at Ogle Place Parking area to start at one side of the trail or at Mynatt Park on the other side of the trail just before the entrance to Cherokee Orchard Road. From there, you’ll have to walk up the road to get to the trailhead. There is a small pull off area at the trailhead but parking at these areas would probably be easier.

Twin Creeks Trail is an easy to moderate, out-and-back trail with a roundtrip length of 4.5 miles elevation gain of about 790 feet. This is not a heavily traveled trail so it will be more overgrown than most you may be used to. This trail also runs parallel to Cherokee Orchard Road so you will be hearing traffic while hiking.

You’ll walk along the creek and see many buildings from the Voorheis Estate. You can walk inside and see what living in log cabins was like without the gameroom, jacuzzi and hot tub. There’s also the Voorheis Estate house you can see. On one part of the creek, you can even see the water mill Voorheis built on LeConte Creek. This is a good trail to see wildlife along the trail, including snakes and black bears.

As you’re walking along the trail and you pass the Resource Center, you’ll see a small path jutting off from Twin Creeks Trail. Follow this trail to get the Fairy House. Once you get to the House of the Fairies, you’ll see an arch wall with a simple open door, with stairs leading to the top. You can go inside the springhouse. The exterior and interior are completely constructed of stone. The stone is covered in moss, which is probably why it was named the House of the Fairies! It’s pretty cool to look a the stonework and just how out of place this appears. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Troll Bridge
Secret Places in the Smokies
Troll Bridge

Troll Bridge

Before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, the Elkmont area was a pioneer community, then a logging town, then a resort town for wealthy vacationers. When the park was established in 1934, Elkmont residents could choose to sell their homes for full value and relocate or sell their properties to the National Park Service for a discounted price in return for a lifetime lease. Once the National Park Service took over, Elkmont slowly started turning into a ghost town.

Today eighteen of the cabins associated with the Appalachian Club are being preserved by the National Park Service. The Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin were rehabilitated in 2010. Park crews also completed preservation work on four additional cabins in 2017. These four cabins are now open to the public to walk through and view.

While the remaining cabins are closed to the public until preservation work can be completed, visitors can explore the Elkmont area on foot. Hiking the Jakes Creek and Little River trails will lead the visitor past the stone walls and chimneys that mark the former locations of the other resort cabins that once stood in Elkmont.

One very interesting stop that should be on your list is a small stone bridge that is a little off the Little River Trail.  The bridge is often called the “troll bridge”.  A few hundred feet up from the trailhead is a gravel path going to the right. It’s a path parallel to the stone walls.  Follow this path down, and to the left you’ll see the “troll bridge”.   The bridge was part of the historic community, and I’m sure served as part of a popular walking or bike riding trail in its day. Much of Elkmont’s original shape and structure has been torn down over the years due to safety concerns and clutter. The troll bridge, however, was spared this fate. Instead, park officials had it cleaned up and fully restored. This bridge is as sturdy and photogenic as ever. You can cross it, pose for photos on it or just sit back and enjoy its quaint beauty. You can visit the bridge at any time, but May and June are particularly vibrant. The moss is bright, the salamanders are scurrying about.  Your kids will love exploring this historic bridge.  Just don’t get eaten. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Tunnel to Nowhere
Secret Places in the Smokies
Tunnel to Nowhere

Tunnel to Nowhere

The Story Behind “The Road to Nowhere”

In the 1930s and 1940s, Swain County gave up the majority of its private land to the Federal Government for the creation of Fontana Lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fontana Lake is actually a reservoir for Fontana Dam, which was built as a TVA project during World War II to produce electricity for ALCOA aluminum plants in Tennessee as well as for Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manhattan Project. Hundreds of people were forced to leave the small Smoky Mountain communities that had been their homes for generations. With the creation of the Park, their homes were gone, and so was Old Highway 288 the road to those communities. The old road was buried beneath the deep waters of Fontana Lake.

The Federal government promised to replace Highway 288 with a new road and give everyone impacted lake front property free of property taxes. I made that up but it sounded good didn’t it?  Lakeview Drive was to have stretched along the north shore of Fontana Lake, from Bryson City to Fontana, 30 miles to the west. And, of special importance to those displaced residents, it was to have provided access to the old family cemeteries where generations of ancestors remained behind.

But Lakeview Drive fell victim to an environmental issue and construction was stopped, with the road ending at a tunnel, about six miles into the park. The environmental issue was eventually deemed too expensive and the roadwork was never resumed. And Swain County’s citizens gave the unfinished Lakeview Drive its popular, albeit unofficial name “The Road To Nowhere.”

On weekends throughout the summer, the Park Service still ferries groups of Swain County residents across Fontana Lake to visit their old family cemeteries for Decoration Days and family reunions.

The legal issue of whether to build the road was finally resolved in February, 2010 when the US Department of Interior signed a settlement agreement to pay Swain County $52 million in lieu of building the road. In 2018, the last payment was made in the settlement. The State of North Carolina manages the principal and the County receives the interest each year.

Lakeshore and Tunnel Bypass Trail Loop (Goldmine Loop) is a 3.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Bryson City, North Carolina,  Elevation gain of only 446 ft. Trail features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels.

From the intersection of U.S. 19 and Everett Street in Bryson City, NC, turn north to drive along Everett Street. Once through town the road becomes known as New Fontana Road. Continue on the same road until reaching the park boundary. Here the road becomes known as Lakeview Drive. In total, it’s about 8.5 miles from Bryson City to the Lakeview Drive Tunnel.

Since this is a loop you can start your hike in either direction. For purposes of this trail description we will take a counter-clockwise direction. If you have a fear of walking through the rather long Lakeview Drive Tunnel, you’ll have the option of taking the clockwise approach and using the Tunnel Bypass Trail, which avoids the tunnel.

From the parking area at the end of Lakeview Drive hikers will immediately proceed through the tunnel. Fortunately the tunnel is flat and easy to walk through; however, it’s 1200 feet in length, or almost a quarter-mile long! On dark overcast days you may want to bring a flashlight. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Steam Engine

Grapeyard Ridge Trail

Close to Gatlinburg and often incredibly quiet, the Grapeyard Ridge Trail links Greenbrier Cove with the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Many opt to hike the trail from Greenbrier to the ruins of an old steam engine partway along, which makes for a 5.8-mile round-trip undertaking. However, you can extend your adventure by going the full way to Roaring Fork, crossing Grapeyard Ridge—named for prolific grapevines strung through its forests—in the process.

The east end of the Grapeyard Ridge Trail starts near where Porters Creek, False Gap Prong, and the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River merge to create the Little Pigeon River, which begins flowing northward towards Sevierville.

There are five water crossings without the benefit of a footbridge. During the rainy seasons the creek can be virtually impassable due to high water – if you wish to keep your feet dry. If you look around a little further upstream you may be able to find a spot to cross. The summer and fall time periods are usually drier, and are much better times to hike this trail when high water usually isn’t an issue.

There’s much evidence of bygone settlements, including the Whaley Cemetery not far from the Greenbrier trailhead. Along the hike you’ll pass several old homestead sites that were once part of a community known as Big Laurel. At roughly 2.1 miles the trail leaves the creek and begins climbing the ridge to James Gap. As you climb the trail passes through several long rhododendron tunnels. At roughly 2.85 miles hikers will reach the top of the ridge at James Gap. From here the trail makes a quick descent down to Injun Creek where you’ll find the remains of an old steam engine lying in the creek. Although some may suspect that “Injun” refers to “Indian”, it’s actually a misspelling of the word “engine”, apparently the mistake of an old mapmaker.

The engine, a Nichols and Shepard self-propelled, steam-powered machine, known as a traction engine, was brought to the area in the 1920’s to saw wood for the Greenbrier School. During its return trip the driver wasn’t able to execute a switchback, and the engine tumbled into Injun Creek. Many of its parts were salvaged, but the rest was left to rust in the creek bed. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Roundtrip Length:                         5.8 Miles           

Total Elevation Gain:                    980 Feet            

Highest Elevation:                         2540 Feet          

Trail Difficulty Rating:                   7.76 (moderate)

Getting there….At the junction of 441 and 321 in Gatlinburg (Light 3), turn to travel eastbound on Hwy 321. Drive 6 miles and turn right into Greenbrier (look for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park entrance sign on the right). This road will turn into a gravel road after a short distance. From the highway you’ll drive 3 miles to the Grapeyard Ridge Trailhead. There will be a small parking area alongside the road – just before reaching the bridge that takes you to the Ramsey Cascades and Porters Creek Trailheads.

Cataloochee Valley

Much like Cades Cove, Cataloochee Valley is a historic valley in the national park that used to be home to hundreds of people. However, this secluded region of the national park receives a small fraction of park visitors, so it’s the perfect place to escape to.

Today, this region of the Smokies is home to a wealth of historic landmarks and it’s also a great place for viewing wildlife. In addition to seeing bear, deer, and turkey, visitors to Cataloochee may spot elk, since this valley is home to one of the only wild elk herds in the Eastern US. You can enjoy a tour of Cataloochee by taking the Cataloochee Valley road, a winding, gravel road through the mountains.

A variety of historic buildings have been preserved in the valley, including two churches, a school, and several homes and outbuildings. This is the best place in the park to see historic frame buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, this isolated valley was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some 1,200 people lived in this lovely mountain valley in 1910. Most made their living by farming, including commercial apple growing, but an early tourism industry developed in Cataloochee with some families boarding fishermen and other tourists who wished to vacation in the mountains.

In 2001, elk were released in Cataloochee Valley as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours. Visitors to Cataloochee also enjoy viewing deer, elk, turkey, and other wildlife. Wildlife watching can be especially fruitful during mornings and evenings in the valley’s open fields.

• Self-guiding Auto Tour

Learn about the history of the area, including the Little Cataloochee Trail. The inexpensive self-guiding tour booklet is available in a roadside box near the entrance to the valley.

There are several enjoyable trails to hike in Cataloochee. The Boogerman Trail, a 7.4 mile loop, elevation gain of 1040ft and a difficulty level of 9.48 making this a moderate level hike, that takes in groves of old-growth forest, is popular with hikers. The Little Cataloochee Trail follows an old road past old cabins and a church it’s 10.2 miles with an elevation gain of 2345 ft..

The entrance road to Cataloochee Valley is a winding, gravel road that has some steep drop offs with no guard rails. The road is narrow, so drivers may be required to stop or back up their vehicles to allow oncoming motorists to pass. Horse trailer traffic may be encountered on the road. Please use caution when driving on this road.

The most direct route into the valley is to take Cove Creek Road. To get to the valley from interstate I-40, exit at North Carolina exit #20 and travel 0.2 miles on route 276. Turn right onto Cove Creek Road and follow the signs 11 miles into the Cataloochee Valley. To get there from Oconaluftee or Cherokee, take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Highway 19. Follow 19 (toward Asheville) through Maggie Valley. Turn left onto Highway 276 N. Just before the entrance ramp to I-40 (but past gas station), turn left and follow the signs 11 more miles to Cataloochee. Using the Cove Creek Road route, motorists will be traveling on a gravel road for approximately 15 minutes.

A more scenic route (not recommended for RVs) is to take a long winding road, highway Route 32, from Cosby, TN to the Tennessee-North Carolina state border, where the road becomes gravel. It twists and winds into Cataloochee. (This route is not recommended if your passengers are prone to car sickness.) Using this route, motorists will be traveling on a gravel road for approximately 45 minutes. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Mileage to Cataloochee: from Gatlinburg – 65, from Cherokee – 39

Look Rock Fire Tower

Look Rock Tower Trail is a 0.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back PAVED trail located near Maryville, Tennessee that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. There seems to be confusion about this trail when it comes to dogs. Dogs are not allowed on this trail!

Hike from the Foothills Parkway to the Look Rock Tower (observation). The trail has a moderate elevation gain of 170 feet from the trail head to the observation tower. You will pass an air quality monitoring station along the way to the tower. The Look Rock Tower is a concrete observation tower that allows excellent views of the western side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Begin your adventure at the entrance to Foothills Parkway, located in Walland, Tennessee on US 321. If you start in Townsend, drive toward Walland on US 321 and the entrance will be on your left.

The observation tower is a concrete structure allowing visitors to see as far as 40 miles on a clear day. Some of the points of interest are Clingman’s Dome, Mt. LeConte, Rich Mountain, Thunderhead Mountain, and Cades Cove.

Visitors may walk only to the viewing platform of the tower. Park officials blocked off the spiral stairway leading to the enclosed glass observation room. The tower is now used as a weather station, so the observation room is full of weather equipment. The winds are often quite strong at the observation tower. Sometimes you may feel like you need to hang on to something.

The views are amazing from the tower. If you happen to be here in the autumn, the fall colors will blow you away.

WARNING: Some people have noted the railing at the tower is low, about three feet, so if you have small children, be particularly careful around the railing. Adults need to be careful as well, especially on windy days. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Mt Camerer Fire Tower

Although it’s a roundtrip hike of more than 11 miles, this hike to Mt. Cammerer is still the shortest and most commonly used route to the summit of the 4928-foot mountain. From the trailhead hikers will climb the Low Gap Trail for three long miles before reaching the Appalachian Trail. This is a steep and relentless climb that traverses over several switchbacks, while taking hikers through a beautiful, mature hardwood forest as they proceed up the Cosby Creek valley.

The first section of trail travels between Cosby Creek and the Cosby Campground. Portions of this section share the same route with the Cosby Nature Trail, a short loop hike that begins from the campground. At four-tenths of a mile from the trailhead you’ll reach the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail junction. To continue on the Low Gap Trail you should turn right here.

At just over eight-tenths of a mile hikers will reach an alternative path for reaching the Low Gap Trail. Although this spur trail would shave some distance off your hike, you have to stay at the campground in order to use this route.

At roughly 2.9 miles hikers will finally reach the Appalachian Trail. By this point you will have already climbed more than two thousand feet, thus completing the hardest part of the hike. During our most recent visit, in early May, we were greeted by a carpet of fringed phacelia at this junction. There were literally thousands of these tiny, but beautiful wildflowers covering the forest floor here.

Along the early portions of the Appalachian Trail you’ll continue climbing, however, the terrain isn’t quite as steep as the Low Gap Trail. At roughly 3.7 miles the trail begins to level off, and travel becomes much easier. Hikers will now traverse along a ridge that offers decent views of the Cosby and Toms Creek valleys through the trees.

At just under 5 miles hikers will reach the rugged spur trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Cammerer. The spur is roughly six-tenths of a mile long, is fairly level, but does involve some rock scrambling as you approach the fire lookout. Although the last tenth-of-a-mile traverses over some fairly rugged terrain, it’s nothing that would be considered exceedingly difficult.

Standing at an elevation of 4928 feet, the summit of Mt. Cammerer sits on the edge of a rocky outcropping overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge. On a clear day the views are simply stunning; some even say one of the best in the park, which includes me. In fact, I have ranked this as second on my list of the Best Hikes in the Smokies.

For an even better vantage point, step up to the deck of the stone fire lookout. This “western” style tower, which was fully restored in 1995, provides hikers with outstanding 360-degree views. Look in any direction and see row upon row of mountains. The mountain directly across the gorge, with the white aviation tower at the top, is 4263-foot Snowbird Mountain. Below that you may be able to see the water tower for the hydro-electric plant in the Big Creek area. Towards the south is Mt. Sterling, which also has an old fire tower atop its summit. And of course, towards the southwest, is the seemingly endless expanse of mountains known as the Great Smoky Mountains.

Using hand-cut stone, the octagonal fire lookout atop the summit of Mt. Cammerer was built by local laborers and the Civilian Conservation Corp in the late 1930s. The men who built the lookout drilled and blocked the stone from a quarry only one hundred yards downhill from the tower. Some of these stones weighed as much as 600 pounds!

The architectural style used for the lookout was called “western” because it didn’t require a raised structure to see above the trees.

Between February 15th and May 15th, and then again from October 15th through December 15th, the structure was manned by lookouts who lived on the premises on two-week tours. This lookout was operated until the 1960s when modern fire detection methods were able to replace it.

This is considered a strenuous hike of 11.1 miles with an elevation gain of 3045 feet. Max elevation of 5054 feet. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Thomas Divide Tunnels

Many of you who have visited the Smoky Mountains have heard of or crossed Clingmans Dome Road, but we bet you’ve never seen what’s below it! Did you know that there is a secret tunnel under Clingmans Dome Road? The ornate archway is less than a mile west of the junction with Newfound Gap Road. We’ve got all the details on the secret tunnel under the road and other secret places in the Smoky Mountains:

About the Secret Tunnel Under Clingmans Dome Road

The Thomas Divide Tunnel is less than a mile west of the junction with Newfound Gap Road. When Clingmans Dome Road was finished in 1935, there was a trail that closely paralleled the upper section of Newfound Gap Road on the North Carolina side. It connected to the Appalachian Trail on the far side of Clingmans Dome Road. Instead of routing the trail to cross Clingmans Dome Road, the engineers chose to build the tunnel under the roadbed. This old hiker’s tunnel kept the hikers from having to cross over Clingmans Dome Road.

Why the Secret Tunnel? While the reasoning for building the tunnel under Clingmans Dome Road instead of having the trail cross on the roadbed is not certain, there are a few possibilities! One is that Clingmans Dome Road is elevated above the Appalachian Trail, meaning that switchbacks or stairs would have been necessary to go up or down the road crossing. Another is that the secret tunnel was designed for equestrian use to eliminate possible conflicts between horses and vehicles. It is most likely that the trail was used by hikers and riders from 1935 to 1960.

How to Find the Secret Tunnel

When you come to the gate where the road can be closed for the winter the tunnel is about .2 miles further up. Chances are you’ve driven over this tunnel without knowing of its existence if you’ve ever been to Clingman’s Dome. It looks like you’re just driving over another bridge or stone-walled culvert, but when you walk down you find one of the most unique structures I’ve ever found in these mountains. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Avent Cabin

The historic cabin was built by Humphrey Ownby in 1845. It received its current name after being sold to Frank Avent in 1918. Frank’s wife, Mayna Treanor Avent, used the cabin as an art studio until 1940. Though the park purchased the cabin in 1932, the Avent family retained a lifetime lease, and used the cabin until 1992. Two years later the cabin was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Born in Nashville, TN in 1868, Mayna Treanor Avent would become a nationally renowned artist. Mayna was famous for painting a variety of subjects in both oil and watercolors. She also carved woodblocks to create prints in the Japanese style. Her works have been exhibited across America, including the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery. You can learn more about Mayna in Women of the Smokies, a book published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association in 2016.

The hike to the Avent Cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains begins from the Jakes Creek Trailhead in Elkmont. To reach the trailhead from the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive 4.9 miles west along the Little River Road to the turnoff for the Elkmont Campground, which will be on your left. After turning into Elkmont, drive 1.4 miles to reach the campground entrance. Instead of proceeding into the campground, turn left and drive another 0.8 miles to the parking area for the Jakes Creek Trailhead at the end of the road.

From the Townsend “Y” intersection near Cades Cove, the turnoff for the Elkmont Campground will be 12.6 miles away.

From the fairly large parking area, walk through the gate on the far end of the road to begin your hike along the Jakes Creek Trail. Almost immediately you’ll begin passing the remnants of several old cottages.

After walking roughly one-third of a mile along the old gravel road the Cucumber Gap Trail will branch off towards the left. Hikers should continue by proceeding straight ahead here. A short distance from this junction is the Meigs Mountain Trail, which forks off to the right.

After passing the two trail junctions, continue up the Jakes Creek Trail for roughly four-tenths of a mile. Locating the short, unmarked spur trail to the Avent Cabin can be a bit of a challenge. You’ll need to take your time and keep your eyes focused on the right side of the trail. At roughly four-tenths of a mile from the Meigs Mountain Trail junction there will be a short, but noticeable left-hand crook in the footpath. At this crook the trail also passes over a shallow creek. From this point you should travel another 25-30 yards and begin looking for a slight indentation in the trail that leads off to the right. You’ll know you’ve reached the correct spur trail when you see a set of wooden steps leading directly off the side of the trail. If you have a GPS, the coordinates for this junction are 35.63731 -83.58477.

From the wooden steps the short spur trail leads downhill to cross over Jakes Creek. After crossing a rather long footbridge you’ll continue walking up the hill on the opposite side for another 50 yards or so to reach the cabin. Although it’s not an official trail, the footpath is very easy to follow. However, during rainy weather, the path becomes very slick and muddy.

The cabin contains bedframes, gardening tools, a stone fireplace, and an attached kitchen with sink and iron cooking stove. This one really is a hidden gem, the cabin is so well preserved, you feel like your standing inside someone’s current rustic cabin looking out waiting for the Avents to arrive.

I really had mixed feelings about including this one in the podcast. This cabin is so pristine I’d hate to see idiots who are intent on carving their initials into everything in the park deface this beautiful structure. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Rich Mountain Road

Got an all wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle and you’re up for some adventure.  If so, then you are in for a treat out by Cades Cove on Rich Mountain Road.

Here’s my disclaimer….Rich Mountain Road is more primitive than many of the main paved roads in the park, so there are some issues you need to be aware of depending on the conditions. The road is covered in gravel and usually suitable for most passenger vehicles, but heavy rains for an extended period of time can render parts impassable for some or all vehicles. You can inquire about the current conditions with a park ranger before traversing the road.

Additionally, the road is seasonal, and is usually open from April through mid-November. Buses, RVs, vans longer than 25-feet, and vehicles towing trailers are always prohibited on Rich Mountain Road.

That said…Rich Mountain Road offers an alternative way to leave Cades Cove if you want to take a break from the traffic. It’s a one-way, 12-mile journey on a twisting gravel road that leads north out of Cades Cove and ends in the town of Townsend. The road winds through quiet forest that often features excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature photography.

Cades Cove is one of the most visited natural areas in the country, and there’s no denying that during the busy seasons the traffic on the main thoroughfares can get maddening. Rich Mountain Road offers a quieter, less traveled road that offer some of the same opportunities for scenic vistas and wildlife-watching opportunities.

Despite the fact that it is easily accessible from the popular Cades Cove, Rich Mountain Road feels far away from the activity of the national park, and more like a secluded nature preserve. It’s one of the most unfrequented areas of the park that is open to public car traffic. The winding road passes by waterfalls, streams, and cliff sides as it travels up Rich Mountain and down the other side toward Townsend. You will feel so much better about your ride up the mountain back to your cabin after taking this little adventure. I’m just kidding!

There is a scenic overlook on the road that provides an outstanding view of the Primitive Baptist Church in the valley below. This is the signature view of Cades Cove, that you’re always seeing in pictures so have your camera at the ready.  Keep in mind this is a drive through the park and through a forest where beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Some people need a view from Clingman’s Dome or New Found Gap and want that on every turn.  Other appreciate the quiet forest, the thick stands of trees and find beauty in that.  Decide which person you are before you get on this 12-mile one-way road that exits out of the park and into Townsend.

You can access Rich Mountain Road from the Cades Cove Loop Road. The junction is on your right just after Hyatt Lane.  You will not have access to this road on Wednesdays due to Cades Cove now being closed to vehicle traffic on Wednesdays. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Smokies Super Secrets Day!

If you want to have a Smokies Secrets Day on your vacation you can knock a few of these out on a loop tour.  If you enter the park through Sugarlands entrance, turn right and head towards Cades Cove.  In four miles you’ll come to the Elkmont entrance.  In Elkmont you can knock out the Troll Bridge and hike to Avent Cabin.  Get back in your car and you can head out to Cades Cove where you can take the Rich Mountain Road to Townsend. In Townsend you can grab lunch at the Burger Master Drive-In and then catch the Foothills Parkway back to Pigeon Forge. The Foothills Parkway will take you to Look Rock Fire Tower, stop take some pictures and enjoy the incredible views from the Parkway. In one day you’ll see more of the parks secrets that 95% of most visitors miss.

There also a few cool little secrets hidden around the towns, here are just a few…

Harrisburg Covered Bridge

Before the Harrisburg Bridge was built in 1875, the McNutts Bridge, which was washed away during a flood, existed in the same place. In March of that year, the Sevier County Court ordered a panel to be used to carry out and organize the construction of a new bridge. As usual at the time, the local population contributed to the financing, or provided them with construction material, or worked as an assistant in building the project. The voluntary cash donations totaled $50, with the county’s $25 contribution.

In the late years of the 19th century, the population grew around Harrisburg, and life in the area flourished due to the many local mills and blacksmith workshops. In 1915 a new bypass was built around Harrisburg, the community slowly disappeared as many people moved away but the bridge remained.

In 1952 the bridge was stabilized with the help of a concrete bridge pillar attached to the building framework.

In the 1970s, the overall state of the bridge had deteriorated so much that it was thought to demolish it, until the organization Daughters of the American Revolution raised the necessary financial resources to rehabilitate the bridge by donating revenue. It was also the organization that made the request to include the bridge in the National Register of Historic Places, which succeeded on June 10, 1975 (NRHP-ID 75001777).

In 1983 the bridge was re-established, but it was noted on the bridge that the crossing for vehicles must not exceed the permissible total weight of three tons.

In 2004 various repairs were carried out on the bridge. After this further renovation, the permissible total weight was increased to 15 tons. As of 2010, an average of 20 vehicles per day crossed the bridge.

If you’re heading over to the Bush Beans Museum than make this a short little side trip, it not far out of your way. Take the Dolly Parton Parkway to Old Newport Road onto Old Covered Bridge Rd. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Dolly Parton Statue

You’d think this would be in Dollywood but there is a statue to Dolly in downtown Sevierville.

This famous statue is Sevier County’s way of saying thank you to their favorite daughter for her incredible generosity and relentless promotion of tourism in the Smokies. Despite her tremendous success, Dolly never forgot where she came from. In 1986, Parton opened the Dollywood, which is now the largest employer in Sevier County and the #1 ticketed attraction in Tennessee.

Soon after Dollywood was launched, the people of Sevier County started raising money for a statue of Dolly to display in downtown Sevierville. Local artist Jim Gray was chosen to create the statue, having submitted a 10-inch wax-over-metal model of the statue as a proposal.

Once Gray’s concept was approved, Dolly came down to pose for the statue, sitting on a stool, barefoot, with her arms wrapped around a guitar. Next, Gray built a skeleton of Dolly from steel and brought her to life with 300 pounds of clay. Jim Gray spent over 2,000 hours creating the Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville.

The statue was officially unveiled on May 3, 1987, exactly one year after Dollywood’s very first opening day. The ceremony was attended by Dolly, her father Lee, and a crowd of around 500 spectators. Speaking at the event, Dolly told the people of Sevierville that the statue “makes me feel like you folks are proud of me, and I’ve always wanted you to be.”

Jim Gray also spoke at the ceremony, telling the crowd that he had received more offers for help on creating the statue than any other project he had worked on. Gray recalled, “Everyone wanted to help…carry clay, or anything. But I wanted to do this one myself.”

The Dolly Parton statue meant a great deal to Dolly’s late father, Lee Parton. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Parton told a heartwarming story about her father’s devotion to her statue:

“After her Dad died, one of her brothers told her that her Daddy used to put a big bucket, a big oil drum of soapy water, and a broom in the back of his truck, and late at night, he’d go down to the statue and scrub all the pigeon poop off it. A fathers love for his daughter. It touched her. Dolly cried her eyes out.”

The Statue is in Downtown Sevierville at the courthouse located at 125 Court Avenue in Sevierville. While you’re down there swing over to Graze Burgers for a great meal! This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

This is just a really unique little museum that’s fun to go through. It’s the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.  The World’s only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.

When you find yourself in this part of the world stop by and see over 20,000 sets of Salt and Pepper Shakers from around the world, and a huge Pepper Mill collection!

I’m sure the first question that comes to your mind is why would someone open this museum???? One of the main purposes is to show the changes in a society that can be found represented in shakers. As you walk through the museum you can see the changes from ancient times to the 1500’s, 1800’s, 1920’s, 40’s, 60’s all the way to present time.

Another purpose of the museum is to show the variety and the creativity that can be found in salt and pepper shakers. Who were the people and the artists creative enough to come up with all these amazing different shapes?

The third purpose of the museum is to bring people together. We are all connected to salt & pepper shaker collectors, a grandparent (or other family members), a friend, a co-worker, or a neighbor. And everyone has a memory about a salt & pepper shaker, either from their childhood or later in life.

Here’s mine, when I was a kid my grandmother had a salt and pepper shaker in the shape of a toaster.  The toast was the color of white and rye bread and the toast went up and down with the push of a button.  As a little kid were entertained by these shakers…it was a different time right?  When I toured the museum, I kept watch to see if they had the toaster and sure enough there it was! 

As you explore the collection you will see the salt & pepper shakers displayed by themes and colors. They have also created little stories (within the displays. Each theme is separated by pepper mills. They currently have over 1500 pepper mills from all over the world. Check out the mechanisms on these pepper mills, they’re fascinating, from simple to complex. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Wild Plum Tea Room

Inspired by Austrian-style tea houses, lunch at The Wild Plum restaurant and tea room is a must for any visit to Gatlinburg, TN.  Located in the historic Arts & Craft Community, They offer fresh home-made and delicious food unlike any other restaurant in Gatlinburg. Although they were originally established as a tea room and lunch restaurant we are now more of a lunch restaurant and do not just serve tea.

Our lunch menu selection may include; appetizers, soups, salads, specialties, desserts and more. Vegetarian, vegan and allergy-accommodated meals are available. From our hearty Lobster Pie and their famous Wild Plum chicken salad, they are sure you will find something for every person in your party, including the kids.

Need to bring your pooch?  They are a Gatlinburg dog friendly restaurant. Dogs are allowed on the outside porch deck with their owners when weather permits. Please make sure all dogs are on leashes.  We are happy to provide your furry friend a bowl of cold water while you dine on our deck. Sorry, but dogs, other than service dogs, are not allowed in the inside of our restaurant or on our enclosed patio area.

The Wild Plum is OPEN Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11 am until 3 pm, Reservations recommended.  No same day reservations. Pre-planned curbside available Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Food is prepared fresh daily. 24 hours notice for pick-up orders.

The Tennessean Magazine rated the Wild Plum Tea Room as one of the 10 Best restaurants in Tennessee. Now you know why this made our secrets list. You’d think they would be located in downtown Gatlinburg but no they are tucked away in the Arts and Crafts Community at 555 Buckhorn Road. Plan ahead, you won’t be disappointed going here. This is one of our Secret Places in the Smokies!

Super Secret – 2 for 1, Self Spoiling Secret

Fruitful Vintage Personal Chef Service & Gatlinburg Mobile Massage

Fruitful Vintage can come to your cabin rental or home and prepare delicious meals on-site, for your special event. Chef Ray’s goal is to add a unique service and personal touch for every customer he serves. Buffet services include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Holiday, Finger Foods or arrange your own BBQ without leaving your cabin or chalet. From a 4-course romantic dinner for two or a 3-4 or 5 course feast for twenty they can make your meal special.

Check our fruitful-vinatge-chef.com for complete detail.

Next is Gatlinburg Mobile Massage.  If you just returned from a hike to Mt Camerer and need to relieve those aching muscles or just to help enhance your stress relief vacation, Gatlinburg Mobile Massage will come to your cabin and chalet for a relaxing 60 or 90-minute Professional Therapeutic Massage. Gatlinburg Mobile Massage is Gatlinburg’s number one mobile massage team with over 450 five-star reviews.  Weather permitting, they can set up on the deck outside your cabin and you can enjoy the tranquil sounds of nature and feel the fresh mountain air surround you during your outdoor massage.

Check out Gatlinburg-mobile-massage.com for more information.

Well that wraps up my favorite secret of the Smokies episode, ten of them inside the park and five of them outside the park.  It’s one thing to hike to a waterfall or a scenic view but something else when there’s a bit of a secret treasure hunt involved to make things a bit more fun. 

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Paula Deen Store
Podcast

Episode 021 – Shopping in the Smokies- His, Hers, Theirs.

Misty Mountain Soap Company
Shopping in the Smokies
Misty Mountain Soap Company

Welcome to Episode 21- Shopping in the Smokies – His, Hers, Theirs. Let’s get back to the business of visiting the Smokies!  There are several types of people that come to the Smokies.  Some come just to hike the park, others come to enjoy all the attractions and another group of people come to the area for shopping.  The area offers many different ways to shop from the huge outlet malls, or The Island to the smaller venues, such as The Village Shops of Gatlinburg or cottage shopping out in the Arts and Crafts community. The thing is there are tons of different way to enjoy shopping in the Smokies.

This episode is a little different, think of this as His, Hers and Theirs shopping. My feeble attempt to make the shopping experience a bit more fair to all parties.  All too often you’ll see the defeated husband sitting in the chairs at The Island gazing into the fountains as some type of abyss muttering something about soaps, oils and pottery. I see you there, I’ve felt your pain. Lets make shopping in the Smokies fun!

In this episode I’m going to offer up my trifecta of shopping experiences a place for her, a place for him and a place for both of you! There’s plenty of places to go shopping in the Smokies for all of you!

Misty Mountain Soap Co. – Her

Misty Mountain Soap Company crafts all of their products with the finest quality natural ingredients at our workshop in Gatlinburg, Tennessee……….on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.   Why?  Because we care about what goes onto your skin & into this world.

From Aroma Therapy to Dry Body Oil Mists, From Body Butters to Essential Oils. They have a complete selection to satisfy every taste. They do have products for men an even have products for your dog.

Three Locations to serve you…Two in Gatlinburg: In The Village Shops in Gatlinburg and in the Arts and Crafts Community at 601 Glades Rd #25. In Pigeon Forge at 161 Old Mill Avenue #4

Gatlinburlier Tobacconists
Shopping in the Smokies
Gatlinburlier Tobacconists

Gatlinburlier Tobacconists – Him

Here for the pipe smoker, including pipes, our award-winning tobaccos, and accessories for the smoker. After 40 years, we still have the only walk-in humidor in Gatlinburg. We carry a variety of hand made and flavored cigars. Their inventory is constantly changing, and many cigars don’t last long. They keep hard to find accessories for chewers and cigarette smokers in stock. We always keep cases and cases full of Zippo lighters to show off and tobacco related antiques on display. Check out the collection of patches we have gathered from our fans in the first responder community, and as always our friendly and knowledgeable staff is ready to help you make an enjoyable selection.

Located at Mountain Mall in Gatlinburg

Tim Weberding Woodworking – Both

Tim Weberding, Jr. grew up in a woodworking family, making him a fourth-generation woodworker. He got his start at a young age at his grandpa’s carving shop in southeastern Indiana. He started from the ground up, which included sweeping floors and mowing grass. However, as Tim put his “time” in, he graduated to larger projects and learned the skills of quality craftsmanship which can be seen in his work today. Tim graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Graphics. Tim has combined quality woodworking with his interest and experience in new technologies and it’s this combination that creates beautiful and intricate works of wood. Signature Baskets, Christmas Ornaments, Inspirations Signs, Candle Boxes are just a few of his most popular items.  You can find Tim’s work in many retail shops across the Smokies but if you’re in the Arts and Crafts Community check out his retail store. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Fowler’s Clay Works – Her

Fowler’s Clay Works is a family owned business going into its fifth season. In order to reflect the beauty of the natural surrounding world, and the Smoky Mountains in particular, Fowler’s Clay Works mixed their own glazes. Fowler’s Clay Works focuses on bringing beauty of the Great Smokies in color, heritage and design to your home.

Mugs, soup cups, Honey pots, bowls, baking dishes, Apple bakers!   If you’d like you can take a turn at making your own pottery. The Make a Pot Experience shows participants the process of making a small bowl or vase. Personalize the surface of your new favorite souvenir from height, to shape, to surface and even the final glaze color. For only $40 per person (this includes the shipping cost, materials, and the class itself) a Fowler’s Instructor will assist in the process of wheel throwing. After the student has created their piece, the instructor will take shipping info and glaze color choice.

Check out their YouTube channel for more detailed information.

Fowler’s Clay Works is located in the Arts and Crafts Community at Located at 1402 East Parkway #10

Pepper Palace -Him

Pepper Palace, the Planet’s #1 Hot Shop, encourages a fun and fiery environment for everyone. They create the Spice Life experience with small batch, handcrafted, natural, and award winning products. Pepper Palace believes that food should be memorable with a taste that consumes you.

Hot Sauce from Mild to X-Hot, BBQ Sauces, Salsa, A wide variety of Rubs and Seasonings, as well as Pickled Products and Relishes.

Pepper Palace opened their first Gatlinburg location in 1997 in a small storefront on the outskirts of town. Several moves were made to better, larger locations until finally reaching its current location in 1999, a 3,000 square foot spot in a prominent Gatlinburg Mall. This was, and continues to be, the largest spicy themed specialty retail location in the world.

Pepper Palace Mountain Mall, Pepper Palace The Village, Pepper Palace Reagan Terrace, Pepper Palace Ober Gatlinburg, Pepper Palace Pigeon Forge (Parkway),  Pepper Palace The Island, Pepper Palace Sevierville Tanger Outlets, Pepper Palace Sevierville 3275 Newport Highway

Nantahala Outdoor Center-Both

NOC’s 18,000 square-foot flagship store sits at the downtown Gatlinburg entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. NOC Gatlinburg carries everything necessary to enjoy excursions into the Smokies including our signature “gifts, gear and guidance.”

The in-store shopping experience is unique and fun, boasting a swinging rope bridge, a kid-friendly bear cave and a giant fireplace for warming up on cool days. We also help guests plan whitewater rafting and other guided Smokies outdoor adventures in-store.

NOC Gatlinburg features The North Face Summit Shop, 1,000 feet of only TNF with a complete line up of gear, footwear, outerwear and apparel for hiking, camping, running and casual living.

We also feature these other top manufacturers: Columbia, Keen Footwear, Mountain Hardware, Patagonia, MSR, Osprey, Vasque, Black Diamond Equipment. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Located at 1138 Parkway, Gatlinburg

The Jewelry Spot – Her

The Jewelry Spot now has a permanent location in Gatlinburg Tennessee. I am located at Covered Bridge in The Glades Complex, 849 Glades Rd. in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains.

They create unique handcrafted jewelry using precious and semi-precious birthstones and Argentium Sterling Silver findings and wire. I also use Swarovski Crystals, freshwater pearls, Burtis Blue Turquoise along with many other different gemstones and fossils. 

Located at 849 Glades Rd Suite 1B7

Train Piston Table - Man Cave Metal
Shopping in the Smokies
Train Piston Table – Man Cave Metal

Man Cave Metal – Him

Stoke the testosterone and head into Man Cave Metal. Their store showcases custom pieces made from automotive parts, items from local artist, and your basic Man Cave essentials.  Let me give you an example… Train Piston/Push Rods Table….This is for all the Train Lovers. This table is custom made from a train piston, push rods, and glass table top. This piece is extremely heavy due the cast iron piston head. This unique table is sure to be the conversational piece in the room. This is a PICK UP ONLY item. You can take that one of two ways….either you need to pick this table up in person or you need to take it home in a pick up.  Probably both. How about a Custom Metal Moonshine Holder or Transmission Bar Stool?  Too many cool things to list here.

Located at 3475 Parkway in Pigeon Forge

Jake and Angie’s Wood Art – Both

I’ll be the first to admit I have virtually no artistic talent.  I have no idea how a person can look at a log and with a chainsaw can find a Bear, or a skunk , or a raccoon, or Baby Yoda inside but they do at Jake and Angie’s Wood Art.  Bears, Owls anything you can imagine they can create.  Who doesn’t want to go home with a log bear as a remeberance of you Smoky Mountains vacation?

Jake and Angie’s Wood Art Located at 1435 E Parkway

Paula Deen Store - Pigeon Forge
shopping in the Smokies
Paula Deen Store – Pigeon Forge

Paula Deen Store – Her

The Paula Deen Store is Paula’s brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Paula’s store houses many products from the Paula Deen line, including linens, spices, sauces, mixes, and more, as well as some of Paula’s personal favorite picks. Whether you’re waiting for your table at her restaurant in The Island in Pigeon Forge or walking the street od Gatlinburg you can check out some of Paula’s time-tested cookware, cookbooks or any other assortment of helpful kitchen gadget and goodies, pop in!

Locations: 903 Parkway Gatlinburg and The Island Drive, Suite 8101 Pigeon Forge

All Sauced Up-Him

Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, Established In 2008, the store specializes in Gourmet Foods, Kitchen Gadgets and Good Ole’ Southern Hospitality. With over 4,000 items, families are sure to have a good time exploring the store.

All Sauced Up offers samples ranging from Barbeque Sauces, Salsa’s, Jams and Jellies, Salad Dressings, Gourmet Peanut Butter and many more. With over 150 samples daily, patrons get the opportunity to try a variety of items to ensure they like what they buy. The staff will also happily show you how to use the newest innovative gadgets so that you are confident on how to work magic in your home kitchen.

All Sauced Up #1 646 Parkway Gatlinburg , All Sauced Up #2 3325 Parkway Pigeon Forge

Stages West – Both

Stages Westin the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee first opened in 1975. For three generations we have been family owned and operated, maintaining a strong commitment to our family, faith and country. Our sincere passion for quality Western merchandise, on trend styles and a superior customer experience has only grown with each passing year. Boots, hats, dresses, shirts, and much much more.

Located at: 2765 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Santas Claus-et- Her

Gatlinburg’s Largest Christmas Store! They are Christmas and more!  Great foods for sampling, toys, games, collegiate items and so much more.  Free personalization of ornaments . . . and Santa might be here! Please stop in, look around, tempt your tastebuds, play some games, and spend some time with us. We are here year-round for your convenience and welcome kids of all ages! This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Santa’s Claus-et is so very pleased that Santa spends much of his time away from the North Pole with us.  He may be here, so come and make a memory! We are proud to offer professional quality photos of your visit with Santa.  Images will be available immediately after your visit and should you chose to purchase them, they will be ready in a variety of sizes in just a few minutes.   To make this as special a visit as possible, personal photography is prohibited during the Santa Visit.

Located on RT 321 East Parkway, near the entrance to the Arts & Crafts Community (traffic light 3A) directly across from McDonalds.

The Incredible Christmas Place – Her

The Incredible Christmas Place, at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, is the premier destination for Christmas gifts and collectibles, designer-themed Christmas Trees, novelty and traditional Christmas Lights, hundreds of Personalized Ornaments, and all your favorite Holiday brands like Department 56, Lemax, Christopher Radko and many more! Plus Camping and Smoky Mountains Décor!

Located at 2470 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Lodge Cast Iron Factory Store – Pigeon Forge – Him

Find everything from the classic Lodge cast iron skillet to specialty items like the cast iron Cornstick Pan, and the versatile Cook-It-Al.. Discover the vibrantly colored enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, the professional-grade carbon steel cookware, and Blacklock — our new, premium line of triple seasoned cast iron cookware. Browse through the remarkable selection of Lodge accessories and additional products. While you’re there, pick up the official Great Smoky Mountain Cast Iron Skillet.

The friendly staff will answer any and all questions you may have about cast iron and our other items. They’ll help you find the perfect pan, give you tips on how to clean and season your cookware, and suggest delicious recipes you can try right when you get home.

Lodge Cast Iron Factory Store located at 2704 Teaster Lane Pigeon Forge

The Wood Whittlers – Both

Wood Whittlers is a family owned business that specializes in wood carvings and related products. They have beautiful products that are hand made on site or produced by other local artisans. Items range from small decorative pieces to furniture, lamps, and fireplace mantles. The workmanship is outstanding. Located at the Corner of Glades Road and the East Parkway. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Smoky Mountain Farms Jelly House – Her

Smoky Mountain Farms Jelly House…The original producer of jams, jellies, and preserves in the Smokies. Over 80 different flavors plus pickles, hot sauce, relishes, butters ( apple, peanut etc.)and more! Free samples. 458 Brookside Village Way, Highway 321 Winery Square.

The Veteran’s Store – Him

The Veteran’s Store is a family owned and operated business located in Pigeon Forge, just minutes from Gatlinburg and the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We are a Super Store with a very large selection of reasonably priced Military Flags, Clothing, Hats, Hoodies, Patches, License Plates and more.

Located at 2850 Parkway, Suite 23-24 Pigeon Forge,

Wood Signs of Gatlinburg – Both

Wood Signs of Gatlinburg is a family owned and operated wood sign shop in downtown Gatlinburg, and they have called the Great Smoky Mountains  home since 1971.  They’re proud to offer only the finest woods for their custom signs including Western Red Cedar, Eastern Red Cedar and Northern White Cedar.  These woods are very durable and weather resistant, making any personalized sign you choose suitable for indoor décor or outdoor use.  Their goal is to continue providing custom personalized, handcrafted wooden signs for their customers with 100% satisfaction! Located at 715 Parkway #1. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

The Spice & Tea Exchange of Gatlinburg – Her

The Spice & Tea Exchange, we offer a variety of fine spices, handcrafted seasonings, loose-leaf teas, salts, sugars, gifts, and more! Whether you’re new to the culinary scene, own your own food service business, or are simply looking to add a bit of spice to your life, our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect menu additions! We’re known for our over 85 handcrafted seasonings, which we hand-mix in store daily. Stop on by to watch our Spice Masters at work! This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Located at 634 Parkway, in The Village Shops

Jaws – Him

So what is with the upside down shark on the Parkway?  Souvenirs of course and some live sharks in the tanks.  Not much more to add other than that. You can be the 10,000th person to perform Baby Shark from inside the sharks mouth.

Located at 3535 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Day Hiker – Both

For two decades, The Day Hiker has provided quality and affordable outdoor supplies to the 11 million annual visitors of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Wide selection of First Aid kits, Survival Aids, Maps, Books, Apparel, Hiking Poles and hydration supplies. The difference between a great day hiking and a lousy day hiking is just a little bit of preparation.  Famous last words, we don’t need any water it’s only 2 ½ miles. Mark your destination on your map, grab your backpack and hiking poles, fill your water supply, and hit the trails to explore a world of natural and historical wonders. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

 Located at: 634 Parkway, in The Village Shops

Savannah Bee Company – Her

At Savannah Bee Company, honeybees are our passion. We are dedicated to educating children and adults about the important role bees play as pollinators of our food. As an integral part of our ecosystem and facing an abundance of threats in our evolving world, bees need all the help we can give them. Acts big and small can have a positive impact on the bees and their future – start a beehive, avoid pesticides, plant diverse flowering species, support local beekeepers.

Products include: Honey, Beauty Products, Gifts, Coffees, Teas and other food products.

The Bee Cause Project

In 2013 we helped found The Bee Cause Project to do just that: make an impact. The Bee Cause Project is a not-for-profit that installs observation honeybee hives in schools worldwide, with the mission to provide the next generation with opportunities to understand, engage, and learn from honey bees in order to connect with the natural environment while developing STEAM skills.

The Vision of Bee Cause Project is a world in which future generations have the skills necessary to act as stewards of the natural environment through careers in STEAM.

To date, The Bee Cause Project has provided hives for 330 schools in 50 states and 4 countries around the world.

Two Locations: 558 Parkway Gatlinburg Anakeesta and in The Island in Pigeon Forge

Workshop Tools – Him

Workshop Tools, opened in 1995, is a favorite “refuge” for men whose wives, girlfriends or other family members take advantage of the country’s biggest outlet shopping area near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Workshop Tools provides entertainment shopping for a wide variety of quality tools at discount prices at 2 locations in the Pigeon Forge on Teaster Lane across from Old Time Pottery and in Sevierville next to Smoky Mountain Knife Works. The stores range from 3,000 sf to 16,000 sf and offer over 6,000 different tool and outdoor items.

The 3 Workshop Tools stores are a destination for half a million people per year carrying a wide variety of items for all members of the family.  Shoppers can find big variety of items.  We offer a huge selection of premium quality router bits and more kinds of power screw driving bits than you can imagine.

Workshop Tools offers name brand tools like DeWalt, Makita, Shop Fox, Dremel, Bosch, Skil, Stanley, Irwin, and other well known brands that are both new and factory reconditioned.  All the power tools sold at Workshop Tools are bought direct from the manufacturer and carry manufacturer warranties.

Three locations: 2656 Teaster Lane, Pigeon Forge and 2708 Teaster Lane Pigeon Forge and 105 Knife Works Lane Sevierville. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Buckboard Too – Both

Buckboard Too specializes in nostalgic collectibles from all the favorite stars, movies and TV shows that have enhanced our lives and continue bringing joy through happy memories. We have the coolest Beatles merchandise, biggest selection of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe collectibles, I Love Lucy, Betty Boop, DC & MARVEL characters, and tons more! Buckboard Too is located on the main strip of downtown Gatlinburg. Their up-beat music and bright, colorful displays stand out from the quiet, natural surroundings of the Smokies. This is a fun don’t miss distraction. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Located at: 612 Parkway, Gatlinburg

Jonathan’s The Bear Necessities – Her

Since 1978, Jonathan’s The Bear Necessities has provided quality goods and fun gifts to tourists from around the world. From season to season, they carefully curate every item in order to cover all of your “bear necessities” so you can take something home to remember your trip by. They provide the best in collectibles, apparel, holiday goods, shoes, hats, scrapbook supplies, and more. From Happy Camper collections to Smoky Bear, they have plenty of gifts for everyone in your family. So don’t just peek in the windows – they are “beary” excited to meet you!

Located at: 733 Parkway, Gatlinburg

Moon Pie General Store – Him

Some stop here for the seven flavors of moonpies. Did you know you can mix a variety box here? Some stop to enjoy a soda like RC or Nehi, the old fashioned candy, and other tasty treats. Some stop to visit their various little shops within where you will find Moonpie merchandise, toys and puzzles (featuring Melissa and Doug), tin sign reproductions, quilt kits and supplies, canvas art-wood plaques-wall signs, Christian gifts and more. Throw in some greeting cards and a selection of bluegrass and southern gospel CD’s, along with closeout buys whenever we can find them, and you are starting to get an idea of who we are! And if you give yourself enough time and feel like treasure hunting, there is no telling what you might find in our bargain basement! Banana Moon Pie and and Icy Cold RC….That’s Merican right there. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Located at 3127 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Three Bears General Store – Both

Three Bears General Store Located Pigeon Forge is a true destination. Established in 1979, the 40,000 square-feet store is a shoppers paradise. They are the largest souvenir store in Pigeon Forge! Nestled inside, you will find our Make-UR-Bear Factory complete with outfits and accessories, a family-sized arcade packed full of fun and our very own 7 scene OlD Tyme Photo studio where you can jump on a Harley or sit a spell on our Hillbilly porch.

Our Christmas Shop is full of Christmas decorations for your tree and home.

Hungry? Our kitchen makes daily: homemade fudge , milkshakes, funnel cakes. We have the lowest price in town for Ice Cream and Candy!

Wide selection of Simply Southern tees, along with a wide variety of quality products. From Amish jams and jellies to moonshine water and handmade fudge to over 100,000 Great Smoky Mountain souvenirs, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for! Shopping in Pigeon Forge has never been so fun!

Need to relax a while? Visit their Spa on the upper level. They have Aqua Massage tables and their Massage Chairs will have you back up and going in no time! You can even leave the teens in our huge arcade, one of the biggest Arcades in Pigeon Forge!

With so much to see and do, you’ll find out why we are one of the most fun things to do in Pigeon Forge, among all the attractions in Pigeon Forge! This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Located at: 2861 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Holly & Willow’s Pet Barn – Her

Holly & Willow’s Pet Barn offers homemade treats, beds, pillows, and dog wedding apparel. Pets are welcome at this establishment!

Located at: 170 Glades Road, Gatlinburg

Smoky Mountain Cat House – Her

For over 30 years Smoky Mountain Cat House has been a destination for “cat lovers” from around the world. Established in 1985, by Cheryl and Phil Anderson as a warm and welcoming place for “cat people”  as well as the curious shopper visiting the Smokies.  The Cat House is a place to relax, were you can be yourself and show off your favorite cat pictures or share a story with like minded cat lovers.   We feature the  “things” that make us and our cats happy, such as toys, apparel, jewelry, gifts, home décor and more. Miss your cat? You can pet and play with a cat when your away from your own!

Located at: 3327 Old Mill Street – Pigeon Forge

Gatorland – Him

Not to be outdone is Gatorland , nothing screams Smoky Mountains more that Sharks and gators of which the Smokies have neither. What we do have is Souvenier stores and this is one of them, not much more to add here.

Located at 3370 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Patriot Peddler-Both

“Made in America” store. Show your patriotism by buying American Made! Come check out your “Made in America” store. They have something for everyone! Shirts, hats, and Heritage Lace, along with unique military gifts.

Guests can also submit a photo to our Wall of Heroes to honor a hero in their life or write a letter to a service member overseas.

Their motto: “Keeping America working one customer at a time”

Located in The Island in Pigeon Forge

Lidl Dollys Factory Store – Her

Lid’l Dolly’s Factory Store has been charming locals and visitors with our handcrafted southern belle girls’ dresses for more than 25 years.  Lid’l Dolly’s also has an enormous inventory of beautiful quilts. With more than 300 quilt designs, we not only offer the largest selection of quilts in the southeast, but we’re also the largest quilt store in the entire country. They are also renowned for its huge selection of handcrafted girls’ heirloom dresses, including gorgeous southern belle styles that have been traditionally worn by girls and women for more than 200 years. Whether you’d like to pay homage to your ancestry or just want to give your little girl something fun and unforgettable to wear, you’ve come to the right place. Our lineup also includes western dresses, sundresses and seasonal dresses.

Located at: 2870 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Smoky Mountain Knife Works- Him

SMOKY MOUNTAIN KNIFE WORKS: THE WORLD’S LARGEST KNIFE STORE the largest in-stock, on-hand selection of knives for sale! If it cuts, we carry it. If your wife is a big fan of LMN, the Ladies Murder Network you may want to skip over this one or at least pay close attention if she’s buying anything.

SMKW is your source for Case knives, Buck knives, Microtech, Gerber knives, Kershaw knives, Benchmade knives, and many more. But wait there’s more… Smoky Mountain Guns and Ammo, is located inside Smoky Mountain Knife Works. I can see the eyes rolling out there now!  You will find the best selection and pricing on brands such as Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Springfield Armory, Mossberg, Remington and Many More! We have the best selection of ammo! This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Located at 2320 Winfield Dunn Pkwy, Sevierville

Happy Hippie – Both

We started the Happy Hippie in 2016. We have years of knowledge and experience to help you find the perfect product. We carefully choose each and every product in the shop. The highest quality products are the only to make it in our line of products. We have a line of CBD products you can trust both edible and smokable.  But there’s much more to the store, Accessories, clothing home décor, gifts, incense, masks and more.

Located at 832 Parkway, Sevierville

A Long Story Short Company – Her

A Long Story Short Company opened in January of 2017. Their located in the heart of Pigeon Forge, TN nestled back in the quaint Old Mill District.  They specialize in the unique, whimsical, and one-of-a-kind. We offer Vintage Books, Antiques, Rustic Decor, Steampunk, and much more. They also build our own custom art and vintage inspired home decor which are truly one-of-a-kind pieces. They are the perfect place for book lovers or anyone looking for something that isn’t the normal touristy souvenir shop.  Their shelves never look exactly the same due to our unique nature. When one piece sells, they replace it with a new creation, gadget, or treasure! You are guaranteed to see something new every time you visit! This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

Located at 3336 Old Mill St in Pigeon Forge

Coleman Factory Outlet- Him

This name says it all, tents, coolers, camp stoves, camp kitchens, lanterns, pretty much everything you need for the outdoors is made by Coleman.  Sleeping bags, chairs and more.  Coleman has been the name in outdoor quality for over 120 years.

Located at 2717 Teaster Ln, Pigeon Forge

Happy Hippie Lane – Both

Damn Hippies……..Yes we are

We are a lifestyle experience, with candles, pottery, handcrafted soaps, essential oils, handmade crafts. The 60’s were a time of experimentation, pushing the norm, with innovative fashion, and music. Step forward with us to the past, as we embrace everything that was and everything that will be. We are the place to shop and “Get your Hippie On!”

Located at 651 Parkway Suite 109, Gatlinburg. This is one of my favorite places to go shopping in the Smokies!

There you have it, just a few places to go for his, hers or theirs shopping on the Smokies. I hope you enjoyed this episode I had a great time researching this one.

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Episode 020 – The Smokies at a Distance

We’re almost there!  Almost everything great about the Smokies and the surrounding areas is either open or set to reopen.  Most attractions and restaurants are now open albeit on a limited basis. In Episode 020- The Smokies at a Distance we will be exploring some of the lesser know trails and dining in and about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  If you want to come to the Smokies but avoid the crowds this is a must listen to episode.

Park Sign, trail sign, The Smokies at a Distance

Let’s take a look at the park.  Not much has changed since last week.

Closed:

All the visitor’s centers – Closed

Campgrounds – Closed until at least June 7th

Clingman’s Dome – Open!

All other trails and backcountry campsites & shelters (accessible from open roads) are open with reduced capacity limits

Picnic Areas that are Open:

Big Creek
Cades Cove
Chimney Tops
Collins Creek and Pavilion
Cosby and Pavilion
Deep Creek and Pavilion
Metcalf Bottoms and Pavilion

Open restrooms:

Clingmans Dome
Newfound Gap
Restrooms near Cable Mill in Cades Cove
Restrooms near Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Restrooms near Sugarlands Visitor Center
Abram Falls, Alum Cave, and Rainbow Falls Trailheads
Restrooms at open picnic areas

Closed Roads: Little Greenbrier Road

Businesses Opening:

Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre: June 5

Country Tonite Theatre: June 5

Smoky Mountain Winery; June 5

Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show: June 10

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa: June 10

The Ripken Experience: June 14

Governor’s Crossing Stadium 14 Theater: June 16

Forge Cinemas: June 24

Dolly Parton’s Stampede: July 4th

Dollywood – Dollywood Parks & Resorts will begin a phased reopening on June 15.

Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country reopen June 17, with Season Passholder Exclusive Days on June 15 & 16.

Important Information To Know Before You Go

Daily capacity will be limited – Season Passholder Reservations are required and date-based tickets will be available for general admission.

Face masks or face coverings are required for all visitors ages 3 and up, with some exceptions. Some of the exceptions where masks are not required are while eating, on water park attractions or select coasters at Dollywood. For a full list of exceptions please visit our FAQ Page.

Temperature screenings will be taken prior to entry.

Attraction and dining capacities will be limited to allow guests to have more space to move around during their visit.

Physical distancing measures have been put in place including physically distanced queues, marked barriers and social distancing reminders.

Additional sanitation measures have been implemented. This includes high touch point areas being cleaned more frequently and providing additional hand sanitizing locations.

Businesses still without an opening date…

Bush’s Visitors Center

Comedy Barn

Lil’ Bit of Gatlinburg

Mysterious Mansion of Gatlinburg

Ripley’s Guinness World Records Adventure

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure

Smoky Mountain Escape Games

The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum

Appalachian Bear Rescue Trillium Cove Visitor & Education Center

The Smokies at a distance. As more people return to the Smokies, Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and the surrounding areas there are many people asking where ca the go with limited crowds.  Of course going downtown that sidewalks are fairly congested, many people not wearing masks. Many restaurants and attractions are limiting capacity.  With the influx of tourists and the limited capacity of the attractions you can see where this can add some congestion.  Once Dollywood reopens that will take a good number of the people  off the streets but with their limits not as much as they used to.

Many are going to turn to the park to get away, possibly more than before.  Last year a record 12 million people visited the National Park.  Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap are all going to be flooded with tourists.

Plus now…. The National Park Service announced this past week that it will be implementing ‘Vehicle-Free Wednesdays’ in Cades Cove this summer from June 17 through September 30. Each Wednesday, the Cades Cove Loop will be closed to traffic all day instead of just mornings so cyclists and pedestrians can safely enjoy recreation. 

The park will not be doing the Saturday morning summer loop closures in turn, which they hope will improve visitor experiences all around.

The change is part of a pilot study. The park proposed the study due to congested parking areas and disruption of visitor services associated with the vehicle-free periods formerly held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings during the summer months over the past couple of decades.

With all that said I’m going to give you a few places to explore in the park that are shall we say the less traveled trails…but still pretty cool adventures. The Smokies at a distance.

Wrecked steam engine, The Smokies at a Distance

Grapeyard Ridge Trail

Close to Gatlinburg and often incredibly quiet, the Grapeyard Ridge Trail links Greenbrier Cove with the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and is a great plance to see the Smokies at a distance . Many opt to hike the trail from Greenbrier to the ruins of an old steam engine partway along, which makes for a 5.8-mile round-trip undertaking. However, you can extend your adventure by going the full way to Roaring Fork, crossing Grapeyard Ridge—named for prolific grapevines strung through its forests—in the process.

The east end of the Grapeyard Ridge Trail starts near where Porters Creek, False Gap Prong, and the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River merge to create the Little Pigeon River, which begins flowing northward towards Sevierville.

There are five water crossings without the benefit of a footbridge. During the rainy seasons the creek can be virtually impassable due to high water – if you wish to keep your feet dry. If you look around a little further upstream you may be able to find a spot to cross. The summer and fall time periods are usually drier, and are much better times to hike this trail when high water usually isn’t an issue.

There’s much evidence of bygone settlements, including the Whaley Cemetery not far from the Greenbrier trailhead. Along the hike you’ll pass several old homestead sites that were once part of a community known as Big Laurel. At roughly 2.1 miles the trail leaves the creek and begins climbing the ridge to James Gap. As you climb the trail passes through several long rhododendron tunnels. At roughly 2.85 miles hikers will reach the top of the ridge at James Gap. From here the trail makes a quick descent down to Injun Creek where you’ll find the remains of an old steam engine lying in the creek. Although some may suspect that “Injun” refers to “Indian”, it’s actually a misspelling of the word “engine”, apparently the mistake of an old mapmaker.

The engine, a Nichols and Shepard self-propelled, steam-powered machine, known as a traction engine, was brought to the area in the 1920’s to saw wood for the Greenbrier School. During its return trip the driver wasn’t able to execute a switchback, and the engine tumbled into Injun Creek. Many of its parts were salvaged, but the rest was left to rust in the creek bed.

Roundtrip Length:                 5.8 Miles   

Total Elevation Gain:            980 Feet   

Highest Elevation:                 2540 Feet 

Trail Difficulty Rating:           7.76 (moderate)

Getting there….At the junction of 441 and 321 in Gatlinburg (Light 3), turn to travel eastbound on Hwy 321. Drive 6 miles and turn right into Greenbrier (look for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park entrance sign on the right). This road will turn into a gravel road after a short distance. From the highway you’ll drive 3 miles to the Grapeyard Ridge Trailhead. There will be a small parking area alongside the road – just before reaching the bridge that takes you to the Ramsey Cascades and Porters Creek Trailheads.

Crooked Arm Cascades/Falls

This is a well-kept secret and a great place to see the Smokies at a distance right at the beginning of the Cades Cove Loop. Look for the trailhead for the Rich Mountain Loop.  The trail will run parallel to the loop road for a while until it turns and heads into the woods. You will come to a junction of the Rich Mountain Loop Trail and the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail.  Turn to the right and follow the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail.  Follow the trail until you come to the cascades/falls.  You can see the falls from the trail but many people hike down to the falls, be careful that decent can be steep.  This is a fairly short hike of maybe 45 mins to an hour and not overly difficult.

Mouse Creek Falls, The Smokies at a Distance

Big Creek / Mouse Creek Falls

The Big Creek Trail follows an old railroad grade, built by the Crestmont Lumber Company in the early 1900’s to haul lumber out of the mountains during the logging boom. The trail was improved by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the early 1930s when it was converted for hiking use.

With a relatively smooth and even surface that climbs gradually over the course of its 2.1 miles to Mouse Creek Falls, this is an outstanding hike for young or novice hikers.

At first the wide path climbs high above the Big Creek Campground, and away from the creek. After roughly 1.3 miles, however, the trail finally makes contact with the creek, and for the rest of this hike you’ll never leave the sight or sounds of Big Creek. Wildflowers and rhododendron also line the pathway throughout this section of trail.

At roughly 1.5 miles the trail passes Midnight Hole, a deep, emerald green pool that lies just below a six-foot waterfall flowing between two large boulders. If you’re lucky you may see a trout scooting through the water here. Unfortunately this spot isn’t marked by a trail sign. Moreover, you’ll pass a couple of smaller waterfalls along the way that might lead some to believe that they’ve already reached Midnight Hole. On the flip side you can use this an excuse to take your time to explore the many features along this portion of the trail.

At just over two miles you’ll see a hitching post on your left. Continue a little bit further beyond the hitching post and you’ll see a short side trail that leads to a viewing area of Mouse Creek Falls. Located on the far side of Big Creek, this 45-foot waterfall emerges from the dense forest to tumble over several tiers of moss covered rocks before crashing into Big Creek. This is an outstanding place to drop your backpack, break out the camera, and grab a snack or picnic lunch.

Roundtrip Length:                 4.2 Miles   

Total Elevation Gain:            605 Feet   

Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:           288 Feet   

Highest Elevation:                 2338 Feet 

Trail Difficulty Rating:           5.41 (moderate)

One of the best things about this hike is the drive to get there.  You’ll take 321 (East Parkway) all the ay to Cosby. You’ll turn left when the road ends and head north for a few miles.  Look for the entrance to the Foothills Parkway and turn right.  This is an exceptional drive with beautiful scenery and overlooks. The foothills parkway runs into I-40.  Take I-40 south near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, take the Waterville Road Exit (#451). Turn left after crossing the Pigeon River and proceed 2.1 miles to a 4-way intersection. Continue straight ahead onto the narrow gravel road and drive past the ranger station to a large parking area at the end of the road. The Big Creek Trailhead is located on the right, just before reaching the parking area, roughly 3 miles from the highway.

Hen Wallow Falls, The Smokies at a Distance

Hen Wallow Falls

Almost from the start the trail begins to make a steady climb up the northern flank of Snake Den Mountain. While ascending the Gabes Mountain Trail, which was once known as the Messer Trail, the roots and rocks will testify just how rough this route can be in some places. Although rugged, the trail passes through a beautiful lush-green forest of rhododendron and ferns, with eastern hemlocks and yellow poplars providing a nice overhead canopy.

At 2.1 miles hikers will reach the short (and somewhat steep) side trail that leads down to the base of the 90-foot Hen Wallow Falls. Although Hen Wallow Creek is only two feet wide at the top of the falls, it fans out to almost 20 feet at the base. During the drier seasons water flowing over the rock cliff can be fairly low. Be sure to check out the small cave in the ridge just off to the right side of the falls.

Roundtrip Length:                 4.4 Miles   

Total Elevation Gain:            900 Feet   

Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:           409 Feet   

Highest Elevation:                 2923 Feet 

Trail Difficulty Rating:           6.20 (moderate)

The hike to Hen Wallow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains begins from the Gabes Mountain Trailhead in Cosby. To reach the trailhead from the junction of 441 and 321 in Gatlinburg (Light 3), turn to travel eastbound on 321/73, and drive 18.2 miles until the road dead-ends into Hwy 32. Turn right here towards Cosby, and drive 1.2 miles to the park entrance. Turn right into the park and drive another 2 miles to the Gabes Mountain Trailhead. The trailhead is on the right side of the road, but the large parking area, located in the Cosby Picnic Area, is across the street. Hen Wallow Falls is located off the Gabes Mountain Trail.

Huskey Branch Falls

Huskey Branch Falls is a 4.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until September.

This trail ascends a gentle grade along an old gravel railroad bed that parallels the Little River, a beautiful cascading stream with large boulders and several small waterfalls. f you’re lucky you might spot an otter in or around the stream. Between 1988 and 1990 park biologists released 14 river otters into the Little River as part of a successful effort to reintroduce the species throughout the Great Smoky Mountains.

At roughly 2.2 miles hikers will reach Huskey Branch Falls, a small 20-foot cascade that tumbles into the Little River. The waterfall flows down the slope along the hill next to the trail before running underneath a small footbridge.

Roundtrip Length:                 4.7 Miles   

Total Elevation Gain:            383 Feet   

Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:           162 Feet   

Trail Difficulty Rating:           Easy

Near the trailhead hikers will pass by several old cottages. Most of these former resort cottages were built in the 1920s, and were used as summer homes by the affluent from Knoxville. For many years the homes are in disrepair and are off limits to the public. However, in the fall of 2008, National Park Service crews completed emergency stabilization to 18 of the historic cabins, as well as the Appalachian Clubhouse. The park plans to fully restore all 19 structures so that they can be opened and viewed by the public.

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive 4.9 miles west along Little River Road to reach the turnoff for the Elkmont Campground, which will be on your left. After turning into Elkmont, drive 1.4 miles to the campground entrance. Instead of proceeding into the campground, turn left and drive another 0.6 miles to reach the parking area for the Little River Trail. The Huskey Gap Trail is accessed via the Little River Trail.

Spruce Flats Fall

The Smokies is home to many waterfalls, but sometimes trekking to a waterfall can be crowded.  Spruce Flats Falls is a wonderful hidden gem just outside of the Tremont Institute.  This area is steeped in history of some of the Smokies’ original inhabitants and was even the site of a CCC camp. 

From the parking lot at the Tremont Institute, head up the hill approximately 25 yards.  You’ll see the Buckeye Trail heads off to the right. Take this trail to reach your destination.   The Buckeye Trail is not on any park map, but don’t worry – it’s easy to follow.  The wide and well-worn path travels uphill, steeply in spots, and can be rocky and root-filled. 

When you reach the top of the first hill, stop and take in the view of the lumbering Rocky Top and the Appalachian Trail – the large mountain looming above you. From here, head downhill now, walking down a unique foot log and making your way carefully through the roots.  The rushing sound of the waterfall gets louder as you reach your destination.

Spruce Flats Falls is a series of cascades – a total of four – with a total drop of approximately 30 feet.  Many visitors prefer to enjoy the top two tiers. It’s a great place to cool off on a warm summer afternoon. Return to your vehicle the way you came.  The trail is approximately 1.6 miles round trip.

Roundtrip Length:                 1.4 Miles   

Total Elevation Gain:            460 Feet   

Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:           657 Feet   

Highest Elevation:                 1692 Feet 

Trail Difficulty Rating:           2.32 (easy)

Little Greenbrier Trail > Little Brier Gap Trail > Walker Sister Place

The trailhead is on Wear Cove Gap Road at the park boundary. You can take the Little River Road to Metcalf Bottom, drive straight across the bridge and go about 1.25 miles to the park boundary, where you can park. You can also access the trail by going through Wears Valley and taking the Wear Cove Gap Road to the park boundary.

Since this trail begins on the park boundary, it’s a great trail even if most of the park roads are closed due to high water or snow. Even though it is easy to get to and has beautiful views, this trail is rarely used, so it is great if you are looking to get away from the crowds.

As you work your way along the park boundary, you catch glimpses into Wear Cove, which lies outside the park. You’ll continue in and out of the park as you follow the trail. When you reach 1.9 miles, you reach Little Brier Gap. You can take a right turn and work your way down to the Walker Sisters homesite, about .6 miles from the gap.

At one point the homestead consisted of several outbuildings, including a barn, blacksmith shop, applehouse, springhouse, smokehouse, pig pen, corn crib and a small tub mill. Today, only the cabin, springhouse and corn crib survive at the site.

Roundtrip Length:                 4.9 Miles   

Total Elevation Gain:            774 Feet

If you have little kids or want to make this a little lighter hike. You can start the hike to the Walker Sisters Place from the Metcalf Bottoms Trail >Little Brier Gap Trail. To reach the trailhead from the Townsend “Y” intersection near Cades Cove, drive 7.4 miles East to reach the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg you’ll drive 10 miles West to reach the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. Turn into the picnic area and park walk across the one-lane bridge and the trail hear is on your right.

Roundtrip Length:                 4.1 Miles   

Total Elevation Gain:            285 Feet   

Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:           219 Feet   

Highest Elevation:                 2062 Feet 

Trail Difficulty Rating:           3.17 (easy)

Wears Valley

Mountain Chick Café – Wears Valley Road

Family owned and operated, Mountain Chick Cafe is a must stop destination for breakfast, lunch and espresso!  Located in the heart of Wears Valley, we offer the perfect place to enjoy a bite to eat and take in gorgeous views!   Our goal is to create a cozy spot for locals and visitors to gather.   

Hillbilly’s

Breakfast &Lunch…  Banana Foster French Toast, Hillbilly Burgers and more….

Elvira’s

Breakfast Lunch and Dinner….Traditional Menu.

Townsend

Trailhead Steak and Trout House

Whether you’re in the mood for a good steak or craving a platter of seafood, you are sure to find a meal at our restaurant that will satisfy your appetite. You can choose from a selection of steaks and burgers as well as seafood like fish and shrimp. For something a little lighter, we also have different kinds of soups and salads.

Burger Master Drive In

Burgers, Sandwiches, Ice Cream, Treats for your Dog

Cosby

Docs 321 Café

Doc’s 321 Cafe serves AWARD WINNING 5 star healthy meals made from scratch in a family friendly atmosphere in a modified 1980 school bus.

Smoked Sirloin on a stick served on a bed of rice with side salad one side and Parmesan smoked tomato for 1595

Famous beef brisket served with two sides with red-eye gravy on the side for 1395

Three Little Pigs which is our ribs smoked pork homemade smoked sausage served with two sides for 1595

Cosby Creek Padilla which is a Tuscan flatbread pizza with garlic pesto sauce with yellow squash zucchini red onions tomatoes smoked sausage and cheese for 995

Rapid River Rat which is turkey ham lettuce tomatoes red onions avocado with herbal mayonnaise and it’s on a sundried tomato wrap served with one side for 1095

Soups tomorrow will be tomato-basil Java and possibly smoked sausage and chicken gumbo

Did I mention Smoked pies?

Arts and Crafts Community (Glades Road)

Gatlinburg Grind Café and Bakery

Fresh made bagels. Sweet almond blueberry with a mixed berry cream cheese. When there is a cream cheese this amazing, you choose your bagels for the day to pair with this amazingness. Gatlinburg, meet Delice de Bourgogne gourmet spread. It is like brie and cream cheese had a baby. It is so smooth and creamy ….and perfect to cut the spiciness of my favorite jalapeño bagels. Come try this amazing deliciousness with our cheddar garlic jalapeño or our everything jalapeño bagel.

We are beyond excited to share our love for REALLY good coffee and top notch pastries with our friends, community and the wonderful people who visit our incredible town.  Gatlinburg Grinds is proud to serve real coffee to great people.  Our coffees are roasted locally by 2 reputable companies.  CliffTops Coffee Company roasts their beans right here in Gatlinburg and Vienna Coffee Company in Maryville. Amazing Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino, Loose Tea, Cold Brew and fantastic choices for the Kiddos.

The Greenbrier

The Greenbrier Restaurant is a food and spirit outpost nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. Acclaimed for our unique chef-driven menu, we specialize in hand-cut prime steaks, fresh produce, house specialities, and craft cocktails. With a rare in-house dry-aging process and an exceptional atmosphere, The Greenbrier Restaurant is Gatlinburg’s premier steakhouse. Whether you are visiting the area or a resident of the Great Smoky Mountains, our staff is dedicated to providing the highest quality food and service. Visit The Greenbrier Restaurant for a truly unparalleled dining experience.

Crystelle Creek

I’ve never had a bad meal here.  From the chicken to the trout, to the streaks it’s always outstanding.  The live music is fun. Don’t miss the hummingbird cake!!!!

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Pigeon Forge Update 2020! – Episode 019

PIgeon Forge Logo

At last most of the attractions and the restaurants are open so we can now have our Pigeon Forge Update 2020!

We hope you like axe throwing because that is the new rage in Pigeon Forge. Count them three different axe throwing hoses join our Pigeon Forge Update 2020.

Pigeon Forge Axe House

This is the ultimate adventure for those looking to step outside of your comfort zone. Axe throwing is a new popular sport to the United States and is growing rapidly. Like darts, axe throwing is a target sport focused on earning a number of points determined by where your axe sticks. In axe throwing, the bulls eye is the most important spot on the target. Once you get the hang of axe throwing, there are a number of games you and your party can play to ramp up the competitive spirit among your group.

Whether you are throwing axes or watching, everyone in your party must sign a waiver to enter the throwing area.  For each participant, a safety briefing demonstrated by one of our experienced axe coaches is required.  Additionally, every participant must wear closed toe shoes in order to throw. 

Pigeon Forge Axe House does not have an age requirement for participants.  Those under 18 must have a waiver signed by a legal guardian and those under 16 must be accompanied by a legal guardian to participate.  If you are unsure about your child’s ability to throw, ask an axe coach about allowing them to throw in a test lane.  Our coaches can help you make the best decision.  

They also offer food from Pizza at the Cove.  The restaurant will offer customers with varieties of pizza, wings, sandwiches, appetizers, desserts, candy and much more.  Are you thirsty?  We offer Coke products with free refills. 

We are excited to offer customers with a variety of beers to choose from.  Get a beer, hang out with your friends, and throw some axes. 

Located at 2850 on the Parkway, by the PF Factory Outlet Mall, Lid’l Dolly’s, Across the street from PF Gem mine.

BOWMAN’S HATCHET HOUSE

Second ax house in our Pigeon Forge update 2020 is Bowman’s Hachet House. They host group events or have walk-in axe throwing that range from 1 – 2 hours of axe throwing fun. Each event has dedicated axe throwing lane(s) and axe throwing coaches that will teach you how to throw an axe while playing fun games. If you’re looking for an awesome time, you came to the right place.

Located at 262 Old Mill Avenue, Over by Old Mill & Teaster Intersection.  Little Black Bear Café is up near that corner.

AXE THROWING AT LUMBERJACK FEUD

Our third chance to throw an axe on our Pigeon Forge Update 2020 is at Paula Deens. Channel your inner flannel! Lumberjack Feud is adding another fun activity for you to enjoy when you visit to see the show and try your hand at timber sports at the Adventure Park. Starting Friday February 21st, visitors can try to make a bullseye at a brand new Axe Throwing station. Head to Lumberjack Feud to test your skills soon. 

Located at 2530 on the Parkway, you cant miss that one.

DOUBLE DECKER BUS TOURS

In major cities around the world, you’ve more than likely seen large red double decker buses transporting tourists around to see the sights. The Smokies Double Decker Bus Tour will brings a similar experience to the area. Keep your eye open for these new double decker buses that are rolling through the Smokies. This mobile attraction is more than just a method of transportation. The double decker busses include knowledgeable tour guides with all kinds of insider information on where to eat, what to see, and things to do. Hop on and hop off with an all day pass or purchase a single one-way ride for just $5.00. In the upcoming months the attraction will begin offering specialty tours as well to places like Cades Cove and Harrahs Cherokee Casino

Departing Every 45 Minutes at Hard Rock Cafe, Pigeon Forge. (Starting at 10AM)

Tanger Outlet Mall > Apple Barn > Wonderworks > The Incredible Christmas Store > Lumber Jack Square > Gatlinburg Convention Center > Rowdy Bear Gatlinburg > Top Jump > Old Mill District > Crave Golf > Alcatraz East > Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park Pigeon Forge

Both Double Decker Bus will depart at 10am.  Bus #1 will head to first stop at Tanger Outlet then proceed in order of route as noted.  Bus #2 will at 10am and proceed to first stop in Gatlinburg, and then will proceed on route as normal.

Hard Rock Café is located down near WonderWorks.

MOUNTAIN MONSTER

Welcome a thrill ride like no other to our Pigeon Forge Update 2020! The Mountain Monster combines three distinct thrill rides into one amazing experience. Are you willing to conquer the Mountain Monster, tame the Monster Launch, and face the Monster Fall? This one of a kind attraction can only be found at the Mountain Mile in Pigeon Forge, 

THE MOUNTAIN MILE

is Pigeon Forge’s newest entertainment, dining and shopping destination. Includes Junction 35 Spirits & Restaurant, Tennessee’s first distillery and full-service restaurant, blends the tradition of distilling spirits with a contemporary railroad-themed atmosphere. The family-owned Currahee Vineyards expands from Georgia to East Tennessee with a new location. Cream & Sugar Sweet Shoppe offers ice cream and homemade treats while Mountain Rifle Coffee Company serves its custom-roasted Black Rifle coffee. Shoppers will enjoy the Appalachian Apparel Company, with clothing that bears designs by regional artists. The Lawn at the Tower Shops is a relaxing outdoor space centered around a fire pit with beautiful mountain vistas in each direction. The 200-foot-tall Mountain Monster three-rides-in-one coaster towers above it all, awaiting thrill seekers.

It is located along Teaster Lane and Jake Thomas Blvd in the heart of Pigeon Forge, surrounded by the Cal Ripken Experience baseball tournament park, the Leconte (convention) Center, and “The Island”.

ROWDY BEAR RIDGE

Rowdy Bear Ridge Adventure Park located at 2155 Parkway Pigeon Forge, TN beside the Local Goat Restaurant and diagonal from The Titanic Museum is home to 2 of Pigeon Forge’s most exciting rides! Zip down Tennessee’s fastest outdoor tubing hill 500+ foot, year-round tubing hill or be a part of North America’s first Alpine Flyer and laser gun coaster!

Yeah you hear me right, Rowdy Bear Ridge is excited to announce an addition to their Alpine Flyer: the world’s first in-air Laser Gun Experience! See how many targets you can hit along the ride, and see if you can hold the high score. The Alpine Flyer coaster is a 2 seater and suitable for riders at least 40″ tall.  Don’t miss this action-packed attraction on your next trip to Pigeon Forge!

Dollywood 2020

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Dollywood on our Pigeon Forge Update 2020. Children will love exploring Wildwood Grove – an entirely new section of the park opened in 2019.  From the Park’ Wildwood Grove features 11 themed attractions and was inspired by Parton’s life growing up in the Smoky Mountains. The new area is a 20% increase in the total size of Dollywood,

Discover the rest of the incredible festivals happening at Dollywood in 2020.

Flower and Food: May 8-June 14. It will have flower displays, visual elements and new food and drink options.

Summer Celebration: June 20-Aug. 2. The Gazillion Bubbles Show will make its return during this festival, and the park’s hours will be extended.

Rock the Smokies: 22. TobyMac and Crowder will return to Dollywood’s annual contemporary Christian concert event.

Harvest Festival: 25-Oct. 31. It will have Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights with thousands of carved pumpkins, fall foods and displays. The Southern Gospel Jubilee will also return with several concerts throughout the park.

Smoky Mountain Christmas: 7-Jan. 2. This event will have 5 million lights, performances, Christmas food menus and the Parade of Many Colors.

The Flying Ox at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show

The Flying Ox, the world’s first cable-to-rail zipline coaster, soars above Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show and Adventure Park. Riders experience the thrills of a 1,000-foot-long zipline experience that travels a coaster track. The Flying Ox winds, drops and soars through the air at approximately 25 miles per hour.

Pink Adventure Tours

Pink Adventure Tours’ offers the first touring experience of its kind in the Great Smoky Mountains area. Pink Adventure Tours’ iconic pink Jeeps are the newest way to explore the nation’s most visited national park. All tours conclude with an off-road experience on private land as passengers travel in customized Wranglers fabricated in the Pink Adventure Tours’ eco-friendly service center.

VALLEYS & VIEWS SMOKY MOUNTAINS TOUR – Enjoy panoramic views from Wears Valley and Foothills Parkway with photo-op stops along the Little River Gorge

 ROARING FORK SMOKY MOUNTAINS TOUR – Roll through charming and lively Gatlinburg in a custom, open-air Pink® Jeep® See historic log cabins, mills and other structures from the pioneer days, See beautiful vistas from mountain outlooks with stops at natural waterfalls and along swiftly rolling streams.

NEWFOUND GAP SMOKY MOUNTAINS TOUR – here’s a lot planned for you on your Smoky Mountains tour to Newfound Gap. Sugarlands Visitor Center is your first stop. You’ll learn the history of the towns we pass along the way. From Sugarlands Visitor Center, you’ll ascend 3,000 feet on paved roads. You’ll pass through a diverse forest made up of a mix of trees Discover how the Smokies got their name, stop for amazing photo opportunities and hear about local geology and history. You’ll arrive at Newfound Gap, which is nearly one mile above sea level. You’ll see part of the mighty Appalachian Trail. Rockefeller Memorial is where U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stood to dedicate the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Sept. 2, 1940. A short nature walk brings yet more discoveries.

The tours main attraction is its stunning viewpoint. It stretches as far as your imagination no matter the season. April and May bring wildflowers. The summer brings rolling and layered green hues. The fall features vibrant autumn colors. And, the winter reveals the true scale of the Great Smoky Mountains after its leaves have fallen.

FOOTHILLS PARKWAY SMOKY MOUNTAINS TOUR – This tour includes the breathtaking beauty along the Foothills Parkway. Your tour begins when your Certified Interpretive (CIG) Tour Guide heads toward Wears Valley and Townsend. A stop at Townsend Visitors Center highlights information about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Shop for souvenirs here, too.

Stops at overlooks make this tour a spectacular photo tour. With your guide taking care of every amenity, you can focus completely on the scenery ahead. Foothills Parkway, touted by many as “the prettiest drive in America,” leads to awe-inspiring panoramas. The Smoky Mountains’ highest points will be seen along this route.

Tours are between 2 ½ and 3 hours.

Located at 2611 on the Parkway, that’s the corner of Wears Valley Road and the Parkway.

Santa’s Haus at The Incredible Christmas Place

Santa’s Haus can be found at The Incredible Christmas Place, the South’s largest Christmas store, where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. The 2,000-square-foot attraction features cookie decorating, story time with Santa, milk and cookies, ornament making, the Elf Academy, a place to write letters to Santa and a photo opportunity with the jolly old elf.

Located at 2470 on the Parkway, It impossible to miss The Inn at Christmas Place is located right across the street.

Wallace Hartley’s Violin Exhibit at Titanic Museum Attraction

The single most requested and important artifact from the historic ship—bandleader Wallace Hartley’s violin—will be hosted by Titanic Museum Attraction. The artifact, which was played as the passenger ship sank in 1912, is on display in Pigeon Forge from July 1 through Dec. 30. The instrument sold at auction in 2013 for a record-breaking $1.7 million.

Impossible to miss at 2134 Parkway.  If you’ve never visited it looks like a large ship hitting an iceberg on the side of the road.

The Sunliner Diner

The Sunliner Diner offers guests a blast from the past in a classic 1950s-themed American diner. The vintage chrome and red neon exterior invites guests inside where classic collector cars, retro newspaper menus, hand-spun milkshakes, and nostalgic diner cuisine encourage everyone to leave their worries at the door.

This eatery has something for all ages, making it a perfect spot to take the whole family out. The kid’s menu boasts tons of options for little ones all the way up to age 12. And for visitors over 21, there’s plenty of breakfast and specialty cocktails, beer, and even wine.

You can get a delicious breakfast all day at the Sunliner Diner. Start your day off right with a steaming cup of coffee, a plate of seasonal, specialty pancakes with a side of eggs and candied bacon. The lunch and dinner menu features classics like fried green tomatoes, beer battered fish & chips, dozens of burger and sandwich options, and much more. Finish it all off with a slice of pie or a sundae!

Located at 2302 on the parkway, just a little north of Teaster Lane.  It’s on the corner of Henderson Chapel Road/Sugar Hollow Road and the Parkway.  Right next door to the Grand Majestic Theater.

Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant Pigeon Forge

Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant Pigeon Forge treats diners to entertainment, including singers/songwriters, alongside authentic Southern comfort food. The 7,000-square-foot restaurant serves three meals daily and highlights include slow-smoked barbeque, Southern sides and homemade cobblers.

They are located at 2480 on the Parkway. Over by Magiquest and the Inn at Christmas Place.

Buzzed Bull Creamery

The may be my favorite add to our Pigeon Forge Update 2020. An ice cream shop perfect for adults is opening in Pigeon Forge in 2020! Buzzed Bull Creamery offers liquid nitrogen ice cream with boozy options. Everything is made to order, and you can even watch as it’s being made! See your treat start as a liquid, then transform into a frozen state in a matter of seconds. While the shop does offer frozen treats for all ages, guests 21 and over can choose from alcohol-infused made-to-order ice cream, milkshakes and coffee.

Death By Chocolate [chocolate ice cream or milkshake, brownie bites, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce on top with suggested buzz: chocolate vodka] •

Tiger Stripes [chocolate peanut butter ice cream or milkshake, peanut butter cups, peanut butter sauce on top with suggested buzz: spiced rum] •

Dreamsicle [orange cake batter ice cream or milkshake, waffle cone pieces, whipped cream with suggested buzz: orange vodka]

Located at 3239 on the Parkway, right near Fantasy Golf. Across the street from Cheddars.

Knox Dough

If you’re looking for a sweet treat, Knox Dough delivers just that! Newly opened in Sevierville, this shop offers a wide variety of flavors of egg-free, edible cookie dough. Pick from a classic chocolate chip or branch out and try something unique like the Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake or Fruity Pebbles. Another popular option is the Rocky Top Special, which boasts 8 scoops of whatever flavor you want to mix and match!

Knox Dough also sells rolled ice cream. So whether you’re out and about in hot, summer weather or dropping by on a crisp, autumn day, there’s a tasty dessert for any season! With a great location right along the Parkway in Sevierville, this new addition to the area will be a hit with your family.

Located at 1548 on the Parkway, over by Dave and Busters.

Byrd’s Famous Cookies at The Island in Pigeon Forge

The family-owned Byrd’s Famous Cookies has landed at The Island in Pigeon Forge. From the complimentary Cookie Bar filled with free samples to the helpful Cookie Crew, Byrd’s Famous Cookies is the latest place to satisfy a sweet tooth in Pigeon Forge.

Located in the Island

DULCE NITOGEN ICE CREAM & BUBBLE TEA

Dulce Nitrogen is the first shop in Pigeon Forge to serve Nitrogen ice cream, bubble tea and bubble waffles. Nitrogen ice cream is a mix of fresh cream and mix-ins of your choice, stirred together with liquid nitrogen to create a creamy ice cream while you watch. Bubble tea can be milk based or non milk based and comes with “boba” or black pearls made from tapioca. Bubble waffles are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and make the perfect cone for your nitrogen ice cream.

Located at 2656 on the Parkway, near Mels Diner.

GIBBYS CANDY COOP

Gibbys Candy Coop is a family owned sweet shop on the Pigeon Forge Parkway. Visitors can enjoy fudge, caramel apples, ice cream, sundaes, banana splits, milkshakes, chocolate strawberries, truffles and more. There are a variety of chocolate dipped sweets and treats to choose from as well.

Located at 3526 Parkway just south of Ogle drive on the parkway.

Ogle Bros General Store

The Ogle Bros General Store is a must for tourists and locals alike. Stop by for some authentic Southern hospitality, delicious snacks, souvenirs, and products crafted by Tennessee artisans. This general store has so many amazing items to browse through, you won’t want to leave. Check out the clothing, toys, or unique décor for your home. Or head over to see what delicious candy is being crafted in the kitchen. They’ve even got you covered for mealtimes with their soup mixes, sauces and dips, and more!

Located behind Five Oaks farm Kitchen at 1640 Parkway.

There you have it, this completes my Pigeon Forge update 2020.

For information regarding businesses in the Smoky Mountains Area Reopening please visit: https://www.pigeonforge.com/coronavirus-updates

I’m going to be doing podcast updates every Thursday from this point on. I apologize if I got some things wrong here on this current podcast but there is a lot of information to sift through and not every business is updating their websites or Facebook pages.

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/

Podcast

Smokies Are Back! Area Update as of 5-21-2020

Loets go to the smokies logo

The Smokies are Back! In Episode 108 join Chuck Schmidt, travel host for a journey through Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as surrounding communities in the aftermath of the COVID virus.  Learn about weekly updates for attractions, hiking trails, dining, shopping and road closures. Plus, up to date information regarding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Let’s take a look at the park.  What’s open and what’s colsed

Closed:

All the visitor’s centers – Closed

Campgrounds – Closed until at least June 7th

Clingman’s Dome – Open!

Trails Closed:

All other trails and backcountry campsites & shelters (accessible from open roads) are open with reduced capacity limits

The only open roads are:

Big Creek Road
Cades Cove Loop Road (will open daily at 8:00 a.m. No closures for bicycles only)
Cherokee Orchard Road (Historic Nature Trail)
Clingmans Dome Road
Cosby Road
Deep Creek Road and Trailheads* – Down near Bryson City
Foothills Parkway
Gatlinburg Bypass
Greenbrier Road (Due to roadwork, only open to Ramsey Cascades Trailhead only)
Lakeview Drive Road* -Down near Bryson City
Laurel Creek Road
Little River Road
Newfound Gap Road
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Tom Branch Road
Tow String Road
Tremont Road
Upper Tremont Road
Wear Cove Road (Metcalf Bottoms)

The following roads remain closed for motorists, but will be open for pedestrians and cyclists: 

Elkmont Road, , Hwy 284, Cataloochee Road, Abrams Creek Road, Forge Creek Road, Rich Mountain Road, Little Greenbrier Road, Balsam Mountain Road, Heintooga Round Bottom Road, Straight Fork Road, Twentymile Road.

Picnic Areas that are Open as of May 23rd:

Big Creek
Cades Cove
Chimney Tops
Collins Creek and Pavilion
Cosby and Pavilion
Deep Creek and Pavilion
Metcalf Bottoms and Pavilion

Open restrooms:

Clingmans Dome
Newfound Gap
Restrooms near Cable Mill in Cades Cove
Restrooms near Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Restrooms near Sugarlands Visitor Center
Abram Falls, Alum Cave, and Rainbow Falls Trailheads
Restrooms at open picnic areas

Concession Operations are scheduled to open on the following dates: 

Sugarlands Riding Stables

Cades Cove Riding Stables

LeConte Lodge

Cades Cove Campstore on 5/23;

Smokemont Riding Stables on 5/23

Smoky Mountain Riding Stables is pending;

When you’re planning your trip, have several options in mind so that you can switch plans if an area is congested. Hikers and horseback riders should expect to encounter more debris and downed trees along trails. Our normal spring clearing operations to remove winter downfall by volunteers and staff have been delayed due to the park closure and local ‘stay at home’ orders that were in place this spring to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Open Businesses

Indeed the Smokies are back! The following businesses have reopened since last weeks update. Please note that they may have limited services and hours in addition to specific amenities and features remaining closed.

Alcatraz East Crime Museum
Arcadia
Big Rock Dude Ranch
CAM Cabin Crafts
Cooters
Country Cascades
Davy Crockett Mini Golf Course
Gatlinburg Space Needle
Love Life Live Life
Nantahala Outdoor Center Gatlinburg Retail Shop
Outdoor Adventures
Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud Show
Pigeon Forge Snow
Pink Jeep Tours
Rip Roaring Adventures
Rowdy Bear Mountain Gatlinburg
Sevier Air Trampoline & Ninja Warrior Park
Smoky Mountain Angler
Smoky Mountain Cat House
Smoky Mountain Popcorn Company
Smoky Mountain Spinnery
Stiffy’s Ax Throwing
The Captured
The Cliff Dwellers Gallery
The Coaster At Goats On The Roof
The Spice and Tea of Gatlinburg
Zoo Knoxville

Future Reopenings

The following businesses have shared an official opening date with the public. These are still subject to change. Please contact the businesses directly for the most up to date information.

Anakeesta May 21
Pigeon Forge Trolley May 21
Buttonwillow Civil War Theater May 22
Cookie Dough Bliss May 22
Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park May 22
Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster May 22
Gatlinburg SkyLift Park May 22
Gatlinburg Trolley May 22
Ober Gatlinburg May 22
Mysterious Mansion of Gatlinburg May 22
Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies May 22
Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater May 22
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not May 22
Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze May 22
Ripley’s Super Fun Zone May 22
Smoky Mountain Ziplines May 22
Tube River Rage May 22
Wonderworks May 22
Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show May 23
Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud May 23
Nantahala Outdoor Center Pigeon Rafting May 29
Biblical Times Dinner Theater May 30
Red Skelton Tribute Theater May 30
Titanic Museum June 1
Unforgettable View Massage June 1
Grand Majestic Dinner Theater June 2
Wilderness At The Smokies June 4
Country Tonite Theatre June 5
Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre June 5

There you have it, this completes my Smokies Reopening Update for 5/20/2020.

For information regarding businesses in the Smoky Mountains Area Reopening please visit: https://www.pigeonforge.com/coronavirus-updates

I’m going to be doing podcast updates every Thursday from this point on. I apologize if I got some things wrong here on this current podcast but there is a lot of information to sift through and not every business is updating their websites or Facebook pages.

Are you planning a visit to the Smokies and are wondering how to fit it all in?  Check out our sample itineraries:  https://dancingbearfoot.blog/2018/08/30/smoky-mountains-vacation-itinerary-day-1/

If this is your fist time coming to the Smokies and renting a cabin check out out blog post in what to look for when renting a log cabin.

Thank you for reading.  If you’d like to learn more about our cabin or other great things to see while visiting the Smoky Mountains please visit us at Dancing Bearfoot.com.

Like our Pizza Bear? Check out the other great artwork from Kenton Visser https://www.kentonvisser.com/