So you caught the bug didn’t you? You’ve been to the Smokies a few times and have rented a few different cabins and now comes the decision “hey let’s buy one of our own and we can rent it out, it will be fun and we’ll make tons of money right?” Hold on their buckaroo….not quite. Going down that road can make this the most expensive vacation you’ve ever gone on. There are a few things to consider when buying a cabin in the Smokies.
Let’s ask some important questions first. Number one, have you been to couple’s therapy? Because you may need it as this enterprise rolls along.
But seriously the first question is why do you want to be in the rental business?
Do you just want a second home and someone else to pay for it?
Do you want to generate income?
Do you really want to be in the hospitality business?
Are you willing to dedicate hours that you may or may not have time for to things like pricing, marketing, upkeep and so on.
Are you competent when it comes to technology, can you build a website, can your write social messages, can you produce quality videos, do you understand SEO? Are you really willing to learn?
All kidding aside the Smokies are one of the top locations in the country for rental property.
According to Vacasa…”Our number one best place to buy a vacation rental is Sevierville, Tennessee, nestled among the Smoky Mountains” Vacasa analyzed home sales data in vacation destinations throughout the country, and overlaid it with actual performance data for thousands of U.S. vacation rental properties. With that calculation Sevierville came in #1 in the US.
AIRDNA in 2019 published their list of the best vacation property investments in the US both Sevierville and Gatlinburg scored A+ with Investabilty scoring an unbelievable 100. In 2020, the Smoky Mountains we #4 of the best places to buy vacation property.
Forbes Magazine in 2019 listed their Five Best Places to own Vacation Rental Property list, which ranks 150 destinations: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Gatlinburg, Tennessee finished #1 and #2. The criteria pointing to short-term rental profitability include real estate prices, local vacation rental rates, insurance, taxes, maintenance expenses and the popularity of a tourist destination. “The Southeast did extremely well this year, especially in non-luxury markets like the Smokey Mountains. There they have very friendly short-term rental regulations, it’s a four-season market and a five-hour drive from several major cities.
I could keep going but you get the point. What do you think all of this publicity has done to property values here in the Smokies….yep they’ve skyrocketed over the past year. With 12 million people coming to the Smokies now on vacation demand is not showing any signs of slowing. Even thought the property vales have risen quickly the return on investment still works for purchasing a property and renting it out. The days of a sub $99 per night lodging experience may be moved into the hotels on the strip and out of the cabins. If your cabin is only renting on price then you really need to look at your experience offered because you are certainly leaving money on the table and are hurting the other cabin owners.
Let’s tackle some of these questions I posed…. why do you want to be in the rental business?
• Do you just want a second home and someone else to pay for it? – There isn’t a darn thing wrong with that approach. Some “serious” owners may frown on that approach but who cares. They think you’re dabbling in the experience. If you’re offering a great experience and maintain the property in prime condition that’s the important thing.
• Do you want to generate income? How much? Is this for retirement? Kids College? Are you in this just for the appreciation on the property? You can do all of the above but you have to fire on all your cylinders to make that happen. You need to buy the property at the right price, build out your budget and stick to it. Get your pricing right, and hit your occupancy numbers. Listen on we’ll hit on most of these points on this podcast.
• Do you really want to be in the hospitality business? Even before you turn on your VRBO Listing you’re in the hospitality business. Congrats. Every detail matters. Every decision you now make determines your rates, demand and satisfactions.
My formula from the start has been this 1 Part Home, 1-Part Hilton, 1-Part Disney. 1-Part Home: you need everything a person expects at home…a place to eat, gather, comfortable bathrooms, kitchen utensils, comfortable seating, lighting, air conditioning and heating. Those things seem basic right? 1-Part Hilton…your guests are traveling they need the amenities of a fine hotel, clean comfortable towels, linens on the beds, highest level of cleanliness, modern electronics, fast Wifi, wide variety of channels or choices on the TV. Finally 1-Part Disney- what makes your guests escape the everyday? What environment are you creating? For us it was creating a log cabin immersion experience. No detail overlooked, nothing from home depot. Black appliances not stainless steel, stainless steel screams suburbs! Natural materials from the copper tub, to the rock sink, live edge counters, no harsh chrome or plastic. The property bothers would die in this cabin there’s no subway tile or gray paint. Other cabins, have a treehouse theme. Others create awesome family escapes with pool tables, arcades, theater rooms, outdoor areas. Surprisingly no one is putting in fitness rooms yet. I expect to see pelotons or equivalent in the not too distant future.
• Are you willing to dedicate hours that you may or may not have time for to things like pricing, marketing, upkeep and so on. Prices change with the seasons or with different events. It takes time and planning to put together a pricing strategy. If you’re just setting one price for the whole year you’ll likely leave money on the table and a lot of it. This takes time knowing this market, school calendars, civic events, holidays, things like that.
What about marketing?
• Are you competent when it comes to technology, can you build a website, can your write social messages, can you produce quality videos, do you understand SEO? Are you really willing to learn? Google Analytics?
Buying a Cabin in the Smokies….Let’s talk about the property:
What type of structure? Cabin, Chalet, House, Condo, Yurt?
How many bedrooms? The more the merrier? One-bedroom honeymoon? Studio?
To view or not to view? What kind of view do you want the cabin to have? Mountain, canopy, forest, waterfront or city view?
What is the property constructed like? Logs, Timberframe, Fake logs, Cedar siding, Modular, high rise?
Are you in a resort with amenities…pool, park, fishing ponds?
Are you stand alone with no amenities?
Buying a Cabin in the Smokies…..What about finances?
Cash purchase or a mortgage?
Money for repairs?
Do you have an estimated budget going in? What is your breakeven? How many nights is that? What is REVPAR?
One of the most popular questions I get asked or see asked on popular boards and groups is… which is the best of the seasons in the Smokies? Great question but also loaded. Most people just start throwing out answers Spring! Summer! Fall! Winter stinks! It’s like asking the Facebook groups who has the best BBQ in the Smokies and sure enough out come 200 people giving only five answers..Delauders, Bennets, Hungry Bear, Calhouns, Corky’s ! Blah, blah, blah. No one ever asks….What kind of BBQ do you like? Beef? Pork? Sausage? Briscuit, Ribbs, Pulled pork sandwich? Wet or Dry? Kansas City Style? St Louis? Memphis? So when I’m asked when is the best time to visit the Smokies I’ll always ask that it depends on what you want to do and what you want to see. There are pros and cons to every season.
If you want a run down of how many visitors come to the area the busiest months are in this order: July, June, August, October, September, May, April, November, March, December, January and February. Summer Months of June, July and August will see 4.5M people. The Fall: Sept, Oct, Nov will see 3.5M, The Spring: March, April and May will have 2.9M and Winter: Dec, Jan and February will see 1.6M visitors. If you’re down there now on July 4th Weekend, Congrats you are there on the busiest week of the year and typically the hottest time of the year!
Although March weather can still be chilly and unpredictable, April and May bring warmer temperatures and an explosion of wildflowers in the meadows and redbud and dogwood trees in the mountain forests. At lower elevations, temperatures hover in the 60s by day, dropping the 40s at night, but the weather can change rapidly from sunny skies to snow flurries early in the season. In this shoulder season, travelers can score lower rates on accommodations on weekdays, but rates are higher for spring weekends, which attract quite a few in-state visitors. Having said that, the spring is seeing an uptick in visitors as the Smokies are becoming a popular destination for spring breakers.
April is characterized by frequent afternoon showers, while May temperatures soar into the 70s and 80s during the day. However, May also sees more than 4 inches of rain, similar to April precipitation totals.
Spring weather can be quite unpredictable with large variances temperatures. Occasionally, the mountains can receive large snowfalls in early March. There are some cool, sunny days that are ideal for going on wildflower hikes.
Spring is a lesser crowded time to explore the Smoky Mountains, so if you’d like to enjoy some privacy during your trip simply plan a visit in March or April. It’s an ideal time to enjoy destinations like Cades Cove, Alum Cave Trail, and Clingman’s Dome without the crowds.
Additionally, spring in the Smoky Mountains is an excellent time to see waterfalls due to elevated flow volume. Abrams Falls, Ramsey Cascades, The Place of 1000 Drips, and Rainbow Falls are especially impressive this time of year.
To fully enjoy the beauty of spring in the Smokies, go for hikes in low elevation regions of the park like Greenbrier and Cades Cove. After all, the Smoky Mountains national park is famous for its biological diversity and a stunning number of wildflowers. Some popular trails to see wildflowers are the Porter’s Creek Trail, The Little River Trail, and the Schoolhouse Gap Trail.
March: Mid priced except for Second Half – Spring Break
April: High Priced First Half- Spring Break, second half mid priced
May: Mid Priced month except for Memorial Day Weekend
Summer in the Smoky Mountains
I hope you love being around other people because this is for many people their favorite seasons in the Smokies. Expect peak lodging rates and heavy traffic on popular routes like the Cades Cove Loop, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Newfound Gap Road in the summer. Temperatures soar into the high 80s and low 90s in lower elevations, although evenings stay comfortably cool in the 60s and 70s. Although the humidity is not as severe as in other parts of the two states, visitors will see some haze and afternoon thunderstorms are fairly common. Reserve hotels and cabins up to a year in advance during this peak season especially large cabins for large groups.
Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, zip lining, or horseback riding. Wildlife like deer, bear, and turkey are very active during the summer season, so it’s a prime time to see wildlife.
On warm sunny days, many visitors cool off by going to swimming holes in the national park, exploring waterfalls, or by visiting high elevation parts of the Smokies like Newfound Gap, The Chimney Tops Trail, and Clingman’s Dome.
June: High Priced…All of It, Summer Season
July: High Priced…All of it plus 4th of July Premium priced
August: Mid-Priced as summer winds down
Fall in the Smoky Mountains
Fall is one of the most popular seasons in the Smokies. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy warm days in the 70s and 80s in September and cool nights dipping into the 50s, perfect for hiking and biking. Other visitors enjoy taking scenic drives through the park to enjoy the fall colors, which begins in mid-September when lodging rates are at offseason lows. In October, however, as the days get cooler and the leaves reaches peak color, throngs of visitors flock to the park on weekends, meaning crowds and peak pricing return. By November, temperatures drop to near freezing and snow is a possibility in the higher elevations, which may result in some road closures.
With dry, cool weather and stunning autumn colors, the fall season is one of the best times to go hiking in the national park. Some popular fall hikes to explore are the Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte and The Middle Prong Trail in Tremont.
September: is High priced for Labor Day Weekend but is mid-priced for the remainder
October: all month is High Priced for fall colors
November: The weekends are High but weekdays are mid-priced, Thanksgiving is a premium
Winter in the Smoky Mountains
Winter is certainly not on of the popular seasons in the Smokies. Although winter is fairly moderate in terms of temperature, it’s not unusual to experience extreme weather in the higher elevations. Daytime temperatures generally hover in the 50s, with lows at or below freezing and January and February are the months with the most snowfall. Lodging rates are the lowest during this season, except for holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keep in mind, some attractions, visitor centers and campgrounds close during the winter.
Once winter arrives in the Smokies, high elevation areas of the national park routinely see temperatures below freezing. Lower elevation areas like Gatlinburg and Cades Cove usually have mild temperatures and don’t receive much snowfall. January and February are the biggest months to see snow, especially in the higher elevation areas like Mt. Leconte, Newfound Gap, and Clingman’s Dome.
Experience the Winterfest Lights
Every winter, the Sevier County becomes a winter wonderland with more than 5 million lights brightening the night. Now in its 27th year, Winterfest has become one of the most anticipated celebrations in the Smokies. Wherever you drive in the county, you’re sure to see lots of awesome light arrangements. Businesses get in on the fun, too. You can see amazing arrangements at The Old Mill, The Island, Dixie Stampede, and Smoky Mountains Christmas at Dollywood.
December: up until a few days before Christmas, December is mid-priced due to Winterfest. Christmas – New Years is Premium priced.
January: Low priced except for New Years Day- Premium, MLK Weekend
February: Low priced except for Valentine’s Day, Presidents day weekend
Well there you have it the pro and con for all four seasons. You just need to decide which is the best fit for you. Hot or cold, crowded or less-crowded, wildflowers or fall colors. It’s all your personal preference. It’s always a good season to visit the Smokies.
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 – 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
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 – 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
“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.
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.
Let’s take a look at the park. Not much has changed since last week.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
Breakfast &Lunch… Banana Foster French Toast, Hillbilly Burgers and more….
Breakfast Lunch and Dinner….Traditional Menu.
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
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 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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.