The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the big drawing cards for Gatlinburg, Tennessee. People enjoy the shopping and dining and of course, the fun attractions, but it is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, home to our famous Black Bears that draw people to our area.
Not far from the Chalet Village area you can enter the National Park. Along Little River Road from Sugarlands Welcome Center, very near Chalet Village all the way to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic area and on to Townsend and Cades Cove this is a drive to be sure you take when you visit Chalet Village.
Once you begin at the Sugarlands Welcome Center then find these awesome areas along Little River Road.
The moderate 2.6 mile trail to Laurel Falls is one of the Park’s most traveled. The trail divides the waterfall in two. At the top, Laurel Branch bursts from a grove of rhododendron, or “laurel” as it was called by early settlers, and falls nearly 50 feet to collect in a pool perfect for soaking tired feet. The falls continues on from that pool for about 35 feet before reaching the bottom.
Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
Once a family farm, Metcalf Bottoms is now a large picnic area with plenty of space along the rich bottomland by the river. As Little River Road was being built, the Metcalf family often brought fresh spring water to the many workers. The National Park Service remembered the favor by naming the picnic area for them.
Little Greenbrier School
Just a mile through the forest from Metcalf Bottoms lies the Little Greenbrier School. This charming 19th -century schoolhouse evokes the simpler education of years gone by. Built from logs split up to two feet wide, the school also served as a church from 1882 until the Park’s creation. The original benches and desks still line the room, along with a lectern and a painted blackboard.
Located just 1.5 miles east of Metcalf Bottoms picnic area, The Sinks are a combination of hydraulic rapids and deep pools. Folklore tells of how a logging train once derailed and plunged into the Little River at this spot. It was never found as the bottom could not be reached. Thereafter, this spot was always referred to as “The Sinks.”
A local favorite for years, the Townsend “Wye” is the meeting point of the middle and west prongs of the Little Pigeon River. This broad, peaceful curve is ideal for swimming and the smooth, grassy banks are a perfect spot for spreading a blanket. Over the years, this has become a popular site due to its accessibility — one mile south of Townsend and seven miles east of Cades Cove.
Once known as Tarpaper Camp (for the covering used on buildings), Tremont was one of three towns built by the Little River Lumber Company. Tremont became a logging boom town in the Southern Appalachians during the 1920s. The company town once consisted of a store, post office, hotel, doctor’s office and a church/school/theater building. Today, the area is primarily used for ranger facilities and educational research.
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