The Great Smoky Mountains – Little River Road

On our first full day in the Smokies, we decided to explore the Little River Road. The Little River Road is a scenic drive between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and Townsend, Tennessee. We first stopped at the Gatlinburg overlook. This was our first really good view of the mountains and it was spectacular!

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We then stopped at the Visitors Center which I highly recommend! They have a gift shop and informational exhibits.

We stopped at the first pull-off and were treated to a beautiful view.

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Our next stop was the trailhead for Laurel Falls. This is probably one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the park. The trail is 1.3 miles to the waterfall. I really enjoyed hiking to this waterfall. The trail is paved and is a steady incline all the way to the waterfall.


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While there were a lot of people enjoying this hike, we were able to snap a couple pictures.

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Our next stop along the Little River Road was the town of Elkmont. Just beyond the campground is the old, abandoned community of Daisy Town. In the early 20th century, this was a thriving resort town where Knoxville residents would arrive by train to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

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I loved walking around the dilapidated cottages.

A hidden gem in Elkmont is the arched bridge over the Little River. We sat down by the river for a while and just enjoyed the peaceful sounds of nature.


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The next stop along the route was Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. There is a trail and a road that leads to the Little Greenbriar School. The one room school was built in 1882 and served children of all ages from the surrounding area.

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The Sinks is a popular stop along the Little River Road. The story behind this place is that the logging industry would float timber down the river and in the late 1800’s, there was a log jam. Dynamite was used to clear the jam. The Sinks were born from this explosion and the course of the river was changed forever.

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Our final stop was Meigs Falls. This waterfall is tucked back into the trees on the other side of the Little River, but is visible from the road.

Once you reach the Townsend “Y” where the middle and west prongs of the Little River come together, this is the end of the Little River Road. If you continue straight, the road will take you to Cades Cove. Be sure to check out my post on that beautiful area. We headed toward Townsend and stopped at Cades Cove Cellars and picked up a bottle of wine. We bought it because of the label and not because we plan on drinking it =)

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The Great Smoky Mountains did not disappoint on our first day. I loved driving the Little River Road!

Categories: The Great Smoky MountainsTags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. We followed a similar path a few years ago, and our first time out there… Awesome place!


  2. WOW – photos are BEAUTIFUL!! 🙂


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