The Little River Gorge is where locals go for their no-money fun. There are more things to do and see than you can shake a stick at, along this 25 mile stretch. And, the very best thing for visitors is probably that it ends at Cades Cove.
The road actually changes names to Laurel Creek Road along the way. This winding, follow the edge of the road (and I do mean you feel as if you are going to topple into the river below) started as a railroad bed for the Little River Railroad. Logging was quite an industry in the Elkmont and Tremont areas in the late 1800’s and before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1934. This railroad carried a lot of native timber out of the mountains during that period.
Gladly, we have the fun stuff now with the pull-offs that you get to stop at along the way. There are 7 parking areas that are so often visited that they are actually marked and numbered. Starting from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, Maloney Point is number 1 and the only mountain view the whole distance. Because, this is not a high road but rather a low road that hugs the river. Laurel Falls Trail is a busy, popular hiking trail.
Elkmont is one of the old logging communities and has a campground and lots of hiking opportunities. Metcalf Bottoms has the family combo, a great picnic area with bathrooms and a short hike to the Walker Sisters Cabin, a graveyard and Little Greenbriar School. The Sinks is a strong waterfall with a very deep swift plunge pool. Lots of people swim and dive from the rock cliffs, but it is a dangerous area. It is a better idea to just observe the natural wonder.
Meigs Falls is really gorgeous in the fall because the variation of foliage colors as a backdrop to the rock ledge and sparkling water is the rare waterfall that you can see from your car at the parking area.
The Townsend Wye is by-far the most happening place in town on a hot summer day. The Little River will be full of swimmers and tubers and the big grassy knoll will be completely covered with sunbathers and kids playing. And, if you hang in there for the whole 25 miles Cades Cove will be your reward at the end. Every family that loves the outdoors has spent many hours with kids and grand kids along this not-so-long and winding road.
Come visit and explore the beauty and lifestyle of East Tennessee.
Excited about the area and want more information, visit knoxville-tn.com or call 800-747-0713.