Recreational Opportunities Abound!
From hiking, bicycling, tubing and canoeing, fishing, horseback-riding, camping, and picnicking to shopping for arts and crafts, golfing, enjoying music concerts and festivals, or visiting museums, there is something for all ages and interests year-round in Townsend, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove. Click here for an itinerary for four days of fun in four seasons: Four Days of Fun
And click on each heading, below, for more information.
To fully experience the grandeur of our region, one only has to venture into the GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK. At 500,000 acres, it's the largest piece of wilderness east of the Mississippi. 800 miles of trails are packed with over 1,400 species of flowering plants, including 150 tree species, over 50 species of ferns, 71 mammals, 35 amphibians and at least 235 birds. And be on the lookout for black bears. Many of them can be seen throughout the park daily!
For information on camping in the National Park, click here: Great Smoky Mtns. Camping
Cades Cove is a perennial favorite in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Cades Cove lies peacefully in a tranquil valley. It was home to hundreds of families before the formation of the Park. Open fields stretch between 5,000-foot mountain peaks. At Cable Mill Visitors Center there is a fully operational grist mill with a working waterwheel and other historic structures.
For a scenic excursion, you may drive the 11-mile, one-way, paved Loop Road in Cades Cove. Deer, bear and wild turkey are frequently seen on this route. Also along the way: churches and cemeteries which once served residents of the cove, the Cable Mill area, and several pioneer cabins, barns, and houses.
Be aware of bears as you hike and camp! Be informed about what you should do if you encounter a bear. Click here to see the National Park's 6 minute video of hiking safety in bear country: http://thegreatsmokymountains.org/hike_smokies_challenge
Be sure to visit Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Museum on your way to the Park to see exhibits, browse the shop, and walk among historic cabins, barns, and other structures.
Enjoy seasonal concerts in Townsend at Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shopand at Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. Jump into a bluegrass jam session at Rocky Branch Community Center every Friday night or at Music Row on Saturday night. Enjoy internationally known performers at The Palace Theater in Maryville or atttend week-long workshops for guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, and fiddle at Kaufman Acoustic Kamps at Maryille College. Enjoy world class concerts at the new Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville, TN. Visit those websites or call the Townsend Visitor Center at 800-525-6834 for details. Enjoy traditional mountain music, and even watch a dulcimer being made, at the Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer shop. Enjoy bluegrass music jam sessions at Rocky Branch Community Center in Wallandor Music Row in Maryville.
Saddle up and enjoy horseback riding in Great Smoky Mountains National Park or along other trails at the borders of the Park. Several stables also offer carriage rides as well as haywagon rides in Cades Cove.
is lots of fun in the cool, clear Little River which flows out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and right through Townsend. Bring your own gear, or stop by Little River Outfitters in the area and get everything you need to fish for trout, bass, rockbass, or bluegill.
From backcountry treks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to a stroll along a stream or a half day walk, there are trails for everyone and for any time of year. Come by the Townsend Visitors Center to purchase a map and get some handy tips for a safe and fun hike. Click here for a list of trails: Trails List.
To download a trail map of the National Park, click here: GSMNP Trail Map
Be aware of bears as you hike and camp! Be informed about what to do. Click here to view the National Park's 6 minute video clip about hiking safety in bear country: http://thegreatsmokymountains.org/hike_smokies_challenge
The Townsend River Walk is a short walking trail along the Little River that lends a peaceful, scenic view of the stream, trees, wildflowers, and wildlife. Established and maintained by the Tuckaleechee Garden Club, the nature trail has been beautified with more flowers and interpretive signs in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The entrance is located along the Townsend Bicycle Trail, near the underpass across from Campground United Methodist Church. For more information call 865-980-6346 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Townsend 9 mile loop bicycle path is a scenic and historic route along pathways trod by settlers and Native Americans for thousands of years. Learn their stories in the "Shadows of the Past" booklet, available at the Townsend Visitors Center, or download it here: (2MB .pdf) Shadows of the Past Booklet.
Click here for descriptions of area bicycle routes: Blount County Bicycling.
Motorcylists love our region for its beautiful scenery, sweeping mountain roads, and great places to stay, eat, shop, and explore. See the "Circle the Smokies" brochure, a map and guide for touring, available at the Townsend Visitors Center and the Blount County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center, or download here:
(3MB .pdf) Circle the Smokies.
Click here: for a video of "Ride the Smokies".
The Foothills Parkway, part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, runs along the crest of Chilhowee Mountain for 18 miles from Highway 321 at Walland to Highway 129 at Chilhowee Lake. Access to Look Rock Tower Trail, and the Campground and Picnic area is 11 miles from Walland. Overlooks offer scenic views from both sides--the Smoky Mountains to the southeast and the Ridge and Valley to the northwest.
Click here to see the webcam at Look Rock.
Excellent, well groomed courses with great mountain views await you! Located throughout Blount County, the golf clubs may or may not have tee times and dress codes; some have restaurants and club houses. Call the Visitors Center at 865-448-6134 or click for a listing of the golf courses.
The Little River flows out of the National Park and through Townsend. From tubing, wading and splashing, canoeing, and kayaking in the warmer months to just enjoying the beauty of the water all year long, the river beckons!
Tuckaleechee Caverns is open from mid March through mid November and offers guided tours of this beautiful underground wonderland.
Nestled in Walker Valley within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Institute offers residential environmental education programs, photography workshops, and nature camps for both adults and young people. See www.gsmit.org.
Wesley Woods is a member of the Holston Conference of the Methodist Church and offers camping and environmental education progams for schools, church groups, and the public. It is located in Capshaw Valley, off the Old River Rd. in Townsend. Call 865-448-2246 or see: www.campwesleywoods.com.
Highlighting the fascinating history of this region, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center showcases Native American lore, pioneer settlement, and transportation. The Little River Railroad Museum, features exhibits about the railroad and lumbering days. There is a locomotive engine, handcar, and other equipment from the 1920s and 30s.
Visit a local farm
Liles Acres Organic Farm just east of Maryville, offers honey, eggs, and organic produce, plus group tours, classes and birthday parties. They also have llama packing trips, llama fiber, Angora rabbits, and more. Call 865-981-2871 and see www.lilesacres.com.
Explore the beautiful and productive farms of East Tennessee! Click here: Farm Tours.
Discover arts, crafts, galleries, shops, and scenic areas in Blount County and East Tennessee. Follow the quilt blocks on barns and other buildings!
For expert advice about the region and a wide assortment of maps, books, outdoor wear, videos, cds, and Smokies gift items, be sure to come by the Visitors Center and shop at the Association Store, located at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Townsend, TN 37882. Purchases benefit the Park! Traveling to other National Parks? Buy an annual pass or a life-long senior pass for all the National Parks and Monuments. Available at our Townsend Visitors Center. Phone 800-525-6834
Blount County has recently been designated a "Preserve America" Community. This national honor reflects our dedication to the natural and cultural heritage of this beautiful and historic region of East Tennessee.