As summer continues, the intense heat and sticky bug spray can often bring about feelings of longing for a changing of the seasons. In Blount County, Tennessee that longing is especially felt as summer gives way to some of the most beautiful fall landscapes anywhere in the United States. Those who are looking to truly experience fall foliage should look no further than the Peaceful Side of the Smokies.
Why Blount County and the Smoky Mountains?
The Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains
The Smoky Mountains offer a great destination for fall foliage enthusiasts looking for a beautiful, relaxing getaway.
, in Blount County, Tennessee
, provides a refuge from the more tourist populated areas, a serene escape with scenic mountain views and countless options for biking, hiking, riding motorcycles, camping and more. It is the perfect place for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the outdoors. While seemingly remote, the forest is also in close proximity to the town of Townsend
, providing a wide selection of dining options, activities and accommodations. Blount County, Tennessee provides several benefits to travelers looking for a fall getaway destination. With a wide variety of activity options, all convenient for viewing miles of vibrant forest colors and enjoying crisp autumn weather, Blount County is the perfect place to visit to see extraordinary fall foliage colors.
Peak Foliage Season
Peak fall foliage season depends on what elevation of the Smoky Mountains you are visiting. At the highest peaks, colors start changing around mid-September. Mid to lower elevations reach peak season between mid-October and early November.
Routes for bicyclists, hikers or motorcyclists offering beautiful fall views:
Cades Cove Loop: 11 miles through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with a backdrop of mountain peaks and a lush valley, the Cades Cove Loop is one of the area’s most popular options for cyclists, hikers and bikers, especially for viewing fall colors. Visitors can enjoy the largest variety of historic buildings along the way in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road is closed to vehicles in the mornings, allowing for a peaceful bike or hike. Restrooms are available and a visitor’s center provides supplies. Cades Cove also offers a campground for those who enjoy camping in the great outdoors. Trail visitors should keep an eye out for white tail deer, coyotes, elk, fox, and in the evening hours, may spot black bears.
Foothills Parkway: Advanced bicyclists and motorcyclists will love the breathtaking fall views of the Foothills Parkway. A low amount of traffic makes this hilly ride ideal for those looking for a long, scenic route to enjoy. Riders will meander through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains across the western side of Chilhowee Mountain for 16 1/2 miles.
Little River Run: Nine miles one way, the Little River Run Bike Trail is great for cyclists of all skill levels. This trail starts at Coulter Bridge and winds down to the Townsend Bike Trail, passing Pee Wee Spring and the Foothills Parkway. This trail features views of historical sites such as Peery’s mill site and dam, Old Gamble family cemetery, the Walland community and Sunshine Station.
Tuckaleechee Caverns Trail: For a biking or hiking route with a side trip, the Tuckaleechee Caverns Trail is 9 miles one way of mostly flat, paved trail and connects with both the Townsend Bicycle Trail and the Tuckaleechee Caverns site. Visitors enjoy mountain stream views and beautiful colors as they anticipate a trip inside the Caverns.
The Tail of the Dragon: Blount County is the origin of one of the most famous motorcycle rides in the world, The Tail of The Dragon. The Dragon has been voted the #1 motorcycle road in America and winds 11 miles along the Tennessee-North Carolina state line with 318 curves. This two lane section of Highway 129 has no intersections and is carved into the mountains along the water’s edge, making it a destination for bikers year-round.
A variety of other fun activities:
Cades Cove Cellars: A winery with a great selection of wine offering free tastings.
Tuckaleechee Caverns: Underground caverns with stalactites and stalagmites, with an intriguing tour of an underground stream and waterfall.
Cades Cove Riding Stables: Offering carriage rides and individual guided rides, horseback riding is a fun way to explore Cades Cove.
Antique Shopping: In Blount County, especially in the town of Townsend, there are great opportunities for antique shopping at the Antique Outlet Mall, Foothills View Antiques, Good Ole Girl Antiques, and many others.
A taste of the South with a variety of unique dining options:
Apple Valley Café: Offering breakfast, lunch and delectable treats, the café is known for
their locally-roasted coffee, “breakfast of champions” with scrambled eggs and a fried pie and for lunch, in-house smoked pulled BBQ or homemade chicken salad sandwiches. Visitors can also indulge in Apple Valley’s famous fried pies. Each pie is topped with a special blend of cinnamon and sugar and complements the tart apple sweetness. For those seeking a healthy option, Apple Valley also has house-made granola.
Black Bear Café: An old-fashioned diner preparing traditional, homestyle southern specialties.
Little River BBQ: A riverside joint with an old-fashioned vibe, Little River serves BBQ sandwiches and plates with classic sides.
Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro: The Bistro’s dishes are steeped in southern tradition with bold new dashes of flavor—all from fresh, quality-sourced ingredients by Executive Chef Shelley Cooper. Guests can expect entrees like lump crab stuffed trout, country fried ham with collards and pork osso bucco with creamy goat cheese grits and brussels.
Smoky Mountain Brewery: For drinks after a long, active day outside, Smoky Mountain Brewery has a convenient location near the trails in Maryville. The oldest craft brewery in East Tennessee, this restaurant serves up a variety of micro brewed beer from tap or bottle that pairs perfectly with their classic brewhouse food, including pizza, wings, burgers and more.
Quiet campgrounds and peaceful accommodations:
? Big Meadow Family Campground
? Cades Cove Campground
? Elkmont Campground
? Little River Campground & RV Resort
? Mountaineer Campground
? Townsend Great Smokies KOA
? Tremont Outdoor Resort
? Whispering River Resort
? Dancing Bear Lodge
? Tally Ho Inn
? Blackberry Farm
? Bearly Rustic Cabin Rentals
? Chilhowee Inn Bed and Breakfast
Close Proximity to an Airport: The McGhee Tyson Airport is located in Alcoa, Tennessee, less than 30 minutes from Townsend
Convenient Highways: Townsend provides the serenity of the Smokies, but is still convenient to major highways like I-40.
For more information or help planning your trip, visit smokymountains.org.