Experience The Colors Of Fall In Blount County

  • Friday, September 23, 2022
  • Grant T. Mitchell

Fall is here. The crisp mornings and cool evenings provide a respite from the summer heat that wrapped us up for the past several months. In Blount County, autumn invites you outside to the most beautiful fall landscapes anywhere in the United States. Those who want to experience brilliant fall foliage should look no further than the Peaceful Side of the Smokies.

Why Blount County and the Smoky Mountains?

The Smoky Mountains is the most popular national park in the United States and is a go-to destination for fall leaf peepers looking for a beautiful, relaxing getaway. Additionally, the park is one of the only national parks that doesn’t charge an entry fee. The Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains, 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 near 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 has the perfect combination of convenience and breath-taking views of some of the best fall foliage in the country.

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.

Fall events in the Smokies:

·        Halloween Spooktacular, October 28: Fun Halloween activities on West Broadway in downtown Maryville.  Activities will include trick or treating at downtown businesses, a dog costume contest, a dance party in the street, carnival games, and more.

·        Tennessee Pottery Festival, October 29: Featuring a selection of the nation’s finest potters, this festival offers the opportunity to view and purchase different styles of pottery and other goods made of clay.

·        Grains & Grits Festival, November 5: The Townsend Grains & Grits Festival is a festival of southern spirits and gourmet grub.

·        Holiday Handcrafters Festival, November 12: Diverse vendors will offer high quality, hand-crafted items just in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas gift-giving season.

·        Christmas in the Village, November 25-26, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17: Guests can celebrate the holiday season with family at the Heritage Center's "Christmas in the Village" by stepping back in time to a pioneer celebration. Christmas in the Village at the Heritage Center welcomes visitors to experience Smoky Mountain traditions and demonstrations, create their own make-and-take crafts and enjoy warm refreshments.

 Best ways to take in the scenery:

  • Fishing    

There are 750 miles of trout fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you can cast a line 365 days a year. The Little River runs right through Townsend and meets up with the Tennessee River deep in the park. The river hosts several kinds of trout as well as bass and other fish. And you can’t beat the gorgeous scenery. 

 

Note:  you will need a permit to fish in the park, and there are limits to how many you can catch.

 

 

  • Hiking

 

The national park has more than 800 miles of trails ranging from leisurely strolls, to challenging adventures for advanced hikers. In the early fall months, the higher elevations will provide the most breathtaking views.

Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6,643 feet. The steep climb up the 45 foot tower has big payoff.  On a clear blue day, or when the clouds are high in the sky, it offers unparalleled views of the park’s majesty popping with fall colors. But plan to go early, as this is a hot spot for tourists and leaf peepers. The Anthony Creek trail to Spence Field is a quieter way to take in expansive views of the fall colors while avoiding the crowds. When the fall colors creep lower into the valley, Cades Cove is the perfect picturesque spot to take in the colors and wildlife of the season. The cove is surrounded by an 11-mile loop allowing you to take in the views, with several pull-offs for trails and site seeing. Hiking site AllTrails lists 34 moderate trails in Townsend ranging from 1.7 to 20 miles and from 1,135 to 5,036 feet above sea level. One trail in the cove, Abrams Falls is a popular hike because it’s well-maintained, and easily manageable for all levels of hikers with a powerful waterfall to greet you at the end.

 

 

Taking in the views from bicycle or motorcycle

  • 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.

·        Vee Hollow: For mountain biking, the free to use 14-mile mountain trail is perfect for cyclists wanting to dive deep into the mountainous terrain the Smokies have to offer. With easy, intermediate and advanced trails, Vee Hollow offers an adventure for every skill level.

  • 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.
  • Tremont Institute: Inside the park, the Tremont Institute delivers experiential learning for kids and adults alike. Tremont offers classes and programs for all ages.
  • Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center: With the Smoky Mountains also comes rich history of the area. To see what life was once like and transport yourself to a time before us, be sure to stop by this amazing museum seated right in the Smokies.

 

A taste of the South with a variety of unique dining options:

·        The Abbey: Listed in TripAdvisor’s top 10% of restaurants in 2020 and 2021, The Abbey blends ribs, sliders, subs, flatbreads and salads with the gourmet. The result is a menu of delicious foods that everyone loves, just look at the reviews.

  • 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.

·        Blue Goose Vineyards: An intimate family-owned vineyard featuring wine from a sweet and hardy southern grape. It is a great destination for hosting a variety of events.

  • 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 Jeff Carter.  Guests can expect entrees like a sweet tea brined pork chop, Springer Mountain chicken with ratatouille and North Carolina Rainbow Trout with grits.

·        Peaceful Side Social: Driven by the purpose of celebrating the beauty and richness of the Smoky Mountains, Peaceful side Social has an extensive menu of regionally inspired dishes as well as brews from around the area.

 

Breweries in the area:

·        Blackberry Farm Brewing: A taproom featuring a menu of classic southern favorites and snacks, Blackberry Farm Brewing has plenty of food to complement their original beers.

·        Blackhorse Brewing: Featuring a sprawling outdoor patio, Blackhorse is a destination for a good time. Along with their beer garden, Blackhorse has outdoor games, weekly trivia and live musical performances.

·        Company Distilling: Built right along Little River, Company Distilling has a lush greenway running alongside the 13.5-acre property. Featuring many events as well as featuring a menu full of delicious food and fine spirits.

·        Round 6 Brewing: Built with sustainability and a friendly atmosphere in mind, Round 6 Brewing is an atmospherically unique spot with a lovely outdoor beer garden and food that perfectly complements their well-crafted beers.

·        Tri-Hop Brewery: Located in downtown Maryville just by the Smokies, Tri-Hop is a craft brewery with an intimate and welcoming atmosphere that is pet and family friendly.

 

Quiet campgrounds and peaceful accommodations:

·        Big Meadow Family Campground

·        Cades Cove Campground

·        Elkmont Campground

·        RT Lodge

·        Little River Campground & RV Resort

·        Mountaineer Campground

·        Townsend Great Smokies KOA

·        Tremont Outdoor Resort

·        Whispering River Resort

·        Dancing Bear Lodge

·        Tally Ho Inn

 

 

Convenience:

  • Blount County, Tennessee is within a days drive of 50% of the United States population, making it an easily accessible vacation location
  • 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.

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