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The Smoky Mountains Appalachian Trail on a foggy fall day.

5 Picturesque Places to Escape the Crowds in the Smoky Mountains

Are you ready to get away in the Smoky Mountains? With all sorts of scenic beauty and unforgettable adventures to take part in, the Smokies are rightfully a popular vacation destination. If you’re hoping to escape some of the hustle and bustle, particularly during peak seasons, there are several less popular spots to check out. Breathe in that refreshing mountain air and soak up the serenity of the great outdoors! Here are 5 picturesque places to escape the crowds in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Metcalf Bottoms Trail

metcalf bottomsShort and sweet but full of special sights, including the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse and Walker Sisters Place, the Metcalf Bottoms Trail has a little bit of everything to offer! Clocking in a 1.5 miles roundtrip and considered to be of easy difficulty, this trail is the perfect option for families wanting to escape and enjoy nature’s embrace. Crossing multiple times over the Little River, you’ll love this peaceful experience. Pack a lunch and stop at one of the pair of picnic areas in Metcalf Bottoms or bring your fishing rod and cast a line in the river.

2. Look Rock Tower

Take a scenic drive along the Foothills Parkway to reach Look Rock Tower! This concrete observation tower happens to be the highest point of the Parkway, so you’re in for some of the most spectacular views around! At just 1 mile round trip, it’s an easy trek for visitors of all ages and skill levels. The paved path is suitable for strollers so even the youngest of adventurers can take part. Look out at panoramic views of vistas, valleys and more as you enjoy the unparalleled beauty of the Smoky Mountains.

3. Townsend

Townsend WyeKnown as the “peaceful side of the Smokies”, Townsend provides vibrant views and numerous fun things to do while being less crowded than cities like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville! A relaxing drive from Sevier County, Townsend features some stellar hiking trails like the Middle Prong Trail and Spruce Flat Falls. Navigate these wooded areas, along the way seeing wildlife and natural scenes that have a way of putting the mind at ease.

4. Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is the most famous hiking trail in America! Stretching for 2,178 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia north to Mount Katahdin in Maine, this trail passes directly through the Smoky Mountains for more than 71 miles. The Clingmans Dome portion of the trail is its highest point at 6,625, where incredible views for miles and miles await! This trek straddles the border of the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the park and many of the areas along it tend to be less crowded.

5. Greenbrier

Little Greenbrier School in the Smoky MountainsJust east of Gatlinburg in the northern portion of Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies Greenbrier! This is a great alternative to the always popular Cades Cove, offering many similar sights and sounds. Ramsey Cascades is a spectacular waterfall you have to see, plus there’s even a swimming hole in the area to hop in on hot days! Learn more about the history of the Smoky Mountains at historic buildings throughout.

You can escape the crowds at these picturesque places in the Smoky Mountains! Before you do, check out some of our top tips for avoiding crowds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!