This peaceful gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a family-friendly town with caves, museums, scenic drives and hiking trails.
Prepare for a vacation of outdoor adventures, wildlife spotting and Appalachian heritage in Townsend. This easygoing town sits in the heart of Tuckaleechee Cove, a scenic valley at the edge of the Smoky Mountains. Townsend’s striking countryside ranges from wildflower meadows to dense woodland, lazy rivers and meandering creeks. Hike to mountain peaks, marvel at thundering waterfalls, visit pioneer homes and explore historic trails.
Get an in-depth insight into the Smokies and examine millennia-old objects at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. Learn about the region’s railroading history at the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum. Discover local legends and learn about Southern Appalachian culture on the 10-mile-long (16-kilometer) Shadows of the Past Hiking/Biking Trail. Interpretive signs provide information about archaeological grounds, early settler homes and other sites.
Admire curious limestone rock formations, including a 12-foot-tall (3.7-meter) stalagmite and icicle-like stalactites, at Tuckaleechee Caverns. Hike the Rich Mountain Loop trail and be rewarded with superb views over the Smoky Mountains.
Visit Cades Cove, one of the most popular areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Appreciate the pristine landscapes while driving along Cades Cove Loop road. Walk to Abrams Falls and Laurel Falls. Glimpse the life of European settlers at John Cable Grist Mill and the Primitive Baptist Church, among many 19th-century landmarks. Spot black bears, coyote, deer and elk.
Enjoy thrill-seeking fun by joining a tubing adventure on the Little River. Cross the Dark Island Swinging Bridge, one of two swinging bridges in Townsend. Alternatively, play a round of golf at the Laurel Valley Golf Course.
Townsend is about a 3-hour drive east of Nashville and a 4-hour drive north of Atlanta, Georgia. Visit in May for the Townsend Spring Festival and Old Timers Day. Watch bluegrass concerts, browse artisan stalls and sample typical Tennessee fare.