Amazing Smoky Mountain Scenic Drives in Autumn
Autumn is both a beautiful and a busy time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As an area that attracts vacationers all year round, Autumn in the Smoky Mountains is truly something to see. The fall colors attract people from all over the country. If you have visited during this time of year then you understand why it is such a busy and beautiful time to plan that Pigeon Forge Vacation. If you have never vacationed in this area during Autumn, you are truly missing some incredible views that just leave you speechless. Visitors always have that one question they ask during this time of year, “Where can I see the colors the best?” If you do not want to have to get out and hike then you are going to love these options as you can see the foliage from the comfort of your vehicle. Everywhere you go in the Pigeon Forge and Smoky Mountain area during Autumn, you are bound to see the colors, but there are some fantastic drives that you can take that are scenic as they come and we are going to tell you about them!
- Upper Tremont Road
This is one of most scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains and feels like you are literally in a different world. It is a fantastic place to escape the crowds and still enjoy the beauty of the mountains. Located near Townsend, this is a quiet, serene drive. Visitors will find several hiking trails, waterfalls and scenic views. The Middle Prong of the Little River runs along this drive and makes for an even more peaceful, serene time. One of my favorite spots to retreat to when I do not have a lot of time to go hiking is located at the end of Tremont Road. Lynn Camp Prong Cascades is a quick and easy 1.3 (roundtrip) hiking trail. The trail begins at a footbridge across the river. Once you cross the bridge, you will come to a fork in the trail. Go left and follow the river. After almost half a mile, you will see the large cascade and there are two benches for you to sit down and enjoy the quietness and beauty of the most visited national park in America. There are a few smaller waterfalls on up this trail.
Tremont was once a logging community, a very prominent one actually. When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, those loggers and their families packed up and headed into town or elsewhere. Now the Lower part of Tremont Road is an ideal place for those that love to fish. It is also the beginning of several popular hiking trails and horseback riding trails. For those of you that do not know, Tremont is an institute dedicated to outdoor environmental education and they host several events a year.
- Cades Cove Loop
When Autumn hits in the Smoky Mountains, there is no better place to visit than Cades Cove. This 11 mile loop takes you through a variety of old homesites and buildings and offers incredible panoramic views of the rolling hills. There are streams along the way and beautiful fields where you can have a picnic or get some fantastic family photos made. We suggest you carve a few hours out because you will not want to rush this adventure. Wildlife will be wandering about and there is a great Visitor Center that offers some nice gift ideas and souvenirs of your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Little River Road
This is one of the most popular drives when visiting the Smokies, no matter the time of year. Known for the scenic views of the thick forest, the fall foliage is spectacular along this drive. There are some overlooks for you to pull off and enjoy as well. Along Little River Road, you will come across some waterfalls and trailheads as well. Stretching from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the Cades Cove Loop Road, we advise you to put this scenic drive on your itinerary for your Fall Vacation to the Smokies.
- Clingman’s Dome Road
Although the Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower is closed for some repair currently, that does not mean you cannot drive up the Clingman’s Dome Road and still enjoy some scenic views. There are trailheads along the road if you are feeling up to a nice hike. The real treasure though is the incredible views you get once you reach the parking lot. Panoramic views every direction you look, it is truly breathtaking. In the fall though, it is even more special. The road for Clingman’s Dome is located just a short ways past the Roosevelt Memorial on Newfound Gap Road.
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
This one may be my favorite. I find myself traveling along this Motor Nature Trail quite often, even if it is a quick drive thru after a work day. The peacefulness just outweighs anywhere else. It can get quite busy as many travel this trail to get access to many of the National Park’s popular hiking trails like Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. There are numerous old homesites, an old water mill and many waterfalls along the way. My favorite waterfall would be the “Waterfall of a Thousand Drips.” It is located towards the end of Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, on the left. You will know it when you see it! Lush forest surround you as you travel along which is why this is a must do if you are visiting the area in Autumn. You can reach the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail by turning left at Traffic Light #8 in Gatlinburg.
If you decide that you would like to take a hike this Autumn and enjoy the fall foliage up close and personal, here are some suggested hikes that we think you will enjoy!
• Appalachian Trail
Park at the parking area for Newfound Gap. Cross the Road and look for the trail sign. Follow the Appalachian Trail to Indian Gap. This is 3.4 miles round trip if you hike to Indian Gap and back.
• Inspiration Point on Alum Cave Trail
You will park at the Alum Cave parking area. One-way this trail is 1.8 miles to Inspiration Point.
• Look Rock Tower
From Townsend, TN take US-321 to the Foothills Parkway and follow this scenic road to the Look Rock tower parking lot. The hike is 1 miles roundtrip, but is considered to be moderate.
• Sutton Ridge Overlook
You will park in the parking lot just before you enter the Cosby Campground. There is a nature trail near the amphitheater. It is 1.4 miles to the 200-yard spur trail to the overlook.
Whether you are solely interested in scenic drives or you would like to get out and hike a bit, Autumn is a fantastic time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas. The Fall Foliage is truly something to behold and many return year after year to do so. Not only are the surroundings in this area gorgeous, there are numerous events and festivals going on throughout the Autumn season.
Picture yourself on a Pigeon Forge Vacation. You may be sitting along the Little Pigeon River from your private balcony at Bear Crossing or Cedar Lodge or you may be relaxing at our Whispering Pines Property with a cup of coffee in hand while you gaze out towards the Smoky Mountains or the city of Pigeon Forge. No matter where you spend your Fall Getaway, you are bound to make many Vacation Memories. Join us in the Smokies this October or November and enjoy one of the above mentioned Amazing Smoky Mountain Scenic Drives in Autumn!