a swinging footbridge over the Little River in Townsend, TN

Located about 20 minutes southwest of Pigeon Forge on US 321, Townsend, Tennessee, offers visitors a well-rounded view of life in the Great Smoky Mountains. Far removed from the more heavily trafficked cities of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Townsend is a quiet mountain oasis, luring guests in with its subdued charms and scenic beauty. Any exploration of the Townsend area should include the northwest corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Tremont area of the park is nearby, featuring two scenic hiking trails and handy access to Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River. From the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area on Little River Road, you can make side trips to historic sites like the Little Greenbrier School or the Walker Sisters' Cabin.

Lovers of the great outdoors will find plenty to do in Townsend. Fishing is always one of the most popular activities, especially along the Little River, which runs through the heart of town. The river is also a favorite spot for swimmers and inner-tubers. For years visitors have gathered at one of the river’s confluences–better known as the “Y”–where they take the plunge into the water and cool off on a hot summer’s day.

Looking for more to do in Townsend’s charming mountain setting? Horseback riding, camping and golfing are among the area’s recreational options, and bicyclists can take advantage of a nearly eight-mile trail running through town.

Because it embodies so much of the flavor of mountain life in the good ol’ days, Townsend is a long-time destination for craft lovers. The town harbors numerous studios and galleries, where you’ll discover hand-crafted treasures like baskets, woodwork, pottery, glassware, paintings and more. There are also shops dealing in antiques and collectibles, where the area’s storied past lives on today.

For fun, you might look into one of the many special events that are held in Townsend throughout the year. Festivals during spring, fall and Christmas are full of good times for visitors and locals alike. You can usually find unique arts and crafts, delicious foods, old-time storytelling, and good ol’ mountain music in abundance at all of these seasonal celebrations.