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Townsend, Tennessee Guide

Billed as both “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies” and "The Back Porch of Cades Cove," Townsend serves as a low-key, quiet gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Townsend lies just 9 miles from Cades Cove, the most visited area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove features preserved pioneer homesteads, historical churches, an old mill, hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife. The one-way, 11-mile Cades Cove loop takes approximately 45 minutes by car. A self-guided tour book can be found at the entrance to Cades Cove. Near the Abrams Falls parking area, visitors can view a typical Smoky Mountain homestead, complete with a barn, smokehouse, blacksmith shop and corncrib. Take a scenic, 5-mile roundtrip hike on the Abrams Falls Trail. Farther down lies the John P. Cable Mill, which was built in 1868 and still operates from mid-April through October. Animals that call Cades Cove home include black bears, deer, foxes, wild turkey and raccoons. Dawn and dusk are the best times to catch a glimpse of wildlife in Cades Cove.

Townsend was once the site of the headquarters and sawmill of the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company, which logged sections of what is today the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the years 1901 to 1939. The Little River Railroad Museum, which is housed in a former railroad depot, documents the fascinating history of both the Little River Railroad and the Little River Lumber Company through an ever-growing collection of restored trains, photos, papers, tools and other artifacts. Adjacent to the depot lies a replica of the Elkmont Post Office, which now houses the museum’s gift shop. Billed as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies!”, Tuckaleechee Caverns are also located in Townsend. Take a mile-long tour of Tuckaleechee Caverns, which features the 400-foot-long, 150-feet-deep Big Room, as well as 200-foot-high Silver Falls.

Winter Heritage Festival in February, Townsend in the Smokies Spring Festival & Old Timers' Day in May, Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival in June and Fall Heritage Festival and Old Timers' Day in September.

Townsend lies 22 miles from Gatlinburg, Tennesse, 34 miles from Newfound Gap and 52 miles from Cherokee, North Carolina.

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