Enjoy Plenty of Family Fun at Greenbrier
Looking to get away from the crowds in the Great Smoky National Park? Look no further than Greenbrier. This Smoky Mountain destination offers guests a chance to explore some great hiking trails, historic sites, and enjoy a quiet picnic in the serenity of the mountains.
Guests staying in nearby Gatlinburg cabins will enjoy taking a day trip to this scenic portion of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The trail heads wind through beautiful scenic natural beauty. Enjoy gorgeous wildflowers in the spring and colorful fall foliage in autumn. There's so much to enjoy at Greenbrier (not be confused with Little Greenbrier near Wears Valley) for the whole family. Come discover this portion of the national park today!
A Brief History of Greenbrier
Similar to the the Sugarlands to it's west, Greenbrier remained a largely isolated community until the early 20th century. With an economy was based on subsistence farming, most farms ranged in size from 50 to 100 acres with families living in one-room log cabins. Most farms included a barn, corn crib, smokehouse, springhouse, and a small orchard (Some of the wealthier families even owned private grist mills). Prior to the creation of the national park, the community served as a housing center for trappers and tourists who frequented the area. Now, tourists treasure the area for its scenic trails, historic homesteads, and picnic areas.
Smoky Mountain Hiking at Greenbrier
There's plenty of Smoky Mountain hiking to enjoy at Greenbrier, and each trail offers something different for national park visitors. Come discover what each trail offers! Popular trails include:
- Grapeyard Ridge Trail - This Smoky Mountain hiking trail follows Rhododendron Creek over the south slope of Brushy Mountain to the Jim Bales Place. The trail passes the remains of the Camp David Chapman, several homesites, and the 1920s-era remains of a traction engine.
- The Ramsey Cascades Trail - This trail follows Ramsey Prong for four miles up the slope of Mount Guyot to Ramsey Cascades, a 65-foot waterfall nestled between Guyot Spur and Greenbrier Pinnacle.
- The Porters Creek Trail - this trail follows Porters Creek to Porters Flat, where it passes the Messer Barn site before ascending to a backcountry campsite.
- Old Settlers Trail - One of the longest trails in the park, this trail connects Greenbrier to the Cosby area. Constructed by connecting the old roads in the various communities that existed between Greenbrier and Maddron Bald, this trail was envisioned as a lower-elevation alternative to the Appalachian Trail. The trail passes dozens of rock walls and chimney falls, as well as the Tyson McCarter Place. Spur trails connect the OST with several cemeteries, including Parton Cemetery and Lindsey Cemetery.
Greenbriar Smoky Mountain Historical Sites
There are several historical sites to see around Greenbrier as well. From barns to cabins, there is something for everyone to enjoy along these Smoky Mountain hiking trails. Some popular destination include:
- The John Messer Barn- Located along the Porters Creek Trail, the John Messer Barn was constructed in 1875 by Pinkney Whaley. This is the only remaining structure of the pre-park community of Greenbrier Cove and was added to the National Register in 1976. The Messer Barn is a type of double-cantilever barn unique to the East Tennessee area.
- The Tyson McCarter Place - This site rests never where the Old Settlers Trail crosses Webb Creek just off U.S. Route 321. The homestead consists of a barn, corn crib, smokehouse, and springhouse built around 1876. Jacob Tyson McCarter purchased the farm around 1900 and became a prominent member of the Webb Creek community. The area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
- Smoky Mountains Hiking Club Cabin - resting next to the Messer Barn on the Porters Creek Trail, this dog-trot cabin was constructed by members of the SMHC between 1934 and 1936. This is one of the few non-NPS structures built within the park's boundaries during the 1930s.
- The Baxter/Jenkins Cabin - Resting near the junction of the Old Settlers Trail and the Maddron Bald Trail this cabin was built by Willis Baxter and his son, William, in 1889. The farm originally included two cabins, a barn, corn crib, smokehouse, hogpen, chicken house, and blacksmith shop, but this cabin and the chickenhouse are all that remain.
Greenbrier Picnic Area
If you and your family want a place to enjoy a delicious meal together, the Greenbrier picnic area offers a tidy space with charcoal grills and pit toilets. Grab some BBQ from Hungry Bear on the way up or pack your on lunch to the less-frequented picnic spot in the Smokies.
No matter what you choose to do, Greenbrier offers a day of outdoor fun for the whole family.
Written by Brittany Tipton