If you’re looking for a great picnic location near Townsend, Tn, be sure to give Metcalf Bottoms in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a shot next time you’re in the area. There, you’ll find picnic tables placed at various points along the Little Greenbrier River. It’s also a great swimming and tubing hole during those hot summer months.
The Little Greenbrier River really draws people to this area of the Smokies. It’s a river that not only allows for tubing, but for things like rock hopping as well. And the river’s never lacking for any swimming holes.
At Metcalf Bottoms there’s plenty more to do than just swimming. The Little Greenbrier schoolhouse is located just off a trail past the picnic area. It’s a 0.5 mile wooded trail that’s great for an afternoon jaunt or stroll. It’s not a totally smooth trail as rocks and other natural creations like roots jut out at many places along the way. Walking the trail isn’t the only way to get to the school, you can also drive if you’d rather not go by foot.
If you do decide to drive, travel about a half a mile to a gravel road leading to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse on the right. That’s after you cross the bridge. you’ll find that the desks and blackboard still remain in the schoolhouse from when it was last used sometime in the 1930’s. One teacher taught at Greenbrier school and educated children from grades 1-8. On the hillside just outside the schoolhouse you will find an old community cemetery. Wander around the cemetery and look at the names of some of the earliest folks to settle the Smoky Mountain region.
The Walker Sisters’ home site is another attraction you might want to visit next time you’re at Metcalf Bottoms. Located just off the parking lot for the Greenbrier Schoolhouse is the trailhead. This is a special place because the Walker sisters were some of the last living residents inside what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When the national park was established in the Smokies by the U.S. government, the five sisters refused to sell their land. An agreement with the government was finally reached where the land was sold but the Walkers retained a lifetime lease on the property. They said the land produced everything they needed with the exception of sugar, coffee, soda and salt. Until 1964, when the last Walker sister died, the sisters farmed the land while supplementing their income with the sale of souvenirs to tourists.