How do I get there from here?
I cannot tell you the number of times I have had visitors to this area ask if there is ‘another‘ way to get to the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community without having to get on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. Well, there is an if you have a little bit of time and don’t mind getting off the beaten path, it is actually a very pretty drive.
First you want to get off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Head to traffic light 8 and turn, as if you are heading to Dollywood. Once you make the turn off of the Parkway you will be on Dollywood Lane. Follow Dollywood Lane to the first traffic light that you come to and turn right. Those of you that have been coming to this area for a long time will recognize this as the ‘old’ entrance to Dollywood. Follow Dollywood Lane past the employee entrance only to Dollwywood – Dollywood Lane now becomes Upper Middle Creek Road.
Follow Upper Middle Creek Road until it ends at Birds Creek road and take a right onto Birds Creek Road. You will turn beside a gas station called Dunn’s Market ( a place that might have the best greasy-spoon hamburger in the county). Stay on Birds Creek Road for 4.5 miles. You are going to pass some beautiful areas along this twisty little mountain road. You will pass the Caton’s Chapel area and you will be very close to Pittman Center (both of these areas are certainly worth exploring at some point in your travels in the Smokies. At around 4.5 miles you are going to arrive at a traffic light. You have now reached the Arts and Crafts Community.
You will be at the juncture of three roads: Birds Creek, Glades Road and Buckhorn Road. If you go straight you will be on Buckhorn Rd which is the’other’ road in the Arts and Crafts Community and has a lot of galleries (you can see G Webb’s gallery in front of you from the intersection) and craft shops. If you take a right you will be on Glades Road which of course is home to the majority of the arts and crafts shops of the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community. Following this road you will pass small individual craft shops and craft malls that house more then a dozen artists under one roof. Stop into these shops along Glades Road or Buckhorn Road, do some window shopping, start your Christmas shopping and enjoy the fact that you have not had to deal with the traffic of the Parkway in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.
In addition, if you continue down either Buckhorn or Glades Road, you will end up on Hwy 321 which, if you take a right where either road ends you will end up in Gatlinburg at traffic light 3. This backroad will require more driving and if the traffic is light it is not as fast but if you are visiting during the height of the summer tourist season, this will be a much more enjoyable drive.