The Greenbrier section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most picturesque, scenic locales in the Smokies. It’s no wonder that people drive, hike, camp, and do whatever they can to reach a place that most consider “Off the Beaten Path”.
So how about a bit more detail on the area itself… Do all kinds of wildflower species sound good to you? I’m sure it does to you nature lovers out there. There are also plenty of picnic areas, hiking trails to explore the Smoky Mountains, and countless fishing opportunities.
As noted, the Greenbrier area is renowned for its wildflowers, especially during the spring. One of the best drives, if you prefer taking in the scenery from your car, takes you to the Ramsey Cascades trailhead – an 8 mile roundtrip hike. To get there, drive east approximately 6 miles from Gatlinburg on Hwy 321 before making the turn at the Greenbrier entrance to the national park. Then follow the signs 4.7 miles to the Ramsey Cascades trailhead.
If you’re looking for a good, scenic hike, the Porters Creek Trail makes for a really good wildflower walk. To hike Porters Creek, the signs lead you to the trailhead. The trail’s first 1.5 miles are especially packed with spring-time wildflowers. Wildflowers generally come into bloom in March and peak in mid to late April.
You’ll find that the upper Greenbrier area is preceded by 6 miles of gravel road. Visitors are welcome to bike along the Greenbrier roads but it is prohibited on its trails.
Want to visit the area during the day? Pack a lunch. The Greenbrier Picnic Area is open year round.
If fishing the area’s streams and rivers are your angle, feel free. You can fish for trout year round. All you need is either a Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license.
The Greenbrier Road auto tour follows the Little Pigeon River to Trillium Gap and is another great way to see the area. And you don’t have to worry about trucks, trailers or RVs – they aren’t allowed along the route. The John Messer Barn and the Ramsay Cascades trailhead are reached via this auto tour.
The Greenbrier section of the national park is a great area to visit, no matter what reason you’re there for. Outside of Ramsay Cascades, everyone can see the large stands of virgin growth such as northern red oak, eastern hemlock, and red maple. You won’t see growth like this in any other area of the park, which is just another reason why the Greenbrier has become a destination in the Great Smoky Mountains.