Three Great Fall Hikes In The Smokies

It finally feels like fall around here! Folks in the Smokies are getting a charge out of waking up to a chilly morning and then heading out to make the most of a crisp, sunny autumn day. If you’re going to be staying in one of our Tennessee cabin rentals in the next few weeks and are still planning your activities, you should know that days like this are made for hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This week, we’re passing along a few ideas for great fall hikes in the Smokies. Honestly, any destination you choose is probably going to be a great experience, but with the recommendations below, you can maximize the sightseeing opportunities as the peak colors creep down into the lower elevations and valleys.

Alum Cave Trail

This is a tried-and-true hike in the Smokies, because it has a little bit of everything – easy going in the lower elevations, challenges toward the top, beautiful vistas, interesting geological formations and, if you go all the way to the top, you reach the peak of Mt. LeConte. At nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, this is one of the higher hikes in the Smokies, and from the summit of LeConte, you can enjoy sweeping views from Little Duck Hawk ridge in the west to Myrtle Point to the northeast. If you choose to stop at the Alum Cave bluff and head back down, your round-trip hike is only five miles. If you choose to go all the way to the top of LeConte and back, it’s closer to 11. Give yourself a full day to do the entire mountain trek.

Appalachian Trail

No, we’re not suggesting you take on the whole trail (it usually takes about six months to do that), but you can enjoy one scenic stretch of it that runs near the crest of the Smokies. This moderate hike starts near Clingmans Dome and covers about seven and a half miles of the AT. It all depends on how much of the trail you want to cover in one session. But if you hit it at the right time, you’ll be rewarded with a canvass of color covering both peaks and valleys. Note, however, that the Clingmans Dome observation tower is temporarily closed for renovations.

Baskins Creek Falls

This hike is easily accessible from downtown Gatlinburg. You drive to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and look for the signs to Baskins Creek Falls. Once you’re at the trailhead, relax and enjoy an easy three-mile round-trip excursion along the creek, which is decked out in a canopy of fall foliage and accented by a two-tier, 40-foot waterfall. One of the advantages of this trail is that you don’t have to commit to an extended drive into the national park. You can get to the entrance to RFMNT by taking Historic Nature Trail (formerly Airport Rd.) from downtown Gatlinburg and out past the Park Vista Hotel. From there, it’s just a matter of following the signage.  Enjoy!

New International Show Lands In Pigeon Forge

Many of you regular visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains may remember a popular music-theater show called Cirque de Chine, which ran for several years at the former Governor’s Palace Theater in Sevierville. That show helped introduce East Tennessee visitors to the amazing world of Chinese acrobatics, leaving audiences spellbound and astounded performance after performance.

That particular troupe has been gone for a little while now, but one new theater show in Pigeon Forge is excited to welcome a new company of Chinese acrobats to the Smokies. Acrobats of China will be making its debut at its new home at 2135 Parkway, beginning November 1. Fresh off its latest world tour, Acrobats of China showcases an amazing cast of daring acrobats known for their colorful costumes, daring feats and breathtaking renditions of classic Chinese dance and human performance art.

The Jinan Troupe is considered one of the most skilled and highly awarded acrobatic groups in China. It is uniquely distinct in presentation, costuming and performance style and features more than 20 acrobats who have performed around the globe. The company will wow audiences with its revolving line-up of award-winning acts like human strength and beauty, plate spinning, juggling, chair stacking, spinning girls and more.

And that’s just one example of some of the new attractions coming to Pigeon Forge later this year. Usually springtime is the time of year for new businesses to make their appearance, but this just goes to show that there are always new places to be discovered in the Smokies all year long.

Another attraction, Pigeon Forge Snow, is slated to open in the next few months (certainly before winter ends). It will be the first attraction of its kind in the country, using state-of-the-art snow-making technology to transform its 35,000-square-foot facility into a winter wonderland, complete with 15 lanes of snow tubing. And instead of using synthetic material, Snow’s slopes will be covered in the real thing – fresh snow powder.

And would you believe there’s also going to be a National Enquirer attraction in Pigeon Forge? This interactive exhibit is expected to give visitors the option to create their own tabloid-magazine headlines to share online. Another new fun destination, Virtual Villains, is billing itself as Sevierville’s premiere virtual reality hub. Guests can play VR games and partake in VR experiences on an hourly basis. You get to experience the ultimate in gaming immersion in an atmosphere that combines the social atmosphere of an old-school arcade with cutting-edge gaming technology.

Next time you travel to the Smokies to visit these new attractions in Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg, be sure to contact us here at Timbercreek Cabins. We offer a large selection of luxury overnight rentals that can accommodate any size travel party, and our convenient location is just a short drive from whatever you’re looking to do in the Smokies, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Craft Shows Abound During Smoky Mountain Autumns

It should come as no surprise that October is one of the most popular months – besides the peak summer months of June, July and August – to visit the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. It’s a transitional period of autumn weather, when the days are often sunny and still pleasantly warm but the mornings and nights are crisp enough to get outside and enjoy activities like an early hike or settling in for the evening around an open fire.

It’s also the time of year when the leaves begin their annual color transformation, and you start to see traditional fall decorations like hay bales, corn stalks, gourds and scarecrows popping up in front of homes and businesses. And for many, October means a month-long ramp-up to Halloween, making this a fun, spooky time of year, full of thrills, chills and candy.

However, guests staying in our cabins in Gatlinburg, TN also enjoy getting a good dose of mountain crafts this time of year. Yes, authentic arts and crafts are a year-round staple of this region, but in October, we like to really pour it on with several annual events that attract skilled craftspeople from our own neck of the woods and from around the world.

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival

September 29 – October 28

Folks love Dollywood in fall, and for good reason. They’ve got the place decked out in full fall regalia, they serve a tempting array of unique fall foods, and multiple Southern gospel concerts are scheduled daily during this five-week festival. But crafts are also a big component at the Pigeon Forge theme park. One entire section, Craftsman’s Valley, showcases resident crafters year ‘round, but during Harvest Festival, they also welcome visiting artisans from all over the country, who share their talents through an array of handmade wares. Look for crafts like jewelry, painting, textile art, woodworking, dolls, pottery, chainsaw carvings and hand-painted ornaments.

41st Pigeon Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair
September 30 – October 28

For decades, this annual event has been a mainstay of local craft fairs, bringing in some of the area’s most talented artists and crafters to Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge. The event takes place under a giant tent all month long, and as you browse the vendors, you’ll see a wide range of craft styles and forms for sale. This event is presented each year by the Pigeon Forge Rotary Club, and admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Proceeds are distributed by the Rotary Club to a variety of local and regional charities.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair
October 5 – 22

This is always one of the area’s most popular annual craft events, and it takes place at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. This is a juried show, which means all participants must be screened for quality prior to being admitted. In addition to featuring a wide range of arts and crafts for sale, many artists will be demonstrating their skills over the course of the nearly three-week event, which has been recognized as one of the top 20 events in the Southern U.S. by the Southeast Tourism Society. The fair also features daily live bluegrass shows, which are included in the daily admission fee.

Smoky Mountain Woodcarver’s Festival
October 7 – 8

You might want to act quickly on this one, since it takes place this coming weekend at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend, TN. This event showcases the skills and handiwork of wood carvers of all levels of experience, including novices and youth ages 16 and younger. There’s even a chainsaw category.

Shopping In The Smokies? Unique Retailers Abound!

Chances are that the next time you stay in one of our Wears Valley, TN, cabin rentals, you’ll want to do some shopping somewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains region. It’s one of the most popular activities among area visitors, and for good reason. The area is home to hundreds and hundreds of retail ventures, from outlet mall stores and craft studios to general merchandise retailers and unique specialty shops.

And it’s those specialty shops that we’re going to focus on this week. We figure with Christmas landing on our doorstep before you know it (only three months away), this is as good a time as any to get a head start on the ol’ shopping list. And if you have hard-to-buy-for people in your life (I think we all do), this might give you a few ideas for where to go to shop for the person who has everything.

Doc’s Magic and Fun Shop

Who doesn’t love hanging out in a magic store, right? Even if you’re just browsing, you’re bound to see an amazing illusion or two before you leave this family-owned business that’s been around for more than 40 years. With locations in downtown Gatlinburg and at The Island in Pigeon Forge, Doc’s is a great place to go to find magic kits, jokes and gags, Gospel-themed illusions and Harry Potter-related merchandise. A neat spot to hang out for kids and kids at heart.

Pepper Palace

You’ll find this spicy retailer at The Village in downtown Gatlinburg, which happens to be home to several unique little shops. Pepper Palace carries everything for the spicy-food lover, including hot sauces, salsas, barbecue sauces, marinades, spices, rubs and more. They offer free samples every day, so drop in and try a taste of the hottest shop in town. You might also try their location at The Island in Pigeon Forge.

The Cheese Cupboard

We thought we’d toss out another one from The Village. The Cheese Cupboard has been around since 1969, making it Gatlinburg’s premier cheese shop. Look for imported and domestic cheeses, unique crackers and chocolates imported from Switzerland and Germany. The shop fits in with The Village’s Old World motif, and if you really get hungry, you can dine at the Hofbrauhaus Restaurant on the premises.

Puzzled

We dare you to drop by this retailer – located at The Island in Pigeon Forge – without buying something. The entire store is filled with nothing but puzzles for all ages and skill levels. They’ve got everything from traditional jigsaw puzzles to 3D and 4D puzzles to Rubik’s Cubes – more than 10,000 items on site altogether.

Smoky Mountain Knife Works

It doesn’t get much more specialized than this long-time retailer/attraction, located on Tenn. Hwy. 66 in Sevierville. It’s your go-to place in the Smokies for all things knife-related, and they claim to be one of the world’s largest sources for knives. That wouldn’t surprise us, considering that they carry everything from pocketknives and kitchen cutlery to multi-tools and swords. And believe us, that’s just scratching the surface.

Choosing A Hike In The National Park

Hiking inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park is probably one of the most popular outdoor activities among the park’s nearly 10 million annual guests. And it’s one of the easiest things to do, considering that there are more than 800 miles of maintained trails within the park’s borders, covering portions of both Tennessee and North Carolina.

So if hiking is on your agenda next time you visit the Smokies, the real challenge is deciding exactly which of those trails you want to take on. One good way to start is to ask yourself some questions, including what you want most out of the experience. For example, is hiking to a waterfall one of your priorities? That’s one of the most common destinations among visitors, but even at that, you still have nearly a dozen trails to choose from, including Abrams Falls in Cades Cove, Grotto Falls, Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls and Ramsey Cascades.

Some hikers don’t need that glamorous of a destination and are content to immerse themselves in old-growth forests, while others definitely seek out hikes that will allow them to take in spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Along those lines, places like Chimney Tops, Rocky Top and Charlies Bunion never disappoint with their wide-open panoramic vistas.

Of course, distance needs to be factored into your decision as well. You might just be interested in a short nature stroll or a hike that’s no more than two miles round-trip. On the other hand, perhaps you’re a little more adventurous and up for taking on a round-trip trek to the top of Mt. LeConte and back. Such a journey will usually be 11 miles or so altogether, but you’ll still have to decide which trail to take, because five different trails will get you to the top. It all depends on how steep, how long and how scenic a route you’re interested in.

If you have younger children going with you, you might consider taking on something more suited to their needs. Laurel Falls is a fairly short hike on a paved trail that pays off with a cool waterfall at the end. And there’s plenty of parking near the trailhead. Other kid-friendly hikes include the Kephart Prong Trail and the Porters Creek Trail.

If you go to the Sugarlands Visitor Center at the national park, they have a bookstore that offers any number of resources devoted exclusively to hiking trails. Or you could order such a book online before visiting the Smokies and take a little more time to make your trail selections. Whichever way you go, there’s plenty of information in print and online at www.nps.gov/grsm to help you get ready to hit the trail.

If you’re staying with us at Timbercreek Cabins Gatlinburg, we can also offer you a few recommendations about hikes that are fairly close to our Smoky Mountain cabins. Be sure to ask us when you make your reservation or even after you check in.

Where To Find Groceries For Your Cabin

If you plan to stay with us soon at Timbercreek Cabins Pigeon Forge, you’ll likely have a full schedule when it comes to relaxing and playing in the Great Smoky Mountains. And we’re sure you’ll also do your share of eating out in places like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, since this entire area is home to virtually every kind of restaurant you could imagine.

But we also hope you take advantage of one of the biggest amenities our cabins have to offer – full kitchens, complete with refrigerators, ovens/stoves, microwaves, dishwashers and all the cookware, dishes and utensils you’ll need to prepare and enjoy a home-cooked meal.

kA lot of folks just like to use the refrigerator to keep their snacks and beverages chilled for the week, and maybe they’ll use the oven or microwave to heat up a pizza or re-heat restaurant leftovers. But some of our guests like to go all out, whether it’s grilling steaks and burgers on our outdoor grills or whipping up a recipe from scratch in the kitchen itself.

However you plan to approach your dining strategy for the cabin, you’re going to need groceries, so this week, we thought we’d steer you in a few directions, because this is a question we do get from time to time.

If you’re wanting to go for the full-on, full-service supermarket experience, you might want to start with Kroger in Pigeon Forge. It’s located on Wears Valley Rd., which is the same road you take to get from Pigeon Forge to our office in Wears Valley. From Kroger to your cabin probably won’t be more than a 15-minute drive.

This national grocer has a full selection of just about anything you can think of in terms of groceries as well as household supplies like toilet paper and paper towels. You’ll also find a meat department, bakery, pharmacy and more to help you with all your vacation-supply needs.

If you’re coming from the opposite direction, there’s an IGA supermarket in Townsend, TN, which is on the west side of Wears Valley. It doesn’t have quite the selection that Kroger does, but it is a full-service supermarket, and you should be able to find pretty much anything you would need at that location as well.

Here in Wears Valley itself, we don’t have any of the national brand supermarket chains, but you will find some markets with a little more local flavor.

For example, at Smoky Mountain Grocery, you can find most of the essentials you’ll need for meals and snacks, but they offer the added benefit of delivering your groceries to your cabin. The service costs $29.99 (plus groceries) and $49.99 on Sundays. They can even arrange to have your groceries waiting for you in your kitchen when you arrive at your cabin. Some may not want to pay that price for that kind of service, but for many, it saves the time and hassle of shopping and driving to the supermarket.

For quick stops and last-minute items, Wears Valley also has a Dollar General Store as well as the Wears Country Market & Grill, a gas/convenience store that may come in handy when time is more of a factor than price.

Enjoy The Transition To Autumn Outdoors ­- At Anakeesta

It’s not even officially fall yet, and we’re already seeing some mighty pleasant days here in the Smokies. Guests of our Tennessee cabins have been enjoying getting out and making the most of the mild temperatures, gentle breezes and low humidity.

And since the conditions are ideal for spending time outdoors, we thought we’d pass along a suggestion for a new family attraction in the Smokies that lets guests really take advantage of its natural setting.

Anakeesta, located in Gatlinburg, offers a unique outdoor mountain experience for all ages. The name is a Cherokee word that means “the place of the balsams,” which loosely translates to “high ground.” It also refers to a massive layer of rock known as the Anakeesta Formation, which can be seen in many of the Smokies’ most notable peaks. No matter which way you interpret it, it’s a fitting name for this remarkable new destination.

Guests start their journey to Anakeesta in downtown Gatlinburg, by riding the scenic Chondola, which allows you to choose either an open four-chair lift or an enclosed, six-person gondola for the ride to the top of the mountain. Once aboard, you travel 600 feet to the summit of the mountain, where you will enter Firefly Village, a section of the attraction that features treehouse-themed shopping and dining.

Firefly Village also has an Adventure Outpost complete with a treetop canopy walk – a series of 16 connected sky bridges suspended from the trees some 50 feet above the forest floor – and dueling ziplines. An outdoor amphitheater will be added in spring 2018, offering a venue for live music and other special events. Elsewhere at Anakeesta, you’ll discover a children’s treehouse village playground, a single-rail mountain coaster (coming this winter) and gem mining.

One of the most remarkable assets of the attraction is its nearly 360-degree panoramic views from the summit. You’ll see the LeConte mountain range looming just beyond the city of Gatlinburg, and guests can sit back and unwind as the mist rolls out of the mountains early in the day. Then later, you can watch the sun set over the Smokies as the twinkling lights of downtown Gatlinburg come to life.

If you really want to get out and explore nature, you can take a stroll on an interpretive trail, which takes hikers through some of the areas of the mountain that were scorched during the wildfires of 2016.

We want to remind you that it’s not too late to book a cabin for your next visit to the Smokies. Whether you’re planning to visit here this month or later in the fall or even early next year, our large selection of high-quality rental cabins means that we’ll typically be able to find you a luxury property in the mountains that will match up with your travel dates, destinations and plans. Call us today to make a reservation.

Timbercreek Offers More Than Overnight Rentals

Since we’re located in the Great Smoky Mountains, it should come as no surprise that a good amount of our business is related to overnight rentals. Millions of visitors come to the Smokies each year, and the vast majority of those folks need a place to stay. We take pride in meeting that need with an inventory of some of the finest rental cabins in the region. With most of our properties congregated in the scenic Wears Valley area, we’re able to give our guests unforgettable Smoky Mountain views as well as convenience to the most popular destinations in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

But did you know we’re more than just an overnight rental company? We’re also a full-service real estate firm, which means we can meet the needs of anyone looking to buy or sell real estate in the Smokies.

For example, let’s say you currently live outside our area but perhaps you’ve always dreamed about retiring in the mountains. Or maybe you’re just ready for a change of scenery and have always thought about living in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Contact us, and we can show you properties on the market that best fit your needs, goals and dreams when it comes to size, style, location and price.

In another common scenario, we work with a lot of customers who live outside the area, but they want to invest in Smoky Mountain real estate. In such cases, we could then put your property on our rental program so that you can earn income while also investing in a hot market. That also gives you the flexibility of staying in your own vacation home when you come to visit the Smokies, and it also leaves open the possibility that when you retire, you could make a permanent move here and have your retirement home all set up and ready for you to occupy.

No matter which approach you decide to take, you can take assurance in the fact that we were raised in this area and have worked and owned businesses here for years. That’s an advantage to anyone new to the area who is looking for expertise in the local real estate market. We’re familiar with the county’s growth and development, and we understand what makes a good real estate investment in this area.

And as we alluded to earlier, we don’t want to just sell you a piece of property. We want you to find the right piece of property, whether that means a dream tract that borders the national park or a scenic location with awesome mountain or water views.

We also offer the added bonus of being a licensed building contractor, having built quality homes ranging from 600 to 6,000 square feet. We can give you experienced, professional advice on new construction, renovations and additions as well as recommendations for the ideal piece of land for building your dream home. And with that combination of quality cabins, Smoky Mountains location and industry expertise, why would you work with anyone else?

5 Things To Do Within 5 Miles Of Timbercreek Cabins

Some folks are the type that like to get out and really explore the area, taking long excursions into the national park or to see the many world-class attractions found in nearby Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.

But we also know some of our guests prefer to be homebodies when they’re on vacation, keeping to themselves within the confines of their overnight rental. We can’t really blame them for that, considering that our properties feature luxury amenities like hot tubs, game rooms, fireplaces, wraparound decks and full kitchens, just to mention a few.

However, if you’re one of those stick-close-to-home-base types, let us offer you a bit of a compromise. This week, we’ll tell you about five different things you can do that are all within just five miles of our main office and most of our cabin rentals.

  1. Go on a picnic

If you’re staying in one of our scenic-view cabins, Gatlinburg isn’t the only way to get into the national park. There’s a nearby park entrance right in Wears Valley, via Line Springs Rd. It will take you directly to the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, where you can snag a table and a grill and fire up your favorite picnic favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers.

  1. Take a hike

And while you’re at Metcalf Bottoms, you might as well find the trailhead that will take you to the Little Greenbrier School and the Walker Sisters Cabin, two popular hiking destinations in the national park. Both are great for getting an up-close glimpse into the storied history of the surrounding area before it was purchased to create the national park.

  1. Go shopping

Right along U.S. 321 in Wears Valley, you’ll find a number of interesting shops, including the Wears Valley Antiques and Crafts, the Wears Valley General Store, Mountain Brothers General Store and Red Barn Village. You’ll find everything from locally made arts and crafts and collectibles to souvenirs and even home furnishings.

  1. Enjoy a meal

There are several full-service restaurants within a short drive of your cabin. Whether it’s a quick lunch on your way elsewhere or a relaxing dinner for two in the evening, take your pick from dining destinations like Grandmother’s Kitchen, Gepetto’s Italian, Fatboy’s or the popular Elvira’s, which serves a Smoky Mountain breakfast you won’t soon forget.

  1. Get a massage

Believe it or not, you can experience the ultimate in relaxation with a massage from Unforgettable View Massage & Spa. You can simply chill out to relieve stress or go for a full therapeutic massage – anything from Swedish to deep-tissue. Relieve daily aches and pains and enjoy some fabulous views of the valley while you’re at it.

  1. Ride a zipline

At Wears Valley Zip Lines, you can explore the beauty of Smoky Mountain forests while enjoying the high-speed thrills of a zip line tour. With lines as long as 2,000 feet and as high off the ground as 275 feet, this course also features great views of Mt. LeConte and other peaks inside the national park.

Eclipse-Watching Options For August 21

We’re just days away from the first total solar eclipse the contiguous United States will have experienced in nearly 40 years. And the cool part is that much of our East Tennessee and Smoky Mountains region lies in the zone of totality, which is the area that falls in the shadow cast by the moon as it passes between earth and the sun.

This is a big deal that a lot of folks around here have been looking forward to for months. People have been buying their safety glasses and picking out where they want to watch the eclipse from, but if you happen to be vacationing in the Smokies on Monday, August 21, you might not have many clear ideas about the best ways to participate in this event.

If you’re staying in one of our cabins in Wears Valley, one option to consider is attending a free viewing event in the Cades Cove section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which you can easily access by taking the Wears Valley entrance into the park (via Line Springs Rd.). Once you hit the main park road near the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, head west toward Cades Cove. It’s only a few minutes’ drive away from there.

Once at the cove, park staff will oversee guided viewings of the eclipse, but make sure you have the proper safety eyewear if you plan to look directly at the sun. Naked eyes and sunglasses are no-nos. Instead, plan on getting a pair of special filtered glasses made just for this purpose. Or watch the event on TV or online.

Be cautioned, however, that if traffic gets to be too heavy around Cades Cove, park officials may close the roads. So maybe plan on getting there early in the day and expect to stay long after the eclipse as traffic thins out.

Another option might be travel to nearby Townsend, TN, on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.” There are a lot of wide-open spaces along the stretch of U.S. 321 that runs through Townsend, so you should have no trouble finding a spot with a clear view of the sun. Of course, we can’t predict how heavy traffic will be in any particular area of the Smokies on Monday, so wherever you decide to go, don’t wait until the last minute to head there.

Depending on which of our cabins you’re staying in, you might have a direct observable view of the eclipse from your porch or deck, but many of our properties are located in shaded areas, so your results may vary.

If you’re not planning on being in the Smokies next week, that’s OK, but don’t wait until the next eclipse occurs in East Tennessee to pay us a visit. The next one may not happen for several hundred years, and we don’t think we can wait that long to see you here at Timbercreek Cabins.