Smoky #1 – Travel, Trolleys & Townsend

Greenbrier Campground – Site 55

Our long awaited trip to the Smoky Mountains was finally here.

We left St. Charles, Missouri on a Sunday morning and headed to our destination, Canal Campground, in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. This day was uneventful which is exactly how we want a travel day to be. We traveled 227 miles.

Our second travel day was also uneventful except for the exciting moment when we reached our destination in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – Greenbrier Campground. This day we traveled 338 miles.

We were very pleased with our campsite which would be our home for the next two weeks. We had requested a “standard off river” site which is the lowest grade at this campground. However, I felt like we got the best site in the whole campground. Please don’t tell the owners as the price for this campsite is much less than the coveted “Super Premium” or “Premium On River” sites.

For you campers out there, our site number was #55. It backs to a creek bed with trails down to the creek. It is a short walk down to the creek. On the left side of the site is a small gravel open space for golf cart parking. People go down to the creek to fish, swim, walk their dogs, or just sit and think. And also to take pictures for Wordless Wednesday. 🙂

The campground is nice, very woodsy and is off the beaten Gatlinburg tourist path just a bit. There are a couple of areas to fish or to swim in the creek. There is also a game room and a laundry room. A nice grocery store, “Food City” is about ten minutes down the road.

Another really nice feature is the “Trolley Stop” right in the middle of the campground.

Close up of the Gatlinburg Trolley
All Aboard!

Gatlinburg offers a system of free trolleys which makes getting around the touristy parts much easier. There are four lines: blue, yellow, red and purple. The most important thing to remember is there is a “trolley hub” at Ripley’s Aquarium. All the trolley lines pass through here throughout the day. At 9:30 p.m., all the trolleys leave the hub for their final route of the day.

The other important thing to remember is the schedule of the trolley stops at the campground. The schedule is posted, and I took a picture of it since the pick up times are limited. However, if you board a trolley at the hub (blue or yellow line) at any time of the day (9:30 being the latest), they will bring you back to the campground. You just have to tell them that is where you want to go. In summary, getting back to the campground is not restricted to the times posted.

When I read the descriptions of the trolley lines, it kind of all blurred together since I hadn’t visited any of the areas yet. However, on our first full day here in Gatlinburg, Dan and I got our bearings by riding three of the trolley lines.

So, here’s the “Betty Guide” to the Gatlinburg Trolley System for anyone who camps at Greenbrier:

Blue or Yellow lines go from Greenbrier Campground to the trolley hub. The trolley hub is located at Ripley’s Aquarium. A trolley on the blue or yellow line will deposit you right smack dab in the middle of the tourist area. There are many things to do or buy or eat in this area. There are also buildings with cars and creatures jetting out from above the sidewalk area. If you’re a nature lover, the solace you seek will not be found here.

The Red Line is basically a loop through all the hotels in the area.

The Purple Line takes you out to the Gatlinburg Visitor Center. Previously, this would have somehow connected you with a trolley out to Pigeon Forge. The trolley drivers explained to us several times why this isn’t currently happening.

However, each of these trolley drivers had such strong accents, I was only able to grasp a couple of general concepts out of their several minute long explanations. The two ideas were something about working on a “tunnel” and also something about “there’s been a couple of accidents.” Even so, it was enough information for us to understand, we were not riding a trolley to Pigeon Forge.

Our next day in Gatlinburg was forecast to be the warmest day of our time here. So, we decided to ride the paved, ten mile bike trail in Townsend. Townsend is only about 28 miles from Greenbrier, but the drive takes about 50 minutes. Townsend is known as the “quiet side” of the Smokeys, and it certainly was less congested than the main strip in Gatlinburg.

A covered bridge on the Townsend Historical Bike Trail
Townsend Historical Trail

The trail is named the “Townsend Historical Trail.” Basically, it goes down one side of a busy road and then back along the other side. It’s not the best trail we’ve ever been on, but it did the trick as our legs were just itchin’ to ride.

We had brought our ebikes along on the trip, so we could ride the eleven mile loop at Cades Cove – which is closed to cars on Wednesdays. However, this “closure” doesn’t open until May 4th which is two days after we arrive back home. We were happy that we were able to at least ride some on the Townsend Trail.

The next day’s forecast, while not quite as warm, was still to be a beautiful, warm day. A perfect day to actually visit what we came here to see – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And that is where we’ll go in my next post.


  1. How fun! We visited Pigeon Forge a few years ago and popped into Gatlinburg for a minute, but I’ve always wanted to go back. Looking forward to reading the rest of your adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! We popped up to Pigeon Forge a few times during our time here. There is lots to do in the area, so there will be a number of posts related to this trip. I appreciate your enthusiasm, and I hope you have a good day!


  2. What a wonderful spot you’ve found, Betty! Although we’ve visited Tennessee a few times, we’ve only driven through (or alongside of) the Smokey’s en route from the east to visit Nashville and Memphis. I’m excited to hear about your experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Terry! We are staying here for two weeks, so we’ve really gotten to enjoy the area, including the National Park. There will be a number of posts, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We are headed to Sevierville tomorrow until May 7. We stayed in Townsend for a month and know the trail you’re speaking of. We’ve done a lot of the hikes, so this time we want to explore Gatlinburg a little more. Enjoy your time there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We stayed in Townsend on both of our trips, and it is definitely our favorite spot–calmer and quieter. I was there to photograph New Deal sites and it was so much fun. We went over to Gatlinburg one day but it was way too congested for us, though it was fun to see it as we drove through. By far, the best was the time in the Park and seeing all the wonderful sites (bridges, tunnels, etc.) built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. I hope you have a fabulous time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We love being in the park, too. On our Cades Cove day, I took a picture of a plaque (on a large boulder) dedicated to the CCC for their work in the park. Of course, I thought of you when I took the picture. And of course, I plan to put the photo in the post for that day. Do you have a post or posts where all the pictures you took of CCC work in the Smokies are featured? Thank you for your good wishes. Every day here has been great. We are blessed. Hope you have a great day, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I posted both on my old Suzassippi blog and the current one, but they are all kind of spread out. The top two IMO are to see the stone arch Elkmont bridge on the Little River and the huge podium they built for President Roosevelt to deliver a speech–the Rockefeller monument.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We have passed the Rockefeller Monument – and likely will again. The Elkmont bridge hasn’t been on our route or hikes. The pictures of the Elkmont bridge do remind me of the CCC bridge in Cuivre River park – near our home. I will find these posts on your blog. It is wonderful that so many of these structures are still here today – and functioning!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m loving this and the idea of staying off the beaten tourist path is very appealing! The trolley reminded me of the trolley in Boston. I bought a pass and first road the entire line late in the afternoon without getting off to familiarize myself with the somewhat vague stops. I went back to the hotel and planned the next day for maximum sight seeing. It was a great way to get around Boston and see the sights, so I know it worked in Gatlinburg. More, please.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great minds think alike! It is a good idea to get an overview on the first day. It certainly helps me! Riding all three routes gave us the overview we needed to plan a bit more. It also helped us learn how the trolley system worked. At first, I thought we would only return at those set pick-up times, but the return times are much more flexible. We did use a combo of the trolley and our car during our time here. We have done quite a bit, so there will be more posts! Thanks for reading and your comment. Enjoy your evening!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You guys won the campsite sweepstakes, Betty! Wow, I just pulled Mike away from his dinner so he could check out your post. I’m glad you figured out the trolley system in Gatlinburg because we had a hard time navigating there with all the traffic. I hope you are having a fabulous time, and I look forward to more of your Great Smoky posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poor Mike! The post will still be here after he finishes dinner. 🙂 But I do appreciate your enthusiasm for it! We did hit the jackpot with the campsite. We have used both our car and the trolleys to get around, and we have been having a fabulous time! We’ve done so much here, and I do look forward to writing more about it. Hope you have a great rest of the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for a most informative post. I have not been to Gatlinburg in many years because it is so touristy but I love the Smoky Mountains and anxiously await your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, what an adventure. I’ve always looked at this area with mixed feelings. I’ve wanted to visit the area, but really wondered what we would do there. Not to mention the expense associated with everything there. So, I’ll be following your blogs to come to see what you’ve discovered. Keep traveling with a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally get that! We are finishing up on our two weeks here. We’ve done a variety of activities. There will be a number of posts. I think after reading them, you’ll have a good idea if you want to come here – or not. Hope you have a great day!


    • Thank you, Charla! You are so kind! We have done a lot of different things, and I can’t wait to write about it all. I hope it will be helpful for you, and please ask me any questions if you have them. If I can answer, I am happy to do so. It is really beautiful here! Have a great weekend!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.