The Great Smoky Mountains are known for many things: the stunning summits, the challenging hikes, the luscious waterfalls, and the wonderful wildflowers. What about the things that it isn’t so widely known for? What about the hidden treasures, the secret views, the folktales, and the abandoned structures? Here, you’ll find that the Smoky Mountains is much more than what you thought before.
Here are the 5 hidden treasures that rest in between the forest of the Great Smoky Mountains:
Elkmont Ghost Town
Around the Sugarlands Visitor Center, stumble upon old abandoned buildings of Elkmont at the Elkmont Ghost Town. Reports of railmen and loggers, ghosts and goblins, and flickering of lights will fill your mind as you walk around this ghost town at night. Listen to the ghost stories of this ghost town and witness all of its eerily beautiful structures as you hike through the trails.
Elkmont Troll Bridge
Near the Elkmont Campground, along the Little River Trail, you will find a small path that leads to a bridge over a small creek. You won’t necessarily find a troll underneath this bridge, but you will find an extraordinary bridge made of stone covered in bright green moss. Hear the folktale of a troll waiting under the bridge to eat travelers on their way. Outsmart the troll and cross the bridge without any harm done — is how the story goes.
Stop and take pictures, imagine the troll asking you riddles, and take in the beauty of the small creek. You will truly feel like you are in a little folktale of your own when you visit the Elkmont Troll Bridge.
House of the Fairies
Hike to the Twin Creeks Trail, along the creek, and among the old Voorheis Estate buildings. Once you see the Resource Center, find the small path from the trail or ask for some help! There you will find the House of the Fairies. Voorheis wanted to create a private oasis of the Smoky Mountains, offering solitude, serenity, and privacy.
There his influence lasted for years to come on the buildings of this area. One in particular, however, is this fairy-esque structure hidden between the trees and leaves of this forest. This moss-covered stone arch leaves you feeling in the fairytale spirit, as you will feel like you’re stepping into a magical wonderland unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Tunnel Under Clingman’s Dome
Constructed in the 1930s, at Clingmans Dome you will find the secret tunnel hidden beneath. It was built back then to keep hikers from having to cross Clingmans Dome Road at the time and prevented any automobile vs equestrian collisions. You’ll find this tunnel on a trail connected to the Appalachian Trail, and through it, you’ll reach some of the best views that the Smokies have to offer.
Mt. Cammerer Lookout Tower
Mt. Cammerer Trail is one of the most satisfying views that you can find in the Great Smoky Mountains. In fact, it’s 11.1 miles and 6 hours of extreme difficulty but you won’t seem to mind when you make it to the top. So, what’s the story with the lookout tower? This octagonal structure offers 360 degrees worth of stunning views from atop the mountain.
Although there’s nothing inside the structure, you can still peek inside and see a rarity from the 1960s. Come during the autumn time when the colors of Mount Cammerer are in full bloom, but pretty much any time offers views like nowhere else.
So, get your fill of ghost stories and serene views. You’ll enter into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and wonder how you never knew about these spots before.