A lesser visited area of the Park, the Greenbrier section is one of our favorites. Besides the Ramsay Cascades, the visitor has the opportunity to view large stands of virgin growth such as northern red oak, eastern hemlock, and red maple. When the Park was created in 1934, old-growth forests were saved from the lumber companies and preserved for Smokies visitors.
The Greenbrier Valley is in the northern portion of the GSMNP. The auto tour through Greenbrier is a little more rustic than the Blue Ridge or Newfound Gap but it is no less spectacular. You drive through forests that have remained untouched for decades, maybe centuries. When you pull into Greenbrier you are pulling into history. Here are some of the points of interest inside this 6 mile loop (some are on trails that break off from the auto tour):
- John Messer Barn – This is the only remaining pre-park structure in the Greenbrier Cove. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, this double cantilever barn is a gem tucked into the mountains.
- Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin (SMHC) – This cabin was constructed by the SMHC between 1934 and 1936. This is one of the few structures in the park that was not built by the National Park Service. Designed by the same architect that built some of the buildings for Arrowmont in Gatlinburg this was used by the SMHC until 1981.
- Tyson McCarter Place – A Barn, a corn crib, a smokehouse and a springhouse are what remains of the Tyson McCarter Place. Located along the Old Settlers Trail, this area was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976
- Baxter Cabin – This is all that is left of the Baxter spread in the Greenbrier area. Originally consisting of 2 cabins, a barn, a corn crib, smokehouse, hogpen, chicken house and blacksmith shop, this cabin and the chicken house were left. In the 1950s the chicken house was moved to the Oconaluftee area to the Mountain Farm Museum. This structure is typical of the homes in the mountains in the 1880s.
To get to Greenbrier Road, leave Gatlinburg at light #3 and head east on Hwy 321. Travel for approximately 7 miles and turn right on Greenbrier Road.