The area surrounding Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains has a touristy reputation, but just 30 minutes from the tourist town of Gatlinburg, there’s a small town called Cosby that has a lot to offer. Here are a few things we discovered while we were camping near Cosby.

Off the beaten path in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains

Our Place

115 Cricket Hollow Road, Cosby, TN 37722 (on 321)

Blink and you’ll miss it, but Our Place is definitely worth turning around for.

Our Place - Off the Beaten Path in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains

We stopped in for some coffee and books.

Our Place - Off the Beaten Path in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains

So many books! The selection was amazing. We bought a few field guides, a cookbook and some beautiful note cards from a local artist. It’s definitely worth a look around while you sip your coffee.

The Front Porch Restaurant

2912 Cosby Highway, Cosby, TN 37722

The owner of Our Place told us to stop into The Front Porch Restaurant for some great southern cooking. We decided to head over there on a Saturday night to hear the live music ( from 6-9 on Saturday nights).  After a long hike we were starving, and all the food was delicious.

Front Porch Restaurant - Off the Beaten Path in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains

I really liked their fried green tomatoes and Billy especially liked the cornbread. He said the cornbread was the best he’d ever had (sorry mom). We finished the meal off with some delicious pecan pie. We ordered a ton of food and our meal was only $30.

One woman we ran into said the restaurant sent food to her home when she was home bound for a period of time. Gotta love that.

The Front Porch Restaurant is a BYOB, so don’t forget to pick up a beer on the way there.

Cosby Campground

471 Cosby Park Rd, Cosby, TN

We camped in the beautiful but little-used Cosby Campground in Smoky Mountain National Park. I’ve heard that it’s a lot less busy than other campgrounds in the park, but I don’t know for sure because there was so much traffic on the road to Cade’s cove that we turned around! You can read my review of Cosby Campground here.


There are three hikes nearby that I really liked. All of them start at Cosby Campground. You can see where each of these trails start on this map.

Hen Wallow Falls (4.4 miles roundtrip)

I really enjoyed this moderate hike through the forest and up to the falls.

Hen Wallow Falls - Off the Beaten Path in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains

Take Gabes Mountain Trail and watch for signs for Hen Wallow falls. More information here.

Sutton Ridge Overlook (3 miles roundtrip)

We took this short hike on the Lower Mount Cammerer Trail to a beautiful overlook.

Sutton Ridge Overlook - Off the Beaten Path in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains

{Sutton Ridge Overlook just before sunset}

To get to the overlook, hike for 1.4 miles on the Lower Mount Cammerer Trail. Turn right at the spur to hike up to the overlook.

Self Guided Nature Hike (1 mile round trip)

We went on the self guiding nature hike our last afternoon in Tennessee. It’s only a mile, but the guide (50 cents) was interesting and well written.

self guiding nature trail

I will return, hopefully soon.

7 Comments on Off the Beaten Path in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains

  1. When we hiked to Hen Wallow Falls, we were amazed at the number of salamanders all over the waterfall. I never saw so many in one place!

    • Really? That sounds amazing. We didn’t see any. Maybe I should look through our photos again to see if I captured any salamanders! What time of year was it?

  2. We are vacationing in the Smokies now and just saw your post. Love the Smokies but hate the tourist traps and traffic. We usually stay in Townsend or Wears Valley. We’ll definitely be checking out Cosby for our next visit! Thanks for the tips- very helpful!

  3. I took a vacation to TN over a year ago and loved it! I wasn’t in the country areas though but my first inspiration to go to TN was the Great Smoky Mountains. Hope that when I go back–because I am definitely going back–I make it there. Right now looking forward to Memphis in May.

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