English Mountain Fall Driving Tour
The grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is at its finest when the leaves turn in the fall. During that time, many visitors seek the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and foothills to avoid traffic jams and discover other points of interest. An alternative route with plenty of foliage, interesting attractions, and photo opportunities as well as pockets of local history begins in Sevierville.
Historic Downtown Sevierville
Begin your tour in downtown Sevierville where a must-see for visitors is the Dolly Parton Statue located on the lawn of the iconic Sevier County Courthouse at 126 Court Avenue. Built in 1896, the courthouse is an excellent example of Victorian architecture and houses a recently refurbished four-sided Seth Thomas clock in its tower. The statue of Parton was sculpted by Jim Gray and erected in honor of Sevierville native Dolly Parton, an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, actress, author, and philanthropist. In the fall, the century-old trees surrounding the courthouse turns brilliant hues of yellow and red.
Battle of Fair Garden
Leave Sevierville traveling east on Dolly Parton Parkway (# 411) to the junction of Pittman Center Road (# 416) and turn right.
Be sure to stop at the campus of Walters State Community College to see the interruptive marker explaining the Battle of Fair Garden- the largest battle fought in Sevier County during the Civil War. The well-marked site is part of Tennessee Civil War Trails. The program is part of a five-state system that invites you to explore both well- known and less-familiar sites associated with America’s greatest drama.
Historic Harrisburg Covered Bridge
Exit left out of Walters State parking lot onto Old Newport Highway. After crossing a bridge continue right to Harrisburg Rd. Turn right and continue 0.2 miles to the historic Harrisburg Covered Bridge. The old wooden bridge is one of Sevier County’s most treasured land marks. Built by Elbert Early in 1875, the bridge crosses the east fork of the Little Pigeon River. Stop long enough to hear the clopping of the old planks as cars drive through the narrow bridge.
Go back to Old Newport highway and turn right. Continue until Old Newport Highway merges with Newport Highway (#411). In about .5 mile look to your right to see Fox Cemetery with its dramatic view of English Mountain in the background. If you are inclined to explore the old burying ground, search among the old slate hand-carved markers for the grave of Mark Fox. In 1787 Fox was the first interment in the cemetery after being killed and scalped by Indians. His grave is the oldest marked grave in Sevier County.
Blowing Cave Mill
Travel approximately .5 miles and turn left on Blowing Cave Rd. Go 1 mile to Blowing Cave Mill on left. Blowing Cave Mill is a great photo opportunity. Completed in 1880, the mill is located near the head of Flat Creek in the Byrd’s Cross Roads community. Listed on the registry of the Association for Preservation of Tennessee Antiques, the mill is an example of the flour and corn mills constructed throughout Sevier County in the nineteenth century and is one of the few remaining in Tennessee.
Continue on Blowing Cave Road approximately .5 mile to Forbidden Caverns. Tennessee is home to the most caves in the United States. Located beneath English Mountain, Forbidden Caverns in one of the most spectacular. Visitors are provided with an entertaining and educational tour past sparkling formations, towering natural chimneys, numerous grottoes, and a crystal clear stream. Special lighting effects, a stereophonic sound presentation and well-trained tour guides combine to make this an enjoyable experience for all ages.
Bush Brothers Visitors Center
If you are not ready to return to Sevierville, turn right when you get back to Newport Highway (#411) and travel only 2 miles to Chestnut Hill where you can visit Bush Brothers Visitors Center. Located in a restored family-owned country store that sits adjacent to the company’s manufacturing plant, the visitor’s center offers an interpretive museum and gift shop as well as a quaint café, a perfect place for an unforgettable one-of-a-kind dining experience.