Great Smoky Mountains National Park | GREENBRIER REGION

Grave of infant Mary Whaley in the Ownby Cemetery

Grave of infant Mary Whaley in the Ownby Cemetery

The Greenbrier Region is one of my favorite areas of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Though it is close to Gatlinburg, it does not get that much traffic—most tourists head straight to Cades Cove. This was a well-settled area before the park opened, so there is plenty of human history to be found here. Also, because the area was relatively flat and conducive to settlement, most of the hiking trails are easy to moderate, which are my kind of trails.


Ownby Cemetery
Small family cemetery accessed via Porters Creek Trail.

Plemmons Cemetery
One of the largest cemeteries in the park.


There are many hiking trails in the Greenbrier Region and over 800 miles of trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is not possible for me to hike all of them, but I did hike a few in each region. Here are suggestions for two hikes that lead to extremely interesting remnants of human history.

Grapeyard Ridge Trail to Nichols and Shepard Steam Engine Wreck
Easy to moderate 6-mile, round-trip hike to the wreck of a Nichols and Shepard stream traction engine.

Porters Creek Trail to Fern Branch Falls
Easy to moderate 4.5-mile, round-trip hike that passes the stone walls of a former homestead, the John Messer Barn, the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club Cabin, the Ownby Cemetery, and Fern Branch Waterfall.


John Messer Barn (1875)

Nichols and Shepard steam traction engine wreck (1920s)

Smoky Mountains Hiking Club Cabin (1935)


Greenbrier Picnic Area
Small picnic area with a dozen tables and grills. Located on Greenbrier Road.

Greenbrier Picnic Pavilion
Large pavilion with grills, fireplace, and restroom facilities available for rent.

Back to the Top

With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on March 15, 2020
Share this article