Cades Cove
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

the Foothills Parkway
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The Foothills Parkway skirts the Great Smoky Mountain National Park's northern side. Only three sections are currently open to vehicle traffic. Due to funding and legislative difficulties, the ultimate status of the parkway remains uncertain. Despite political disappointments, the Foothills Parkway's open sections provide beautiful views of the Park and surrounding country. Completed sections of the Foothills Parkway are open year-round, weather permitting. Uncompleted sections are open to pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians.

Running southwest from Walland to Chilhowee, this 20-mile section is the Foothills Parkway's longest segment. It provides beautiful vistas of the northwestern Smokies, including Thunderhead Mountain, highest peak in the Park's western half. Many of its south facing overlooks peer over Happy Valley, into the Smokies, and beyond. Its north facing views oversee Maryville, Knoxville, and the Great Valley.

Halfway along the segment, a trail leads to the Look Rock Tower (pictured). It is a third of a mile from the road. The trail makes a moderate climb. The tower provides a 360-degree panorama, and a platform for scientific research such as air quality. Sunsets from the tower are often spectacular.

Foothills Parkway East is a six mile road leading from Cosby, TN to Interstate 40. Its eastern terminus is TN exit 443. Built on Green Mountain, the road provides wonderful views of Cosby Valley to the south and the Newport area to the north.

The Spur
Technically part of the Foothills Parkway, The Spur is the only direct route from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge. A scenic four-lane highway, it follows the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.

The Foothills Land Conservancy (outside theBlountWeb!) is an organization dedicated to creating a buffer zone along the Park's northern tier. Their efforts include obtaining scenic easements, working with local developers to conserve the area's scenery and traditional land use, and buying land for preservation.

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