The assumption is that if you want to get to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Pigeon Forge, you are going to drive to Gatlinburg or Townsend and then follow the signs into the park. Most people don’t realize that you can also cut through Wears Valley and get to the Park much quicker by going to Metcalf Bottoms. This gets you into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by a little-traveled road and you don’t have to sit in the traffic of Gatlinburg or drive all the way to Townsend to enjoy a picnic, fish or wade in a mountain stream.
To take advantage of this shortcut, turn onto Wears Valley Road at traffic light #3 and follow Wears Valley Road until you arrive at Lyons Spring Road. Lyons Spring Road is a little more than 9 miles from traffic light No. 3 on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Turn left on Lyons Spring Rd, as you follow the road through the mountain scenery, you will come to a National Park sign before you drive into Metcalf Bottoms. At this point you are in the National Park. Metcalf bottoms has bathroom facilities, streams, picnic tables and hiking trails. It is one of the lesser used picnic areas in the park and is great if you don’t want to fight the traffic or have plans that put you back in Pigeon Forge in the evening. It is great to be able to get to the National Park easily and you can have fun without spending most of your day in the car.
From Metcalf Bottoms you can turn right and go to Cades Cove or turn left to go to Elkmont, Sugarlands Visitor Center or Gatlinburg. Again, this allows you to bypass the traffic in Gatlinburg which, during peak season, can take hours to get through or going through Townsend which can also take a while to get to. This is a great “shortcut”, especially if you are looking for a quick way to the park. Also see Driving Tips for Pigeon Forge.