B&B Tucked into the Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains
There's an old stone gristmill in the forest surrounding Nolichuckey Bluffs, a collection of luxury cabins along the Nolichucky River in Eastern Tennessee. The mill was once powered by the river to grind up grains into flour; it's ringed by a small nature preserve that harbors native East Tennessee plants such as Mayapple, a leafy perennial that was used for medicinal purposes by early settlers. All this contributes to an Old World-feel at this B & B property. It's set amid the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, about a 1.5-hour drive from Knoxville.
The private cabins here are tucked amid the native foliage; some sit directly on the banks of the Nolichucky River. A heart-shaped English garden and a cold-frame greenhouse supply organic veggies and herbs to the kitchen, and they're used to top housemade pizzas baked in an outdoor, wood-burning oven. If you’d like, you can help to plant, harvest, or tell bedtime stories to the seasonal crops.
In the morning, Gramma’s Cupboard serves a hearty breakfast of waffles, omelets, fresh breads, and jams made with fruit from local blueberry, strawberry, and blackberry patches. You can also enjoy housemade ice cream topped with caramel or chocolate sauce; the owners learned to make their own ice cream on mission trips to Sri Lanka. The store is decorated with souvenirs from these trips as well as a quilt featured on the Appalachian Quilt Trail that was sewn in the early 1880s by the owner’s great grandmother.
Greeneville, Tennessee: Rural Town Rich in History near the Appalachian Trail
The rural town of Greeneville, Tennessee, is nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, about 72 miles east of Knoxville. Settled in 1783, Greeneville is a small town with a big history—it's the birthplace of Davy Crockett and President Andrew Johnson, for one. The town also served for three years as the capital of Franklin, a sovereign yet short-lived state founded by a group of willful pioneers in the late 1700s.
Greeneville’s mild climate and proximity to the mountains make it a nice spot for outdoor activities. You can hike the southern leg of the Appalachian Trail (about 16 miles to the south), which runs along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Or take a 75-minute drive from town to the northern section of the Cherokee National Forest, which features more than 600 miles of hiking trails and seven whitewater rivers.