Wears Valley Area Information
Nestled in a narrow valley between the Townsend and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Wears Valley is a hidden gem provides that provides visitors with the beauty and calm of the Great Smoky Mountains, while also having quick access to the numerous regional attractions.
Wear’s Valley enjoys an elevation of 1.454 feet above sea level. This picturesque valley town runs six miles long and four miles wide and lies on the Northern Border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s surrounded by towering mountain peaks. he mountains encasing the valley include Pine Mountain, Cover Mountain, Hatcher Mountain, Bench Mountain, and Little Round Top.
Cove Mountain is one of the most prominent mountains that can be viewed from Wears Valley with a rise of over 2,000 feet from the valley’s floor to its peak at 4,078 feet. Visitors can appreciate the stunning prominence of this mountain guarding the valley, most spectacular with the leaf change in the fall.
Also, known as the “Jewel of the Smokies,” this picturesque valley is a hidden gem that gives visitors a quieter Smoky Mountain experience while also giving them quick access to many area attractions and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This small and secluded town has grown both commercially and residentially since the inception of the national park. However, Wears Valley maintains its small-town charm while featuring spectacular views, historic landmarks, restaurants, shopping, antiques, and much more.
Wears Valley is named for Samuel Wear (1753-1817), an American Revolutionary War veteran who built a fort (eventually the town of Pigeon Forge) near the site of the current town.
Before being named Wears Valley, also known as Wear Cove, this area was called Crowson’s Cove after the first settler to the area Aaron Crowson. Early settlers to the area include Aaron Crowson and Peter Percefield who came over from North Carolina. William Hatcher was also an early pioneer in the area and his son Reuben Hatcher built the Wears Valley United Methodist Church in 1886. This church is still in use and still standing today.
During the late 18th century in Wear’s Valley there was considerable conflict between the native Cherokee Indians and the early Euro-American settlers. Pioneer Percefield was killed in an attack by the Cherokee and is buried in the exact part of Wear Cover where his death occurred. Today it is known as Crowson Cemetery.
In the 1800s Wears Valley was built up and populated by small farms, homes, and a distillery. However, during the Civil War many of these were ravaged by Union troops passing through, and it took some time to rebuild the valley. An early settler of note was William Brickey. He owned and operated a large farm and distillery in the valley until his death in 1856. The log cabin he built after his arrival still stands today near Wears Valley in Smith Hollow.
Early Tourism- Line Spring
After the Civil War Wears Valley began to rebuild and one it’s most interesting destinations was known as Line Spring. Named after “Alfred Line,” (the first owner of the land) this clear mountain spring flowed down from the peaks of Roundtop Mountain. One of the first tourist destinations in the valley, several cabins were built around this mineral-rich mountain spring. People came to this spring in hopes of curing illness and restoring health. In 1910 the “Line Spring Hotel” was built nearby. It proved to be a tremendous economic boost for the valley serving as a central location to sell vegetables, dairy products and other goods. The hotel continued flourished through the 1920s.
The first church in Wear’s Valley was constructed in 1800 by Crowson and several other early settlers and known as Bethlehem Church. This rudimentary structure served both Methodist and Baptist congregations. The Baptists had an elected pastor and the Methodist services were given by a circuit-rider preacher. These congregations met together once in a while in mini-revival services known as “union meetings.” These combined services continued even after both congregations constructed their own churches in 1886.
Most funerals in the 19th century were held at a place called Headrick Cemetery, located near the western entrance to Wears Valley. A large oak tree towered over part of the cemetery and served as a crude shelter for funeral goers. Legend has it that this prominent oak tree was struck by lightning and completely destroyed. So in 1902 Headrick Chapel was constructed at the edge of the cemetery to replace the tree and serve as a permanent shelter and place for valley funerals. Four congregations shared the chapel, but priority was given to funeral services. A notable funeral tradition was that the chapel’s bell would ring once for every year of the deceased person’s life, a tradition still honored for services held there today. In 2001, Headrick Chapel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934 brought an immense amount of tourism and development to the areas surrounding Wears Valley, especially to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Improvements to US-321 brought more tourism into Wears Valley. Though this valley has been able to evade some of the rapid development of other area towns and offering maintains its small town identity and charm.
Things to Do
Running a length directly adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Wears Valley is home to a lesser known entrance to the park near a fantastic picnic area and natural area known as Metcalf Bottoms.
Situated at 1,700 feet Metcalf Bottoms is a secluded and peaceful picnic area located directly beside the Little River in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Featuring a large picnic pavilion, that can accommodate up to 70 guests, it offers a covered eating area, multiple grills, and beautiful natural surroundings that make any get together or picnic a memorable event.
In addition to enjoying a peaceful and scenic picnic by the river visitors can splash in the shallow swimming holes along the river or set off on a hike on the Metcalf Bottoms Trail. This trail takes visitors by a historic schoolhouse, graveyard and past the Walkers Sister Cabin.
Jakes Creek Distillery
Located on Wears Valley Road, Jakes Creek Distillery is part of the legal moonshine and craft distillery boom that has become widespread throughout Tennessee in the past decade. Owners and master distiller honor the grand legacy of moonshine in Wears Valley by creating craft moonshine using the same recipes passed down for generations in their family. As noted on their website, this “liquid currency” of old time Appalachia has deeps roots in the coves and hollers of the Great Smoky Mountains. Many mountain folk made their living by making and selling moonshine in many copper stills that were as fiercely guarded as well as the homegrown recipes handed down for generations.
Today Jakes Creek Distillery is a craft distillery that uses only the finest of American grains to create true and (and now) legal Appalachian Liquor. Try favorites like their “Moonshine Cherries,” “Corn Whiskey,” or “Rye Cider Moonshine.”
Tour this distillery to understand the more about the history and livelihood of many Appalachian way of life, as well as sample some of their craft moonshine.
For more information visit: http://www.jakescreek.com/
Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster
A truly unique coaster experience, The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster offers a thrilling downhill descent with riders being in control of their cart/sled. Located off of Wears Valley Road this alpine coaster experience is truly one-of-a kind.
Riders on the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster sit on a cart/or sled (one or two persons per cart) and are pulled up a mountain with a lifter system. They climb a scenic slope through the foothills of Smoky Mountains, before sliding down a breath-taking 3,940 foot alpine coaster slide curving, spiraling down back to the loading point.
Different from other coasters, riders are in full control of the ride. They can individually pull the brakes and release them on demand. The complete ride is over a mile long gives customers the opportunity to enjoy the great nature and beautiful mountains in a total new way.
For more information visit:
Wears Valley Ziplines
For a Birdseye view of the resplendent forests of Wears Valley, Wears Valley Ziplines offers forty-three private untouched acres to soar across. Adventure seekers can fly among the trees and enjoy incredible views of Mount Le Conte and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on several zipline options.
Wears Valley Zipline’s “Original Zipline Tour” includes ⅔ mile of cable separated into four separate lines. Reaching a peak of one-hundred seventy-five feet, “The Super Zipline” course offers a mile of cable, a total of 5700 feet divided into 6 different cables. Newly added, Wears Valley Ziplines now features the first extreme zipline over 2,000 feet long.
For thrill seekers looking to experience the valley in a whole new light and angle, Wears Valley Ziplines is an adventure not to miss!
For more information visit http://www.wearsvalleyziplines.com/
Wears Valley Annual Fall Fest
Celebrating the brilliant colors of autumn as well as the rich culture and heritage of the Great Smoky Mountain region, Wears Valley Fall Fest is an annual festival that has grown in scope and size each year.
Now spanning three days, Wears Valley Fall Fest features local artisans, music, scrumptious southern food, and numerous interactive activities for the whole family.
With a rich history of folk art and craftsmanship, this fall festival features a variety of artisans that offers onsite demonstrations as well as goods for sale. From jewelry, photography, and painting to metalworking, woodworking and much more, there is something for everyone.
From fair food favorites like fried Oreos, funnel cakes, and cotton candy to international delights such as Greek and Italian specialties this festival will have something for everyone’s palate. Other flavorful foods include steak on a stick, pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, hamburgers and grilled chicken.
Wears Valley Fall Fest entertainment offers a plethora of choices. An antique car show will take place throughout the three-day festival. The center stage will feature daily singers and dance performances including southern gospel, country, and Native American acts. Honoring the legacy of Appalachian oral tradition, the side stage will feature area mountain storytellers daily.
A designated kid-tent on site will offer free craft activities for kids of all ages. From Christmas and Fall decorations to recycled and repurposed activities there will be something for everyone.
This year’s Wears Valley Fall Fest will occur from October 20-22.
For more information visit: http://www.wearsvalleyfallfest.com/
Places to Eat
Valley Bake Shoppe and Cafe
For visitors to the valley with a sweet tooth, the Valley Bake Shoppe and Cafe is a vital stop on your vacation. Featuring an immense selection of delicious homemade pastries, cookies, cakes, pies, and specialty desserts, the Valley Bake Shoppe will satisfy any sweet tooth. Additional sweet selections include but are not limited to delicious donuts, croissants, and fresh made cannoli’s. In addition to sweets, the cafe offers savory breads, bagels, rolls and more.
The cafe also offers signature salads, homemade soups, sandwiches and “build your own pizzas.”
For more information visit: http://www.valleybakeshoppe.com/
Located on Wears Valley Road this is a local favorite for residents and visitors alike to Wears Valley. Known as “A home away from home” by many locals, Elvira’s is an essentials while visiting the valley. The inviting and casual dining environment features an emphasis on fresh, local, and flavorful food.
Serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner this dining spot is replete with great dishes bursting with flavor. The breakfast menu options include omelets, hotcakes, eggs, hash browns, and the cafe’s signature breakfast savory and sweet crepes.
Lunch items include craft sandwiches like the Benton BLT (with famous and freshly sliced local Grainger County Tomatoes) and homemade soups. Dinner offers heartier dishes with entrees such as the Cafe Pork Chops, ham steak and other made from scratch items.
Elvira’s owners share much in common with the early settlers to Wears Valley in that they immigrated from distant lands. Elvira, the cafe’s namesake actually came to the area from Siberia, Russia. After working in a summer program in the area and falling in love with the Great Smoky Mountains, Elvira realized her dream in 2012 and opened her own restaurant that combines southern favorites with a bit of her Russian infusion.
For more information visit: https://www.elvirascafe.net/