Country Roads, Take Me Home

Townsend, Tennessee (visited in 2016)

Hey friends! When you think about Tennessee I am guessing that the two big places that pop up in your mind are Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Up until this fall, those were the two places that I thought of first too. I have been to some amazing places in Tennessee including the lively Nashville and the iconic Memphis, but there is just something about the beautiful Gatlinburg area that has kept me and my family coming back again and again. If you don’t know, I am a HUGE hiker! I love hiking in areas around where I live in Kentucky (and I have even hiked the Swiss Alps) but my favorite hikes almost always happen in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

This past October several of my friends and college coworkers invited me and my boyfriend, Derek, to rent a cabin with them in Tennessee for fall break. Both of us love hiking and so we jumped at the opportunity. Ironically, he and his family have always loved visiting a place called Townsend, TN (yes, like my last name) so when we were planning for this trip, he asked if I would like to drive and spend some days in Townsend which is really close to the Pigeon Forge area and where we were staying. I had already seen some of the gorgeous and breathtaking pictures from the area that he had shown me so I esctatically agreed! Let me tell you now, the pictures did not do the place justice. The hiking in Townsend is unrivaled with breathtaking waterfalls and mountainous rock formations and little pathways lined with trees and to top it all off, we saw it during fall when the landscape is painted in the reds, oranges, and yellows of the falling leaves. One day there and I instantly fell in love!

P.S. The difficulty of the hiking trails vary, so even if hiking really isn’t your thing, there are easy trails that consist of mostly flat walking but still present stunning views of the scenery. There are trails that suit all types of fitness levels and interests. Plus, you are only a short drive away from the bustling life of Pigeon Forge!

We started out our first few hours in Tennessee by having dinner together at this quaint and adorable restaurant. I love eating at places like this because the food is great and the clientele are even more amazing. We got dozens of compliments from older couples about our “young love” and our waitress even asked if we were newly weds because we just looked so happy and in love.

I am not quite sure of the location because we found it on the edge of a pretty beaten path, but Tennessee is full of restaurants like this that offer local food and are owned and run by families. The food was amazing and it put us both in an extremely happy mood so we couldn’t wait for the rest of our adventures.


(A well deserved dinner for two after hours of driving)

The next day, our hiking adventures began. Derek was excited because he got to return to some of the places he loves and I was thrilled to see these breathtaking places with my own eyes for the first time! I had never seen a waterfall in person before, even a small one, so I was practically jumping out of childish excitement! There were two waterfalls we saw. This one was the first one and it is the one most frequented by tourists because it is relatively easy to get to and kids love it.



(Look at this cutie making funny faces)


Next came the second waterfall, which we had to climb to reach but, man, was it worth it! SOOO beautiful and it holds a very special place in my heart because Derek dubbed it “Our Waterfall” and that is how we always refer to it now. It is secluded and the nature that surrounded us was truly magnificent. To this day, this waterfall holds some of my most cherished memories. Plus, it helps that I got to experience it for the first time with the love of my life :).


(Sorry for the cute pic overload)


( I felt like such an adventurer posing by our waterfall)



(One of the paths further along on our hike)


(I felt like I was in that scene from Dirty Dancing. Channeling my inner Baby!)

img_1307(Then, my Johnny joined me up here :)! )



(Look at that handsome navigator!)


(So many incredibly fun climbs)


(One of my favorite pictures from the trip)

After a full day day of hiking, Derek and I both agreed that we deserved a romantic and delicious dinner! I suggested taking us to one of my family’s favorite restaurants in Tennessee, the Apple Barn. I was amazed that he had never been there before because whenever I talk to someone about Tennessee, the Apple Barn is almost always brought up. The restaurant decor is beautiful and they offer food for everyone. I have food allergies so it can be difficult to find foods that I can eat, but this place has several options for everyone. Some of their seats are actual porch swings on either side of a table so you can literally sit on a porch swing while you eat lunch or dinner! How cute! Check this place out! Ever since we went there, Derek has been begging me to take a weekend trip back to hike and eat at the Apple Barn again. I’m sure not complaining!


(Dinner at the Apple Barn)


(Look at this DELICIOUS food! I got chicken salad and fruit and Derek got chicken Fettuccine Alfredo)- his fave!

The exterior of the Apple Barn is beautiful, as well, with several gazebos and lights hanging across porches and lining the pathways.


(Hanging out in a gazebo outside of the restaurant)


(Look how adorable these fall decorations are!)

On our last day in Tennessee, we decided to drive over to the Gatlinburg area and do some window shopping and sight seeing. We found a beautiful little shopping center that offered all kinds of shops and we had a blast! Down below you can see me nerding out to a Wizard of Oz display outside of one of the shops!


(My childhood dream!)


(And of course, I had to enjoy lots of coffee and I was dying over the cuteness of this cup. I felt like Marilyn Monroe with those lips :)! )

I couldn’t fit everything from our trip on here, but I tried to include some of my absolute favorites. Tennessee has something to offer for everyone, so even if you aren’t that into hiking, there is PLENTY for you to do! It is perfect for a trip with friends, family, really anyone. But, no matter where you go or what you do, the experience is always made by the people you get to share your memories with. I know for me, this trip was made perfect because I got to spend it with Derek and some of our close friends. With that being said, there is nothing wrong with traveling by yourself either because I have done that too! It is all up to you because both experiences can be incredible!

I hope you all enjoyed this post and didn’t mind the overload of our pictures. Adventure on, my friends!

Lots of love,

The Traveling Brunette