Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail In Tennessee

Here is everything you need to know about the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Tennessee
  • Length: 4.5 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Town of Franklin
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail holds a significant place in the history of the region. The trail follows the course of the Little Tennessee River, which has been a vital waterway for thousands of years. Native American tribes, such as the Cherokee, inhabited the area and relied on the river for transportation, fishing, and trade. The river served as a crucial route for early European explorers and settlers, including Hernando de Soto and William Bartram, who documented their journeys along its banks.

During the 19th century, the Little Tennessee River played a pivotal role in the development of the region’s economy. The river was used to transport goods, such as timber and agricultural products, to markets downstream. Steamboats became a common sight along the river, facilitating trade and connecting communities. The construction of railroads in the late 19th century gradually diminished the importance of the river as a transportation route, but its historical significance remained.

In recent decades, efforts have been made to preserve and celebrate the historical importance of the Little Tennessee River. The creation of the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail is one such endeavor. The trail not only provides a scenic recreational space for locals and visitors but also serves as a living testament to the river’s rich history. Along the trail, markers and interpretive signs highlight key historical events, including the Native American presence, European exploration, and the river’s role in the region’s economic development. The Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail stands as a reminder of the river’s enduring significance and its contribution to the cultural heritage of the area.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Cowee Mountain Overlook: This access point is located near the Cowee Mountain Overlook on US-74, offering scenic views of the Little Tennessee River.

2. Franklin River Park: Located in Franklin, North Carolina, this trailhead provides access to the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail. It offers parking, restrooms, picnic areas, and a playground.

3. Big Bear Park: Situated in Franklin, this access point is located near the Big Bear Park and offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas.

4. Cartoogechaye Creek Access: This access point is located near the Cartoogechaye Creek and provides parking and restrooms.

5. Needmore Road Access: Located near Needmore Road, this access point offers parking and restrooms.

6. Riverbend Park: Situated in Bryson City, North Carolina, this trailhead provides access to the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail. It offers parking, restrooms, picnic areas, and a boat ramp.

7. Swain County Recreation Park: Located in Bryson City, this access point offers parking, restrooms, picnic areas, and a playground.

8. Fontana Lake Access: This access point is located near Fontana Lake and provides parking and restrooms.

9. Tsali Recreation Area: Situated near the Tsali Recreation Area, this access point offers parking, restrooms, and picnic areas.

10. Alarka Boat Launch: Located near the Alarka Boat Launch, this access point provides parking and restrooms.

Please note that the availability of amenities may vary, and it is always recommended to check for any updates or changes before visiting.

Transportation Available

1. Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service for convenient transportation along the trail.
2. Local Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail.
3. Taxi Services – Local taxi companies providing transportation to and from the trail.
4. Ride-Sharing Services – Popular ride-sharing platforms offering convenient transportation options.
5. Public Bus – Local bus service with stops near the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail.
6. Car Rental Agencies – Various car rental companies for those seeking private transportation.
7. Pedicabs – Pedicab services for a unique and eco-friendly way to travel around the trail.
8. Electric Scooter Rentals – Electric scooter rental services for a fun and efficient way to explore the area.
9. Horseback Riding Tours – Guided horseback riding tours for a scenic experience along the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail.
10. Canoe and Kayak Rentals – Rental services for canoes and kayaks, allowing visitors to explore the river and trail.


The amenities available at the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail may vary depending on the specific section or location along the trail. However, some common amenities that can be found along the trail include:

1. Restrooms: Some sections of the trail may have restroom facilities available for public use. These restrooms may be located at trailheads or other designated areas along the trail.

2. Parking: There are parking areas provided at various trailheads along the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail. These parking lots allow visitors to park their vehicles and access the trail easily.

3. Camping Sites: While camping may not be available directly on the trail, there might be nearby campgrounds or camping areas where visitors can set up their tents or RVs. These camping sites may offer amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Along the trail, there may be designated picnic areas with tables, benches, and sometimes grills. These areas provide a scenic spot for visitors to enjoy a meal or have a picnic with family and friends.

5. Water Access: The Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail runs alongside the Little Tennessee River, providing opportunities for water access. Visitors may find spots along the trail where they can access the river for activities like fishing, kayaking, or simply enjoying the water views.

6. Bike Racks: Bike racks are often available at trailheads or other key points along the trail. These racks allow cyclists to securely park their bikes while they explore the trail on foot or engage in other activities.

7. Informational Signage: Throughout the trail, there may be informational signage providing details about the trail’s history, wildlife, and points of interest. These signs can enhance the visitor’s experience by providing educational information.

It is recommended to check with local authorities or trail management organizations for specific amenities available at different sections of the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail.

Nearby Services

1. River’s Edge Motel – Cozy lodging option with scenic views of the Little Tennessee River.
2. Smoky Mountain Diner – Casual eatery serving American comfort food near the trail.
3. Franklin Inn – Convenient lodging choice offering comfortable rooms and amenities.
4. The Gazebo Inn – Quaint bed and breakfast with a charming atmosphere.
5. Subway – Quick and easy sandwich shop located close to the trail.
6. Comfort Inn – Modern hotel providing comfortable accommodations and a complimentary breakfast.
7. McDonald’s – Popular fast-food chain serving burgers, fries, and more.
8. Hampton Inn – Well-known hotel chain offering comfortable rooms and a complimentary breakfast.
9. Taco Bell – Mexican-inspired fast-food restaurant located nearby.
10. Quality Inn – Affordable hotel option with comfortable rooms and a complimentary breakfast.
11. Pizza Hut – Familiar pizza chain serving a variety of pizzas and sides.
12. Days Inn – Budget-friendly hotel with basic amenities and comfortable rooms.
13. Hardee’s – Fast-food restaurant known for its burgers, chicken, and breakfast options.
14. Holiday Inn Express – Modern hotel with comfortable rooms and a complimentary breakfast.
15. Subway – Another convenient location of the popular sandwich shop chain.

Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail Difficulty Notes

The Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers and bikers. The trail spans approximately 4 miles, providing a scenic route along the river with various terrains and elevations. While the trail is mostly flat and well-maintained, there are some sections with slight inclines and uneven surfaces, requiring a moderate level of fitness and balance. Additionally, the trail offers multiple access points and loops, allowing users to customize their distance and difficulty level. Overall, the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail provides a pleasant and manageable outdoor experience suitable for individuals of different fitness levels.

Features And Attractions

1. Cowee Mound – A historic Native American mound located near the trail.
2. Franklin Town Square – A charming downtown area with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings.
3. Nikwasi Mound – Another significant Native American mound in the town of Franklin.
4. Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum – A museum showcasing a variety of gems and minerals found in the region.
5. Cullasaja Falls – A stunning waterfall located near the trail, offering a picturesque view.
6. Dry Falls – A unique waterfall where visitors can walk behind the cascading water.
7. Nantahala National Forest – A vast forested area with numerous hiking trails and scenic viewpoints.
8. Fontana Lake – A beautiful lake surrounded by mountains, offering breathtaking views.
9. Tsali Recreation Area – A popular spot for mountain biking and hiking, with scenic views of the lake.
10. Cherokee Indian Reservation – A cultural and historical site where visitors can learn about the Native American heritage of the region.
11. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – A world-renowned national park with stunning mountain vistas and diverse wildlife.
12. Santeetlah Lake – A serene lake surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, perfect for boating and fishing.
13. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest – A preserved old-growth forest with towering trees and scenic hiking trails.
14. Little Tennessee River – The trail itself follows the river, providing beautiful views of the water and surrounding landscapes.
15. Appalachian Trail – The famous long-distance hiking trail intersects with the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail, offering access to additional scenic viewpoints and natural landmarks.

Usage Guidelines

1. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Clean up after your pets and dispose of waste properly.
3. Bicycles and skateboards are allowed on the trail but must yield to pedestrians.
4. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.
5. No hunting or fishing is permitted along the trail.
6. Camping or overnight stays are not allowed on the trail.
7. No littering. Please dispose of trash in designated bins.
8. No alcohol or illegal substances are allowed on the trail.
9. Fires and open flames are strictly prohibited.
10. Respect seasonal restrictions, such as closures during extreme weather conditions or maintenance periods.
11. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
12. Be mindful of other trail users and maintain a safe distance when passing.
13. Do not disturb or harm wildlife or vegetation along the trail.
14. Use caution and follow any posted safety signs or warnings.
15. Enjoy the trail during daylight hours; it is closed after dark.

Seasonal Information

The Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail is a picturesque and popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering stunning views of the river and surrounding natural beauty. The best times of the year to visit this trail largely depend on personal preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. However, the spring and fall seasons are generally considered the most favorable for exploring the trail.

In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant colors as wildflowers bloom and trees regain their lush foliage. The weather is usually mild and pleasant, making it ideal for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the river. The Little Tennessee River is also known for its excellent fishing opportunities during this time, attracting anglers from far and wide.

Similarly, the fall season offers a breathtaking display of autumn foliage, transforming the trail into a picturesque wonderland. The crisp air and cooler temperatures make it an excellent time for outdoor activities, such as hiking or birdwatching. The trail is particularly popular among photographers during this season, as the vibrant colors create stunning photo opportunities.

It is important to note that the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions in certain areas. During the winter months, some sections of the trail may be temporarily closed due to inclement weather or maintenance work. It is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management before planning your visit to ensure that the trail is fully accessible.

Overall, the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail offers a delightful experience throughout the year, with each season bringing its own unique charm. Whether you prefer the vibrant blooms of spring, the colorful foliage of fall, or the tranquility of winter, this trail is sure to captivate nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.


1. Paved Surfaces: The Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail features paved surfaces throughout, ensuring smooth and accessible pathways for wheelchair users.
2. Wide Pathways: The trail offers wide pathways, allowing ample space for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably.
3. Accessible Parking: ADA-compliant parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, providing convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
4. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are located along the trail, ensuring convenient facilities for all visitors.
5. Benches and Seating: The trail provides accessible benches and seating areas at regular intervals, allowing individuals using wheelchairs to rest and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Accessible Picnic Areas: ADA-compliant picnic areas are available along the trail, providing accessible spaces for individuals with disabilities to enjoy outdoor meals.
7. Signage: The trail features clear and visible signage with universal symbols, making it easy for wheelchair users to navigate and find their way.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails are installed at appropriate locations along the trail, providing additional support and safety for wheelchair users.
9. Accessible Water Fountains: Wheelchair-accessible water fountains are available along the trail, ensuring individuals with disabilities can stay hydrated during their visit.
10. Accessible Trailheads: The trail offers accessible trailheads with ramps and curb cuts, allowing wheelchair users to easily enter and exit the trail.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas.
2. Be aware of wildlife: Keep a safe distance from any wildlife you encounter and do not feed or approach them.
3. Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects by applying repellent before starting your hike.
4. Carry water and stay hydrated: Bring an adequate supply of water to prevent dehydration during your trail exploration.
5. Wear appropriate footwear: Use sturdy and comfortable shoes or hiking boots to prevent slips, falls, or foot injuries.
6. Check weather conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast to avoid unexpected storms or extreme temperatures.
7. Sun protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
8. Share your plans: Inform someone about your hiking plans, including the trail you’ll be on and your estimated return time.
9. Stay alert and aware: Be mindful of your surroundings, watch for trail markers, and be cautious of any potential hazards.
10. Carry a first aid kit: Have a basic first aid kit with you to address minor injuries or emergencies.
11. Respect private property: Stay on public land and respect any private property boundaries along the trail.
12. Leave no trace: Pack out all trash and dispose of it properly, leaving the trail clean and undisturbed.
13. Hike in groups: If possible, hike with a companion or in a group for added safety and support.
14. Be cautious near water: Exercise caution near the river, especially during high water levels, and avoid swimming alone.
15. Follow trail rules and regulations: Observe any posted signs, rules, or regulations specific to the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail is a significant conservation area that plays a crucial role in preserving the natural environment and biodiversity of the region. As a designated greenway, this trail is actively managed and protected to ensure the conservation of its unique ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

The conservation status of the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail is considered to be in good condition. Efforts have been made to maintain and restore the natural vegetation along the trail, which includes a variety of plant species that are native to the area. This helps to support the local ecosystem by providing food and shelter for numerous wildlife species, including birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Furthermore, the trail is designed to minimize human impact on the surrounding environment. Measures have been taken to prevent erosion and protect water quality, ensuring the health of the Little Tennessee River and its associated ecosystems. Additionally, the trail is regularly monitored and managed to control invasive species, which can threaten the native flora and fauna.

Overall, the conservation status of the Little Tennessee River Greenway Trail reflects a commitment to preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the area. Through ongoing conservation efforts, this trail continues to provide a valuable habitat for wildlife and a peaceful recreational space for visitors to enjoy while minimizing its impact on the environment.

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