The Foothills Parkway has been known as the oldest unfinished highway project in Tennessee. The 5.6 mile section connecting Cosby to US-321 was completed in the late 1960’s. The 16.9 mile section connecting Walland to Chilhowee Lake was completed in 1966. This left a massive gap between the sections of the Foothills Parkway.
November 10, 2018 a 16 mile missing section of this road has been opened. You can now drive from Chilhowee Lake to Wears Valley to complete a beautiful 33 mile drive.
This beautiful drive includes scenic views of Townsend, Gregory Bald, the Unicoi Mountains, Clingman’s Dome, Thunderhead Mountain, Mount LeConte and many high peaks in the eastern Smoky Mountains. The highest point of the western section of the parkways is Chilhowee Mountain at 2,650 ft. There you can find Look Rock hiking trail to get to the observation tower with 360 degree views of Blount County and the western Smoky Mountains.
You cross 9 bridges on this new stretch of road. As you go across these bridges you will see fantastic views of the mountains and Townsend down in the valley. This is considered one of the prettiest drives in America. You especially won’t want to miss this drive in the fall with the beautiful colors.
We beat the church crowd and got up there early one Sunday morning. Traffic is known is get a little crowded on the parkway so timing is everything. We had a blast exploring the new portion of the parkway. It was a perfect relaxing drive. We can’t wait to get back up there and spend more time with the popping spring and summer colors.
For information on plans for the rest of the missing parkway visit the NPS website. Thankfully they are in the planning process for the final link.