Step back in Time at the Walker Sisters’ Cabin Via Little Brier Gap Trail

The hike to the Walker sisters’ cabin via Little Brier Gap trail is a peaceful way to spend the day in any season. Not only is it less crowded than many other trails, but it is also easy enough that kids can enjoy it too! 

This historical wonderland is located in the once-thriving mountain community of Greenbrier deep in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It boasts several historical log buildings, including the old Walker homestead.

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As you are reading, please keep in mind that each family has its own unique needs. You know your family best and are ultimately responsible for discerning the safety and appropriateness of this hike. 

Walker Sisters’ Cabin Via Little Brier Gap Trail

Difficulty Rating: Easy

Roundtrip Length: 2.4 miles

Directions: From Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, drive across the one-lane wooden bridge onto Wear Cove Gap Road. In approximately .5 miles you will see a gravel road on the right with a sign for the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse. Follow the gravel road up to the schoolhouse parking area and the Little Brier Gap trailhead.

Trail Description

This wide gravel hiking trail cycles between a gradual incline and level surface. Because it used to be a gravel road, the path is nice and wide, which makes it a great choice for less experienced hikers.

In some spots, there is a steep drop off to one side, so you do want to watch your kids closely.

A Brief History

This hiking trail is located in historic Greenbrier, which was a primitive but thriving mountain community from the 1830s through the 1930s.

The historic buildings at this site, including the homestead, schoolhouse, and cemetery, allow you a brief glimpse into the lives of the people who once called these mountains home.

The Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse was built in 1882 and served the community as a school and church until 1935.

It still has the old desks and chalkboard stained with the memory of past lessons.

Throughout the 1930s Greenbrier families began selling their land to the government for the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

During this time, the government attempted to buy the 123 acres of Walker land for inclusion in the park; however, the Walker sisters refused to sell until 1940.

Even then, the sale included a condition that the sisters be allowed to remain on the property for the remainder of their lives.

After the last remaining sister passed away, the Walker sisters’ cabin was finally turned over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Today the Little Green Brier Schoolhouse and all of the buildings remaining at the Walker homestead are listed with the National Register of Historic Places.

More East TN family Fun

Happy hiking, y’all!

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Written By
Erica Cardinal
Erica is a long-time resident of East TN and the founder of East TN Family Fun. She's also a sucker for a good adventure. Together with her hubs and kiddos, she spends her time exploring, homeschooling, and making memories.

4 thoughts on “Step back in Time at the Walker Sisters’ Cabin Via Little Brier Gap Trail”

  1. I have visited the school house. DO NOT take the road up there use the trail. I went on the road once. It is one lane with 2 way traffic and NO place to pull over. So places on the road have VERY steep drop offs. I was almost stuck in one of the places coming down but a truck in front of me helped a car coming up get over so we could pass. TO SCARY – not even good for walkers or motor cycles.

    Reply
    • The road is only wide enough for 1 car, but we do take it up to the top every time. We have gotten lucky and have never run into anyone else on the way. But, you are right. If you do, one of you will need to back up, which can be very scary.

      Reply
      • Hey Erica! What are your thoughts on kids ages 1 and a half and almost 3 in carriers on parents back, 5,7,9 year olds hiking to Laurel Falls and back? Some reading says easy but drop offs, some say moderate with drop offs. Suggestions for better hike for these ages appreciated. Audri Waddell

        Reply
        • Plenty of people hike to Laurel Falls with young kids. I have done it myself, but it would not be my TOP choice for a 1 and 3 year old in carriers. Not only is the trail very narrow with a steep drop to one side, but the trail is ALWAYS super crowded. The hike to the Walker Sisters Cabin has a much wider trail and is never as crowded. I would pick that any day over Laurel Falls, but this is just my personal opinion. You should do what you feel comfortable with.

          Reply

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