The Cosby Area – Beautiful, Peaceful and Almost Magical

The Cosby area on the eastern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park doesn’t get as much attention as some of the park’s more world-famous landmarks, but people who explore this scenic wonderland like it that way. Many of the star attractions of Cosby, such as the Cosby Picnic Area and various hiking trails, see less car and foot traffic in comparison and can be a great place to relax and explore.

Cosby Nature Trail – photo courtesy of NPS

Enjoy a restful break at the Cosby Picnic area

One of the best reasons to check out Cosby during your next trip to the park is the Cosby Picnic area, which makes for a fantastic place to grab a bite and refresh yourself before or after your hike or drive. This picturesque picnic spot generally sees less heavy traffic than some of the others that are more centrally located, so you can usually spread out and enjoy some space while you and your family relax amidst the shady woods and peaceful sounds of the Cosby Creek. There is also a pavilion available to reserve if you plan on hosting a group gathering. (TIP: for more picnic areas in the park see our guide to Picnic Areas in the Smoky Mountains.)

Embark on the trail to Hen Wallow Falls

Driving through the Cosby area gives you an opportunity to see one of the signature waterfalls that the national park is known for without having to fight through the larger crowds around some of the more popular ones. Again, areas of the park that are located closer to Gatlinburg and Cades Cove tend to be more heavily trafficked, so you have a chance to see some quiet sights just by venturing a little bit off the most beaten paths.

The Gabes Mountain trail leading to Hen Wallow Falls is rated moderate and it’s a 4.4-mile round-trip hike (2.2 miles each way) to get a great view of this fantastic water feature. It’s possible for hikers of many different skill levels to complete this trail. The falls reach up to 90 feet in the air and there are even side trails you can take if you want to go down to the base and look at the sights from below. The Gabes Mountain trailhead to Hen Wallow Falls begins at the Cosby Picnic area.

Explore an enchanting nature trail with the kids

Another very cool feature in the Cosby environs is the magical Cosby Nature Trail that is suitable for all members of the family, especially children. This trail is a loop that is just over 1 mile long, and gives you a glimpse of the beautiful scenery of the backcountry without having to stray far from your vehicle. Expect to spot abundant wildflowers in the spring and early summer, and enjoy strolling over the charming wooden bridges that span the small creeks throughout the trail. The kids will have a blast!

See more of the beauty of the eastern side of the park

Whether you just want to stop by for a quick picnic and rest or head deeper into the woods on one of the trails, the Cosby area offers plenty of opportunities for exploration. During your next trip to the Smokies, all you need to do is plan for a quick drive from your cabin to reach Cosby, where you can get away from some of the crowds and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.