From GAtlinburg take 441 like you are going into the park and at the visitor center turn right and follow the signs to Cades COve. Before you get to Cades Cove turn right at the WYE ( a Swimming/picinic area) and this will take you to Townsend. Sorry I am brain dead this morning and cannot remember road numbers.
Or you can go into Pigeon Forge on 441 and take Wears Valley road to Townsend. I think the first would be the quickest from Gatlinburg.
Both routes are nearly identical in mileage but due to the low speed limits and curvy roads within the park it may take a bit longer to drive that route. Then again the traffic in Pigeon could erase that time savings by sitting in traffic congestion. Kind of a toss-up. There's also an alternate route going partly through the park, turning at Metcalf Bottoms and back into Wears Valley via Little Greenbriar, but it's still about the same mileage and time.
There is no "quick route" between Gatlinburg and Townsend. The previous posts are right on point with the three most common routes. If you are in a rush, then by all means take the route thru Pigeon Forge as there are few things worst than to be in the beautiful GSMNP and have a "gotta get there now driver" on the Park roads. Slow down and enjoy why you are in the Park to start with or at least permit others to enjoy why they are in the Park!Edited: 20 August 2011, 09:52
I live in Townsend. We usually choose to go thru the park to go eat in Gatlinburg and back thru the park on the way home. Its a beautiful, curvey drive along Little River. Will take about 45 min depending on your speed or the speed of the car in front of you. You'll like Sister Cats, think they close fairly early, maybe 3pm or something.
By no means did I mean I was going to drive like a mad man going through the park or be an idiot to anyone else on the road. I've been to national and state parks all over the country so I know how to be a courteous visitor. What I meant by quickest didn't necessarily mean drive time but distance since it looks like you have to go out of the way to go the Pigeon Forge route to Townsend.
Thank you all for your suggestions! I haven't been here since I was 12 so we are so looking forward to this trip.Edited: 23 August 2011, 18:07
Don't how many years it's been since you were 12 but if it's been a while you will be shocked by the growth in Pigeon Forge. Used to be you could tell where Pigeon Forge stopped and Sevierville began but it's all run together now with only a sign letting you know you changed cities. I won't get into how much it's changed since I was 12 but let's just say it's significant.
@ coastermeister.......sounds like the changes between the time I was 12 and you were 12 will be equally significant.
-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-
This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.
To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html
We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.