Little Arrow Outdoor Resort is located in Townsend, TN, an area we consider to be the quiet side of the Smokies. Little Arrow has long been on our list: the campground looked beautiful and the location appeared ideal with close proximity to Cades Cove. Did these expectations hold up during our September visit?
We arrived late on a Thursday night--more like a Friday morning. Little Arrow's confirmation email encouraged us to not rely on email access to retrieve our reservation confirmation, which included site number, bathroom code, WiFi and other details. We cleverly screenshot the email contents. However, we back up our photos on the cloud to use less storage and unfortunately we were unable retrieve our reservation confirmation, which included site number, bathroom code, WiFi and other details. But we figured it out.
Little Arrow Outdoor Resort is beautiful. It’s the last piece of property before the Cades Cove entrance of Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is situated on the Little River. The owners have invested substantially in the campground, rebuilding the layout and infrastructure as well as adding rental cabins, tents, and Airstreams, plus a great pool, beautiful landscaping, fun playground, huge community fire pit, community room with excellent coffee, and a grand entrance.
Our site was great. We weren’t able to get a river site, but we were close to the river access and the amenities. We had full hookups on a gravel site. The picnic table and stone fire pit were on a concrete pad. The campground was terraced approaching the river so we had a nice retaining wall on the back of our site.
Friday morning we decided to bike to Townsend. There is a bike trail that starts about 1/4 mile out of the campground and runs all the way through town, probably running four miles. There are three tunnels under the road so we could see both sides without dangerous road crossings. We came across the Little River Railroad and Timber Museum, which is typically closed on Friday mornings. They were preparing for a private tour and allowed us to tour. The museum chronicles the story of the Smokies before the NPS. We learned of the timber harvest and the creative use of rail to transport the lumber to mill. Most of the old growth was harvested, leaving us comparing this history to The Lorax. We rode to Apple Valley, which is a gift shop, outfitter, coffee shop, and Cafe. The cafe offers a fun fixins’ bar to dress up your lunch. We loaded our burgers with loads of pickled and fresh veggies. In fact we returned on Saturday for lunch again. Saturday afternoon offered live music on the patio.
One of the driving factors for this visit was to bike Cades Cove; the road is closed Wednesday and Saturday morning to motorists, allowing bikers and runners to enjoy the 11 mile loop. We joined hundreds of others for our ride on a cool late summer ride. This was our third or fourth time completing the loop, first on bike, and by far our most enjoyable visit to the Loop. Our highlight was certainly the mama black bear trailed by three cubs crossing the road about 50 yards from us. The ride strategic ends near a gift shop with snacks. Many seek out the ice cream; we settled on beef sticks.
We know there are so many places to camp in and around GSNP, and we would've love to try them all, but we will struggle picking another campground over Little Arrow Outdoor Resort..
Shane and Jessica
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