Foothills Parkway – the most scenic drive!

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Originally approved by Congress in 1944, the Foothills Parkway was envisioned as a 72-mile route from Chilhowee Lake to Cosby. In the late 1960s, portions of the Foothills Parkway were completed: a 17-mile section between US 129 and Walland, and on the eastern end, a 5.5-mile section connecting Cosby with Interstate 40.  



Foothills Parkway East


But the construction of the 16-mile stretch that was supposed to run between Walland and Wears Valley was beset with problems. A 1.5-mile section in the middle of this segment, dubbed the “missing link”, was to go through rugged terrain that was extremely difficult to build upon. Construction practically stopped in 1989.

Completing the “missing link”.


The Foothills Parkway project received some federal stimulus money in 2009. New technological advances and construction techniques have allowed the National Park Service crews to fill in the “missing link” by building a bridge that “floats” around the edge of the mountain rather than plowing through the foothills.


The exciting news is that the “missing link” is missing no more! The National Park Service announced the completion of the final phase of construction on the 16-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway between Walland, TN, and Wears Valley, TN in December of 2018.  Enjoy a gorgeous 33-mile drive from Chilhowee Lake to Sevier County.  



Foothills Parkway West is divided into a southern section and a northern section. The southern section is 8G and 8H, while the northern section is 8E and 8F. All along this section, there are more overlooks where you can get out and see breathtaking views of the mountains surrounding the road. Some of them include the Great Smoky Mountains Overlook, the Gregory Bald Overlook, and the Cumberland Plateau Overlook. There is a spot called Look Rock that has a picnic area, restrooms, and a short hike to an overlook where people enjoy getting out of their cars and stretching their legs.


There are no current plans to complete the final stretch of the Foothills Parkway – between Wears Valley and Cosby. 

From Gatlinburg head south on US-441 N/Parkway towards Pigeon Forge approximately 8.5 miles. Turn left onto Wears Valley Rd for 8.3 miles then turn right onto Foothills Parkway. 

To Foothills Parkway East:

From Ridge View Lodge: 15.5 mi via US-321 N

From Appalachian Escape: 19 mi via US-321 N