Visiting the Walker Sisters

Visiting the Walker Sisters
Walker Sisters Place
Walker Sisters Place © William Britten use with permission only

The Walker Sisters Place is one of many Smoky Mountain homesteads. The five spinster sisters clung to the old self-reliant way of life and became legends in the Smokies. Their lifetime lease on the property ran out in 1964 when the last sister died.  Their parents, John and Margaret, had moved to the homestead in 1870 and raised 11 children. Margaret (1870–1962), Martha (1877–1951), Nancy (1880–1931), Louisa (1882–1964), and Hettie (1889–1947) stayed on the homestead and raised sheep to make wool for their clothing and grew their own food.

Smoky Mountains corncrib built in 1870s
Smoky Mountains corncrib built in 1870s © William Britten use with permission only

Visiting the Walker Sisters Place is a wonderful, easy hike up the Little Greenbrier valley. Like the hike to the Avent Cabin, this is a short (1.1 mile) walk on a fairly level trail, with an historical destination as your goal. To reach the trail, turn into the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area along Little River Road between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Townsend Y. Cross the bridge and go a short distance, looking for the sign for the Little Greenbrier School.  Park near the school and look for the trail starting just above the cemetery.

A longer (1.8 mile) hike to the homestead would pick up the trail just across the bridge in Metcalf Bottoms, walking 100 yards upstream and then an easy half-mile to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse.

Walker Sisters Springhouse
Walker Sisters Springhouse © William Britten use with permission only

All of the buildings on the Walker homestead are great examples of primitive Appalachian architecture, built of hewn logs with half-dovetail notching.

The springhouse pictured above and below was used to keep food cool before the availability of refrigerators. The interior walls contain storage shelves, and the cool springwater gathered in a pool on the floor.

After your hikes, please consider a stop at the William Britten Gallery on Glades Road Arts and Crafts community. My complete display of Smoky Mountains photography might contain a special item to remember your trip to the Smokies!

Walker Sisters Place
Walker Sisters Place © William Britten use with permission only

7 Responses to Visiting the Walker Sisters

  1. Went to the cabin the week of the 4th. Was getting in position to take photo, close to the stump in the 1st photo bottom left corner, and there was a very large copperhead sitting there to greet me. Needless to say, my wife was ready to go after seeing the snake. Other than that great hike. A quiet and peaceful place. No wonder the sisters didn’t want to leave their land.

  2. Thank you for these great photos. I was looking at random things and happened on them! After seeing them I read about the sisters and found it very interesting so I thank you for that. Do you have photos of the cemetery you mention or the school? Thanks again, these photos are beautiful.

  3. Very nice pictures! My husband and I hiked to this cabin last week from the Metcalf Bottoms/Little Briar Gap trails. What a great old homesite. Visiting the Walker sisters’ place has been on my Smokies bucket list for quite a while, so I’m glad we got to see it. One thing happened while we were there that was “interesting” … as we were leaving, we took one last look at the springhouse. I closed the door and we started the walk back. About 10 seconds later, the springhouse door slowly opened with a loud CREAK. It was a little bit creepy. Sorry if we disturbed you, sisters! 😉

    A note on the hike: From the road by the Little Greenbriar School, the trail is pretty easy/moderate, but if you’re taking the trail from the Metcalf Bottoms bridge, be aware that it turns sharply to the left away from the bottoms and is fairly steep for about 75 yards to the top of the hill. I was nursing a head cold, so it was more of a chore than I expected.

  4. this is my families home there are so many memories here beautiful memories. this place is held close to our hearts please for those who visit please have respect and do not damage our ancestors homeplace this was my great great grandfathers home where even my great grandfather was raised and my own grandfather grew up thank you and god bless

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