If you've ever been to the "Quiet Side of the Smokies," you've heard of and seen the Townsend Wye. Also known as the Townsend Y, this special spot in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular swimming hole in the park.
With that said, the most popular swimming hole in the most-visited national park in the National Park Service is not the place to go if you're looking for solitude. Located just inside of the park boundary, you'll find this loved spot where the road splits, creating a Y. To go right will take you to Cades Cove; to go left will take you through the park to Newfound Gap or Gatlinburg.
Park in the parking area to your left, which leads to an ice-cold mountain river and a non-stop summer celebration in the Smokies. Parking fills up quickly on a hot southern summer day, when the mountains start calling those looking for an adventure.
Grab a local Townsend watermelon or boiled peanuts from a farmer on the roadside. Hang out and picnic. Take the family and let the kids splash in the stream, and make a bet with friends on how many jumps you can get in before the sun goes down. Bring a tube or rent one and hitch a ride from the multiple local river-rat stops for a lazy ride down the river. Cool off after a long summer hike, maybe to the infamous Rocky Top. Go for a run or an 11-mile bike ride around Cades Cove and wrap up the day with a swim. Then, on your way out, grab a bite to eat at one of the locals' favorites, the Riverstone Restaurant or the Burger Master Drive-In, or grab a Mountain Man Brûlée at the Artistic Bean.