Walker Sisters Cabin and Little Greenbrier School – October Classic Hike of the Smokies

November 1, 2022

Walker Sisters Cabin

By Billie Green
Hike Leader

Hikers on Metcalf Bottoms Trail
Hikers enjoyed the colorful trees along Metcalf Bottoms Trail. Photo by Linda Spangler

The Walker Sisters Cabin is an easy-to-hike to historic site inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The Walker family moved onto the homestead around 1870. The family had 13 members, including seven daughters and four sons. 

Six daughters remained on the homestead throughout their lives. During their time on the homestead, they continued to raise animals, grow their own crops, hunt and make all their own clothes and anything else they needed.

After the park service acquired the lands, the sisters’ lifestyle changed from hunter and gatherers to welcoming visitors and selling goods to those who came. 

Little Greenbrier School

On this beautiful fall day for our walk, we started from the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. After a short distance we came upon the Little Greenbrier School, built by Thomas Walker.

Little Greenbrier School
Little Greenbrier School – photo by Linda Spangler

On this day we were treated to the stories of the Walker Sisters by park interpreter Robin Goddard. During her childhood, Robin had visited with the sisters and now she shares stories their daily lives.  It was a treat to hear about the lives of the homesteaders and the community. 

Stepping back in time

After spending time with Robin, we moved onto the Walker Sisters Cabin about a 1.1-mile trek on a moderate grade road that made for an enjoyable walk. Upon arrival at the cabin, you feel like you have stepped back in time. 

Their legacy is seen all around with evidence from their years of homesteading. Left remaining on the grounds are the cabin, corn crib and spring house. A walk around the property lets you imagine the day-to-day life of the sisters that was described by Robin.

Walker Sisters Cabin
The Walker Sisters Cabin is being restored as part of Friends of the Smokies “Forever Places” program. Photo by Linda Spangler

Upon our return to the trailhead at Metcalf Bottoms, we passed the school house once more where we could hear Robin sharing the stories of yesteryear to new visitors who had arrived at the schoolhouse. Her storytelling has a way of bringing to life the account and accomplishments of the Walker Sisters. I do hope the day you visit she will be there.

Great short day hike

This is a great walk — only around 3.8 miles round trip and easy terrain, making it great for a short day hike.

You can also park at the schoolhouse to make for a shorter walk to the Walker Sisters Cabin, making this an option for families and kids. I would recommend taking a picnic lunch to have and enjoy upon your return to the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area.

Billie Green has served as a dedicated Friends of the Smokies volunteer in numerous roles, including member of the Hike Advisory Team, hike leader for Classic Hikes of the Smokies, and Smokies Stomp Volunteer Captain.

Register for Classic Hikes

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Classic Hikes of the Smokies are the second Tuesday of the month, from March through December.

The cost is $20 per hike for current members of Friends of the Smokies, and $35 for new and renewing members of Friends of the Smokies (includes one-year membership and hike registration).

The Nov. 8 hike is Lakeshore Loop, and the Dec. 13 hike is Kephart Prong. You must register prior to the hike.

Many of this year’s Classic Hikes are part of the 100 Favorite Trails Challenge. Chimney Tops = #22, Hempbill Bald = #37, Lakeshore Loop = #5, Porters Creek Trail = #25, Silers Bald to Clingmans Dome = #21, Twentymile Loop = #4, Walker Sisters Cabin = #24.

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Proceeds from the Classic Hike series benefit Trails Forever.

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