The Sunny Side Trail, one of the 16 Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways, starts at the foot of the Smoky Mountains and heads northeast up through the Tennessee Valley. Following it on its course and stopping along its 179 listed stops will bring you on a tour through a scenic mountain landscape filled with eclectic small towns, roadside attractions and the history of the early years of settlements and statehood. After all, they don’t call it the Early Country Trail for nothing.
This segment picks up where Part I left off at Cosby, Tennessee.
US-321 cruises through pleasant Newport, located on the Pigeon River and on to the curiously named Parrotsville, acknowledged as Tennessee’s third oldest town. Along this route, you are witnessing a landscape much like the one the early Cherokee, and later, the American settlers saw.
Try and find a quiet spot, in one of the in-between places out where the fields and the mountains are all you can see.
It won’t be hard.
Get out of the car.
Listen to the breeze in the grass, in the trees.
Let the silence of the countryside fill your senses.
You’ll see it and feel it.
Old Tennessee, the Early Country.
Onto Greeneville another one of Tennessee’s oldest settlements and the home of President Andrew Johnson. This tailor turned politician had the heavy responsibility of becoming President of the United States after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.
His story, from humble beginnings on to his presidency, impeachment and death are displayed in vivid detail, thanks to the National Park Service, celebrating its Centennial in 2016, which runs a series of sites dedicated to preserving his legacy.
Other sites of note in downtown Greeneville include the General Morgan Inn, named after a famed Confederate cavalry general who was killed near this spot during the war, as well as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and historic Tusculum College.
(Credit: General Morgan Inn)
Afterward, follow the Sunny Side Trail markers to a site commemorating a man who is undoubtedly one of the most famous Americans of all time: Davy Crockett.
105 acres of riverside woodland have been preserved along the Nolichucky River for the Davy Crocket Birthplace State Park. This famous frontiersmen, politician and defender of the Alamo may not have died in Tennessee, but Tennessee was where he was born.
Get a feel for his life and legacy by starting where he did, in Limestone, Tennessee.
My travels along the Sunny Side Trail, like yours, will continue from here, on to Jonesborough, Johnson City and Bristol. Until then, make your travel plans at www.tntrailsandbyways.com.