By Mike Steely
Located between Gatlinburg and Newport and hugging the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains the community of Cosby is different from the tourist-crowded town to its east. The winter is a great time to get out and visit the smaller Smoky Mountain communities and Cosby has some interesting places and sites.
Highway 321 serves the community and there are rumors that the entire stretch will be four laned in the next few years to better serve the Gatlinburg area and take some traffic off the busy entrance roads there. The quickest way to reach Cosby is by taking Interstate 40 to Newport and taking the second exit, the one with all the businesses. The highway passes all the businesses and then heads toward Cosby, with a turn right at the end of the four lanes.
That stretch of road, heading east toward Gatlinburg, is where the next four lanes are being planned. Until then the highway is narrow and climbs and descends several winding hills before it settles into a straight road.
On the way to Cosby you’ll pass several orchards and campgrounds. The Applehouse Restaurant, open all year, is part of the Carver Orchard and Farm Market. It’s a popular place for visitors and locals to dine.
Before reaching the little intersection where Highway 321 turns right at the Cosby Post Office, you’ll pass the entrance to the Foothills Parkway. This scenic view road, occasionally closed due to snowfall, climbs part of the Smokies and ends at exit 443 on 1-40. There are several pull-offs along the way for viewing the mountain.
Much like pre-tourist communities in the area Cosby has a hardware store, restaurants, a visitor center, convenience stores, cabins and campgrounds. If you don’t turn right you can continue toward the mountain on Highway 32 and turn right onto the Cosby Entrance to the Mt. Cammerer Trail Head with camping, hiking, picnicking, etc. Along the way is the Cosby Campground, a federal property, with 100 sites but closed presently due to weather and federal government cutbacks.
The fire tower atop Mt. Cammerer offers great views and has many hiking trails including a connection with the Appalachian Trail. The parking lot serves the campground, picnic area and amphitheater.
Also located along the park road is Hen Wallow Falls, a cascade and trail, just across from the picnic area near Mt. Cammerer.
Cosby may have been named for a trapper and whiskey maker, Jonathan Cosby, or for Dr. James Cozby, a Revolutionary War veteran who claimed land in the area. The history of the small community evolved early as a whiskey-making center.
Today the community is a gateway to the Smoky Mountains and has several unique attractions including a llama encounter center, mom-and-pop businesses, a local visitors’ center, a barbeque restaurant, and several commercial cabin and camping businesses.
Nearby are Ramsey Cascades, Forbidden Caverns, Pittman Center, and shopping in Newport. Cosby is only a few miles east of Gatlinburg and is becoming a destination for people wanting to be near the commercial tourist attractions but not among the busy centers.
If you’re looking for something different you might try stopping by Our Place, a coffee and bookstore about 2 miles east of Cosby on Highway 321.
You can get more information about Cosby at www.newportcockecountychamber.com or by calling 423-487-5505.