David and some guys went on a “men only” backpack trip that weekend, so I decided to do a short hike of my own with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in a few months. Since my knees had been bothering me, I’d wanted to do something short and not too difficult. As it turned out, my friend hadn’t hiked due to the heat this summer, so we decided on a round trip to the Greenbrier School and Walker’s Sisters Cabin, following Little Greenbrier Trail back to our car. With the walking on the road, our hike was a short 5 miles and it was a beautiful day for a walk.
We started out by parking our car at the terminus of the Little Greenbrier Trail and walking down the road to the Metcalf Bottoms Trail. Traffic wasn’t too heavy that morning, but we were passed a little too closely by quite a few cars! It was a relief to finally see that trail sign! We started up past the gate and up a short and fairly easy hill. This part of the trail is still very clearly a gravel road and probably used for maintenance. Just on the left around mile 0.2 there was very clearly a home site with lots of plants on the side of the hill. The land on top was nice and level. As we crested the hill, we went through a rhododendron tunnel and slowly made our way down to the stream crossing with a nice and sturdy footbridge. It’s obvious that lots of picnic-ers must use this trail, as it was in wonderful shape and it’s an easy 0.8 miles from their fried chicken to the school house.
After crossing the footbridge we went in to explore the school, which operated from 1882 to 1936. There was also a church on this site, as evidenced by the cemetery across from the school entrance. I remember taking that 0.8 mile hike as a child on a school trip and thinking it was weird to have a cemetery instead of a playground across from the school!
From here, we followed the road up a small hill and past another gate and started on our 1.1 mile walk to the Walker Sister’s Cabin on the Little Brier Gap Trail. Most of this trail was also well-traveled and maintained gravel road. I’m sure the park service uses it to maintain the homesite of the Walker Sister’s Cabin, as it is still in wonderful shape for being over 100 years old. We quickly made our way up the small incline and reached the 0.75 mile marker, which was where the trail switched back and turned grassy. Just about 0.3 miles off to the right (not on the main trail) is the homesite, which still has the cabin, springhouse, and a corncrib in excellent condition. Even the windows are still in place. We walked around the home site and then made our way up to the junction of Little Brier Gap and Little Greenbrier trails, about 0.5 miles away. After we’d passed the junction of the spur trail off to the homesite, the trail began to look less like a road and more like a foot path. It wound around the side of a small hill and up to the trail junction.
At the junction, you can go about 5 miles to the right to Laurel Falls or you can go about 2 miles to the left, which is where we’d parked the cars. Little Greenbrier Trail was a pleasant and nearly level walk with some downhill towards the trailhead. About every 0.25 miles or so we’d have a nice view down into Wears Valley on our right or a pretty view of Cove Mountain off to our left. The leaves were just starting to turn, so every once in a while we’d come across a magnificent bright red tree. Sometimes we’d see one or two of them turning on Cove Mountain as well.
We’d gotten back to the car pretty quickly and the day had turned out to be sunny and warm. This short and easy hike was a great way to catch up with an old friend.