With planned closures of many popular areas in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park due to much need road repairs, alternate sightseeing destinations will be required. Visitors not minding some time spent hiking may like to visit the home of the Walker Sisters in Little Greenbrier.
The Walkers’ were the children of Civil War veteran John “Hairy John” Walker and Margaret Jane King who moved to Little Greenbrier in the late 1860s or early 1870s. They raised 11 children, four boys and seven girls. Six spinster girls, Margaret Jane, Mary Elizabeth (Polly), Martha Ann, Nancy Melinda, Louisa Susan, and Hettie Rebecca spent the majority of their lives living and farming in a primitive lifestyle at Little Greenbrier, thus the famed “Walker Sisters”.
The Walker house is a three room two-storied log house that was completed around 1859 and this primitive house, with neither plumbing nor electric, was lived in until 1964. The house and land were sold to the U.S. Government in 1941 for $4750 but the sisters were granted a lifetime lease until their deaths. The formation of the National Park and the sale of their property brought many visitors to the sisters, curious of their way of life. They were able to sell hand made items as souvenirs to supplement their incomes as they welcomed travelers onto their land. An article in the Saturday Evening Post in 1947 brought then national publicity. Louisa Susan was the last of the six spinster sisters to pass, as she died in 1964.
The 4.2 mile round trip hike to the cabin is considered an easy to moderate ranking by most hikers. Beginning at Metcalf Bottoms picnic area off the Little River Rd, take the Metcalf Bottoms Trail (approximately 7/10 of a mile) to the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse. This one room schoolhouse still has blackboard and desks from when it was last used in the 1930s. On the hillside above the school house is a small local cemetery. One may also drive, conditions permitting, to the Little Greenbrier School via a one lane gravel road, cross the bridge at Metcalf Bottoms picnic area and the road will be about ½ mile on your right.
Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse
To continue to the Walker Sisters’ home take the Little Brier Gap Trail from the parking area at the Little Greenbrier School. This is considered a mile hike but is probably closer to a mile and a half.
Walker Sisters' Cabin