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Originally approved by Congress in 1944, the Foothills Parkway was envisioned as a 72-mile route from Chilhowee Lake to Cosby. In the late 1960s, portions of the Foothills Parkway were completed: a 17-mile section between US 129 and Walland, and on the eastern end, a 5.5-mile section connecting Cosby with Interstate 40.
But the construction of the 16-mile stretch that was supposed to run between Walland and Wears Valley was beset with problems. A 1.5-mile section in the middle of this segment, dubbed “missing link”, was to go through rugged terrain that was extremely difficult to build upon. Construction practically stopped in 1989.
The Foothills Parkway project received some federal stimulus money in 2009. New technological advances and construction techniques have allowed the National Park Service crews to fill in the “missing link” by building a bridge that “floats” around the edge of the mountain rather than plowing through the foothills.
The National Park Service has announced the final phase of construction on the 16-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway between Walland, TN and Wears Valley, TN. When completed, motorists will be able to enjoy a gorgeous 33-mile drive from Chilhowee Lake to Sevier County. The construction is expected to be finished by the winter of 2018-19. The drive may just become THE prettiest drive in Tennessee (and who knows – maybe the whole US!) and is expected to draw scores of visitors.
There are no current plans to complete the final stretch of the Foothills Parkway – between Wears Valley and Cosby.
To Foothills Parkway East:
From Blue Mountain Lodge and Ridge View Lodge: 15.5 mi via US-321 N
From Appalachian Escape: 19 mi via US-321 N