The Little Greenbrier School is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is one of the oldest structures in the mountains, having been built in 1882. During its time, it served as both a school and a church for the residents of the Greenbrier community.

Inside Greenbrier school

Unlike schools of today, students during the time when this was an active school all gathered in the same location regardless of age. Although primitive (obviously), the desk layout inside the school is clever because the back of a row of seating serves as the tabletop for the row of seats behind it.

Greenbrier School exterior

The school was built in 1882 by a man named John Walker, who was a pioneer skilled in many things, including woodworking and construction. The school was attended by children throughout the Little River Valley, many walking several miles to get to it. About a mile uphill from the school is an old cabin that was occupied by the Walker sisters.


The school also functioned as the church for the community. For that reason, a cemetary exists on the property very near the school. Upon close inspection, you will notice that most of the gravestones are for children.

Path to Metcalf Bottoms

If you walk around the side of the school opposite the small parking lot, you will see the old wooden sign pointing toward a trail that begins at a wooden walkway across a creek. That is the beginning of the trail toward Metcalf Bottoms.

Metcalf Bottoms

Metcalf Bottoms is a popular swimming/picnicing spot in the Smokies.  It is a relatively easy hike from the Greenbrier school at not much more than a half mile. You may very well come upon people splashing around in the river. If you find yourself wondering where they came from, just look across the river! There is parking on the other side of the river accessible to anyone via the main road. If you feel like taking a dip, you can make your way across the river.


The unique history of the Little Greenbrier School makes it one of the more interesting places to visit in the Smokies. The school is easy to find. Type “Little Greenbrier School” into your smart phone and it will guide you to the correct road. The actual road that takes you to the school is a very narrow dirt road that is impassible by two vehicles at once, so be prepared to back up (or pull to the side if there is room) if you meet another vehicle coming from the other direction.

Book your room at Edgewater Hotel and start your own Smoky Mountain adventure today!