Press & Blog

What’s New at Apple Valley



⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “This lovely spot in the heart of the Towsend in the Smokies is a wonderful pick me up after a hard day of hiking. You need to get the fish sandwich or barbecue sandwich and pair that with their signature Apple Pie Milkshake. The mac and cheese is totally worth the calories and you earned it by hiking them off already anyway, right? So go ahead and indulge….” Roamilicious

Springtime in the Smokies is Truly Spectacular

Truly Spectacular Springtime at the Smokies

Spring in the Smokies is truly a spectacular sight. The great Smoky Mountains boasts a wet and humid climate, as well as a broad range in elevation, creating a haven for over 1600 species of flowering plants. Because of this diversity in plant life, visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains can enjoy different species of wildflowers throughout the Spring months.

Springtime Smokies

When planning a Smoky Mountain hike for wildflower viewing, it is important to know which hikes offer the best blooms for the time of year.

Early Spring

Mid-March through April

If you prefer the Peaceful Side of the Smokies, you won’t want to miss Chestnut Top Trail located just 100 yards north of the popular Wye in Townsend on Route 73. This trail is easy to access, and while the entire length of the trail is 8.6 miles round trip, you won’t have to hike it’s entirety to see an incredible display of Smoky Mountain wildflowers. After hiking Chestnut Top Trail just a few hundred yards, you will come across several species of gorgeous wildflowers like White Trillium, Bloodroot, Yellow Trillium, Hepaticas, Violets, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Bishop’s Cap, Purple Phacelia, Fire Pink, Plantain-Leaved Pussytoes, Star Chickweed and Wild Stonecrop.


For those who don’t mind adventuring a little further into the mountains, we suggest a trip to Elkmont Campground. About a 45 minute drive from Townsend, not only is this abandoned village a must-see location in the National Park, but you will find the Little River Trailhead here. This moderate hike is only 4.9 miles round trip and will offer displays of Spring Beauties and Trailing Arbutus. Later in the season, you may also find Hepaticas, Yellow Trillium, Dwarf Cinquefoil, Stonecrop, Canadian Violets, and Umbrella Leaf. The Husky Gap area of this trail is also great in late April and through mid-May.

Little River Trail


Late April through Mid-May

If you are visiting in late April or early May, Ace Gap Trail is a great hike on the Peaceful Side of the Smokies. Located on Rich Mountain Road, this 10.2 mile roundtrip hike may not offer any mountain views, but the abundance of wildflowers will make up for it. On this trail, you will find Yellow Trillium, Beard Tongue, Solomon’s Seal, Spiderwort, Fire Pink, Hawkweed, Pink Lady Slippers, Catesby’s Trillium, Yellow Mandarin, Rue Anemone, Wild Geranium, Little Brown Jugs, Robin’s Plantain and Flame Azalea.

For those visiting later in May, we suggest visiting Schoolhouse Gap Trail or Rich Mountain Loop, which are both located on the Peaceful Side of the Smokies. To find both of these trails, you will head towards Cades Cove – one of the most popular destinations in the Smoky Mountains.

Schoolhouse Gap Trail is located on Laurel Creek Road, just 3.7 miles from the Wye in Townsend. At 3.8 miles round trip, this trail is perfect for all skill levels and offers beautiful displays of wildflowers. At the beginning of the trail, you will find Virginia Bluebells before running into Beaked Violets, Pink Lady’s Slippers, Fairy Wand, Golden Aster, Star Grass, Red Clover, Robin’s Plantain, Sun Drops, Catesby’s Trillium, and Lyre-Leaf Sage.

Rich Mountain Loop is located inside Cades Cove and is the perfect hike for those who want to avoid the traffic in Cades Cove. The trailhead is just 50 feet beyond the gate for Cades Cove, allowing you to park at the entrance and leave without driving the 11-mile loop. Rich Mountain Loop is 8.5 miles roundtrip, and is considered more strenuous so keep this in mind when planning. In mid-May, you will find Mountain Laurel, Flame Azalea, Purple Phacelia, Rattlesnake Hawkweed, Yellow Ragwort, Violets, Sweet Shrub, Wild Geranium, Blackberry, Fourleaf Milkweed, Everlasting Pea, and Butterfly Weed.

Schoolhouse Gap Trail

Need Help Planning?

Stop by SMOC! Our friendly staff will be happy to help outfit you for any type of adventure. Make sure to pick up one of our Wildflowers of the Smokies books to help you on your identifying journey.


Spring has SPRUNG, so what are you waiting for? Visit us this Spring and see all we have to offer during this beautiful season.

Anticipate the Adventure – The North Face Edition

Anticipate the Adventure North Face Edition

Learning to Layer for Fall and Winter Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains featuring the North Face Collection

The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the finest places in the world to see phenomenal Fall foliage and breathtaking views in the Winter. People travel from all over the world in October and November in hopes to see the Smoky Mountain’s peak colors. When the leaves are gone, the Great Smoky Mountains offer another surprise to visitors – inspiring views from places that are typically dense in greenery during the warmer months. One of the best ways to see all the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer in the Autumn and Winter months is to plan a hike during your stay.

If you do plan to hike in the Fall or Winter, you will want to be prepared for varying temperatures – and the Apple Valley Mountain Store has the perfect North Face gear and apparel to help you dress for success on your next Great Smoky Mountain hike. When gaining elevation during a hike, layering your clothing is of utmost importance. We have put together the guide below to help navigate you through some of our newest North Face merchandise so you can be ready for your next Smoky Mountain hike.

Apple Valley North Face Gear
Apple Valley North Face Gear
Apple Valley North Face Gear
Apple Valley North Face Gear
Apple Valley North Face Gear
Apple Valley North Face Gear

For Starters…

Before we get into layering, we wanted to cover a few basic tips for hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

  1. Don’t forget your basic gear! Even if you are just planning a day hike in the Smoky Mountains, you will want to make sure you have a water bottle with a purifier, compass, tarp, extra food and clothing, waterproof matches, a flashlight, and a whistle to summon help in areas you may not have cellphone service. The North Face Base Camp Duffel is the perfect hiking accessory to pack the essentials in. Water-resistant, lightweight, and incredibly durable, this bag can be used as a backpack or an over-the-shoulder duffel.
  2. Check the weather and trail conditions! Not only is this important when planning your clothing layers, but you will want to make sure the trails you plan to use are open and you won’t be surprised by any weather conditions. It isn’t uncommon to find snow on a Fall hike in the Great Smoky Mountains in the higher elevations!
  3. Tell someone about your plan! Whether you are hiking with a group or on your own, it is important to let someone know where you will be hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Share your hiking itinerary with a trusted friend or family member and be sure to call them when you finish.
  4. Dress for success! Here is a guide to help you dress appropriately for your Fall or Winter hike in the Great Smoky Mountains:
  • Layer 1 – Your base layer should be comfortable and lightweight. We recommend a synthetic top like the North Face Hyperlayer Hoodie. Pair it with any of North Face’s leggings or something adjustable like the North Face Aphrodite Pant with drawstrings and you have the perfect base layer for your Smoky Mountain hike.
  • Layer 2 – As you gain elevation on your hike, the temperature can drop quickly in the Fall and Winter. A flannel button-up or full-zip vest with a beanie will give you the extra bit of warmth you need without being too bulky. We recommend North Face’s Arroyo Flannel or Furry Fleece Vest for a second layer.
  • Layer 3 – Depending on the temperatures you will be hiking in, you may be able to skip the third layer so be sure to follow rule number 2! Even in the early Fall, you can sometimes find snow in the highest elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mount LeConte can see temperatures as low as 35 degrees in October and 21 degrees in December. In these conditions, you will want to make sure you have a fully insulated jacket. We love the North Face’s Shelbe Raschel, which comes in both full-zip hooded and half-zip pullover options.
  • Layer 4 – You may skip the third layer, but layer 4 is always important in the Great Smoky Mountains – a rain jacket! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sees anywhere from 55-85 inches of rain per year, so it is safe to say it may rain on your hike. Choose something colorful like the North Face Fanorak, or if you prefer something more subtle, check out the North Face Cyclone 2.

We hope this guide helps you feel prepared for your next Great Smoky Mountain adventure! Apple Valley’s Mountain Store is happy to help outfit you for your next Smoky Mountain hike, so be sure to stop in and check out all of their North Face apparel and merchandise.

Loop the Link Anniversary Weekend

Loop the Link Anniversary Weekend

Apple Valley Mountain Village has a great event coming up, and we hope you’ll all plan to join us! Loop the Link Anniversary Weekend, November 8th-10th, will serve as a celebration of three very exciting anniversaries– 1-year anniversary of the completion of the Foothills Parkway and Missing Link, the 1-year anniversary of the Apply Valley Mountain Village Grand Reopening, and the 40th anniversary of the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department!

Sponsored by the generous folks at Thunder Roads Magazine Tennessee/Kentucky, this event will be both motorcycle and family friendly. We’ll have something fun for everyone at this celebration, from burger and BBQ specials, to $0.99 coffee at the Dancing Bean, and multi-store sales. Bikers, join us Saturday morning for a group ride set to depart at 11am. We’ll also have a retro 70s and 80s dance party Saturday evening from 6-9pm, so bring your dancin’ shoes!

We will be collecting donations for the Townsend Volunteer Fire Department throughout the weekend, so if you feel so inclined, please donate to support this worthwhile cause. Apply Valley will match the donation amount raised throughout the weekend in support of the wonderful fire department.

We can’t wait to see you all there!

Live Music by John Fee on July 4th

Live Music by John Fee on July 4th

Join Us in the Beer Garden on July 4th!

This coming July 4th, John Fee will be playing a special concert for the guests of Apple Valley Mountain Village in the Beer Garden of the Apple Valley Cafe from 12:30pm – 3:30pm.

Raised in Harlan, Kentucky, John Fee is the son of a coal miner and a part-time preacher. Acquiring his first guitar at Pick ‘N Grin in Knoxville, Tennessee, John took his newly aquired instrument to church with him where he wated and learned from the pickers in the service. Eventually, Kohn started to play gigs around his home town and was a fixture for 12 years at the town’s annual Poke Sallet Festival. Inspired by the country artists that he grew up watching on Ralph Emery’s “Nashville Now” program on TNN, he gravitated toward the traditional country sound of Geroge Jones and Merle Haggard.

In 1998, John moved to east Tennessee, settling in Blount County, eventually bringing his talents to the band Wildcard. After performing with Wildcard, John went on to form John Fee and the Dirt Road Drifters, a three-piece country rock band that played throughout the greater Knoxville area. Today, his band John Fee and the Honky Tonk Playboys perform all around the Tennessee area, bringing their engaging performances to fans in a number of local venues.

So come on out this Fourth of July and John Fee at the Apple Valley Mountain Village. His performance is sure to be memorable!

Apple Valley Cafe Presents Barbecue Nights

Apple Valley Cafe Presents Barbecue Nights

Join us Every Saturday for Barbecue, Beer, and Live Music in Townsend!

Every Saturday from 5-7pm in June and July, the Apple Valley Cafe is going to feature live music by Billie LaFollette as well as a barbecue plate special and draft beer specials. The barbecue plate includes home made barbecue, coleslaw, baked beans, and fries for only $8.99 and, because no barbecue is complete without an ice cold beer, we are offering 16 oz drafts for only $5.00!

If you have any questions about the event, please give us a call at (865) 448-9878 or send us a message through our contact page.

Apple Valley Mountain Village Planning Open House Nov. 9-10

Apple Valley Mountain Village Planning Open House Nov. 9-10

Apple Valley Mountain Village Open House

A special Open House event with food samples, door prizes, discounts on merchandise, and live entertainment is planned for Friday and Saturday, November 9th & 10th at the Apple Valley Mountain Village (formerly “Apple Valley Stores & Café”). We rebranded earlier this year as part of a campaign to highlight our popular shopping center’s proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains.

The November 9 & 10 Open House is scheduled in conjunction with the long-awaited opening of the Foothills Parkway Extension, a 1.65-mile-long “missing link” that connects Walland to Wears Valley as part of the 72-mile long road traversing the western and northern perimeters of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is set to open Veteran’s Day weekend.

Planned Open House specials for shoppers include:

General Store: Receive 30% off various clearance items from the General Store on Friday and Saturday, November 9 & 10, along with free butter samples, meatball samples with Apple Valley BBQ Sauce, door prizes, and $1 raffle ticket sales for a Buck Shot Grill Giveaway at 3 pm on Saturday (benefitting repairs to the Special People’s Park accessing Little River across the Parkway from Apple Valley).

Mountain Store: Discounts of 20% off on the new merchandise from coveted “performance apparel” brands like Mountain HardWear®, and Southern Tide® at the Apple Valley Mountain Store on both days, plus door prizes.

Apple Valley Café: Two-for-one Fried Apple Pies and $5.99 Pulled Pork Sandwich plates with Fries at the Apple Valley Café on both days, and guests visiting the Apple Valley Beer Garden receive free balloons.

Dancing Bean Coffee House (located across the parking lot from the main Apple Valley General Store): Get 99-cent brewed coffee until 4 pm on both days, a free Cinnabon ™ Cinnamon Roll with the purchase of a specialty drink or lunch item until 4 pm on both days, samples of cookies and scones and free brewed coffee for anyone wanting to play chess, checkers, cards, or any of the various board games available for guests from 4-6 pm on Friday, November 9, and “Jammin’ at the Coffee House from 4-6 pm on Saturday, November 10, with free brewed coffee and food samples, along with live music.

Guests visiting the Apple Valley Beer Garden receive free balloons at the General Store and Mountain Store during the festivities. Ambassadors will hand out maps of the area and raffle tickets. Live music is also planned during the Open House event.

Mark and Sharon Oldham, owners of both the Apple Valley and Dancing Bear brands, said the name change better describes the stores’ location in the Smokies and the variety of new apparel and cabin décor offerings continuing to arrive ahead of the holiday shopping season.

For a good number of those visiting the Smokies, Apple Valley has become the Unofficial Welcome Center — a great place to stop and stretch their legs, walk the dog, enjoy a bite to eat, browse the fun shops, listen to live music, and launch the day’s adventures near Cade’s Cove since it first opened in 1993. The Oldhams bought the property in 2015 and have improved it with a number of enhancements.

Apple Valley Mountain Village consists of multiple businesses on one property, including the Apple Valley General Store, the Apple Valley Café, the Dancing Bean Coffee House and the Apple Valley Mountain Store, which has added new merchandise from coveted apparel brands like North Face®, Mountain HardWear®, and Southern Tide®, plus the usual assortment of beautiful quilts and cabin décor that shoppers have come to expect from the Smoky Mountain Lifestyle outlet.

The newest addition, The Dancing Bean Coffee House, opened in July and has become a popular destination for travelers and locals alike. The Dancing Bean Coffee House offers regionally-produced Kombucha, Nitro Coffee, fresh fruit smoothies, custom sodas, bottled juices, and Cruz Farm dairy products, along with imported beers and six Tennessee-sourced bottled beers. The Dancing Bean also sells locally-roasted fresh ground coffee by the pound or whole bean coffee by the pound for carry-out; a specially-crafted Dancing Bear Blend pairs Mexican, Guatemalan, and Sumatra beans for a rich, earthy flavor and pleasing aroma. Guests can also find Dancing Bear’s delicious benne seed bacon and house-made granola to take home as souvenirs of their trip to the Smokies. In the same building as the coffee house, the Dancing Bear Lodge has added a new guest check-in center. The 38-acre resort property is located just up the hill, also directly facing Lamar Alexander Parkway.

Those interested in following the new developments at Apple Valley Mountain Village can get updates on this website https://AppleValleyStores.com, along with our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AppleValleyStores/.

Apple Valley Grand Reopening Anniversary

Apple Valley Grand Reopening Anniversary

Join us on June 10th, from 8 am – 8 pm, as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary & the Grand Reopening of Apple Valley Cafe Express!

You and the family are invited to join us for:

  • Live music, featuring John Fee (1:00 – 4:00 pm)
  • Cornhole, plus games for the kids provided by the Appalachian Bear Rescue
  • 3 Bounce houses for the kids to enjoy
  • Outdoor grilling on the deck
  • Freshly smoked BBQ Platter special for $8.95, including 2 sides and corn doggers (5:00 – 8:00 pm)
  • Great discounts and deals
  • $3 Coors Light all day for the adults

During the festivities, make sure to check out our Stores, fully stocked with thousands of new items, as well as a brand new Fudge Kitchen with 32 flavors! We hope that to see you all there as we celebrate another year together!

Live Music Saturdays with John Fee

Live Music Saturdays with John Fee

Every Saturday through Labor Day, enjoy live music by John Fee at the Apple Valley Beer Garden. Relax on our Beer Garden Pavilion with a local Calfkiller draft beer, a vintage Coke, or one of our exclusive premium ice cream cones and sundaes.

John Fee, raised in Harlan, KY, is as authentic as it gets when it comes to his own musical upbringing. His father was a coal-miner and part-time preacher. Sunday morning church service was filled with guitar picking music that inspired him and his family to purchase his first guitar when he was 11 years old. He brought the guitar with him to church every week and learned how to play by watching the pickers during service. Eventually, he started playing around his hometown and started following country artists like George Jones and Merle Haggard.

Twenty years ago, in 1998, he moved to Eastern Tennessee where he hooked up with a local country band called “Wildcard”, and then eventually formed his own three-piece country-rock band, The Dirt Road Drifters, that played all over Knoxville. In 2004, John Fee had a few internet “hits” that he produced in Nashville, including “Gonna Take A Lot Of Liquor To Like Her” and “The More He Drinks” which were both released on Clear Diamond Records. He also was part of the Dixie Rose Band that played venues like The Dawg Patch and The Station.

“It was a good experience, and they’re all great players,” he said. “I left in March, and in April or June, I started what was supposed to be an acoustic gig, and the pieces kind of fell into place.”

Today, his band is The Honky Tonk Playboys, and they play a lot of local gigs.

At the Apple Valley, you might hear John Fee playing solo, and his band members often join in the fun. Hope you’ll come out an enjoy his music!

Second Annual Charity Chili Challenge

Second Annual Charity Chili Challenge

Apple Valley Cafe Express, along with the Townsend/Cades Cove Gateway Alliance present:

The Second Annual Charity Chili Challenge!

Ticket Pricing*:

  • Adults (10 and up): $12.00
  • Kids (9 and under): $6.00
  • *Includes chili samples and all the fixins. Proceeds go to the winning participants’ charity of choice.

Tickets can be purchased on Brown Paper Tickets or by visiting Apple Valley Cafe Express beginning February 2nd.

We are thrilled to announce that all 2018 contestants & their charities have been chosen:

Rules and complete details for the contest:

Contestants must be present or have a representative or two from their organization to serve the chili.

Contestants may pick up metal pans a week prior to the cookoff, and provide 5 gallons of cooked chili in these pans to Apple Valley Café by Saturday February 24th at 10am. Apple Valley Kitchen will heat and prepare your product for serving.

Each organization will be provided an 8 ft table, 2 chairs, table linen, serving utensils, all tasting supplies, voting cards and pens, plus personalized flyers to distribute live and electronically.

Sample plates will be sold for 12.00, and the guest will receive a 2 oz portion of each chili, plus crackers, and toppings.

Guests will vote throughout the day using voting cards, to select 1st, 2nd and 3rd ‘best’ chilis. The chilis with the top three scores will receive the following prizes for their charity:

  1. First place – 500.00 **
  2. Second place – 350.00 **
  3. Third Place – 250.00 **

**Prize awards guaranteed when ticket sales exceed 150 adult purchased meals. In the case of lower than 150 attendance, prize money will be divided as follows: First prize 50% of sales, Second and Third place 25% each.

Contestants are strongly encouraged to invite members and followers on social media prior to the event, and to bring signage, merchandise and literature to promote their charities as well as collection boxes.

Entries accepted through February 15, 2018. Spaces are limited to six participating organizations.

Questions? Call Tina Graves, General Manager of Apple Valley Café at 865-448-1232 or contact by email: [email protected]