Not many know and I am hesitant to tell everyone! There is an easy and beautiful entrance to the park where you are a short distance to Cades Cove or Gatlingburg. It is Metcalf Bottoms and is is about 8 miles from the main Parkway in Pigeon Forge from traffic light #3 of Wears Valley Road. Go to Lyon Springs Road and follow for about 2 miles and you are shortly crossing a wooden bridge and you can go left to Gatlinburg or right to Cades Cove. I understand they will have a ski lift very close to Lyon Springs Road very soon, so it may not be such a secret in the near future. Stop at the big red produce barn for some great deals, seems as if the other produce places in wears valley are tourist traps.
You can access two gravel roads off of the Cades Cove loop road that will take you into lightly traveled portions of the park. The roads are maintained fairly well, and if you drive with care and slowly cars can accomplish the drive if they have reasonable ground clearance.
Rich Mountain Road takes you north and empties close to Townsend Tn. There is an amazing overlook of Cades Cove that is a photographer's dream.
Parsons Branch Road heads over the mountains to the south east. It is a longer road that travels into even more remote country. The road is lined with wild flowers and creeks, my experience it is even less travelled. The last time we were up it, there were places where the creeks crossed the road in shallow water concrete crossings.
The roads are closed seasonally and for maintenance and management reasons at other times. We usually just head there and see if the gate is open, but you could probably call the visitors center for a status report if it is really important to you.
Make sure that you have plenty of gas and some refreshements before you enter the park. The last chance for drinks and snacks is the camp store at Cades Cove.
America's 1 religious attraction Christus Gardens in Gaitlinburg. The place is so American Protestant. They have a carved head of Jesus that follows you wherever you go. Spooky. You can pick up a plastic miniature in the gift shop. Definitely worth a trip.