Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking ~ Horseback Riding ~ Fishing ~ Other
Hikers enjoy the Smoky Mountains during all months of the year with every season offering is own special rewards. During winter, the absence of deciduous leaves opens new vistas along trails and reveals stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents. Spring provides a weekly parade of wildflowers and flowering trees. In summer, walkers can seek out cool retreats among the spruce-fir forests and balds or follow splashy mountain streams to roaring falls and cascades. Autumn hikers have crisp, dry air to sharpen their senses and a varied palette of fall colors to enjoy.
A fairly good list and map of many of the best area trails can be found using the following links:
About 550 miles of the park's hiking trails are open to horses. Guided horseback rides are available at four concession horseback riding stables in the park from mid-March through late November. Rides on scenic park trails are offered lasting from 45 minutes to several hours. All rides proceed at a walking pace. Rates are from $30 per hour. Weight limits and age restrictions may apply. Please call the stable you are interested in for additional information.
- Cades Cove, near Townsend, TN (865) 448-9009
(also offers hayrides and carriage rides) Visit website for additional information
- Smokemont, near Cherokee, NC (828) 497-2373
(also offers wagon rides) Visit website for additional information.
- Smoky Mountain, near Gatlinburg, TN (865) 436-5634. Visit website for additional information.
- Sugarlands, near Gatlinburg, TN (865) 436-3535.
There are also hayrides available. Cades Cove Riding Stables offers a 1.5 - 2 hour hayride around the Cades Cove Loop Road. Passengers sit on a bed of hay in a trailer pulled by a truck and enjoy an open air view of the scenery of Cades Cove. Reservations are generally required and can be made by calling (865) 448-9009. Ranger-led hayrides are also offered on some evenings on a first-come, first-served basis. See the Schedule of Events for scheduled ranger-led hayrides.
Carriage or wagon rides are offered at two of the concession horseback riding stables in the park. These rides provide an opportunity to experience a 20-30 minute horse-drawn carriage or wagon ride on a park trail. Please call the stable you are interested in for additional information.
Cades Cove, near Townsend, TN (865) 448-9009
Visit website for additional information.
Smokemont, near Cherokee, NC (828) 497-2373
Visit website for additional information.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,900 miles of streams within its boundaries, and protects one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. The park offers a wide variety of angling experiences from remote, headwater trout streams to large, cool-water small mouth bass streams. Fishing with a license is permitted in all streams year-round in the park, from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset.
Follow these links to find out more about area fishing and license requirements:
- Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail invites you to slow down and enjoy the forest and historic buildings of the area. The 5.5-mile-long, one-way, loop road is a favorite side trip for many people who frequently visit the Smokies. It offers rushing mountain streams, glimpses of old-growth forest, and a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings. Please note that the road is closed in winter.
- At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina, rise higher. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top. On clear days views expand over a 100 miles.
- Sugarland Visitor Center is inside the park, just 2 miles from Gatlinburg. Talk with the rangers, gather information/maps or have the kids become a Jr. Park Rangers.
- Cades Cove is a broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains and is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen, and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible.
- The 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the cove, offering motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Allow at least two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you walk some of the area's trails. Traffic is heavy during the tourist season in summer and fall and on weekends year-round. While driving the loop road, please be courteous to other visitors and use pullouts when stopping to enjoy the scenery or view wildlife. An inexpensive self-guiding tour booklet available at the entrance to the road provides a map and information about the cove.
- Vehicle-free access along the Cades Cove Loop Road takes place each Wednesday, from May 5 through September 1, 2021. On these days, the 11-mile loop can be enjoyed on foot or bicycle.