Newfound Gap
April 24, 2023

One of the best parts of coming to Tennessee or North Carolina is being outdoors in the beauty of the Smokies. There is a lot to see and many ways to explore it. With that being said, here are 3 of the best outdoor activities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

1. Hiking

Alum Cave

Visitors love to hike when they come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With over 850 miles of trails, there is a route for every skill level. If you want a more laid-back experience, consider going on one of the nature trails. They were developed by park rangers and are meant for visitors of all ages. One of these is the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail. It may be short in distance, but it is still jam-packed with beautiful scenery. What’s more? The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is the only trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is designated as an all-access trail. This means that it is great for visitors in wheelchairs and little ones in strollers. On the other hand, if you do want a more challenging hike, the park has plenty of those as well. For example, the Baxter Creek Trail is a 12.2-mile round-trip hike. You will be rewarded with stunning views from the 60-foot-tall Mount Sterling Fire Tower at the summit.

2. Camping

If spending the day at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park isn’t enough, consider going camping and spending the night there. The park has plenty of great campsites. When choosing the right one, you need to think about how much you want to venture out into the wilderness. If you don’t want to go that far, consider staying at one of the front-country campsites. You can camp close to your vehicle and have access to restrooms with cold running water. Visitors who want to go further out can hike to one of the backcountry campsites. The front-country campsites are open year-round, whereas the backcountry ones close during the winter months. This is due to the hazardous conditions created by snow and ice.

3. Horseback Riding

two horses in a pasture in the Smoky Mountains

Another fun outdoor activity in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is horseback riding. There are 3 stables in the area that are open from mid-March through late November. If you have never ridden a horse before, don’t worry. The guided tours are great for all skill levels. As you sit up nice and tall, you will get a great view of all the natural scenery. You will also learn a thing or two, as the tour guides tell you fun facts. What’s more? The Cades Cove Riding Stables offers horse-drawn carriage rides and hayrides along Cades Cove Loop Road, a very popular scenic drive in the park. This is a great activity for visitors of all ages!

Now that you know of some fun outdoor activities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s time to start planning your visit. Learn more about some popular places in the park and decide where you want to go!