5 of the Best Gatlinburg Outdoor Activities

January 24, 2020

Gatlinburg is the ideal vacation destination if you love the outdoors.

Located at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the area is bursting with activities. Take in the scenic panorama of Newfound Gap Road, hike to Rainbow Falls, zipline over the lush wilderness. And that’s just the beginning. To help you discover all the area offers, add these top Gatlinburg outdoor activities to your to-do list. It will be a fun list to check-off, and you’ll make memories doing so!

1) Go for a Hike

With over 800 miles of trails, it’s easy to get up-close to nature. The Smoky Mountains have a diverse selection of hikes, from two-mile loops to 10-mile treks. Stop by a visitor center, like Sugarlands Visitor Center, to pick up a few maps and guides. Where to hike can be a difficult question, so it’s nice to have a few suggestions in mind. The aforementioned Rainbow Falls, Abrams Falls, Laurel Falls, and Rocky Top Trail are some of my favorites, promising cascading waterfalls and endless views.

2) Cycle in the Smokies

Cades Cove, one of the most picturesque places in the Smokies, allows bicycle traffic until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September. If you didn’t pack your bike, don’t worry. You can rent a bike at the Cades Cove Campground Store. Rates are $7.50/adults and $4.50/children. Cruise through the historic area, and marvel at its peacefulness. This is one of the only times Cades Cove isn’t filled with sightseeing motorists.

Horseback Riding in the Mountains

3) Saddle Up Partner!

Hop on a horse to explore the area as settlers once did. Two trusted outfitters – Smoky Mountain Riding Stables and Sugarlands Riding Stables – take guests on guided backcountry excursions. Prices are reasonable, too, with rates starting at $26.50/hour. The beautiful horseback riding trails inside the Great Smoky Mountains allow access to sweeping vistas, wooded forests and lovely valleys. For those who have never ridden a horse, this is the perfect starting point as instruction is included.

4) Zip through the Sky

On the edge of the national park, there are several Gatlinburg ziplines. At locations like Zipping in the Smokies and Adventure America Ziplines, you can zip past waterfalls and over green forests, all at speeds around 50mph. It’s a total rush and fun for the whole family!

man trout fishing in stream

5) Reel in the Big Catch

The creeks flowing through Gatlinburg are famous for their mountain trout. Reel one in on one of the over 2,000 miles of streams in and outside the National Park. The Little Pigeon River flows right through downtown Gatlinburg. Plus, there fishing outfitters and guides are available to help you catch the picture-perfect fish. If you're into competitive fishing, enter one of the many Trout Fishing Tournaments in the Smoky Mountains.

Gatlinburg Outdoor Activities Equal Adventure

These five Gatlinburg outdoor activities are just the start of the natural things to do in the Smoky Mountains. Vacation here to explore this pristine slice of nature on your own time, and in your own way.

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