There are countless opportunities for outdoor adventure all across Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountains are at the epicenter of it all! The Smoky Mountains are a virtual playground for any outdoor enthusiast. Feel the need for speed? Ride an Alpine-inspired mountain coaster, brave the rapids on the Pigeon River, or fly down a zipline above a canopy of trees. Looking for scenic views? The Smokies has that covered too. Hike the Appalachian Trail, discover caves and waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Valleys, or walk across the Gatlinburg Sky Bridge. Whatever type of outdoor adventure you seek, it's waiting for you in the Smokies!
Less than an hour's drive from the main drag of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, or Gatlinburg will land you in a little town named Hartford, and just off of Interstate 40 is an adrenaline-pumping river adventure just waiting for you. Get your heart racing on a whitewater rafting adventure in the icy waters of the Pigeon River, and make memories that will be the highlight of your trip to the Smokies! With a variety of experiences to choose from, rafting outfitters offer family-oriented "float" rides, as well as thrilling rides through class III and IV rapids. If you have a small enough group, you can even choose a ride in a smaller boat for more action! The Pigeon Forge Chamber of Commerce has put together a list of the top whitewater rafting companies in the area, so check them out and book your trip today!
Zipline & Ropes Course
Ready for a heart-stopping ride with panoramic views of the Smokies that you can't get anywhere else? Fly over the canopy of the Great Smoky Mountains and zip through the trees on a zipline adventure.
- Rafting In The Smokies offers more than just river adventures. Fly through their 2400 foot zipline course, with six ziplines and two sky bridges. Race your friends for more fun! You can even book a rafting/zipline combination package and get a discount.
- CLIMB Works has action-packed tours that will really get your heart racing. Take the Treetop Canopy tour with an ATV trip, nine zip lines, three sky bridges, and a surprise ending. On the Mountaintop tour, you'll be rewarded with higher vantage points, longer zip lines, and a 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains! Bring your competitive side, because you can zip side-by-side on five dueling lines and walk across four aerial bridges!
- Smoky Mountain Outdoors has partnered with CLIMB Works to offer a combination rafting/zipline package that will get you off the ground and zipping through the trees for 2 1/2 hours! You'll save $20 when you book a white water rafting trip at Smoky Mountain Outdoors and a scenic canopy tour at CLIMB Works. Book by September 3rd and get $12 off per person.
- Legacy Mountain Ziplines is located just a few miles off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Escape for a fun-filled day of thrills and adventure that you won’t soon forget. Zip down seven unique and thrilling lines between mountaintops, soaring 500 feet above the ground with amazing views of the Smokies, at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour!
- Adventure Park Ziplines has a 70-acre nature park right off the Parkway in Sevierville. Fly above the forest on seven unique ziplines that are up to 2,000-feet long. Looking for more adventure? Try their six-line Zip at Night tour or Zipline and Horseback combo tour. Summertime discount codes are still available on their website, so book now!
The Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster has to be my absolute favorite thing to do in the Smoky Mountains. After riding your "coaster" car slowly through the trees to the top of the mountain, you'll speed back down, plunging, twisting, and turning at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour! Feel the rush of cool air as you speed down the metal track either solo or with a friend. You control the speed, so this ride is perfect for kids of all ages. My opinion? Just say no to the brakes, and say YES to the best thrill ride in the Smokies.
According to the Alltrails website, there are over 340 trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With varying degrees of difficulty, terrain, and elevation, there are trails there for all ages and ability levels. Here are the top 10 trails, based on site user reviews from Alltrails.com.
- Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte is 10.9 miles out and back, and is rated as difficult. The trail features incredible views, a waterfall, and a cave.
- Rainbow Falls Trail is 5.1 miles out and back, and is rated as difficult. This trail includes a stunning waterfall and thick forests, and is a very popular trail.
- Chimney Tops Trail is 3.6 miles out and back, and is rated as difficult. Featuring bridges, small waterfalls, and a rushing river, this is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Smokies.
- Laurel Falls Trail is 2.4 miles out and back, and is good for all skill levels. The short distance and lack of difficulty make this a very popular trail.
- Grotto Falls Trail is 2.6 miles out and back, and is rated as moderate. This trail is a family favorite, and offers hikers lots of shade, small streams, wildlife, and an abundance of wildflowers.
- Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluff Trail is 4.5 miles out and back, and is rated as moderate. The trail features beautiful wildflowers, log bridges, a huge rock overhang, and stunning views.
- Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is 1.2 miles out and back, and is rated as moderate. One of the most popular hikes in the park, this trail takes you to the highest point in Tennessee.
- Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail is 8 miles out and back, and is rated as moderate. The route provides incredible views as it crosses multiple peaks and ends at a bare-rock summit.
- Abrams Falls Trail is 5.5 miles out and back, and is rated as moderate. This popular hike leads to a dramatic waterfall crashes down a 25-foot drop over a rocky cliff.
- Ramsey Cascades Trail is 8.1 miles out and back, and is rated as difficult. This hike offers picturesque scenery along an old abandoned logging route that turns into a single-track trail.
Gatlinburg Sky Bridge
Take the signature yellow SkyLift chairs up to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park and cross the bridge that makes you feel like you're walking across the sky itself! The Gatlinburg SkyBridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, measuring in at 680 feet long and 150 feet high. This is an adrenaline rush like no other and a true test for those of us who are afraid of heights, but the views are completely worth it. Spoiler alert, there is a 30-foot section of glass panels right in the center that you'll have to either walk over or take the walk of shame back.
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