Activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

With more than nine million visitors a year, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the USA. Up to 60,000 people visit the Smoky Mountains on a summer weekend day. Due to the size of the park, the crowds are very well distributed over the more than 618 km of mountain roads. However, only a few frequent the almost 1,300 km of hiking trails, which range in length from one kilometer to 110 km. The Blue Ridge Parkway also begins here, a fantastic 755 km long panoramic road along the main ridge of the Appalachia. During the late summer you can enjoy the fascinating play of colors of the Indian Summer on this route.

According to allcitycodes, the park contains simple churches, cottages, farmhouses and barns belonging to the people who have settled here since the late 17th century. Most people left the park when the national park was established, but some chose to stay and still live here today.

The Smokies are among the few areas in the eastern United States where black bears live. The total number of animals is about 1,500. Unlike black bears in other areas, the Smokie’s fur is exclusively black and not brown or cinnamon. The animals are also relatively small: females weigh between 50 and 70 kg, males between 60 and 90 kg, some specimens even reach 180 kg.

Driving Tours
Newfound Gap Road
(53 km, 33 miles)
This busy road leads to the Newfound Gap at an elevation of 1,664 meters and connects Cherokee, NC to Gatlinburg, TN. Highlights include numerous viewpoints overlooking the mountains and a variety of forest types.

Little River Road (29 km, 18 miles)
This road runs parallel to the Little River from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to Townsend, TN. Highlights are the river, waterfalls and wildflowers.

Hiking tours to
Laurel Falls

The 25 meter high Laurel Falls – extremely popular with hikers – owes its name to the mountain laurel (Mountain Laurel), an evergreen shrub that blooms in May. The total length of the continuous paved trail – an easy hike – is 4.2 km (2.6 miles). The Laurel Falls Trailhead trailhead is at the Sugarlands Visitor Center: Drive toward Cades Cove on Little River Road (6.3 km; 3.9 miles) to the trailhead. Parking is available on both sides of the street.

Rainbow Falls
A rainbow is reflected in the haze of the 25 meter high falls on sunny afternoons. During the winter cold spells, the falls freeze over and transform into an hourglass shape. The difference in altitude between the starting point and the falls is 458 meters. The total distance of the moderate hike is almost 9 km (5.4 miles) round trip.
Starting point for the Rainbow Falls Trail: from the parking lot in Gatlinburg, turn off at traffic light #8 and follow the Historic Nature Trail into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Drive past the Noah “Bud” Ogle Homesite to the designated Rainbow Falls parking lot.

Ramsey Cascades
Ramsey Cascades is the tallest and most spectacular waterfall in the park. The water falls over 30 meters over rocky outcrops and collects in a small pool, which is home to numerous well-camouflaged salamanders. On the way to the waterfall, a height difference of 610 meters has to be overcome. The total distance of the strenuous hike is almost 13 km (8 miles) round trip. The trail mostly follows rushing rivers and streams. The last 3 km run through old beech and birch forest.
Starting point for the Ramsey Cascades Trail: Drive 10 km (6 miles) east of Gatlinburg on Highway 321 and turn into the park at the Greenbrier entrance. From there, follow the signs 7.5 km (4.7 miles) to the trailhead.

riding Horseback riding is possible from March to November. Prices average around USD 30 per hour. Licensed horse rental companies can be reached at the following telephone numbers: Cades Cove (865) 448-9009, Sugarlands (865) 436-3535, Smokemont (828) 497-2373, Smoky Mountain (865) 436-5634.

Biking is permitted on any park road open to vehicle traffic. Because of the steep terrain, narrow lanes, and heavy vehicle traffic, many park roads are not well-suited for safe and comfortable bicycling. An exception is the Cades Cove Loop Road. The nearly 18 km (11 miles) loop trail is also the most popular biking route in the park. From sunrise to 10:00 a.m. the road is closed to motorized traffic every Wednesday and Saturday morning from May 6th to September 23rd.
Bikes can be rented from the Cades Cove Store near Cades Cove Campground. Other good cycling areas include Greenbrier, Lakeview Drive, Tremont Road and Cataloochee.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has approximately 3,400 kilometers of rivers within its boundaries. The rivers are a sanctuary for the last wild trout stocks in the eastern United States. A Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license is required to fish in the park. However, the licenses cannot be purchased in the park and must be purchased in the neighboring towns.

Activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina