5 Activities to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains

Escaping from the city for a week-long vacation in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains can be a revitalizing experience. Detach yourself from modern technologies to relax and reconnect with nature by staying in Pigeon Forge, an area just outside the mountains that offer numerous activities to keep you busy.

The following list is only a sample of things you can do:

  1. Zip Lining

ziplineSee the Smoky Mountains and its waterfalls by taking a ride on a zip line. Several companies, such as Smoky Mountain Ziplines and Canopy Tours, CLIMB Works, and Waterfall Canopy Zipline, offer several options for exploring the region.

Waterfall Canopy Zip Line, for instance, hosts multiple tours from its two sky bridges. The two-hour tours glide participants over the mountains’ treetops with a guide, who controls the progression with power brakes. This means you do not have to worry about wearing gloves or handling cables; you are just along for the ride.

If you decide to go on a zip line tour, make sure you check the company’s weight capacity, as well as minimum age stipulations, to ensure you meet the requirements. In addition, you should wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet.

  1. Picnicking

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to hold a picnic. From Cades Cove to Deep Creek, the park has 11 open-air dining areas that are available year-round. Select areas have grills and pavilions that you can reserve for private use. Fees range from $10 to $75.

If you decide to enjoy a picnic, be sure to properly dispose of food waste and clean your grill, so you don’t attract bears.

  1. Fishing

fishingWith approximately 2,900 miles of streams filled with trout and bass, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ideal place to fish. The park permits fishing all year long, from 30 minutes before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, as long as you have a valid license.

The park limits you to 20 rock bass per day and up to five rainbow, brook, or brown trout or smallmouth bass. A combination of the types, which must be larger than 7 inches, are allowed as well as long as the number does not exceed five per day.

Be prepared to have your tackle and equipment inspected by park authorities, who aim to preserve the streams. You may only carry artificial flies and lures with single hooks. Liquid scents and fish bait are not allowed.

  1. Hiking

Boasting more than 800 trails, the Great Smoky Mountains have much to offer hiking enthusiasts. Within the national park, you will find Rocky Top, Gregory Bald, Mount Cammerer, and The Jump-Off trails, which are rated among the park’s top-10 hikes.

The Jump-Off, in particular, makes a great picnic location following a steep climb. As you make your way up to the 1,000-foot cliff on Mount Kephart, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the view of Mount LeConte and Myrtle Point off to the northwest. At the summit, you can see the Appalachian Trail.

If you want a more leisurely stroll, you can attempt the Indian Creek Falls or Laurel Falls trails, both of which are less strenuous and span approximately two miles. The Indian Creek Falls trail climbs 150 feet in elevation, and the Laurel Falls trail takes you up 314 feet in elevation. Both hikes boast beautiful waterfalls.

  1. Backcountry Camping

backpackingBackcountry camping in the national park requires a permit and reservation for no more than three consecutive nights. To ensure your safety and protect the environment, you must follow the park’s backcountry regulations, which you can find here.

If you are planning to have a fire, make sure to reserve a campsite that allows one. These sites have designated fire rings in which you can burn dead wood as well as wood already lying on the ground. If you prefer not to look for wood, you can transport bundled heat-treated firewood that holds United States Department of Agriculture certification into the park. Firewood bearing a state department of agriculture seal is approved as well. You can find these products at stores in Smokemont and Cades Cove.