How to Keep Your Family Safe on the Trails

The most visited National Park in the country is also top on our list of best places to go when you visit Pigeon Forge. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches across both North Carolina and Tennessee and is a great place for families to spend time together doing a variety of activities, including a family hike.

The national park has gorgeous waterfalls, some of the prettiest wildflowers in the country, and a wide variety of animals and plants for you to explore. Hiking is one of the best ways to experience all of these sights and sounds first-hand. But stick to these safety tips as you hit the trails—that way the only memories you take home of the Smokies are full of fun!

• Stay hydrated. The most important thing you can do to stay healthy on the trails is to throw back that H2O! Especially in the hot summer months, you’ll want to take at least one water bottle per person. The National Park Service recommends drinking at least 32 ounces every 1-2 hours. Even during the fall or winter, you’ll want to have water with you to replenish your body as you perspire. Stay safe and drink up—especially watch your kiddos. Dehydration can happen very quickly in children!

• Take a map. Just in case you veer off on an unknown path, it would be wise to have a map of the park, or at least a map of the trail you’re hiking. If you have enough battery power on your phone to make it through the hike, take a picture of the map that’s posted at the trailhead and use that as your reference if you happen to get lost. You can also access maps of the entire park online at the National Park Service website. While the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are well-marked, and for the most part, easy to follow, it’s always better to be safe than sorry! (Other important items you might want to have just in case include a flashlight and a first-aid kit. These can easily be stored in a backpack while you’re hiking the trails, so you can still keep your hands free and hike as safely as possible.

• Keep your kids close. It can be tempting for kids to run ahead of their parents, but in order to keep them safe, it’s best to keep them close by. These trails have many potential dangers for kids who wander on their own. They can get lost, stumble up on a predator, or trip and get seriously hurt. Have a talk with your kids before you bring them to the park, and let them know how important it is for them to stay nearby. And then enjoy your time on the trails together!

• Wear sunscreen/hats and closed-toe shoes. The trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, though well-shaded in parts, often open up to clearings where you’ll be exposed in the hot sun for several minutes or even hours! For this reason, we recommend wearing sunscreen and/or hats while you hike. Other important gear includes closed-toe shoes. Hiking boots are ideal, but you can also wear sneakers or certain outdoor sandals (not flip-flops). The main thing is to provide your feet with proper coverage and support.

• Know bear safety. The American Black Bear, known as “the symbol of the Smokies,” is not something you’ll see often while on the trails, but it’s something you should prepare for nonetheless. These beautiful creatures are wild and should be treated with respect. Please review the National Park Service’s tips for bear safety before hiking in the Smokies.

Be sure you have a relaxing place to stay after a day on the trails. Our Pigeon Forge cabins range in size from cozy one bedrooms to large group lodges. They also offer a variety of amenities, including private home theaters, indoor pools, game tables, access to community amenities, king-size beds, bunk rooms, fully equipped kitchens, and more.