Do you love staying active, even when on vacation? We totally get it — and the Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect place to stay and play! With over 800 miles of hiking trails in the most-visited national park in the country plus lively attractions in the bustling towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the state to be…fit. There are plenty of active things to do in these upbeat cities. Enjoy the mountains and feel good too with our top 10 ways to stay active in the Smokies!
1. Hiking + Walking
Famous for a wide array of hiking trails, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will lead you on moderate treks to gorgeous waterfalls and strenuous climbs to stunning summits with views like you’ve never seen. And if hiking through the forest isn’t your cup of tea, going on a shopping spree in town will keep your legs and arms in shape. Try perusing The Island — home to 40+ stores!
Looking for something on 2 wheels? Cycle the Cades Cove 11-mile, 1-way loop road, which is situated in an impressive valley area. Watch deer play in the fields, birds soar overhead, and mountains reach to the skies. There are also historic sites along the journey, so be sure to take a breather every now and then to explore on foot.
Let’s roll — at the Outdoor Gravity Park in Pigeon Forge! Zorbing (aka rolling around in giant see-through spheres) was made popular in New Zealand, and now you can experience this attraction in the Smokies! Zoom down the extreme zig zag track, race friends on the fast tracks, and take on the FUNnel course. Wanna watch the replay? Take home your recording!
Cast a line and catch a big one when you fly fish in the national park. Requiring great balance, the ability to stand for long periods of time, and arm strength to reel in fighting fish, fly fishing is a top way to get a workout (and a meal) in the Smokies. Trout can be caught year-round here, so pack your best tackle and get ready for a fish fry!
5. Kayaking + Whitewater Rafting
Another great way to stay active in the Smokies is working out river style with White Water Rafting Smoky Mountain Outdoors! Kayaking and whitewater rafting are quite popular here for a reason. Not only do you get the thrill of rushing down the Pigeon River, but you’ll also use muscles you didn’t know you had to stay on course and above the water level.
6. Horseback Riding
If you think horseback riding is just sitting, you are sorely (pun intended) mistaken as this activity takes core strength and flexibility to stay atop these powerful animals. Don’t believe us? Venture through the national park on horseback via Sugarlands Riding Stables in Gatlinburg, and your achy muscles will thank us later…
7. Jumping + Climbing
Get ready to climb around obstacles to new heights and jump around at TopJump Trampoline & Extreme Arena — featuring not only a climbing area and trampolines galore but also a trick pit and ninja course! There’s even a virtual reality game that will keep you moving, fighting zombies, dragons, robots, and snowballs!
Stay active while ziplining with a friend on Anakeesta’s Dueling Zipline Adventure, where you can race your bestie to the other side through the tree canopy and rappel down 2 challenge platforms! Or go for the mountaintop and treetop tours at Climbworks Smoky Mountains, which offers 360-degree views and tons of airtime.
9. Skiing + Ice Skating
Itching to play in the snow? Soar down the ski slopes at Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area, which also offers a year-round indoor ice skating rink. Any experience level can join the snowy fun, and both skis and snowboards are allowed. Plus, you can top off playtime in the snow with a ride down the snow tube slopes!
Swimmers, welcome to your Pigeon Forge cabin with a private indoor pool! As a top way to stay active, it’s no wonder water lovers miss swimming in cooler months. Choose a cabin with a private indoor pool, and you can swim anytime — even when it’s cold outside! Take morning laps, play Marco Polo with the kiddos, and go for midnight dips if you please.