Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — Out of the more than 800 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, only two hikes allow pets and bicycles: the Oconaluftee River Trail on the North Carolina side and the Gatlinburg Trail on the Tennessee side.
At just shy of 4 miles round trip on a well-marked, relatively flat path, the Gatlinburg Trail is considered an easy hike.
It starts near the Sugarlands Visitor Center and follows the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River with foundations and chimneys from old homesites along the trail. Expect to hear some traffic noise as the trail runs near the main road.
As this trail is one of two to allow pets, it is important to keep them on a leash at all times and pick up after them. The park said uncontrolled pets in unfamiliar surroundings can pose a threat to wildlife and other visitors. More information is available on the park's website.
The Gatlinburg Trail is also a very popular area so expect to share it with other hikers, joggers and cyclists.
What to expect on the trail:
Some tips before you visit:
- Let someone know where you plan to hike, when you plan to be back, what clothes you are wearing and what your car looks like.
- Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
- Pack plenty of water and snacks.
- Take a light source with you (preferably not your phone). The park said the number one reason people have to get rescued in the park is not bringing a light.
- Keep an eye on the weather.
- Pets are allowed on the trail so be sure to pick up after them.
- Be courteous to other park visitors.
- Leave the plants and wildlife alone.
- Have a backup plan if the trail is closed or too busy.
- Check on road closures at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps.