Horseback riding --- up into the mountains
I found this farm by accident back in 1998 when I stayed for a week by myself in a cabin. I got bored (imagine that) and wandered... til I found horseback riding! It's on the way into Dollywood, kind of off back by itself... follow the signs for horseback riding til ya get to the farm. You'll be taken on an hour long ride, past lakes & streams, up up and away, until you reach the top of the (breaktaking) mountain.
It's called Walden Creek Stables --- they have bonfire rides, overnight rides, wild rides, family rides, short rides... they can accomodate, and they match the rider to the horse very well.
Take the kids, or just go by yourself... either way it's a wonderful way to see the mountains' beauty if you don't have a convertible, and you can balance yourself atop a horse!
rafting down the Pigeon River
The Pigeon River, located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, offers breathtaking scenery and heart-stopping thrills! This magnificent river begins in North Carolina and continues through Tennessee. Our trip sure was an adventure, our guide Randy was just recovering from a couple of broken ribs and with his rib tickling humor he guided us thru a 2 hour long rafting experience that was as good as any other we'd been on. We were surprisingly a part of the rescue team as one woman from another raft fell into the rapids, as our raft was the closest to her we had to paddle up to her and pull her in. It was an eventful ride as they let us get into the water, flipped our raft and got us to drift at one of the rapids.
Trek up to the Chimney Tops
The hike to the summit of the Chimney Tops is accomplished in just a few miles, measuring in at just 2.0 miles one way, but it still presents quite a challenge. The first mile up is relatively easy, but the last mile, particularly the last section on the Chimneys themselves, can be taxing for some hikers—especially those with a fear of heights. We climbed it easily enuf, it was the getting down part that was quite daunting.
In order to find the Chimney Tops Trailhead, look for the Chimney Tops parking lot, which is off Newfound Gap Road, if you are driving in from Gatlinburg it is the parking lot after you cross the first tunnel—from the parking lot, the trail leaves the road, crosses a stream, and begins to climb. For the most part, the trail consists of loose rocks, which makes it easy to twist an ankle or fall, so in order to help eliminate these possibilities it is important to wear proper shoes and mind your footing. The trail climbs up through the forest, following and crossing a cascading mountain stream via several bridges. As mentioned before, the trail to the summit is 2 miles long, 4 miles roundtrip, and it climbs 1335 feet—it is considered a strenuous hike that requires caution and strength, so pace yourself. But if you are hike enthusiasts don't miss it for sure!
For us it was a misty day so we didn't quite get the magnificient views, however the climb down in zero visibility was a thrill indeed!
- Hiking and Walking
Biltmore Estate: Antler Hill Village
If you are fortunate to visit Biltmore Estates late spring 2010 you will also have the chance to enjoy the Antler Hill Village. Construction was taken place when we visited in June 2009 and unfortunately the only thing we could enjoy here was the sign of this future attraction.
Biltmore Estate: River Bend Farm
River Bend Farm is another fun stop while visiting the grounds. Here you will learn how life and work was on the estate in the 1890s.
There is a tiny ice cream shop here that sells home made ice cream. It is really good and you should try it.
In fact, all the ingredients used to cook all the meals they serve here are produced on the grounds.
Bitlmore Estate Winery
Biltmore Estate Winery was one of the places I really wanted to check out while visiting the grounds. I learned a lot about the way wines are made here during the self guided tour of the winery.
At the end of the tour you have the option to taste some of the wines they make here. If you go there with kids and they want to be part of the tasting experience, just ask for plain grape juice.
They also have a Wine Shop here where you can buy some really cool wine accessories, gourmet foods and any kind of Biltmore Wine you can think of!
Biltmore Estate Gardens
The gardens at Biltmore Estate are fantastic. They are very well maintained and I can honestly say that you can easily spend one entire day here just exploring the gardens. The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect.
If you are on the grounds just for a short visit (as we were), make sure that at least you check the Italian Garden and the Rose Garden.
Biltmore Estate was on my things to do list while visiting the Smoky Mountains since it was an easy 2 hours car ride from Cosby.
I was really impressed with the estate and the pictures are worth 1000 words. Make sure you get your ticket online before you go, so you can beat the crowds. Also, I highly recommend the audio guide for the house tour. It is money well spent especially for first time visitors.
You are not allowed to take pictures inside, but you can take plenty of them outside and in the gardens.
Cataloochee is one of the places I really enjoyed visiting! Part of the adventure was just getting there. Since we stayed in Cosby, we decided to take road 32 and then the dirt road into the valley instead of the highway. The drive through the lush forest was fantastic and breathtaking at times. It took us about 50 minutes to get there from Cosby (we stopped few times for pictures).
The road is very narrow and very bad at times, but we managed to get there OK. On the way back we decided to take the 2 miles well maintained gravel road to highway I-40 and the Foothills Parkway into Cosby, instead of the steep (at times) dirt road and 32.
In the early 1800s all of the valley belonged to Colonel Robert Love, a post-revolutionary war land speculator. He granted homesteads to people who would settle here and improve the land. The earliest settlers that were found on record were the Caldwells (1814), the Hannahs, the Bennetts, the Nolands, the Palmers and the Barnes families.
In 1910 about 1200 people lived in Cataloochee. It is the best place in the park to see historic buildings from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.
Wildlife is also abundant here and we encountered a lot of it while visiting the valley.
- Historical Travel
Little Greenbrier School
Little Greenbrier School was built in the early 1880's and first classes were held January 1, 1882. Some kids walked as far as 9 miles to attend school.
To get here from Gatlinburg, drive into the Smoky Mountains National Park and turn towards the Sugarlands Visitor Center ** might want to take a rest stop here, not too many "real" toilets after this ** Go past the visitor center and drive maybe 5 miles? and look on the right for the sign for Metcalf Bottoms. Turn in there and follow the signs for the Little Greenbrier School. While you are this close, you can hike up to see the Walker Sisters' cabin; it is a 1.1 mile hike from the school parking lot.
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Walker Sisters' Cabin
Take a step back in time and see some of the history of the Smoky Mountains. The cabin was built in 1859 and inhabited by a family with 11 children; one of the girls and all of the boys left and moved out of the area, and 6 sisters stayed in the cabin for the rest of their lives.
This is a neat place to spend an afternoon. To get here from Gatlinburg, drive into the Smoky Mountains National Park and turn towards the Sugarlands Visitor Center ** might want to take a rest stop here, not too many "real" toilets after this ** Go past the visitor center and drive maybe 5 miles? and look on the right for the sign for Metcalf Bottoms. Turn in there and follow the signs for the Little Greenbrier School. Park in the parking lot for the school and check out the school and then go up the hill to see the Walker Sisters' cabin. From the school, the cabin is a 1.1 mile hike. It is a beautiful walk through the woods, and although there are some bumpy parts in the road, I pushed my grandson in his stroller.
- Hiking and Walking
- Mountain Climbing
Emerts Cove Covered Bridge
Emerts Cove is in the small community of Pittman Center. Emerts Cove Covered Bridge spans the MIddle Prong of the Little Pigeon River, in Pittman Center which is NE of Gatlinburg.
Frederick Emert, of German descent, was a soldier in the American Revolution. He and his wife Barbara Ann settled in this cove after the war and lived their life here.
This bridge was built in 2000 as a remembrance to the values of mountain life.
The tilt of the roof, the shakes on the roof all reflect the local traditions of the surrounding area.
- Road Trip
Much to explore
Check out Gatlinburg's Arts & Crafts Community located on an 8 mile loop along Glades Road and Buckhorn Road beginning at stop light number 3A on US 321 at the East edge of town. A large collection of shops showcasing various types of craft and art work. A great way to spend the day while driving through the beatifull area.
Hike Mt. LeConte
If you're of the looking for a long, breathtaking hike, then try the hike to Mt. LeConte Lodge. Depending on your starting point (Motor Nature Trail, Clingman's Dome or Newfound Gap) you are guaranteed views that are spectacular. If you plan your trip far enough in advance, spend the night at the lodge. Otherwise, relax on the porch on a very comfortable rocker, enjoy the view while getting a 2nd breath, then eventually start your hike back down!
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
- Family Travel
This is a neat thing to do in Pigeon Forge. First of all, the dinner consists of things you can eat with your hands (chicken, corn, etc.). You eat dinner while they are putting on a western show and then they have live interactions from the audience.