The Gatlinburg Trail: Beautiful, Easy & Pet Friendly

The Gatlinburg Trail is a popular hiking trail connecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Gatlinburg, suitable for all ages and skill levels, and accommodating pets and bicycles. Read on to discover more of what makes this trail unique.

Image courtesy of NPS

Great Views

The hiking and walking trails of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are teeming with fantastic views encompassing everything from the rolling peaks to dense forests and pristine mountain streams. The Gatlinburg Trail is no different, as it follows along the path of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, so it’s a relatively flat trail. Not only will you get to appreciate the beauty of the river as it flows through some dense forest, but in the warmer seasons you may spot interesting wildflowers along the trail and get a chance dip your toes into some refreshing mountain water.

The trail also passes by some interesting historical sites and remnants of old homes, including original stone chimneys that still stand. You’ll also cross over a long footbridge, giving you a chance to stand directly above the river and get some great photos. Overall, it’s a relatively easy walk that measures approximately 3.8 miles round trip (1.9 miles each way), and is suitable for just about any skill level.

Pet Friendly

Visitors who come to the park with dogs are often disappointed to find that they are not allowed on most hiking trails, even if there are places that you can walk them around the various campgrounds and in some other picnic areas. The Gatlinburg Trail is one of only two hiking trails in the entire national park—and the only one on the Tennessee side—that allows pets to join in on the fun. If hiking in the woods with your four-legged friend is a top priority for you, then you definitely want to take some time for the Gatlinburg Trail: just keep in mind that dogs must be kept on a leash while on the trail.

Bike the Gatlinburg Trail

Similarly, the Gatlinburg Trail is also one of only two trails that allows cyclists on the path. There are many great roads in the Smoky Mountains that reward those who are willing to cycle through the elevation changes, but they are almost always open to vehicular traffic as well. Many people don’t feel comfortable enough cycling on roads with vehicular traffic, and the Gatlinburg Trail offers a great alternative where you can get off the busy roads and enjoy a leisurely ride. If you are riding a bike on the trail, please be attentive and courteous to walkers and runners.

Easy and Convenient

Another benefit of the Gatlinburg Trail is that it’s simple to access whether you’re staying in or around the town of Gatlinburg. One end of the trailhead also connects to the popular Sugarlands Visitor Center in the park which features ample parking, and it’s close to a number of other sights and attractions that are well worth your time. The trail is perfect for combining a brisk hike with a day of shopping and dining in town or sightseeing throughout the park, and either choice makes for a great day in the Smokies.

TIP: If you’re looking for a pet friendly Gatlinburg cabin we have them. These are spread throughout our Gatlinburg cabins, our Pigeon Forge cabin rentals and our Wears Valley cabins. Also see our guides to Gatlinburg Hiking Trails, and for more Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains as well as more outdoor Smoky Mountains Activities and the all-important Things to Do in Gatlinburg with Kids.