From hiking to biking to skydiving, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding Smoky Mountains have an outdoor activity for everyone (and some indoor ones too). Read up on the many ways you can get active throughout the region.


Numerous canopy tours in the area include Pigeon Forge’s Smoky Mountain Ziplines, Gatlinburg’s CLIMB Works, and The Dome Ziplines. Experience up to eleven zipline trails, over two-and-a-half total hours at an elevation of up to 450 feet.


Hiking is the single most popular outdoor activity throughout the Smokies, as the region holds more than 850 miles of hiking terrain and a whopping 311 trails. Review our hiking guide [link to article] for introductions to some of the more popular trails.


Biking is another way to experience the national park’s 500,000-plus verdant acres. Although there are no mountain-biking trails in the region, advanced road bikers can take on the paved roads within the park, as well as the Deep Creek Trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail, and sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater-rafting instructors such as the staff members at Natahala Outdoor Center (a National Geographic favorite) can take you along the class III and IV rapids of the Pigeon River, on a tour of up to 6.5 miles. Shorter, milder tours are available for families with small children.


The most popular Smoky Mountain skydiving destination is not the park itself, but indoor wind tunnels in Pigeon Forge and nearby Mohawk. However, for those brave enough to try the real thing, Skydive East Tennessee — roughly 40 minute from Pigeon Forge — offers the “tandem” version with licensed instructors.

Adventure Parks

For something different from the usual Smoky Mountains activities, the Adventureworks Climb Zip Swing offers a ropes course with hanging nets, grapevines, and dangling bridges suspended up to 40 feet high. Nearby Anakeesta, in Gatlinburg, comprises 16 soaring sky bridges, and two ropes courses are housed within The Island shopping and entertainment complex.

Get Active

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Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, the Smoky Mountains are an ideal place to unleash your inner outdoor-enthusiast. In fact, the region’s trails frequently appear in leading hiking magazines and websites, such as Outside and Backpacker. Here’s a breakdown of eight of the more popular trails near Pigeon Forge — including several waterfall trails, the famous Clingmans Dome Observatory trail, and more.

Alum Cave Trail

The scenic, rhododendron-fringed Alum Cave Trail, on Mount LeConte, includes rocky steps, archways, and an unusual bluff. (Beware of falling icicles in winter.) The 10-mile, 2,942-foot trail additionally boasts an interesting history, having formerly been a mine for epsom salts.

Rainbow Falls Trail

The 5.5-mile, 1,653-foot Rainbow Falls trail is known for wildlife, its vast boulder field, and its assortment of falls, including smaller cascades falls along with the namesake.

Grotto Falls Trail

One of the more moderate trails, 2.6-mile, 534-foot Grotto Falls offers multiple falls, beautiful flowers in spring — such as whiteviolets and yellow trillium — and lush greenery.

Porters Creek Trail

The flower-dotted four-mile Porters Creek Trail, reaching an elevation of 699 feet, comprises stretches of forest, roads, and even a portion of a former farmstead beside a cemetery.

Gatlinburg Trail

One of the park’s only dog-friendly rails, the generally flat 3.9-mile Gatlinburg Trail boasts cascades, long wooden footbridges, and direct access to the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Clingmans Dome

The short path to Clingmans Dome runs along a creek and forest before reaching the famed observatory, the highest point in the national park and eastern Tennessee.

Cades Cove Loop

Cades Cove Loop’s 11-mile trail houses not just verdant greenery and dramatic rock formations, but abundant wildlife and historic sites, including a working grist mill.

Ramsey Cascades Loop

The Ramsey Cascades Loop reaches the tallest waterfall in the park via a path dotted with creeks, footbridges, and old-growth oak and maple trees.

Hit the Trails

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To say that Pigeon Forge is a fantastic year-round destination is an understatement. From the lively holiday season to the lazy days of summer, each time of the year brings a level of natural beauty and cultural excitement that is paralleled by few other American resort towns. For those who can’t relocate to the region permanently, here is a guide to help you pick exactly which season is right for you.


Autumn in Pigeon Forge brings weather in the fifties and sixties, colorful foliage throughout the Smokies, and so many delightful events we’ve written an entire guide — from artsy Chalkfest, at The Island shopping complex, to Dollywood’s Harvest Festival. It’s also a great time to indulge in the hearty regional cuisine, as well as sample wine and locally distilled whiskey. October is peak season, so come Halloween, you can enjoy Dollywood’s larger-than-life pumpkin patch or experience “fright nights” on the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster. Around Thanksgiving, explore the local crafts scene or watch the Titanic Museum’s kickoff to the holidays.


The temperatures drop to the forties and fifties throughout the winter season, which is quieter than autumn but lively and festive nonetheless. In addition to experiencing one of the spectacular holiday events (full list here), you can hike through mountains blanketed in snow, sip local apple cider, stock up on locally made gifts, or just curl up beneath one of the traditional quilts that eastern Tennessee is famous for. Ring in the new year at The Island or Dollywood, which celebrate the holiday in characteristically flamboyant, over-the-top fashion, and then spend January watching professional skiers compete in nearby Ober Gatlinburg.


Springtime in the Smokies is arguably our best-kept secret — bringing a beautiful wildflower bloom, Easter celebrations, and music and food events such as the Beans and Cornbread Festival. You’ll also get to see the area at its quietest (the crowds won’t return for another two to three months) — and if you’re into the outdoors, you’ll appreciate the mild weather at this time. Slightly warmer than autumn, the temperatures are ideal for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.


Weather in the seventies and eighties makes summer the best season to hit popular outdoor water parks such as Dollywood Splash Country, sample local ice cream, dine at an outdoor barbecue joint, and ride The Island’s iconic Ferris wheel — all of which account for the region’s popularity during this season. (The other peak season aside from October.) Naturally, it’s also a perfect time to keep exploring the mountains, which have become spectacularly lush and verdant from all of the rain in springtime.

Plan Your Trip

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