One of the best ways to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains is on a guided tour with a local expert. Whether you want to walk, bike, be driven around, ride on a train or fly – there’s a tour for you to discover the wonder of the mountains.
Established in 1934, Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains 522,419 acres. On a guided hike in the park, there is so much to explore: wildlife, trees and wildflowers. You’ll hear the stories of native Americans, loggers, explorers and the history of the park.
Friends of the Smokies
Friends of the Smokies, which assists the National Park Service in its mission to preserve and protect the Smokies, offers hikes that feature interpretation of the trail, history, and park projects supported. The hikes “support restoration and rehabilitation of some of the Smokies most impacted trails through the Trails Forever program.”
The group’s 2020 Classic Hikes Series offers 10 hikes starting with the first on June 9 on Sugarland Mountain. The moderate hike is 10.9 miles and features high-mountain vistas.
The next hike is July 14 – Bring a Friend for Free Day – 6 miles along the Catalooche Divide Trail. The moderate hike features high-mountain vistas and the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center.
August 11, Boogerman Loop is a 7.4-mile moderate hike that features – Cataloochee Valley history, old growth poplars, and elk.
On Sept. 8, hike 11.6 miles of difficult terrain from A.T. to Mt. Cammerer. The hike features mountain vistas and a historic fire tower.
October 13, hikers explore Andrews Bald on a 3.6-mile easy trail featuring high mountain vistas, lake views, and early fall colors.
On November 10, another difficult hike takes hikers on 11.8 miles along the Lost Cove Loop. Adventure goers will explore Fontana Lake and the Appalachian Trail.
December 8 is the Smokemont Loop hike – six miles of moderate hiking in the Forest with a holiday celebration.
Rates for the hikes are $20 for current Friends of the Smokies members and $35 for new or renewing members.
Smoky Mountains Hiking Club
Smoky Mountains Hiking Club holds weekly hikes and welcomes everyone. The club also seeks to protect the Smokies with trail management and conservation efforts.
The group offers regular hikes usually on weekends, mid-week hikes, backpacking trips, “camp-by-car” excursions and off-trail hikes.
It promotes conservation and in fact, The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club is responsible for maintaining 102 miles of the Appalachian Trail – running from the Nantahala River in North Carolina, to the northern end of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
A Walk in the Woods
A Walk in the Woods has been touring the Smokies since 1998. Located in Gatlinburg, the company offers guided walks, hikes and backpacking trips in the Smoky Mountains.
Easy, guided nature walks offer exploration of meadows, wildflowers, emerald-green moss and discovering how settlers lived. Experienced guides teach walkers about the natural and human history of the Smokies – from Cherokee lore and Appalachian tall tales to what Native Americans and settlers did for food and medicine.
Day Hikes are geared toward the journey and experiencing nature in a new way, says A Walk in the Woods. Guides here have hiked thousands of miles through the Smoky Mountains. The guided hikes go deeper into the forest, cover more terrain and “take you into places most visitors to the Smokies never see.” These hikes are recommended for those in good physical shape who already have some hiking experience but want to get a little more out of the beauty around them.
Guided Backpacking trips give explorers opportunities to see every facet of nature in the park – not just during the day. There are small groups that backpack and support one another. There’s a Backpacking 101 trip. There are also opportunities for experienced backpackers to go with their own naturalist on a trip.
Camp Atagahi – A Walk in the Woods has a private 90-acre Eco Camp bordering the undeveloped section of the Foothills Parkway with 10 tent platforms, a covered Dining Deck, a full Bath House, plus streams, walking trails and that hard to find peace and quiet. With gourmet meals and farm-fresh eggs delivered to the fully equipped tents, it’s camping with benefits.
Smoky Mountain Guides
Smoky Mountain Guides offers guided backpacking trips, lodge-based hiking and base camp trips for an adventure of a lifetime.
From serious backpacking and hiking – 4-day, 3-night trips completely outside on the trail – to short hikes and luxury lodge stays, Smoky Mountain Guides offers adventures for every desire.
The company also offers a Father-Son trip (that I assume could also be father-daughter or mother-son or mother-daughter) whereby hikers visit fire towers, waterfalls, river crossings, swimming holes and more. Trip difficulty is Moderate with 5-12 miles per day. All-inclusive equipment, food, and all necessary items are included.
Located in western North Carolina – a short drive from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge – Great Smoky Mountains Railroad runs through the Carolina Mountains. Several trains ride along 53 miles of track and cross 25 bridges. Riders can take a short 3.5-hour trip, or an all-day tour on the train.
The Nantahala Gorge Excursion is a 44-mile, 4.5-hour trip along the Tennessee and Nantahala rivers. On this trip, you may even spot scores of whitewater rafters and kayakers. There’s a scheduled stop for an hour at the famous Nantahala Outdoor Center and then return to Bryson City.
The Tuckasegee River Excursion is a little shorter at 32 miles round trip. The ride runs along the river through meadows and rail towns of yore. AND, you can say you rode through the set of the Harrison Ford movie The Fugitive.
Reservation Line: 800-872-4681
Group Sales: 800-872-4681 x3
From the Air
Want to fly outdoors? Take a Smoky Mountain helicopter ride and see the beautiful national park from up high while holding your partner’s hand and enjoying the exhilaration of being high above the treetops.
At Scenic Helicopter Tours in Sevierville, tours range from 8 to 100 miles starting at $29. Explore the lakes, mountains and all the cities within that range.
Check out this YouTube video of the 30-mile tour and make plans for your own high-flying adventure.
Scenic Tours is located at 1949 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, Tennessee, 865-453-6342.
Smoky Mountain Helicopters has been offering scenic helicopter tours of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and surrounding areas since 1964. With three locations and a variety of tour packages, Smoky Mountain Helicopters also offers customized tours for special events.
Three locations: 1101 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, (865) 429-2426; 380 Rainbow Road, Sevierville, (865) 429-2426; and 264 Casino Trail, Cherokee, North Carolina, (828) 497-5797.
Tour on Wheels
Tennessee Mountain Tours offers guided tours from Moonshine & Mixology, Shine & Dine, Moonshine & Wine, Sights Of The Smokies with parks and lunch. There’s Vittles & Views and a tour of three cities and of Cades Cove.
Pink Adventure Tours – also known as Pink Jeep Tours – takes visitors on interactive, educational through the beautiful majestic landscape.
There’s a 2.5-hour breathtaking guided tour in our iconic, open-air Pink® Jeep®. Another tour features the breathtaking beauty along the Foothills Parkway, touted by many as “the prettiest drive in America.” View the Smoky Mountains’ highest points. Enjoy the scenic drive from Wears Valley to Townsend, one of three “gateways” to Smoky Mountains National Park.
Contact Pink Adventure Tours at (800) 873-3662 .
Mystery in the Mountains?
These are completely different kinds of mountain tours. From ghosts to witches – this history and stories are different than what you’ll hear on other tours.
Ghost and Haunt Tours of Gatlinburg offers an exploration of supernatural Gatlinburg. “Learn the stories of the settlers, famous pioneers, loggers, solders and just regular people that have come here only to find heartbreak, misery and for some, death.”
The walking tour of Gatlinburg mixes tales of historical fact, legend and visits to the actual places where a number of the more “colorful” people and events have happened in Gatlinburg’s history, “many with a twist of the macabre.”
Some of the featured ghost profiles include:
The richest man in town but also the nastiest and most hated. He was willing to do almost anything to get his way, no matter who he hurt or deceived along the way.
First Post Master in Gatlinburg and the man most responsible for changing the name of our town from White Oak Flats to Gatlinburg.
The Witch of Gatlinburg
She has been seen walking along the back wall of the cemetery for almost 200 years.
The beautiful and sweet young lady that was driven to kill herself, find out why.
Contact Ghost and Haunt Tours of Gatlinburg at (865) 661-1980.
Book a Beautiful Mountain Retreat Now and Future Adventure Now!
No matter how you choose to explore the Smoky Mountains, having a beautiful cabin to come and go from, to sit and discuss plans and the days adventures is the best way to stay in mountains. Book now for a future adventure. American Patriot Getaways has you covered with plenty of cabins to choose from in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
Give our friendly and helpful reservations team a call at 800-204-5169 now to book your stay and all your adventures.
Check out our Smoky Mountain Travel Guide for more adventures. Be sure to check out all of our vacation guides for planning your Smoky Mountain getaway.