Looking for some unique and wonderful places to run when visiting Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains aside from right down the main parkway? There are many great places to log some miles in the area. We put together a list of a few our favorites. No matter where you choose to run, you will have the Great Smoky Mountains as a glorious backdrop to each step you take.
Sevierville City Park
A nice quiet place to run. Close to downtown Sevierville, this is a place for almost any activity! The park has a 0.5 mile paved walking/running loop and is connected to the Memorial River Trail Greenway. Connecting to the greenway will give you a 5 mile out-and-back total distance. With no roads to cross, this is a pleasant run along the Little Pigeon River. For maps and additional information here is the Sevierville Walking (Running)/Biking Trails Greenway Master Plan. The park facilities also include softball fields, little league baseball, eight tennis courts (four lighted), concessions, restrooms, picnic areas and shelters along the river, a spectacular self-contained playground and an outdoor pool at the Family Aquatic Center.
The Memorial River Trail Greenway
A riverside park featuring a paved walking/running trail along the water’s edge. The beautifully landscaped greenway adjoins the Paine Memorial Park with picnic tables and a gazebo. Benches line the walking/running trail for enjoyment of the scenery along the river, which includes numerous migratory birds and other waterfowl. The greenway passes the McMahan Burial Mound in Sevierville before continuing on a boardwalk to the Great Smoky Mountains Parkway Bridge over the Little Pigeon River in Sevierville. At the bridge, the greenway continues to Sevierville City Park through a forested area and across a small covered bridge.
Veteran’s Boulevard Greenway
Veteran’s Boulevard Greenway runs alongside Veteran’s Boulevard which connects Sevierville’s Dolly Parton Parkway past Dollywood to traffic light #8 in Pigeon Forge. The actual greenway currently ends right at the entrance to Dollywood although for a longer run a wide sidewalk continues to traffic light #8 on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, passing Patriot Park along the way. This greenway is currently 3.5 miles long but from Dolly Parton Parkway to The Pigeon Forge Parkway it is about 6.5 miles. A very nice run with a few rolling hills to traverse. A disclaimer must be noted. Although this is a nice run, the traffic noise and fumes, as well as the lack of shade, can be a bit of an issue during the warmer and busy summer months. This greenway currently can connect to the Sevierville Community Center via sidewalks and a designated path.
A large open space ideal many activities. A 0.6 mile paved walking/running trail lined with flagpoles featuring flags from all 50 states surrounds the perimeter of the park, which also features an historic patriot missile, a large model of the Liberty Bell, and in the winter, WinterFest lighted displays. Adjacent to Patriot Park is the historic Old Mill built in 1830. This is a nice place to get in a few miles while the rest of the family feeds the ducks or just runs crazy in the large open field.
The walking/running trail at Patriot Park connects to Phase I of the city’s Greenway plan. Beginning with the completion of a Greenways Master Plan in 1999, the City has undertaken the planning and construction of greenways in the City. From Patriot Park you can cross Old Mill Avenue and continue along the greenway past several homes to the mini-park/trail-head. The greenway then turns and runs along the river to Jake Thomas Road and then continues to the city’s new parking area. This trail currently takes you all the way to Pigeon Forge City Park while traveling through the sidewalks of The Island in Pigeon Forge.
Pigeon Forge City Municpal Complex
A 1 mile paved walking/running trail. Park at the Pigeon Forge Community Center, where an indoor and outdoor pool as well as an indoor track are housed. This mile loop trail traverses the former site of the Pigeon Forge City Park. It travels around the Municpal Complex and begins and ends at the community center.
A large park convenient to the East Parkway in Gatlinburg. Access the park from U.S. 321 at stoplight #3 to Mills Park Road. The park features a 400 meter track, great for getting in some speed work while on vacation. The park has public restrooms and a fireplace. Mills Park also features two children’s play areas, a basketball court, soccer field and a nine hole disc golf course. Mills Park is within walking distance of the Gatlinburg Community Center. The Gatlinburg Community Center features an indoor swimming pool, a bowling center, tennis and racquetball courts, a fitness center, and a skate park for skateboards and other skate equipment.
The city of Gatlinburg has recently approved a 14 mile greenway which in planned to be built in 13 smaller increments and when finished, the pieces would create a connected, paved path beside roads, streams and through some wooded areas that would stretch from the Glades area to downtown Gatlinburg.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are plenty of amazing places to run in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With over 800 miles of trails, the Smoky Mountain is a wonderful place to enjoy a romp through the woods. While there are many trails to run we have listed our favorite runs in the National Park and challenge you to find the perfect trail for you. Running on the main heavily traveled roadways in the National Park, while beautiful, can be hazardous. Heavy traffic, steep terrain, and narrow roads with limited shoulder area are very common in the park. For all practical purposes, only experienced runners using extreme caution should attempt to run on many of the main roads in the Smokies.
The Cades Cove Loop Road
An 11 mile paved one way road and is a very popular running and cycling route. The loop provides runners with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities as well as running past several 19th century homesteads. You can make the route shorter by cutting across Hyatt Lane, a dusty two lane gravel road dissecting the loop. If you truly want to enjoy the beauty and majesty of this run, come early on Wednesday or Saturday. Beginning the 2nd week in May, the loop is closed to motorized traffic on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10.a.m. This closure continues thought the second to last Saturday in September. The Cades Cove Loop is a must if you want to truly enjoy the beauty, wildlife, and serenity of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The Townsend Bicycle/Running Path
A paved trail, approximately 3 miles long and is located, as the name suggests in Townsend, TN. the self proclaimed “Peaceful side of the Smokies”. The path is an easy to moderate run with some rolling hills. It runs along Hwy. US 321 with a small section running along the Little River. There is access to restaurants, shops, and motels along the way. Parking is available at both ends of the path. In September, try your hand at running through Townsend in the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon and 5K.
Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Located approximately 6 miles east of Gatlinburg out US 321 and features a 6 mile gravel road. The road follows the river and its tributaries into the upper Greenbrier area with wonderful opportunities for wildlife viewing. In the spring Greenbrier is renowned for stunning wildflowers. This run takes you up to the Ramsey Cascades trailhead. Ramsey Cascades is the tallest cascades on trail in the Smokies. If you were so inclined, you could challenge yourself by continuing up the 4 mile rugged trail to the cascades themselves. The Ramsey Cascades trail run is only recommended for strong and experienced runners. Round trip from the parking lot at the beginning of Greenbrier to the cascades is approximately 20 miles.
Smokies Challenge Adventure Run (SCAR) –
The Smokies Challenge Adventure Run is a draw for tough veteran ultrarunners. This 73-mile traverse of the Smokies Crest follows the Appalachian Trail from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap, both on the North Carolina side of the state line. A total elevation gain of over 18,000 feet is no minor undertaking! While the 73-mile may be too large of an undertaking, many folks do a half SCAR. Starting at the state line at Newfound Gap and running “down” to Davenport Gap is a popular option to still get in your trail miles. Despite the high starting elevation, nearly all of the run is under tree cover.
For information on local races and events visit the Knoxville Track Club website.
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