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Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg

A Dog Friendly Guide to Gatlinburg, TN and the Great Smoky Mountains

I partnered with Hotels.com to bring you this dog-friendly guide to Gatlinburg, TN

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its diversity of plants and animals, Appalachian mountain culture, and beautiful scenery. It is one of the most-visited national parks in the country.

Of course, traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains with a dog means that you have make some adjustments when it comes to travel plans since it is a national park. Fortunately, there is still plenty to do with your pooch in the vicinity.

Learn more in this pet-friendly guide to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Pet Rules

Because the Great Smokies are located in a National Park, dog owners can expect some stricter rules when they choose to visit the park with their pets.

As with all national parks, the rules for dogs remain the same:

  • Dogs must remain on a six-foot leash at all times
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended
  • Clean up after your pet (which is a given no matter where you hike)
  • Dog-friendly areas are restricted to paved paths only

In The Great Smokies National Park, dogs are allowed in the following areas:

  • Campgrounds
  • Picnic areas
  • Along roads

Dog-Friendly Hikes in Great Smoky National Park

If you’re traveling to Gatlinburg with a dog, your hiking options are very limited, given the fact that the city is surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are only two trails within the park that allow dogs.

Image by CBunn from Pixabay

Gatlinburg Trail

For an easy walk, the Gatlinburg Trail is one of two trails in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park that allows dogs. The trail tarts from The Sugarlands Visitor Center and follows the Little. Pigeon River along a mostly flat and forested trail.

Along the path, you’ll find remnants of foundations and chimneys from old homesites. The total mileage is about 4 miles out and back.

Oconaluftee River Trail

The other dog-friendly trail in the Great Smokies is the Oconaluftee River Trail. The three-mile round trip trail departs from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center follows the river by the same name. You’ll find lovely views of the river and a forested path just outside of Cherokee, NC.

Townsend Trail

For a longer walk just outside of the national park, the Townsend Trail in Townsend, TN is a short drive from Gatlinburg. The 9-mile biking and walking path follows the Little River and passes by a number of small shops, restaurants, and historic attractions.

A drive along the Cades Cove Loop Road is a great dog-friendly activity in Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Other Dog-Friendly Activities in Gatlinburg

While hiking options are limited, there are a number of other activities available to those traveling to Gatlinburg with their dog.

Tubing the Little Pigeon River

For just $20 per person, you can rent an inner tube from River Rat and float down the Little Pigeon River in Townsend. For an additional $5, you can rent a dog tube and float the Outpost A section. The company recommends tethering your dog to your tube and sells tethers for $5.

Cades Cove Loop Road

This 11-mile scenic loop drive is a great way to enjoy some of the highlights of Smoky National Park with your pet. Travel through the lush green hills and get a glimpse of the restored building, barns, and a working mill. Pets are not allowed inside any of the historical buildings, but the one-lane road often means a slow drive with plenty of stop and go.

Keep an eye out for wildlife, including deer, coyote, elk, fox, and black bears as you make your way along the loop.

Picnic Areas

There are a number of picnic areas throughout Great Smoky National Park that allow dogs, including Chimney Tops, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier. Chimney Tops is one of the more popular picnic areas, so may be a bit much for some dogs.

Metcalf Bottoms is located next to the Little River, where your pup can cool off on a hot day. Greenbrier is relatively calm compared to other picnic areas.

Dog-Friendly Hotels in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg has a handful of pet-friendly hotels located in town, as well as a number of pet friendly cabins and home rentals.

Since travel today looks a bit different from normal, I encourage you to keep your safety and the safety of others in mind. Please travel responsibly.

If you do decide to travel during the pandemic, here is how I recommend doing so safely:

  • Wear a face mask. 
  • Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands regularly
  • Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses.
  • Fill up with gas before you leave
  • Bring your own food and limit trips to local shops
  • Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans

The Park Vista DoubleTree

The spacious guestrooms at the newly-renovated Park Vista each include a private balcony with sweeping views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Dogs are welcome with an additional $35 per pet, per day fee. DoubleTree allows leaving dogs in the room unattended, provided they are in a crate.

River Terrace Resort

This resort and conference center is located in downtown Gatlinburg, and serves as a great base for city entertainment, access to the national park, and Dollywood. River Terrace allows two sub-60lb dogs per unit and charges a $100 pet cleaning fee. Typical breed restrictions apply.

Jackson Mountain Homes

If you prefer to stay in a cabin or home, Jackson Mountain Homes offers several affordable options for those traveling with pets. Accommodations are located throughout Great Smoky Mountain National Park and surrounding vicinity.

Dog-Friendly Camping in Gatlinburg

Camping is always a great option for those traveling with dogs, since most campgrounds tend to permit pets, even in national parks. Bring Fido has a full list of camping options in and around the Great Smoky Mountains.

Looking for more pet-friendly travel guides?

A Dog-Friendly Guide to Bend, Oregon
A Dog-Friendly Guide to the Olympic Peninsula
Traveling to Canada with a Dog from the US
A Dog-friendly Guide to Jackson Hole
A Dog-friendly Guide to Lake Tahoe
Dog Friendly Guide to Gatlinburg, TN and the Great Smoky Mountains class=”wp-image-16965″/>
Jen Sotolongo

Hello! I'm Jen. I'm a writer, photographer, dog mom, and outdoor enthusiast. When I'm not writing about awesome ways to get outside with your dog, I'm probably out for a long trail run. I also fancy myself a pretty decent vegan cook, and am always happy to whip up a batch of cookies for friends. I am based in the Pacific Northwest and I never leave home without my dogs.

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