If you are back to our website and reading this, we are excited to share our adventures with YOU! What comes to your mind when you think about nature and national parks? Well, in mine comes hiking. We DID hike the great smoky mountains, but we also did something else. And, the first one was horseback riding in the lap of the great Smokey’s forest. We also did our first white water rafting!! We will be posting more about a road trip to the Great Smokey Mountains in upcoming posts. So keep on reading!!!
Horseback riding in the Great Smokies
Several businesses offer you horseback riding services. Some are outside the great smokies, and some are in the smoky ran by the national park itself. We thought of choosing the one inside the national park just so that we could enjoy the smoky at its best. There are several exotic viewpoints and places to visit and hike in the national park. And, one of the places to be at is Cades Cove. We did drive a beautiful scenic Cades cove loop, but we also wanted to be a little bit adventurous. This is why we chose horseback riding at Cades Cove Riding Stables, located in the Townsend area of Smokys. There is also Sugarlands Riding Stables located in the Gatlinburg area of Smokys offered by the national park. They don’t need customers to reserve in advance in both of these places.
We went to the riding stables straight and waited about 10 minutes for a group of 8 to gather. The cost is affordable, and the horses are well trained. The horses took us through the river to the mountains and brought us back to the stables. The one hour ride was thrilling. Horses stopped for their “potty” time at times! I know that’s so funny. Also, they stopped to eat favourite plants at times as well. However, the horse leader was pretty caught up with everyone to keep the rest of the horses on the track. You don’t have to have horseback riding experience to join this group. Horses are well trained, and the trainers teach you basic ways to maneuver horses before leaving for the ride.
Everyone in the group was quiet, which I don’t know whether is rare? But, that quietness was serene. We could hear clip-clop from the horses walking. The sound of the wind blowing the leaves of the tree was therapeutic. The green itself provided so much peace. We kept an eye for a black bear. We didn’t see one, BUT we could see other exotic birds. I could do this over and over!
White water rafting in the smokies
Our next adventure was our first white water rafting!! The rafting businesses usually come with other services such as zip lining as well. We did not have enough time for zip lining but, we never wanted to miss rafting. There are several white water rafting businesses around the Great Smokey Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. We chose rafting in the Smokies at the Pigeon River. Here is a little information about this place. The reservation centre was located in Gatlinburg near 321 North, but the rafting preparation starts in Hartford, TN. You can probably reserve online as well—Reserve in advance through the website or by calling. We were lucky to get a spot on the same day. For the first time rafters, trust us, you don’t have to be a PRO. You don’t need to have swimming skills. They orient you at the centre, load everyone in their bus, and drive to the starting point of the Pigeon River. Remember that phones or any other valuable items are not allowed during rafting. So here comes the question! HOW DO WE TAKE OUR PICTURES? Right! That’s we went through the same thought process as well. The staff took our pictures after we were on a raft. And, we had to buy our photos from them. The digital images were expensive. But, GUESS WHAT? Our rafters decided to divide the money among ourselves, and one of us bought the pictures and airdropped them to all others.
White water rafting was a thrilling experience. Our coach was very experienced. She was inspiring in the sense that she is also a glass artist. There is a secret place at the Pigeon River where she has been working on her glass art. We wish we could post a picture here. But, unfortunately, we were not allowed to take our phones, so I don’t have that picture. Our group did a pretty good job rafting. We didn’t fall. We had so much fun!!
Hiking in the Great Smokies
How can I miss talking about hiking? Oh! We loved hiking at the Great Smokies. There are several hiking trails. But, the one I am sharing is about Alum Cave Trail to Mt Laconte. Alum Cave Trail begins with Alum Cave Creek. The creek is beautiful. The sounds of the creek while climbing up just made it so much easier. There are locations where anyone could stop and rest near the water. I could sleep there! The moment anyone realizes that they do not hear the water sounds anymore, they have climbed higher by now. The trail is 2.7 miles long. By the time we get done with half portion of the trail, we can start seeing the scenic beauty of the smokies.
We did not go to Mt. Laconte, but we made it to the top of the Alum Cave Trail. The endpoint is like a big cave. I could feel the water drops falling from the roof of the rocky mountain. The trail was pretty busy. Mount Laconte was an hour walk from this point. Due to time constraints, we thought of returning. But, talk about feeling good. We munched our snacks, enjoying the view! That’s so rewarding.
Stick around to read more about our travels!!