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Horseback Riding in the Smokies

Smoky Mountain Horseback Riding

The Sugarlands Riding Stables just inside the National Park. Photo by Jennifer Dunnaway.

Want to explore the Smokies on horseback?  Horseback riding offers a relaxing way to explore the mountain trails.  Guided horseback rides are offered within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding area.  (View Smoky Mountain Area Stables)

If you choose to bring your own horse, make sure you stay on horse-appropriate trails and follow all backcountry rules and regulations.  To horseback the backcountry, you must obtain a backcountry permit; they are free and available at any visitor center, campground, or ranger station.  All horses must be tied to a hitching post at night.  If there is no hitching post, the horses must be cross-tied so they cannot chew on trees or surrounding vegetation.  Tying horses to trees is prohibited.  Horses must be tied 100 feet away from any drinkable water source and shelter.  All feed and equipment must be packed in as well. 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park prohibits horses on nearly half its hiking trails.  The dotted trails on the park map are for horses and hikers (link to map).  No more than 10 horses are allowed in one group trip.  Automobile-accessible horse camps are available at Anthony Creek, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Tow String.  Reservations at these auto camps can be made by calling (877) 444- 6777 between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).  Llamas and donkeys are also allowed to be ridden in the backcountry.  All other animals (including dogs) are not permitted.

Horses are allowed on dotted trails in the park, not on the dashed trails (see trail map here).  Hikers can use all trails.  Therefore, it makes sense that there are only certain backcountry campsites and shelters that horseback riders can access in the park.  The campsites are: 3, 5, 13, 19, 20, 27, 28, 35, 36, 39, 41, 44, 49, 50, 52, 55, 57, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 70, 71, 77, 81, 82, 83, 85, 86, 90, 92, 95, 98, and 113.  The shelters are: Davenport Gap, Cosby Knob, Tricorner Knob, Pecks Corner, Silers Bald, Spence Field, Russell Field, Mollies Ridge, Kephart, and Laurel Gap.  All these campsites and shelters can be found on the map.  The following trails can be ridden on horseback within the national park:

Sugarlands - Roaring Fork Area

  • Grapeyard Ridge Trail (half)
  • Old Sugarlands Trail
  • Trillium Gap Trail

Greenbrier Ranger Station

  • Brushy Mountain Trail

Cosby

  • Low Gap Trail
  • Lower Mount Cammerer Trail
  • Mount Cammerer Trail
  • Snake Den Ridge Trail

Big Creek

  • Balsam Mountain Trail
  • Big Creek Trail
  • Camel Gap Trail
  • Low Gap Trail
  • Swallow Fork Trail

Cataloochee

  • Balsam Mountain Trail (BM)
  • Beech Gap Trail (BM)
  • Big Fork Ridge Trail
  • Caldwell Fork Trail
  • Cataloochee Divide Trail
  • Hemphill Bald
  • Hyatt Ridge Trail (BM)
  • Little Cataloochee Trail
  • Long Bunk Trail
  • McKee Branch Trail
  • Mount Sterling Ridge Trail (BM)
  • Mount Sterling Trail
  • Palmer Creek Trail
  • Pretty Hollow Gap Trail
  • Rough Fork Trail

Smokemont

  • Bradley Fork Trail (BM)
  • Cabin Flatts Trail
  • Chasteen Creek Trail(BM)
  • Dry Sluice Gap Trail
  • Enole Creek Trail (BM)
  • Hughes Ridge Trail
  • Kephart Prong Trail
  • Mingus Creek (upper half) (MTS)
  • Newton Bald Trail (BM)
  • Tow String Trail

Deep Creek

  • Cooper Creek Trail
  • Deep Creek Horse Trail
  • Deeplow Gap Trail
  • Indian Creek Trail
  • Indian Creek Motor Trail
  • Loop Trail
  • Martins Gap Trail (BM) (MTS)
  • Noland Divide Trail
  • Pole Creek Road Trail (BM)
  • Stone Pile Gap Trail
  • Sunkota Ridge Trail (BM) (MTS)
  • Thomas Divide Trail (BM)

Northshore (Lakeshore Dr.)

  • Bear Creek Trail
  • Bone Valley Trail
  • Cold Spring Gap Trail
  • Forney Creek Trail (lower section)
  • Goldmine Loop Trail
  • Hazel Creek Trail (lower section)
  • High Rocks Side Trail
  • Jenkins Ridge Trail
  • Jonas Creek Trail
  • Lakeshore Trail (BM)
  • Noland Creek Trail (BM)
  • Springhouse Branch Trail
  • Tunnel Bypass
  • Welch Ridge Trail
  • Whiteoak Branch Trail

Fontana Dam

  • Eagle Creek Trail (Dam to Campsite #90)
  • Hazel Creek Trial (lower section)
  • Jenkins Ridge Trail
  • Lakeshore Trail (BM)
  • Lost Cove Trail

Twentymile

  • Gregory Bald Trail
  • Long Hungry Ridge
  • Twentymile Trail
  •  Wolf Ridge Trail
  • Abrams Creek
  • Beard Cane Trail
  • Cane Creek Trail
  • Cooper Road Trail
  • Gold Mine Trail
  • Hannah Mountain Trail
  • Hatcher Mountain Trail
  • Rabbit Creek Trail

Cades Cove

  • Ace Gap Trail
  • Anthony Creek Trail
  • Crib Gap Trail
  • Crooked Arm Ridge
  • Cooper Road Trail
  • Indian Grave Trail
  • Rich Mountain Trail
  • Rich Mountain Loop Trail
  • Russell Field Trail
  • Schoolhouse Gap Trail
  • Turkeypen Ridge Trail
  • Wet Bottom Trail

Tremont

  • Bote Mountain Trail
  • Finley Cane Trail
  • Lead Cove Trial
  • Lumber Ridge Trail
  • Middle Prong Trail
  • Panther Creek Trail
  •  West Prong Trail

Elkmont

  • Jakes Creek Trail
  • Lynn Camp Prong Trail
  • Meigs Mountain Trail
  • Miry Ridge Trail (lower section)

Appalachian Trail

  • Lost Cove/ Twentymile intersection to Spence Field
  • Buckeye Gap (Miry Ridge Trail) to Silers Bald Shelter
  • Pecks Corner Shelter to Davenport Gap Shelter
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