Your Ultimate Guide to Dogs in the Smoky Mountains

Whether they be little, big, or gigantic, we all love our dogs. One of the hardest parts of travel can be deciding what to do with our furry friends. Should we take them or leave them, and if we take them, how will it affect our vacation? Let our guide to dogs in the Smoky Mountains, help you decide.

dogs in the Smoky Mountains represented by a muddy yellow lab standing on a log in the forest

Where Can I Go Hiking with Dogs in the Smoky Mountains?

Dogs are only allowed on 2 trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park’s reasoning is that dogs tend to explore and bark which can disturb and endanger both the wildlife and park visitors. Thankfully, the two available trails do have a lot to offer.

The first trail is the Gatlinburg Trail, just outside of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This trail is just about 4 miles round trip, relatively flat, and runs along the Little Pigeon River. Bicycles are also permitted on this trail.

The second trail is the Oconalufftee River Trail in Cherokee North Carolina. This 1.5 mile trail is located at the Oconalufftee Visitors’ Center and runs along the Oconaluftee river. Bicycles are also permitted on this trail.

Are dogs allowed in campgrounds?

The great news is yes, dogs are allowed in all park campgrounds. The bad news is that dogs are not allowed to be left unattended for any length of time, even inside of a locked RV. Since dogs aren’t allowed on very many trails, and obviously aren’t allowed into stores or restaurants, staying at a campground with your dog may greatly hinder your Great Smoky Mountain vacation. If you really want to travel with your dog, you will be better off looking for a private rental, where you are usually able to leave your dogs crated indoors.

Where else are dogs allowed?

Dogs are also allowed in the park’s various picnic areas. Including Metcalf Bottoms, Big Creek, Chimneys, Cades Cove, Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Heintooga, Look Rock (closed indefinitely), and Twin Creeks. Several of these picnic areas are closed in the winter, but Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms are open all year long. Please note that dogs are ONLY allowed in the picnic areas not the adjacent trails or attractions.

Also, please keep in mind that, while you may be tempted to skirt the rules, park rangers have been known to ask people to leave the park for having their dog in a non-designated zone. So to avoid the inconvenience of having to alter your plans at the last minute, it’s best to just follow these rules from the get go.

Happy exploring y’all!

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