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Riding in the Great Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park.

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  • Riding in the Great Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park.

    we visited the Great Smoky Mtn Natl Park last week and stayed at Gilbertson's Lazy Horse Retreat in Townsend. Nice people, nice place, but unrealistically long road rides to hit the trail head for Schoolhouse Gap trail. And while I loved the ride up to Gregory Bald and Anthony Creek, I did not love the heavy traffic on the road into the park from the Townsend, TN side of life. If I never make that drive around Cades Cove again, it'll be too soon. We saw 13 black bears on our daily commutes to park our caravan of three trucks and trailers...which in the traffic meant a LOT of horses hanging on by their teeth as we got stuck in said traffic while said tourists sat in their cars and took pictures.

    Has anyone ridden/camped at Orchard Creek Stables? Which trail heads/trails can you realistically do from there w/o hauling over to the park?

    Has anyone camped/ridden from the Bryson City, NC side?

    I hear the road into Cataloochee is a hot mess- true?

    Other ideas, locations, etc for either cabins with pens or LQ hookups, I'm in. Thanks!

  • #2
    You might want to go a little further into TN to Big South Fork - perfect for horse camping, riding and not near as much traffic.


    • #3
      Originally posted by katarine View Post
      If I never make that drive around Cades Cove again, it'll be too soon.
      I feel your pain. The last time for me was over a decade ago and I made the same vow. Bumper to bumper.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by neversaynever View Post
        You might want to go a little further into TN to Big South Fork - perfect for horse camping, riding and not near as much traffic.
        I've ridden some of BSF, just asking this time about GSMNP. Thanks, though.


        • #5
          I was at Cataloochee in October, and at that point I don't believe there was an issue going from park to the ranch property on the trails...

          But if you're asking about the road UP to the Ranch in general... that is one steep haul. It is certainly a climb if you're pulling a trailer. Its a little narrow, and a bit on the twisty-turny side. It can be done though, since they haul the horses up every spring and back down every fall. Its not a terribly busy road (Fie Top Road I think is the name) from my experience, so I dont think you'd run into much of the "oh, stop take a picture" issues you mentioned.

          But its an absolutely BEAUTIFUL area, with direct access to miles and miles of trails from right there on the ranch. I'd give it a go... totally worth it. Plus the Alexander family is an amazing host (stay for lunch if you can!)
          I have Higher Standards... do you?
          Apalachicola Native (Alfie), '02 TB Gelding,
          Wild Man of Borneo (Hank), '03 Redtick coonhound,
          Augustus McRae (Gus), '01 Bluetick coonhound