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2 Dog-Friendly Trails in Smoky Mountains You Can Visit in 2024

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

bluetick coonhound in the grass

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park isn’t the friendliest national park for dogs. However, they do offer two pet-friendly trails that you can hike in with your pooch. Plus, pets are allowed on all campgrounds, picnic areas, and roads—as long as they stay on a 6-foot leash at all times.

The walking trails dogs are allowed on are short and not considered “backcountry trails.” The park doesn’t allow dogs in the backcountry areas for several reasons. For instance, their website lists dogs carrying diseases to local wildlife populations, dogs chasing wildlife, dogs barking at wildlife, and the dangers to dogs as reasons for this decision.

Below, you’ll find the two walking trails that are open to dogs in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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The 2 Dog-Friendly Trails in Smoky Mountains

1. Gatlinburg Trail

🗺️ Address: 📍 Gatlinburg Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
🕐 Open Times: Daylight hours
💲 Cost: Free
🐕 Off-Leash: No
  • Allows both dogs and bicycles, which aren’t allowed on most trails in the park
  • Travels 1.9 miles (one-way) from the outskirts of Gatlinburg to the Sugarlands Visitor
  • Pretty flat and runs right alongside a river
  • It is an easier trail than most

2. Oconaluftee River Trail


🗺️ Address: 📍 Oconaluftee River Trail, Cherokee, NC 28719
🕐 Open Times: Daylight hours
💲 Cost: Free (may be fees for parking)
🐕 Off-Leash: No
  • 5-mile trail
  • Runs from the outskirts of the city of Cherokee to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center
  • A beautiful part of the forest with great views of the rivers
  • Regularly used by bicycles and joggers
  • Tends to be less crowded than the Gatlinburg Trail

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Final Thoughts

There are only two trails that the Smoky Mountains Park allows dogs on. However, there are some state parks nearby that can be utilized by dogs to a fuller extent. If you’re vacationing in the park with your dog, you can often go a short distance before finding other dog-friendly trails that are not technically in the park.

For instance, the Cherokee National Park and Chattahoochee National Forest are both very close to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Featured Photo Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

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