Entrance signThe Gatlinburg Trail is the only trail allowing dogs on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but don’t be disappointed, because this is a great trail!

Yesterday, I took my two Australian shepherds, Wesley and Merlin for a walk on the Gatlinburg Trail.  This 2- mile trail connects downtown Gatlinburg with Sugarlands Visitor Center, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  There is parking available at the trailhead on River Road, just inside the park entrance.

Bring Your Pets to the Gatlinburg TrailAbout a half-a-mile down the trail, we stop at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Entrance Sign.  Wesley and Merlin insist on having their picture by the sign.  Shortly after the Entrance Sign, a wooden bench offers us a place for a quick rest. 

Even though this trail is close the main road (Rt. 441), we are surrounded by nature!  All along the trail I hear red-eyed vireos and warblers singing.  There are all sorts of beautiful wildflowers!

The Gatlinburg TrailAround the corner, an arched bridge takes us across the river.  On the other side, we catch a glimpse of a belted kingfisher flying along the river.

Along the entire length of the trail are lots of great spots to access the Little Pigeon River.  Both dogs love the water!  The current is strong in places, and dogs must be leashed at all times in the Park.  Still on their leashes, the boys wade in to their chests, just deep enough to cool off.

About a mile from Gatlinburg, we come to what remains of an old house: a chimney, and nothing else.  We see another fireplace and chimney nearby, and I try to imagine the home that once stood around it.

Stay in one of our Pet Friendly Cabins during your time in Gatlinburg!Although the trail continues all the way to the Visitor Center, Wesley, Merlin, and I turn around after about 1.5 miles.  The remainder of the trail passes by the Park maintenance area, follows along the road, and weaves around Headquarters.Beginning of the Gatlinburg Trail

As we head back into the hustle and bustle of town, I think of how lucky we are to have such a beautiful and conveniently located nature trail that is dog-friendly!

Want to learn more about nature along the trail? Try a naturalist led “Pooch and Pal Trek” on the Gatlinburg Trail with A Walk in the Woods.

Buy 2 Nights, Get the 3rd Night Free!- in one of our pet-friendly cabins