Rafting in the Smokies is located just on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest. As you raft on the Pigeon River, you’ll be immersed in the lovely scenery of the mountains. If you want to continue your outdoor adventure and get into the depths of the forest, there are plenty of great hiking locations nearby. We’ve highlighted four of them in this post.
1. Mt. Cammerer
Located on the state lines of Tennessee and North Carolina, Mt. Cammerer offers breathtaking and panoramic views of the area from the lookout you can hike up to. Plan a good portion of your day for it, as you can expect about six hours of hiking total on the shorter trail, which is almost 11 miles round-trip. The mountain gets its name after a former National Park Service director. The previous name, “White Rock,” came from the sandstone of the mountain. The easiest access point is from the Low Gap Trailhead. If you want to plan a trip up to Mt. Cammerer, check out this write-up for great hiking ideas, options, and instructions on how to get the most out of your trip.
2. Chestnut Branch
This is a short mountain hike that isn’t highly traveled, which makes it a good option if you want to have the area more or less to yourself. It’s also a lot shorter, at 2.1 miles. You can also take this trail to Mt. Cammerer if you wanted to combine some hikes. You can pick up the trailhead from I-40 at exit 451 and park in the parking lot for the Big Creek Ranger Station in Waynesville, NC. You’re likely to see former homesteads of the settlers to the area on your journey. You’ll enjoy some creekside hiking and some nice cascade shots if you bring your camera.
3. Tritt Cemetery Access Trail
Located outside Newport, Tennessee, the Tritt Cemetery Access Trail will take you up to Tritt Cemetery. You can pick up the trail from the Cosby Campground area and follow it north. Rumors have it that John Henry “Spider John” Sutton wrote it in his will that he didn’t want to be buried in the cemetery. To honor him, his family buried him just outside. Another cemetery nearby is the Gunter Cemetery. It is between the Cosby Ranger Station and Cosby Campground. Both the Tritt’s and Gunter’s were families with homesteads in the area.
4. Gabes Mountain Trail
Home to Hen Wallow Falls, the Gabes Mountain Trail can be picked up across from the Cosby Picnic Area. After a 2.1 mile moderately strenuous hike, you can see the stunning 90-foot waterfall. If you plan on hiking specifically for the waterfall, make sure you aren’t visiting when it’s been unusually dry in the area. Photos are best taken before or after midday. Your trip will take you through hemlock and rhododendron forest. You might spot some old homestead chimneys on the hike. Plan about 3–4 hours to get to the waterfall and back.
We hope you enjoyed our list and plan to try a hike in addition to a white water adventure or family float trip. We also have a zipline canopy tour, rock climbing wall, and high elements ropes course on our Family Adventure Island. Book your trip with Rafting in the Smokies today!