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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, TN offers two trails that are dog friendly. Gatlinburg Trail (a 1.9 mile hike from the Sugarland Visitor Center to the outskirts of Gatlinburg, TN) and the Oconaluftee River Trail (a 1.5 mile hike from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to the outskirts of Cherokee, NC). Please note that dogs are not permitted on any other trails within the park. Dogs are allowed in the campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roads, but must be kept on a leash at all times. Please clean up after your pet. Visit Website

Or call (865) 436-1200 for more information.


BringFido Guest Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has received a rating of 3.2 out of 5 bones by 50 canine critics on BringFido and 5.0 out of 5 by 2,419 guests on TripAdvisor.

  • Molly
    Feb 23, 2024
    Honestly kinda sucks 🐶

    A beautiful place but a bummer that dogs aren’t welcome on all but two trails.

  • Denise
    Aug 20, 2023
    Only two dog-friendly trails

    There are only two trails in the entire park that allow pets, even on leash pets. We did not find the 2 trails. This was disappointing. Just wish we would have known ahead of time since we wanted to see waterfalls and had the pup with us on vacation.

  • Denise
    Jul 5, 2023
    Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, TN offers one trail that is dog friendly. Gatlinburg Trail (a 1.9 mile hike from the Sugarland Visitor Center to the outskirts of Gatlinburg, TN) Approx 4 miles round trip. Disappointed there are not more in that area. Lots of dogs, so your dog should like other dogs & people.

  • Mandi
    Apr 3, 2023
    Beautiful views!

    We went to the national park knowing there were only two dog-friendly trails (kind of a bummer, but I get it). We walked both trails and enjoyed them. We also drove through the park on two different days; we could not get enough of the spectacular views, and our dog enjoyed opportunities to pull over and stretch and sniff. Absolutely gorgeous scenery!

  • Renae
    Mar 24, 2023
    A couple dog friendly trails

    The park is gorgeous and it was a perfect day for our family which includes our pup, Charlie. There are only two trails dogs are allowed on though and they are not near each other at all. We chose the Gatlinburg Trail. It was perfect for our family and dog. Plenty of places to stop along the river and get wet and relax. There was a nice museum at the visitor center that was air conditioned, but not pet friendly. Restrooms were kept nice and clean. I gave 3 bones bc there were only two trails for dogs and I wish they were allowed on more but I still highly recommend for a family/pet activity,

  • John
    May 21, 2022
    Love the Park but wish dogs had more access

    I understanding that there are issues with dogs in the national parks because a few people do not keep them on a leash and hence under control. However, I feel that the same could be said for many children running loose on the trails. We did enjoy our time at the park, Cades Cove drive being the best.

  • Kendra
    Apr 21, 2022
    Gatlinburg Trail

    We walked our 2 dogs on the Gatlinburg trail which was nice but there were several other dogs due to being the only dog friendly trail. My elderly dog (13 years old) got tired halfway through so I carried him most of the way. There were plenty of places for them to stop off to drink water from the streams. Only negative is there are no trash cans so I was stuck carrying a poop bag until we returned to the main strip.

    The trail was beautiful but the most successful stops for us were along the road where you could access the streams (especially if your dog is not fond of many other dogs).

  • Beverly
    Dec 16, 2021
    Don’t you guys realize dogs are bear bait?

    Don’t you guys realize dogs are bear bait? I am extremely disappointed in people in general for even trying to bring their dogs into the Smokies with them where the black bear population is high. Not to mention cougars.

  • Angelyn
    Nov 29, 2021
    Only 2 Dog Friendly Trails

    There are only two dog friendly hiking trails in the park. I understand that because of the large population of black bears in the area, it's a safety issue. But it does make it difficult to explore any of the park if you have your dog. So even though technically there are two dog friendly areas, overall the park isn't dog friendly.

  • Tanya
    Sep 3, 2021
    Gatlinburg Trail

    Out and back, not a loop. 1.9 miles one way. Nice shaded walk, but no garbage cans, no poop bag stations, and no water source other than the creek.

  • Kayla
    May 8, 2021
    Great sites...okay for dogs.

    While the sites are absolutely beautiful, not all of the trails are dog friendly for some reason. There are very few places you can walk them around, for the views 10/10, for the pups not so much, but I still recommend going, my pups enjoyed the windows down car ride up the mountain.

  • Aubrey
    Aug 25, 2020
    Dogs Not Allowed On Trails

    There are only two trails in the entire park that allow pets - even on leash pets. This is disappointing although I understand. Just wish we would have known ahead of time.

  • Darlene
    May 30, 2020
    No pets

    I just finished a trip there may 2020 and probably won’t go back although it’s beauty was breathtaking, to not allow pets is ridiculous and I’m glad to point out some very good reasons I saw with my own eyes as well as others in my group, we walked about a one and half mile trip around cades cove and I saw what was at least a hundred or more cigarette butts thrown out from the windows of some very very rude careless drivers right onto the parkway ( was there not a terrible fire in 2016 ? ) surely not caused by a dog, maybe you should ban smoking in the parks, and the other thing that was very disturbing the littering we saw on several occasions other hikers that were collecting the garbage on there own again thrown from careless, rude humans, so if they won’t welcome me or my pets so be it but the problems I saw were all caused by humans not pets, seems they have a bigger problem on their hands than need to get a handle on or there most certainly will be another fire caused by a human

  • Savannah
    Nov 25, 2019
    So Disappointed

    We love the smoky mountains but this trip will probably be our last because it is so not dog friendly....

  • Dick
    Aug 21, 2019
    Highly Recommended!

    The Smoky Mountains are a great, dog friendly trip. The Gatlinburg trail is an excellent trail for a hike with the pooch. If you dog is a swimmer there is some great swimming holes located through out the trail. I would highly recommend checking out Klingsman Dome for excellent views!

    There is an abundance of cabin rentals around the Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg area. It’s not hard to find dog friendly cabins!

  • Tiffany
    Jun 16, 2019
    Beautiful Trail for Our Pooch

    There is only one trail in the Great Smoky Mountains that is dog-friendly due to safety reasons, but that didn't deter us from enjoying a nice hike with our dog. The Gatlinburg Trail is absolutely gorgeous once you get past all the industrial stuff. It follows a river, and you can see waterfalls. It was one of the most scenic hikes our little guy had been on, and he enjoyed every second. He also loved meeting other pooches along the way.

  • Kaitlynn
    May 21, 2019
    Not ideal for hiking

    We came to the mountains to relax and do some hiking. We love taking our german shepherd hiking with us and he loves getting out of the house. Unfortunately, only 2 trails in the park are dog friendly and one of them is 1.5 hours from Gatlinburg. We brought our dog on the Gatlinburg trail, which was nice, but were hoping for more options. Next time we want to travel with our dog, we will visit a park with more accessible dog trails.

  • Rachel
    Apr 4, 2019
    Great Trail

    There is only 1 trail accessible from the TN side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg Trail. Not sure what issues people have with this trail. It is right at 2 miles long and it’s beautiful. Plenty of areas for your pup to splash around. Gentlemen working at information building had lots of information of other areas to walk my pups inside tells park that’s isn’t on trails. Some options were the dirt roads. My pups had a great time!

  • Kimberly
    Mar 31, 2019
    Not dog friendly

    There is only 1 trail that allows dogs. You are better off visiting the state parks.

  • Jennifer
    Jan 5, 2019
    Short Hike But Was Fun

    There are places to hike with dogs here. We hiked the Gatlinburg trail it was an easy relaxing hike. I prefer hiking in Cherokee national forest. They allow dogs everywhere.

  • Erin
    Apr 19, 2018
    A+ for Gatlinburg Trail

    As other reviews here have made clear, this national park is not exactly welcoming of dogs. However, we found a motel near the Gatlinburg trail, which is one of two trails in the park that allows dogs. It's a GREAT trail with places to take a dip in the creek, a nice footbridge and some remnants of foundations and hearths. My dog loved the trail, which runs about 4 miles round trip. We went early and found the trail to be largely deserted. We hiked it twice during a two-day stay.

  • Joey
    More than a year ago
    Hiking and Leash Transition

    This was a great place to hike with my dog Lute! We took the leash and collar we got from yeahbuddy.rocks and it was easy to transition on and off leash. Despite some rain, it was still a great trip!

  • Ted
    More than a year ago
    Great Park, Leash made difference

    It was great having the Fast Capture Leash and collar we bought at yeahbuddy.rocks because we could go on and off leash smoothly and fast.

    This was a great place to take my Lab!

    Highly recommend this!

  • Beth
    More than a year ago

    Remember that GSMNP is the most visited park in the National Park System., which means lots of people. There are plenty of places to walk dogs--the entire Cade's Cove loop, and any gravel road--from Tremont up to the bridge where the backcountry trails start is beautiful along the river. People lament more trails not being open to dogs, but if it is an easy trail, there are so many people that it is better not to have a dog because of the crowds, and if it is a difficult trail, it is very hard to keep a dog on a leash using trekking poles and scrambling up rocks. There are plenty of trails in the mountains that are outside the National Park that are not as crowded and that have no restrictions on dogs, so just go there if you want to take your pooch. Start south on the AT at Fontana Dam, or go north to Max Patch from Waterville/Davenport. No biggie.

  • Ron
    More than a year ago
    Bears and Dogs

    The rules are overly protective in my opinion. After reading the following books, "Bear Aware", "Backcountry Bear Basics", "Bear Attacks, Causes and Avoidance", and "Bear Encounters", it is clear that bear attacks because of the presence of a dog are rare. In fact, in many if not most cases, a bear will run from a dog. I have experience this with my Keeshond at Mt. Pisgah campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A food conditioned bear came into our campsite and proceeded to tuck tail and run when my dog started to growl and lunge at the bear. The best bear protection is plain and simply..... Bear Spray. A great deterrent that doesn't harm the bear and teaches bears to shy away from humans. The park should make this available both for sale or rent and the dog issue wouldn't need to exist.

  • Mary
    More than a year ago
    Had a lot of fun, just wish there were a few more trails available.

    We stayed in Gatlinburg, which is very pet friendly, but I was disappointed to find out right before our trip that GSMNP only has a couple of dog trails. We adapted, and we and our Aussie had a great time.

    The dog trail was great for him! He played in the streams, zoomed back and forth along the trails, and enjoyed the walk through Gatlinburg to get to the trail head. Even thought the trail itself is short, he got plenty of exercise from sprinting back and forth on his long line and swimming. Five bones from his perspective, and five bones from ours for this particular trail. I actually liked that this trail was very broad and next to a road - we're working on some dog reactivity issues with our guy, and being able to carry treats (we brought ones that he could easily consume without dropping crumbs) and having plenty of room to maneuver and see people coming made this perfect for our situation. He had no issues with other dogs on the trail. Since it's a shorter trail, being able to let him run on a long line rather than keeping him on a short leash, as I would have if the trail was more winding or narrow, was good, too.

    We did the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail with him one afternoon, when we didn't want to leave him in the hotel room, but when we all were a little too tired to do more walking. This is a nice little drive with several historical sites along the route, and since the speed limit is 10 mph, the pup was able to hang his head out the window without us worrying about him getting hit in the face with debris. Dogs are allowed along the road, so he got to hop out and sniff around from time to time.

    So, in summary, Gatlinburg was very pet friendly, and we'd recommend it as a place to stay if you want to visit the park (although be forewarned that the main streets of town can get *very* crowded, with heavy traffic and lots of noise - if your dog isn't good with this, plan accordingly!) Our dog loved the one trail in the park near us that he was allowed on, but had to spend a tiny bit more time in the hotel than he'd have liked. GSMNP is an amazing park, and if I was rating it on another site, I'd give it a much higher rating. As is, I would love to have had another trail or two nearby to easily hike with the dog.

  • Chris
    More than a year ago
    Very Disappointed

    I just moved here from Colorado to be closer to family and must say it has been so disappointing for my fur babies. I am used to taking my boys on any and all trails. I had a house in the mountains and bears in my front yard that ran away when they saw and heard my dogs. In the bears defense, I have a malamute and great dane, but to say it is for our safety and the dogs is absurd. On the topic of poop, well what about horse poop. I am so sick of trails allowing horses but not dogs. I don't know about you but I clean up after my dogs; I have never known a horse owner to clean up after their horses. People are way more disgusting than dogs, between the cigarette butts, fast food bags, and cans tell me who is more disgusting? If a dog goes missing, blame the owner and hold them accountable, but don't punish the majority for the stupidity of a minority.

  • Tony
    More than a year ago

    I have two dogs, not only because I love them, but to push me to live a more active lifestyle. I live 20 minutes from one of the most beautiful places in the country, with miles and miles of trails, and cannot even take my furbabies hiking!! This is an OUTDOOR PARK. Why can't my dogs enjoy it, too? I know why, because the bears will eat them and they will poop everywhere and blah blah blah. Last I checked this is suppose to be the land of the free, you know, America, where we boast freedom. If I want to risk my dog getting eaten by a bear (not likely, the bears are afraid of people) no one should be able to tell me I can't. I am a responsible dog owner and can handle cleaning up behind my pets. Sure, some people can't, but do you think the animals in the forest use a toilet? If people are afraid of dog poo maybe we should restrict two trails just for them, like we have the dogs. (Or they could quit being babies, just dog poo.) And to the person who said we can't let our dogs go splashing around in the rivers, WHAT IS THAT HURTING. The people get in the rivers. The bears get in the rivers. All kinds of animals get in the rivers, what's wrong with dogs? So frustrating that I live and work here and have to put up with the traffic and dimwitted tourists, I should at least get to take my pups hiking to unwind!!

  • Joe
    More than a year ago
    stop the dog hating

    we have a wonderful 270000 acre park here in Roanoke where hikers, mountain bikers,horseback riders, dogs and bears all play nicely together. We have had zero issues. When the dog and I have come across a bear, the bear just meanders in the opposite direction . The rules in GSMNP are so ridiculous that even AT thru hikers have to ditch their dogs before crossing into park land even though practically all of the AT is pet friendly. Must only be bears in the park and not outside GSMNP boundaries.

  • Vicki
    More than a year ago
    Best park

    We vacation in petfriendly cabins in the GSMNP as often as possible. There are nice wooded areas around them to walk our dog & she loves the Gatlinburg trail. When we choose to go somewhere she's not allowed we leave her in the cabin. We're retired and have traveled all over the country. There are always places dogs are not allowed ~ sometimes for their safety, most times because irresponsible owners have ruined it for the rest of us. I grew up in the shadow of these mountains and I hope all these people who have posted nasty comments on here do go somewhere else ~ we don't need their attitudes!

  • Cindy
    More than a year ago
    Was in the area

    Having read the reviews earlier we knew GSMNP wasn't very dog friendly, though the one trail we took -- Gatlinburg Trail -- was pleasant enough. We wanted to check out the area anyway, having just come from Brevard, NC. There, Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Park were both extremely dog friendly and offered hundreds of miles of fantastic trails.

  • Dori
    More than a year ago
    Only two trails for a reason

    I've lived and worked here for most of my life; was raised just a county over. These "only two measly trails that are next to the roads" are there for a good reason. I've seen a lot of disgusting things done and/or left behind from most tourists who come here especially with their dogs. I'm a very responsible dog owner myself, and I would NEVER allow my dog to go romping through these precious woods or go splashing in our beautiful streams. Remember: there is NO fee to enter the park. (I believe it's one of the last, if not THE last, national park that doesn't charge an entrance fee.) Budget cuts have whittled our ranger resources drastically. MOST of the workers in the park are -- aptly named, still -- VOLUNTEERS. There HAVE been pets eaten by bears. And guess who gets blamed for it? Not the pet owner. And there HAVE been pets getting lost and then what few rangers we have available DO have to drop everything to go searching for the pet. And guess who gets blamed for the pet getting lost? Exactly: park personnel again. We love our park because it is the ONLY one of its kind in the ENTIRE world. So we're rather protective of our park but have at least made a couple of trails available for pets -- who should be on a leash at ALL times, not allowed to romp around -- for the pet(s) to be able to get out and have a good walk while visitors are enjoying our beautiful Smokies.

  • Dan
    More than a year ago
    Great park, but not for dogs

    Have visited and hiked GSMNP many times. It's a wonderful park if you get off the main roads away from all the obnoxious tourists and hit some backcountry trails. 99% of people visiting this park don't get past the parking lots. Getting away on a trail for some peace and tranquility is the only way to enjoy the park. Unfortunately the park feels dog owners are responsible so they restrict dogs on the majority of the trails. As a new dog owner, I will now be taking my family and money elsewhere.

  • Cynthia
    More than a year ago
    My dog had a great time

    We are in Gatlinburg for Thanksgiving. We took our dog to Cades Cove. We couldn't take him into a lot of areas but we would stop and walk him in grass areas not far from the street. He really enjoyed himself. Also, our campground Up the Creek in Seiverville is very dog friendly. They even have a small dog run a large amount of green space (compared to the other campgrounds in this area). I have not made it to the two dog friendly trails as of yet. So far we are having a great time with our dog.

  • Alicia
    More than a year ago
    Be Realistic

    When a park has a ridiculous amount of invasive species it is only reasonable to make it harder for those species to be transferred onto park land. I'm guessing most of you weren't going to bathe, brush, and clean up after your dog every single time you went hiking. It's a fact that most don't because I live right outside GSMNP and I see dog crap all over the place. The piles are around all the time and right next to the cigarette butts. It is completely reasonable for this rule to be in place. When I use the Gatlinburg trail I constantly see dogs off-leash. This rule is because of irresponsible dog ownership. Educate your neighbors, friends, and every single dog owner you know about what they SHOULD be doing. It's the only way to keep dog friendly trails, and parks alive.

  • Kayla
    More than a year ago
    Mixed feelings

    Okay, my family and I vacationed in Gatlinburg June 2012 with our corgi. I was so looking forward to hiking with Watson ( corgi) and was really disappointed to discover the severe dog restrictions in SMNP. We have hiked trails all over SC and NC without any interference from or destruction to wildlife. I understand black bear are more wide spread up here, but I am not sure I buy that they commonly stalk people with dogs more so in Tennessee than north Carolina. I personally heard from a local that several park rangers told him the main reason dogs aren't allowed on many trails is that anytime Fido gets lost the rangers have to drop everything to go search for them....saying all this my husband and I took Watson on the gatlinburg trail and were less than impressed. There was a great deal of poison oak inmany sections of the trail, so we had to stick to it most of the time. It was nice to have the river run by the trail. However, if you are looking to take your dog hiking to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown you will be disappointed-the trail runs in between two major highways.So even if you can't see the roads at all times, you can hear traffic constantly. Overall I was very disappointed by the almost complete lack of outdoor activities available in this area for you to do with your dog.

  • Brent
    More than a year ago
    North Carolina is Better for Dogs

    Look, I love the GSMNP. It is one of my favorite places in the world, but it is not a great place to take your dog if you want to hike with your dog. They are not allowed on most trails, certainly not on a trail you would want to hike on. While I understand that this is for safety reasons, you can drive 45 minutes into NC and hike some beautiful mountain trails WITH your dog. There is no way that the same risks and predators are not present there that are in TN and yet, it doesn't seem to be a problem. If you want a vacation where you can hike some very scenic trails, go to the Ashville NC area and hike in The Land of a Thousand Waterfalls

  • George
    More than a year ago
    No place for fido

    Only two places you can walk your dog in the whole national park. GSM are NOT dog friendly. Stay home with fido.

  • Craig
    More than a year ago
    For YOUR DOG

    As your dog is not in the mountains to see scenic overlooks, or enjoy cascading falls for their looks either, this trail is fabulous for your pet and less so for you personally. Bring your dog here to enjoy running around in the woods, enjoy splashing in the river, and smelling all those crazy smells.. but don't expect that you personally are going to see something fantastic. Dog Rating? 5 bones. Human Rating? Maybe 2. But it wasn't for me, t was for her. I suggest others keep that in mind as well.

  • Abby
    More than a year ago
    Dog Approved

    While most people seem to complain about not having many trail choices within the park besides this one and one other for pets, they FAIL to note that it is for YOUR safety as well as YOUR PET. Great view or not, this trial is wonderful for dogs and since it is near the road, has to lowest chance for being confronted by a bear or anything else. Just remember one thing: there's always a chance something can happen, and the park does what it can to minimize that: They don't need the liability of a sue happy public going after them because their rules were not taken seriously, and someone gets mangled or killed.

  • James
    More than a year ago

    The few small trails might be dog friendly but don't get caught in the park trails or there's a huge fine. There are several dog parks in Knoxville that are great for letting your dog off leash as well as walking trails for long on leash walks.

  • Kelly
    More than a year ago
    Dogs NOT Welcome

    The two dumbest trails in the park are dog friendly because they run alongside the road and nobody wants to walk them. We've risked taking our dogs on other trails, but if we had been caught we'd have a $3000 fine which we've come to realize is not worth risking. Great National Park, but very much NOT pet friendly.

  • Ashley
    More than a year ago
    My Dog Loved It!

    While I was like many other people and very disappointed that I could only take my dog on 2 trails at the park, I realized that it is for his and my safety and I cannot fault them for that. We did the Gatlinburg Trail and my dog absolutely loved it. The many areas for us to wander a bit off of the path and down to the streams kept us busy for hours. I don't know what views I missed out on by not climbing the "better" trails, but I know we made some great memories by sharing that trail with our dog. I would like to go back and do the other trail someday.

  • Anderson
    More than a year ago
    hiking with dogs

    I wonder what people think when they see a sign that says (no Dogs) most of them think its stupid but I know dogs look very taisty to black bears and black bears will also attack dogs if they have cubs with them so when you see the signs dont think twice its not that they are aginst dogs its that it is not a good IDEA!

  • Larry
    More than a year ago

    The dog policies in place at the GSMNP have a lot more to do with safety then they do with your dogs. Black bears actively hunt small animals for food and you walking dogs in to the back country could put yourself in danger. It's easier to just keep the dogs off most of the trails then it is to make a list and decide what dogs can go and what cant. If you also look at other parks that allow dogs most trails are covered with dog waste from owners that wont clean-up after there pet.

    Granted there should be better info on the pet policies of the park before people vacation at GSMNP.

  • Peter
    More than a year ago

    Was really great!

  • Debbie
    More than a year ago
    Smokey Mt Park

    The few small trails might be dog friendly but don't get caught in the park trails or there's a huge fine. There are several dog parks in Knoxville that are great for letting your dog off leash as well as walking trails for long on leash walks.

  • Kelli
    More than a year ago

    We took our 2 german shepherds last year, and are going again this year. We really enjoyed the trails. It's a very dog friendly town. Can't wait to go back next week. Did the Gatlingburg trail last year, and it was beautiful. The boys loved the streams. We'll do the other one this year.

  • Steve
    More than a year ago
    nice shady trails

    The Great Smoky park only allows dogs on 2 of their many trails & they definetly are not the most scenic trails. One starts at the Sugarlands visitors center & the other starts at the Oconaluftee visitors center. They are shady & the Gatlinburg trail has areas where the dogs can play in the stream.

  • Brooke
    More than a year ago
    gatlinburg trail

    we walked on the 2 mile gatlinburg trail that goes from the city limits to sugarland visitors center. it was a great place for sofie- it was cool and shady with plenty of access to streams. she had a great time- we really enjoyed taking her to gatlinburg with us.

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