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Get back to nature and away from the crowds with a horseback ride through the forest. Guided horseback rides are offered by one park concessionaire stable at Smokemont near Cherokee. Rides are at a walking pace, so they are suitable for even inexperienced riders.
Another option is to bring your own horse. Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best places to ride in the Southeast. There are five horse camps in the Smokies, three on the North Carolina side and two in Tennessee. About 550 miles of the park's hiking trails are open to horses.
Smokemont Riding Stable. The emphasis here is on a family-friendly horseback riding experience, suitable even for novice riders. Choose either the 1-hour trail ride ($30) or a 2½-hour waterfall ride (usually departing daily at 9, noon, and 3, $75). There's also a four-hour ride for $120. Riders must be at least five years old and weigh no more than 225 pounds. Smokemont also offers wagon rides ($10). Check with the stable for dates and times. 135 Smokemont Riding Stable Rd., off US Hwy. 441 near MM 27.2, Cherokee, NC, 28719. 828/497–2373. www.smokemontridingstable.com. Late Mar.–early Nov. Closed mid-Nov.–early Mar.