Itinerary Feedback-- Smoky Mtns. Bryson City

Old Jun 29th, 2021, 05:15 PM
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Itinerary Feedback-- Smoky Mtns. Bryson City

Hi all,
My family will be in the Smokies for the first time this summer! We are a family of four, with two 10 year-olds. We are also meeting up with two other adults. We're all in decent casual hiking shape. Would love some feedback on our plans, especially ways to combine activities in ways that make sense. I don't have a great idea of timing! We're staying at a cabin about 10 minutes outside of Bryson City on the way to Cherokee. Since the drive from Philly is super long, we are not looking to have a lot of long driving days unless something is highly recommended. Trying to balance hikes with other activities that the kids will enjoy. Open to any ideas and recommendations! I really appreciate this. We will be in the area from Thursday afternoon to the following Friday afternoon-- so seven full days, but open to leaving a day to hang out, circle back on something we loved.1. Bryson City
  • · Island Park (worth walking around?)
  • · Book Stores—O’Neils Shop on the Corner; Friends of the Library Used Books
  • · Food/Drinks—Nantahala Brewing (Bring Pizza from Anthony’s), Soda Pop’s Ice Cream Place,
  • · Darnell’s Farm—Pass by
2. Hike and Tube: Deep Creek
  • · Three waterfall hikes
  • · Tubing (after hiking, but pick up tubes in the morning on the way in)
3. Hike: Road to Nowhere Hike
  • · Goldmine Loop (about 3 miles—to edge of Fontana); Is this hike interesting?
  • · Lunch—Pizza by the River?
4. Fontana Lake
  • · Dam Visit
  • · What else to do on this day?
  • · Combine with Road to Nowhere?
5. Nantahala Outdoor Center
  • · Whitewater Rafting-- Recommend Wildwaters or NOC? or Another?
  • · Zipline (adults)
  • · Lunch at Rivers Edge
6. Cherokee
  • · Indian Village and Museum
  • · Unto These Hills
  • · Bonfire
  • · Oconaluftee Islands Park
7. Oconaluftee Visitor Center
  • · Oconaluftee Trail
  • · Elk Viewing
8. Horseback Riding
  • · Smokemont Riding Stables
  • · Unless I can find a private tour of some kind? I would love to find a tour that combined a cool hike and a ride—willing to pay for a private tour
9. Hike: Clingman’s Dome
  • · Add on Andrew’s Bald if there is enough energy
  • · Need to do this first thing in the morning for parking
10. Drive into Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge
  • · What to do for a few hours
  • · Not interested in Dollywood but would enjoy a ride or two
  • · This would be our non-outdoorsy day—We’ve already been to Asheville, looking to explore Tennessee
maureenmaier3190 is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2021, 02:28 AM
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You might like to fish in the Cherokee Reservation--fly fishing or just rod and reel. They stock the streams although it is still called "fishing" not "catching". There is at least one fly shop there that might rent equipment alhough you could buy enough at the local Walmart for less probably.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2021, 06:58 AM
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Any other suggestions or advice on itinerary? Best day of the week to do activities to minimize crowds?

Recommendations on Cherokee Indian Village vs. Museum?
maureenmaier3190 is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2021, 07:08 AM
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My meemory of the sites is that they are small and you can probably do both.
One other thing about fishing. There is a hatchery there where you really CAN catch--if you are staying somewhere you can cook you kids might really like to fish for their dinner. You pay by the pound and they provide the rod and bait. And will clean it for you. It can be pretty exciing for a 10 year old to have a trout on the line! Be aware you are not allowed to "unhook" a fish so if you catch it it is yours to pay for!!
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Old Jul 12th, 2021, 07:27 AM
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I'll just add some options. Cades Cove is an interesting area in the park--a lot of historical buildings to explore and we've had a couple of black bear sightings. Wednesdays through September 1 are auto-free days so that people can walk or cycle through the area. This is a popular area so best to go during the week and earlier in the day. You could couple this with a trip into Gatlinburg. There can be a lot of traffic in the city, so be prepared.

Another option is Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. A lot of winding roads with beautiful outlooks and trails. This is also near Gatlinburg.

Best shopping in Gatlinburg: The Village Shops

Good restaurant in Pigeon Forge: Local Goat

Have a fun trip!

sunbabe is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2021, 12:17 PM
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Thanks, everyone! We had a great trip and wanted to share back that this group was helpful and the forum was great for ideas.

We went to Clingman's Dome, Ocanaluftee Trail, Andrew's Bald, and Alum Cave for our primary hikes. Alum Cave was by far our favorite (and most crowded). I will say, compared to other parks, signage along the way on hikes is a bit lacking, but added to the adventure!
We also went rafting and ziplining, and went with Wildwater as our guides. I'd probably check out another company if we did it again, because our guides weren't the most engaging. I think for rafting it would be fairly similar, but we didn't love Wildwater's zipline course.
We went tubing twice with Cherokee River Tubing, and the kids had a blast (thus, twice!)
We also went to the Cherokee Museum and learned a lot about the history. Highly recommend.
We were surprised that most of the shops in Bryson City (and restaurants) shut down early, and walking around in the afternoon was super hot. Not that impressed by the food scene overall-- but went to Bryson City Outdoors for beer/food truck twice and that was lovely!
We also ate at River's Edge at the NOC, and really enjoyed that meal.
Our bus driver for the tubing trip gave us two Cherokee tips-- The Mini Donut Place (yes, that was it's name), and Sassy Sunflowers-- both highly recommended for tasty and fresh options!

Overall, a great first experience in the Smokies!
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