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The Great Smoky Mountains Of Tennessee Are Runner-Friendly

Posted by Leif Palmer in Things to Do

Not everybody is into running. You know – the kind of running you do when you're not being chased by a lunatic or a wild animal. But for those who enjoy the activity, running is more than just a form of recreation and exercise; it's a way of life.

So it's no surprise that folks who like to run manage to find ways to do it in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The scenery alone makes it worth it, and when the weather is pleasant, you just can't beat the experience. As a result, a lot of people travel to the Smokies every year simply to have the area as a backdrop for running.

If you're a runner from this area, you're probably already familiar with the opportunities available in the Smokies, but if you're not from around here and you're planning a trip to the Smokies some time in the next year, we can share some tips about ways to pursue your favorite pastime in the mountains. And when you plan that next running trip, don't forget to check back with us to book a Smoky Mountain cabin rental.

Just Running

If you're looking for places to simply get out and log some miles, your first stop needs to be Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the most popular destinations for runners is the Cades Cove loop, an 11-mile, one-way auto loop ensconced in one of the most scenic valleys in the area. The rolling pastures and majestic mountains are visually captivating, and you're likely to see plenty of wildlife, including deer, wild turkey and the occasional black bear.

Although the auto loop runs counterclockwise, we recommend running it clockwise, against the flow of traffic. It's safer that way, and it also gets the worst of the hills out of the way early. And yes, it's fairly rolling all the way through, but the paved road will be a familiar surface to your feet.

Many people also enjoy the challenge of trail running. Also within the national park, consider routes like the Ramsay Cascade Trail, the Deep Creek Trail, the Little River Trail and Old Settlers Trail. These range from easy to strenuous, offering not only a variety of elevation changes but also the added challenge of unpaved surfaces with rocks and tree roots. And depending on the time of year, you may have other hikers/walkers to dodge.

Road Races

You'll also find a number of fun road races on the calendar in different areas of the Smokies throughout the year. For example, just this past weekend, we had the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon, a point-to-point race that runs one-way from Maryville to Townsend, TN.

Coming up on December 11, look for the Santa Hustle Smokies 5k and Half Marathon in Sevierville. Starting and ending at Wilderness at the Smokies resort on Tennessee Hwy. 66, this annual event allows participants to dress up like Santa for their run, and all finishers receive medals, even those who finish the 5k. The route runs through downtown Sevierville, and the race includes holiday cookies, festive music and views of lots of Winterfest decorations.

Finally, the city of Pigeon Forge hosts its annual Midnight 8K Road Race every August. The route runs up and down the Parkway in town, and at that hour of the night, all the city's businesses are still lit up, providing a unique spectacle as a backdrop for a race.

Leif Palmer - Smokies blogger

About Leif Palmer

Leif Palmer loves residing in the Smoky Mountains. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.


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