How to Spend The Day with Big Dogs in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Posted by Kim Bexar on

We chose to visit Gatlinburg for several reasons, but mainly because it was big dog friendly.  None of us had ever visited there, much less been there for peak leaf changing weekend.  After having been there for the peak leaf changing weekend, which was total luck on our part, I don’t know if I could ever go back during a different season.  I kept saying “wow”, and “this is so pretty”, over and over again! But, I wasn’t the only one, the entire family kept repeating phrases that let me know they were amazed by the beauty of the landscape as well.  We obviously weren’t in Texas anymore. 

Our go-to Vacation Rental place for our big dogs is a nice little company called Turnkey Vacation Rentals, which I think might now be called Vacasa.  I would check on both of their websites, but we liked Turnkey because if a property said it was pet friendly, then it didn’t matter what the pet was or how many pets you brought.  This has been a huge help for us as we travel with three German Shepherds, which each weigh over 50lbs.  Here is a view from our balcony!
German Shepherd Dog sitting in chair on balcony that overlooks the Great Smokey Mountains.

We did not know this before getting there, but most of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is to be enjoyed from your car.  Yes, there are hiking trails, but the majority of the park is driving.  There are two official trails that dogs can hike and they are the Oconaluftee River Trail and the Gatlinburg Trail.  We chose to do the Gatlinburg Trail with the dogs because it was a more convenient location for us.  There is a great parking lot at the trailhead or you can park along the street, like what we did.  After walking a short distance on the trail, you’ll spot an opening towards the main road and an official National Park Sign.  This is the perfect spot to stop for your official park picture with the pups.  We also enjoyed that this trail followed the river and had a bridge crossing as well.  The dog trail exceeded my expectations and I was very happy with our experience and pictures we were able to get while on the trail.


Another memorable place we visited with our dogs was the SkyLift Park.  We were so excited to find out that our dogs could ride the ski lifts up to the park, cross the swaying glass bridge and enjoy a good time exploring the park! 

German Shepherd dog on glass sky bridge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.German Shepherd Dog and owner riding ski lift together at SkyLift in Gatlinburg, TN.

Just up the road in Sevierville, is a charming place called The Apple Barn.  We visited there with our dogs and it was not during their peak harvest season.  We still had a lovely time and were treated well.  The dogs enjoyed the patio while we ate breakfast, then we took turns watching the dogs while the humans went into the different stores.  If you’re interested in going into the general store, candy shop, or ice cream parlor, make sure you have someone else with you to watch your dogs, because they are not allowed inside buildings.

Apple Barn Restaurant Patio 

These were the main things we did with our dogs during the short time we were in the Gatlinburg, but there are so many other places to visit with your pup and add to your itinerary. Aside from patios and breweries, some things we thought sounded cool to do with our dogs that we did not have time for were Parrot Mountain, The Island at Pigeon Forge, and the Gatlinburg Village shops.  

Next time you're in Gatlinburg and visit these places, be sure to tag us on Instagram (@bexarpacksupply) in your pictures!  Want to dress like our pups?  Check out the bandanas that sell here!

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