Horseback Riding in the Smoky Mountains

Saddle Up & Discover the Best Places to Ride a Horse in the Smoky Mountains

Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most breathtaking experiences in the United States. The area has a host of wildlife and picturesque mountain scenery. If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to take it all in, horseback riding can accommodate. In fact, you’ll find several horseback riding options in the Smoky Mountains.

You could search “places to ride horses near me in the Smoky Mountains” or you could just check out our guide below to help you plan an adventure in the saddle…

Best Horseback Riding in the Smoky Mountains
photo by Facebook user Zsak V

Horseback Riding in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Exploring the Smoky Mountains on horseback offers a unique perspective of the park’s scenic beauty. From mid-March through late November, visitors can engage in guided horseback rides at three concession riding stables in the park.

These rides traverse scenic trails throughout the park and range from 45 minutes to several hours.

Cades Cove Riding Stables

Townsend, TN

Cades Cove Riding Stables offers visitors a unique way to experience the natural beauty and historical significance of Cades Cove, one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Located near Townsend, Tennessee, the stables provide a variety of horse-related activities, making it a must-visit for those looking to explore the area in an immersive way.

Horseback Riding Tours

The main attraction at Cades Cove Riding Stables is the guided horseback riding tours. These tours take visitors on scenic routes through Cades Cove, allowing for up-close views of the valley’s wildlife, lush forests, and historic buildings.

The rides vary in duration, catering to both beginners and more experienced riders. Before setting off, riders are given safety instructions and matched with a horse that suits their skill level.

We went on a Saturday afternoon and had quite a long wait. But watching all the horses made the time go faster. It was organized and well run. It was such a beautiful trail ride, seeing the parts of Cades Cove that you can’t see from the road.

– Sherri B. via TripAdvisor


For those who prefer a more leisurely pace or a group activity, the stables offer hayrides around the Cades Cove Loop Road. These 1.5 to 2-hour rides are conducted on a bed of hay in a trailer pulled by a truck, providing an open-air experience of the cove’s picturesque landscapes and historic sites.

Hayrides are especially popular during the fall when the foliage transforms the cove into a palette of vibrant colors.

Carriage Rides

The stables also feature carriage rides, offering a romantic or family-friendly option for experiencing the serene beauty of Cades Cove.

Lasting about 20-30 minutes, these rides showcase the tranquil environment and provide opportunities for wildlife sightings, all from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage.

horseback riding fall things to do smoky mountains tennessee

Smokemont Riding Stables

Cherokee, NC

Smokemont Riding Stables, nestled near Cherokee, North Carolina, presents a unique opportunity to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on horseback. This stable is known for its guided horseback tours, wagon rides, and a commitment to offering visitors a deep connection with the natural wonders of the Smokies.

Horseback Riding Tours

The core offering of Smokemont Riding Stables is its guided horseback rides, which lead guests through the lush forests, rolling hills, and tranquil streams of the Smoky Mountains.

These tours vary in length and are designed to accommodate riders of all experience levels, from complete beginners to advanced riders. Before embarking, participants receive thorough instructions on horseback riding basics and safety, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Wagon Rides

In addition to horseback tours, Smokemont Riding Stables offers unique wagon rides. This experience allows families, groups, and those who may not be up for horseback riding to still enjoy the scenic beauty of the park.

Pulled by a team of horses, these wagon rides traverse through picturesque trails, offering a relaxed way to appreciate the serenity and natural beauty of the area.

Sugarlands Riding Stables - Gatlinburg, Tennessee - Horseback Riding
Sugarlands Riding Stables | photo via @kristinaltman

Sugarlands Riding Stables

Gatlinburg, TN

Sugarlands Riding Stables, situated near the vibrant town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, serves as a gateway to the stunning landscapes of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Note: Even though their website may suggest otherwise, the stables remain open and continue to offer rides as of March 2024.

Horseback Riding Tours

At the heart of Sugarlands Riding Stables are the guided horseback tours, which meander through dense forests, past sparkling streams, and along picturesque trails within the national park. These tours vary in duration, allowing guests to choose the experience that best fits their schedule and comfort level.

All rides are led by knowledgeable guides who share insights about the local flora, fauna, and history, enriching the journey through this majestic landscape.

Best way to see the park in my opinion. Up and down mountains, over streams, quiet. Went with my 12 year old daughter and we both felt comfortable on our gentle horses. Everyone was friendly and helpful especially getting on and off the horse. The staff takes pictures that you can buy and get airdropped onto your phone which is great because you can’t take pictures while riding a horse! We went early, 9, when it’s cooler and didn’t have to wait. We’ll be back!

Bridget M. via TripAdvisor

Understanding that guests come with different levels of horseback riding proficiency, Sugarlands Riding Stables tailors its tours to accommodate everyone. The stables strive to match each rider with a horse that suits their ability and personality, making the adventure comfortable and enjoyable.

map of horseback riding locations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Bring Your Own Horse to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you prefer to ride your own horse in the Smoky Mountains, be prepared. The park’s backcountry is a natural area with potential obstacles like swollen streams and downed trees, especially from early December until May.

About 550 miles of trails are open to horses, but they’re limited to those specifically designated for horse use. Horse riders must adhere to the park’s rules and regulations, available on the park’s trail map.

NOTE: Off-trail or cross-country riding is prohibited to preserve the park’s natural beauty and ecosystem.

Horse camps are available for those wishing to explore more extensively, with five drive-in horse camps providing access to backcountry trails from April through October.

These camps are located at Cades Cove (Anthony Creek), Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Towstring. Some backcountry campsites require reservations as indicated on the park’s trail map.

GoldRush Stables and Heritage Carriage Rides - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee - Horseback Riding
GoldRush Stables and Heritage Carriage Rides | photo via GoldRush Stables

Additional Smoky Mountains Horseback Riding Opportunities

Although it’s one of the most popular spots, horseback riding in the national park isn’t the only option. There are several horseback riding options in the Smokies.

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa

Pigeon Forge, TN

Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa is another premier Smoky Mountains riding stables, and it’s just north of Gatlinburg. It offers several Smokies horseback riding experience options seven days a week as long as the weather is favorable.

The 3.5-mile tour gives you a glimpse into the experience that the early settlers had when they crossed the mountains and valleys on horseback for the first time about 200 years ago.

Along with a variety of one-hour guided tour packages for different prices, Big Rock Dude Ranch offers 30-minute ATV rides. A combo package lets you ride the horses and ATVs.

On top of that, the Smokies ranch has many other amenities and activities: Chow Boys Cafe, picnic areas, gem mining, a petting zoo, a fishing pond, a general store, the Heritage Museum, and horseshoe pits.

Gold Rush Stables and Heritage Carriage Rides

Pigeon Forge, TN

With Gold Rush Stables and Heritage Carriage Rides, you can take a one-hour tour on a 2.5-mile trail in the Pigeon Forge area.

Located near the famous Dollywood theme park, the riding stables use a total of five trails to accommodate all riding experience levels. Because of its location, none of the trails have extreme terrain.

Five Oaks Riding Stables

Sevierville, TN

Five Oaks Riding Stables is part of Adventure Park at Five Oaks, which offers an array of activities. Its one-hour horseback riding package takes you on a 3.5-mile trail that features mountain views, streams, and a moonshine still.

Also, it’s one of the only riding stables that permits tandem riding for a child and adult. If you want more adventure, the park offers zip lining, go-kart racing, laser tag, and more. You can even buy combination passes to do it all and save.

We went to celebrate my partner’s 50th birthday. She loves horses and hasn’t been on one since her early adulthood. Her horse’s name was Otis and was very gentle with her. Mine was named Patches and was just as gentle. The staff were GREAT and accommodating in sizing us up to the horse we needed.

– Wanda F via TripAdvisor

Jayell Ranch

Sevierville, TN

At Jayell Ranch, you get to ride a horse through more than 260 acres of beautiful trees with fantastic views of the Smoky Mountains.

Despite having some of the lowest prices, the 4-mile trail ride takes you through historic areas for about one hour. In addition, the ranch offers zip lining, ATV rides, and extreme mountain tubing.

We did horseback riding here and it was SO fun and beautiful. The entire ranch is so fun and a lot to do here. Lloyd gave us instructions on how to handle our horses and was so nice, helpful and funny before we started our rides. Tasha was our guide and did a great job making everyone comfortable and leading us. The horses were all so beautiful and well trained and it was so fun to ride them around the trails! Highly recommend even if you’ve never rode a horse!

– Mikayla via TripAdvisor

Deer Farm Riding Stables

Sevierville, TN

Like Five Oaks, Deer Farm Riding Stables is one of the few that offers tandem riding for children and parents. As long as you comfortably fit in the saddle with a child and don’t exceed the 250-pound weight limit, doubling up is permitted.

It’s also one of the few places that allow backpacks during the rides. Children who aren’t ready to ride full-grown horses can enjoy pony rides. There’s a petting zoo on the property as well.

Davy Crockett Riding Stables

Townsend, TN

At Davy Crockett Riding Stables, you get guided trail rides with an equestrian professional. The rides vary in length from 30 minutes to half a day, so the prices vary as well.

The shorter rides are perfect for anyone who has no experience riding horses but wants to see the beautiful mountains.

We were on our way out of Tennessee back to Michigan when I called here and booked for same-day riding. I don’t know anywhere else you can do that! She fit us in perfectly They’re all true gems and so nice! Very informative as well! The ride was great, I just wish I could’ve gone longer. I 1000/10 recommend this family-owned business.

– Tara G. via TripAdvisor

Cataloochee Guest Ranch

Maggie Valley, NC

Available by reservation only, horseback riding at Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley, NC, promises to be an incredible adventure.

Offering full- or half-day group rides or private rides through the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Cataloochee offers hospitality a mile high!

Davy Crockett Riding Stables - Townsend, Tennessee - Horseback Riding
Davy Crockett Riding Stables | photo via Davy Crockett Riding Stables

Saddle Up & Enjoy the Smokies

Whether you’re an experienced equestrian or a first-time rider, horseback riding in the Smoky Mountains is an unforgettable way to experience the breathtaking landscapes and serenity of this popular park.

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