Pet Friendly Trails
It is difficult to find pet friendly trails in the Smoky Mountains, but we are here to help you and your furry friends make the most out of your visit. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed on the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This is due to conservation concerns for the flora and fauna in the park, along with safety concerns for your pets and other visitors. However, there are still many great ways to enjoy the outdoors and other amenities of the area with your pets!
You can still explore the great outdoors with your pets, even if they can’t enter the park. Pets are allowed in the camping, picnic, and parking areas along the road entrances. Locations like Deep Creek Campground are wonderful to visit. Stroll through the shady campsites and along the sidewalks, watch tubers float by, and allow you pet to splash along the edges of the creek.
My favorite dog friendly trail is the Oconaluftee River Trail. The path starts at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and entrance to the Mountain Farm Museum. This open-air museum allows visitors a glimpse of early farm life in the Great Smoky Mountains and is a destination worth visiting all on its own. Visit our page on the Mountain Farm Museum to learn more about this location. The trail follows the river behind this recreated homestead and on through the forest. In total it is around 1.5 miles in length so you will enjoy a 3 mile round trip. The path is mostly covered with small gravel and is an easy rated trail. Spring offers a lovely display of wildflowers including the Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s beloved Trillium flowers. Throughout the year this is also an excellent trail for elk viewing as they are known to often visit the open fields along the trail and near the museum.
Fontana Lake should absolutely be on your list of activities when you are visiting Bryson City or Cherokee North Carolina. This pristine lake is best enjoyed by renting a pontoon, packing a picnic, and spending the day out on the water. All of the marina’s offer boat rentals and each have dog friendly options. Renting a stand up paddle board (SUP) or kayak on Finger Lake, a portion of Fontana closed off to motor watercraft traffic, and allowing your pet to ride along with you is another fun option.
Island Park Cherokee is also great to enjoy with your pet. It offers picnic spots, concrete walking paths, and shallow areas for pets and people to enjoy splashing in the Oconaluftee River. On a warm summer day you will see lots of locals and visitors alike cooling down in the refreshing water. Bryson City Island Park is another excellent spot to visit. Several paths meander through the small island surrounded by the Tuckasegee River. Pack a picnic and enjoy watching kayakers and fly fishermen work their way down the river. This park has the added benefit of being located right in downtown Bryson City so you are within walking distance to several pet friendly establishments in town.
Pet Friendly Drinks and Dining
Downtown Bryson City, NC has quite a few restaurants that feature outdoor, pet friendly seating. Anthony’s, Mountain Perks, Nick and Nates, High Test Deli, and the Charleston Food Wagon are a few options available to you. Our breweries also include pet friendly seating. Both Mountain Layers and Nantahala Brewing have outdoor seating open to dogs. Bryson City Outdoors is by far the most welcoming to pets, allowing them on their spacious outdoor patio as well as indoors. Great gear and beers on tap and there are always dogs at the store! Bryson City Outdoors and Mountain Layers usually have a food truck parked outside most nights during the warmer months so they are also great locations for dining with your pets. We hope you and your pets have a great time exploring this beautiful area. Be sure to check-out further details and a list of pet-friendly dining options in Bryson City on our Pet Friendly Webpage.