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North Carolina State Parks

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North Carolina
Mountains - Western Region
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Cataloochee Elk © Jim Oakley
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Big Creek © Jim Oakley
View on the way to Mouse Creek Falls
Ridge upon ridge of endless forest straddle the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern United States. World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, and the depth and integrity of its wilderness sanctuary, the park attracts over nine million visitors each year. Once a part of the Cherokee homeland, the Smokies today are a hiker's paradise with over 800 miles of trails.
For a great outdoors experience, visit Smoky Mountains National Park. Besides the awesome panorama of scenic wonders, there are a wide variety of activities available within the park?s boundaries for both adults...more
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,115 miles of streams within its boundaries, and protects one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. The park offers a wide variety of angling experiences from remote, headwater trout streams to large, coolwater smallmouth bass streams. Most streams remain at or near their carrying capacity of fish and offer a great opportunity to catch these species throughout the year.

Fishing is permitted year-round in the park, from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset. The park allows fishing in most streams. Certain posted streams are closed to fishing, to protect threatened fishes. Detailed information, including a complete list of regulations and a map of fishable park waters, is available at any visitor center or ranger station.

You must possess a valid fishing license or permit from either Tennessee or North Carolina. Either state license is valid throughout the park and no trout stamp is required. Fishing licenses and permits are not available in the park, but may be purchased in nearby towns. Special permits are required for fishing in Gatlinburg and Cherokee.

Tennessee License RequirementsResidents and nonresidents age 13 and older must have a valid license. Residents age 65 and older may obtain a special license from the state.

North Carolina License RequirementsResidents and nonresidents age 16 and older need a license. Residents age 70 and older may obtain a special license from the state.

Persons under 16 in North Carolina and under 13 in Tennessee are entitled to the adult daily bag and possession limits and are subject to all other regulations.

Picnic areas are located at Big Creek, Chimney Tops, Cades Cove, Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Heintooga, Look Rock, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks.

The picnic areas at Cades Cove, Chimney Tops, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms remain open year-round. The remaining picnic areas are closed during the winter.

All picnic areas have pavilions except Chimneys and Cades Cove. The picnic pavilions at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks can be reserved for groups up to five months in advance by calling 1-800-365-2267.

All pavilions except Twin Creeks cost $20 per use. Twin Creeks' fee ranges from $35-75 depending on the usage. Payment can be made by credit card or personal check at the time the reservation is made.

Please remember that feeding bears and other wildlife is illegal. The black bear symbolizes the invaluable wilderness qualities of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But bears are dying unnecessarily due to improper disposal of garbage or illegal feeding by visitors. A bear?s remarkable sense of smell may lead it to human foods, such as a picnicker?s cooler, garbage left in the open, or food scraps thrown on the ground or left in the grill. A bear that has discovered human food or garbage will eventually become day-active and leave the safety of the backcountry. It may panhandle along roadsides and be killed by a car or it may injure a visitor and have to be euthanized. Please do your part to help protect black bears and other wildlife in the Great Smokies. Clean your picnic area, including the grill and the ground around the table, thoroughly after your meal. Thank you.

More than 850 miles of hiking trails traverse the Great Smoky Mountains. They range from easy to difficult and provide half hour walks to week-long backpacking trips. The Appalachian Trail runs for 70 miles along the Park's top ridge. Pets are not allowed on any trails except for the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Backcountry camping requires a permit.

Safety is important to consider when exploring the backcountry. Here are a few basics to help you get started:

* Let someone know your route and return time. * Always hike with another person. * Carry a current park trail map. * Carry 2 small flashlights or headlamps. * Take adequate water - minimum 2 quarts per person per day. * All water taken from the backcountry should be treated. * Wear shoes or boots that provide good ankle support. * Carry a small first aid kit. * Check the current weather forecast and be prepared for quickly changing conditions.

With so many options, the Smokies offer a tremendous number of hiking opportunities. Mentioned below are a few of the most popular destinations:

Alum Cave Trail. This is a 4.4 mile roundtrip hike, rated moderate. It includes Arch Rock, a natural arch, Inspiration Point, and the Alum Cave Bluff. Inspiration Point offers a spectacular view of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River's upper basin. The trail continues to Mt. Le Conte, and its beautiful viewpoints. Roundtrip distance from the parking to Le Conte is 10 miles. This trail can be icy in winter.

Andrews Bald. A 3.6 mile roundtrip hike, rated moderate. This hike heads downslope to a bald. Excellent views open to the south, toward Fontana Lake, and in early summer the azaleas explode with color. The trail head is located at the end of Clingmans Dome Road, which is closed from December through March.

Charlies Bunion. This 8-mile roundtrip hike is rated strenuous. Following the Appalachian Trail, this hike goes out to rocky crags along the state-line ridge. It has excellent views. This trail can be icy in winter.

These are only a few suggestions. To order more information or buy a hiking map please visit the Great Smoky Mountains Association's Bookstore.

For those who are interested in completing all of the more than 150 hiking trails in the Smokies, you can now become a member of the 900 miler club.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
April 11 great smokey mountains by ayden reynolds
i loved hiking at great smokey mountain and i lost about 5 pounds hiking!!!!!!!! best ever
August 22 Best of Western NC
Awesome, breath taking views! Fall and Spring are the best times to be in WNC. Winter is great too, if you have a fireplace and someone to snuggle up with.
September 2 one of my faveorite parks

Area Campgrounds
Great Smokey Mountain RV Camping Resort
17 Old Soco Road
Whittier, NC
Holly Cove RV Resort
341 Holly Cove Road
Whittier, NC
Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground
1090 West Deep Creek Road
Bryson City, NC
Ela Campground
5100 Ela Road
Bryson City, NC
Hide Away Campground
525 Shuler Road
Bryson City, NC
Cherokee/Great Smokies KOA Resort Campground
92 KOA Campground Road
Cherokee, NC
Flaming Arrow Campground
US Highway 441 South
Cherokee, NC
Indian Creek Campground
1367 Bunches Creek Road
Cherokee, NC
Yogi in the Smokies
317 Galamore Bridge Road
Cherokee, NC
Area Fishing Related Businesses
Smoky Mountain Angler The
466 Brookside Village Way
Gatlinburg, TN
(865) 436-8746

North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks