Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bike Rental and Equestrian Winter Schedule for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to bike, camp, hike and go horseback riding in during the winter but be advised that not all facilities will be open or are on a limited schedule.

My favorite month to enjoy the national park is May, but I love the peace and solitude of hiking in the park in the winter. Although some of the wildlife you will see in the spring, summer and fall such as bear is almost impossible to see in the winter, you will have greater visibility in the woods and less of the Smokies natural haze that surrounds the mountains which can make for spectacular views.

Biking in Cades Cove is popular year round and bikes can be rented in the Cades Cove campground store. The Cades Cove campgrounds store will close for the winter starting November 6th. Unfortunately there are no other facilities in the park which rent bikes so if you wish to bike the Cades Cove loop in the next few months you will have to bring your own bicycles. The vending machines outside the store will remain stocked and in service throughout the winter.

Renting and riding horses in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a vacation highlight for many of those who visit the park, but the stable where you can rent the horses close for the winter.

The Smokemont Riding Stable is already closed and on November 6th the Cades Cove Riding Stables will close for the season. Horse can still be rented in both the Sugarlands Horseback Riding Stables and the Smoky Mountain Riding Stables until November 27th.

If you are planning to bring your own horse and camp in the park, do so before November 13th as all five of the camp ground that accept horses Big Creek, Tow String, Round Bottom, Cataloochee, and Anthony Creek will be closed by then.

If you plan on riding the trails, be sure to check with the ranger station before doing so as some of the trails are still impacted by last months wind storm and although these trails are safe for hiking, they are still dangerous for horseback riders.

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