Wears Valley Outdoor Scene: 6 Ways to Gear Up for Adventure
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, the Wears Valley outdoor scene offers families year-round recreation only found in these Tennessee mountains. The town prides itself on its remote location, however Wears Valley also serves as the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventure. Learn more about the best ways to explore the area:
Top 6 Wears Valley Outdoor Activities
Head Into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Wears Valley is located next to one of the top outdoor attractions in the state, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This park operates more than 520,000 acres spread across Tennessee and North Carolina and welcomes nearly 10 million visitors per year.
As part of the Wears Valley outdoor scene, families visiting the park can hike, bike, fish, picnic and attend special programs. Nature lovers will find more than 800 trails located throughout the park, ranging in difficulty levels and lengths. Many trails lead to waterfalls where guests enjoy taking pictures and spending time with the natural surroundings and loved ones.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park also houses many animal and plant species. The park protects an estimated 65 species of mammals, 200-plus bird varieties, 65-plus native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians. Perhaps the most popular are the black bears for which the Smokies are known, and visitors are encouraged to practice safety measures when in the park. Plant enthusiasts will find more than 1,600 species of flowering plants, including 200 native tree and shrub types.
Open early April through October, Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Pavilion sits at 1,700 feet and serves as a top gathering spot in the park. This area accommodates groups as large as 70 people, and offers a covered eating area as well as multiple grills. Guests will find everything they need including restrooms, drinking water and a parking area. While visiting, families can also go birding, hiking and wildlife-watching.
Let Cades Cove Take You Back in Time
Historic Cades Cove, also located in the park, dates back to before the early 1800s. The Cove ranks as one of the top spots to see wildlife in park, but also welcomes guests to learn about the settlers who once inhabited the area. In addition to biking, hiking and camping, visitors can tour historic buildings and learn about mountain culture. The Cades Cove loop is a one-way paved road the measures 11 miles, perfect for driving or biking. While exploring Cades Cove, keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, coyotes, elk and black bears.
Plan an Ober Gatlinburg Adventure
Enjoy four seasons of mountain fun at Ober Gatlinburg, one of the most popular ways to enjoy the Wears Valley outdoor scene. Located in nearby Gatlinburg, the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park features skiing in the winter, an aerial tramway, ski mountain coaster, an alpine slide and indoor ice skating. Warm-weather outdoor activities include the Amaze’n Maze, mini golf, chair swing and water raft rides. In addition, the whole family can get up-close with some of the Smoky Mountains’ animal residents, including bears, river otters and birds of prey.
Tube the Little River
Wears Valley is located less than eight miles from Townsend, TN, which offers some of the best river tubing in the area. Guests have access to tubing adventures on the Little River, with 18 miles located in the Great Smoky Mountains. Two companies offer top-rated tubing excursions where families can choose their experience.
For more than 20 years, River Rat has delighted guests of all ages. Their tubing package offers unlimited all-day tubing available for guests over 2 years of age, and children 2 to 5 always tube for free. Frequent visitors should check out the season-pass option, an affordable way to tube all season and save on merchandise. River Rage offers a tuber’s special, which includes all-day tubing plus dinner for less than $20 per guest. River Rage guests can also ride go-karts, shop for souvenirs and dine at the on-site restaurant.
Zip Through the Mountains
The Smoky Mountains serve as the main focal point of the Wears Valley outdoor scene, so why not zip your way through them? The Wears Valley Zipline Adventure company offers some of the longest and highest ziplines in the region. Guests will find two tours: original and super. The original tour has 3,200 feet of cable, including a 700-foot ‘rollercoaster’ section. The superline course has 5,700 feet of cable, including the 2,000-foot ‘crazytrain’ that’s 250-feet high. Visitors can try the courses individually or combine them for an unforgettable zipline experience.
Take a Horseback Ride
Those looking for a more calm activity can book a horseback-riding adventure. Several companies offer guided and unguided tours, carriage and hayrides, and boarding facilities. Yes, you can rent a horse and ride it into the national park. Two popular horseback-riding options include Waldens Creek Stables in Sevierville and Next to Heaven in Townsend. At Waldens Creek, visitors can take tours and also enjoy live Wild West shows, wagon rides, fishing, and other fun activities. Next to Heaven offers one-hour unguided tours, ziplining and a a general store, perfect for souvenir shopping.
Ready to plan your vacation? Check out our Wears Valley family-friendly rentals.