The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the ultimate riding destinations east of the Mississippi River. The scenery and wildlife are unbelievable. There are approximately 250 miles of trails in this area.
Trails are well-marked; maps are available from the National Park Service. Trails are available for all riders, from the novice to the most advanced. The park has campsites that can be used for extended overnight pack trips.
Along with the normal eastern forest wildlife, approximately 1,600 black bear inhabit the park and are quite visible on the trails. The bears will normally ignore trail riders if you give them plenty of room. They offer great photographic opportunities.
New Horse Camp
Let me tell you about the new horse camp in the Smokies: Orchard Cove Stables in Townsend, Tennessee. It's operated by Heather, Ed, and Freda Webb.
Orchard Grove is a new facility with all the amenities you could ask for: 28 stalls, 15 campsites with water and electricity, and a bathhouse convenient to all campsites. Pull-through and back-in sites are available to accommodate a rig of any size.
All the facilities are new and well-organized. A 90-by-200-foot covered riding arena is also available. The stalls have rubber mats on concrete; water faucets are numerous and close to all stalls. The barn is large, with plenty of room to tack up.
Orchard Cove hosts clinics and training sessions in the arena. The camp is located at the end of a dead-end road, right against the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This location gives you privacy and a true camping experience, while only a few miles from town.
Area activities include tubing the river in the summer, Gatlinburg's sites and old town shops, and the attractions and outlet malls of Pigeon Forge.
'Hooked on the Area'
With 15 years' experience riding in the mountains, I enjoy riding with people who feel a little uneasy about riding out on their own, especially their first trip. Some of the more adventurous riders have gone with me on overnight pack trips, which are something a lot of people never experience. Most riders are hooked on this area after several days of riding, and return again and again.
So, as you look for new places to ride, give Orchard Cove Stables and the Smokies a try. You'll never regret it!
For more information, call (423) 400-6667, or visit www.orchardcovestables.com.