Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, is a charming mountain town nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. With its scenic beauty, family-friendly attractions, and abundant outdoor activities, it’s no wonder Pigeon Forge is one of the top vacation destinations for families in the Southeast.
Located just 5 miles from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge provides access to some of the best hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic viewpoints in the region. And it’s not just about the Smokie. The city itself boasts exciting attractions like the Dollywood amusement park, thrilling ziplines, and entertaining dinner shows.
According to a survey by Pigeon Forge Fast Facts, there are over 10 million visitors  to Pigeon Forge every year. Moreover, the city’s blend of outdoor adventures and indoor fun makes it an ideal place for parents to bond with their children while enjoying quality time together.
Read on for some of the best family-friendly outdoor activities in Pigeon Forge:
Pigeon Forge is located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with over 800 miles of hiking trails. Families can choose from easy, kid-friendly trails like the Laurel Falls and Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail to more challenging trails like Rockytop, which is 3,800 feet high.
Also, do not forget to book comfortable accommodation. To make the most of your trip, renting a cabin in the mountains can be an ideal option. This way, after a long day of hiking, you can return to your cozy cabin, nestled amidst the serene surroundings of the mountains, and rejuvenate for the next day’s adventure. Small families can even stay in a 1 bedroom cabin in Pigeon Forge since it is a more affordable option. Just make sure to pack plenty of snacks, water, first aid supplies, and gear like binoculars and field guides when starting your hike and be prepared to enjoy scenic views of waterfalls, rivers, and wildlife along the way.
Floating down the Pigeon River in a tube is a popular outdoor activity in Pigeon Forge. Some parts of rivers can have Class I-II rapids, which are milder but still provide an exciting experience.
The calm sections are perfect for younger kids to relax and enjoy the natural scenery. Older kids can enjoy the thrilling Class I-II rapids that add some excitement. Note: The International Scale of River Difficulty classifies rapids from Class I (easiest) to Class VI (most dangerous).
Families have easy access to tubes, life jackets, and shuttle service for a few hours over the water. The cool river is a great way to beat the heat during the hot Tennessee summers. It’s an affordable and refreshing outdoor option for families.
The Pigeon River is stocked with brown and rainbow trout, making it an ideal fishing spot. Families can visit local bait and tackle shops to pick up equipment. You can then head to a peaceful spot along the riverbank to try your luck.
However, before you head off to fishing in the area, make sure to pack folding chairs, snacks, and sun protection for a great experience. Fishing teaches patience and concentration as you wait for a bite, so packing these things can be a lifesaver.
And when you finally feel that tug on the line, it will be exciting! The reward of reeling in a fish makes for lasting memories.
Horseback riding through the Smoky Mountains is a unique way to take in the scenery. Some local stables in the area offer guided trail rides for all skill levels. Little kids can enjoy short pony rides, while older kids and parents can do hour-long mountain trail rides.
However, to ensure safety, it is important to wear the appropriate clothing. Riders should wear jeans, closed-toe shoes, and other gear the stable recommends. Bond with your horse as you wander through shady forests and mountain meadows. Horseback riding provides a new perspective on the natural beauty.
For an adventurous family activity, go whitewater rafting down the Pigeon River. Young kids can do “lite” floats while teens can tackle the Class III-IV rapids.
A whitewater rafting trip takes you through dramatic river gorges surrounded by stunning scenery that you will be thrilled to experience with the whole family.
The Pigeon Forge Gem Mine allows families to mine for gems, fossils, and geodes. This is a unique and cool activity for kids where they will enjoy picking out a mining bucket and sifting through the dirt and gravel.
A sluice system separates out stones and minerals, which are then identified by on-site gemologists. Families can uncover treasures like quartz, rubies, and sapphires. Kids love the thrill of not knowing what gem they’ll find next. It’s an educational outdoor activity with sparkling souvenirs to take home.
Grab your binoculars, and head out early to spot over 200 species of Smoky Mountain birds. You can listen to the songs of warblers, chickadees, and thrushes and watch for bright tanagers, goldfinches, and hummingbirds fluttering through the trees. Woodpeckers may be drumming on tree trunks as well. And make sure to look up to see if you can spot majestic bald eagles. Birdwatching will also keep kids engaged as you explore the forests and meadows.
There are various family campgrounds in and around Pigeon Forge where families can pitch a tent under the stars. The whole family can sit around a campfire making s’mores or go on a night hike to spot fireflies. Additionally, you can wake up early to watch the sunrise.
Camping immerses families in nature and builds memories. Kids will love cooking over the fire and sleeping in tents. It is a unique way to explore the outdoors and bond. Just be prepared with camping gear and follow park rules about fires and wildlife.
With the Great Smoky Mountains as its backdrop, Pigeon Forge offers families endless opportunities to embrace the outdoors. From thrilling whitewater rafting excursions to leisurely fishing trips, there are activities suited for all ages and interests.
The various trails, rivers, lakes, and forests surrounding Pigeon Forge make it easy to plan an itinerary filled with outdoor adventures. After working up an appetite, the charming mountain town boasts restaurants, sweet shops, and ice cream parlors to refuel the whole family. Hence, for an unforgettable outdoor vacation that your kids will talk about for years, look no further than Pigeon Forge.