If you're like most fitness fans, you're always eager to get in some exercise, even when you're away on vacation. Fortunately, the Tennessee Smokies offer countless fun-filled ways to work muscles, build strength, and burn calories. All in the great outdoors, amid breathtaking mountain scenery.
This September, the town of Townsend, Tennessee, will host two exciting races:
• Great Smoky Mountains 5K (timed) / Fun Run (untimed), an exhilarating run along the Townsend Historical Trail, beginning 6:30 p.m. sharp on September 7
• Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon, a 13.1-mile run that climbs 727 feet through beautiful mountain woodlands, starting 7 a.m. sharp on September 8
Runners who finish either race – or both – will receive special medals and T-shirts. Both events require advance registration online, so sign up... the sooner the better. Up for running both races? Register for the Black Bear Double.
Can't make either race? No worries. You'll have plenty of opportunities to get in your daily run. Check out the popular running/walking trails at Sevierville City Park, Gatlinburg's Mills Park, and Pigeon Forge's Patriot Park. Plus, try running some of the gorgeous paved trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, such as Cades Cove Loop Road (11 miles) and Townsend Bicycle/Running Path (three scenic miles, including a stretch of riverfront).
With over 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers something for every hiker, beginner to expert. Choose from easy treks like the popular Laurel Falls Trail (paved all the way); moderate hikes like the Abrams Falls Trail (5.2 miles round trip); and strenuous climbs like the steep ascent up Thunderhead Mountain to legendary Rocky Top. All trails offer stunning scenery; many have panoramic mountain views; and more than a few lead to sparkling, crystal-clear waterfalls.
From rafting the rapids to splashing in swimming holes, you'll never run out of wet-&-wild ways to stay fit in the Tennessee Smokies. Book a guided whitewater rafting trip at any of several local outposts. Rent a kayak or canoe. Take a refreshing dip in Douglas Lake, a 28,000-acre reservoir just minutes from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Or, drive a few miles to Greenbrier Swimming Hole, located right on the Little Pigeon River. Its deep, placid waters are perfect for swimming, while its large, smooth stones are ideal for after-swim sunbathing.
From biking to golfing, power-walking to horseback riding, you'll find exercise options galore here in the Great Smoky Mountains. And, if you're missing your hometown gym, not to worry. The Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge area is home to top-rated fitness facilities. And several – such as Gatlinburg's Elite Fitness and the Pigeon Forge Community Center – offer daily and/or weekly rates to accommodate vacationers.
At Volunteer Cabin Rentals, you can reserve anything from a cozy chalet to a large, luxurious lodge ideal for family reunions. Some cabins even have built-in home gyms stocked with weights, treadmills, and ellipticals. Cabins fill up fast, so book now!