Bring the whole family for a hands-on exploration of the diversity of life within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Together, you will discover the wonders of the Smokies and learn about ideas to preserve natural and cultural treasures in your own backyard.
During spring, summer and fall, ranger-led programs suitable for children are offered. These programs offer children an opportunity to explore and learn about the park. Read through the schedule of ranger-led programs to find programs just for children.
Kids, if you're between the ages of 5-12, you can become a Junior Ranger! Learn how!
There are a number of outdoor and educational activities for kids in the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Saddle up and enjoy horseback riding in Great Smoky Mountains National Park or along other trails at the borders of the Park. Several stables also offer carriage rides as well as haywagon rides in Cades Cove.
Fishing is lots of fun in the cool, clear Little River which flows out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and right through Townsend. Bring your own gear, or stop by Little River Outfitters in the area and get everything you need to fish for trout, bass, rockbass or bluegill.
From backcountry treks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to a stroll along a stream or a half-day walk, there are trails for everyone and for any time of year. Come by the Townsend Visitors Center to purchase a map and get some handy tips for a safe and fun hike.
Download the GSMNP Trail Map.
Be aware of bears as you hike and camp! Be informed about what to do.
The Townsend River Walk is a short walking trail along the Little River that lends a peaceful, scenic view of the stream, trees, wildflowers and wildlife. Established and maintained by the Tuckaleechee Garden Club, the nature trail has been beautified with flowers and interpretive signs in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The entrance is located along the Townsend Bicycle Trail, near the underpass across from campground of United Methodist Church. For more information call 865-980-6346 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Townsend 9-mile loop bicycle path is a scenic and historic route along pathways trod by settlers and Native Americans for thousands of years. Learn their stories in the "Shadows of the Past" booklet, available at the Townsend Visitors Center.
Motorcyclists love our region for its beautiful scenery, sweeping mountain roads and great places to stay, eat, shop and explore. See the "Circle the Smokies" brochure, a map and guide for touring, available at the Townsend Visitors Center and the Blount County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center, or watch "Ride the Smokies."
The Little River flows out of the National Park and through Townsend. From tubing, wading and splashing, canoeing and kayaking in the warmer months to just enjoying the beauty of the water all year long, the river beckons!
Tuckaleechee Caverns is open from mid-March through mid-November and offers guided tours of this beautiful underground wonderland.
Nestled in Walker Valley within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Institute offers residential environmental education programs, photography workshops and nature camps for both adults and young people. Visit www.gsmit.org.
Wesley Woods is a member of the Holston Conference of the Methodist Church and offers camping and environmental education programs for schools, church groups and the public. It is located in Capshaw Valley, off Old River Rd. in Townsend. Call 865-448-2246 or go to www.campwesleywoods.com.
Highlighting the fascinating history of this region, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center showcases Native American lore, pioneer settlement and transportation. The Little River Railroad Museum features exhibits about the railroad and lumbering days. There is a locomotive engine, handcar and other equipment from the 1920s and 30s.
Explore the beautiful and productive farms of East Tennessee! Liles Acres Organic Farm, just east of Maryville, offers honey, eggs and organic produce, plus group tours, classes and birthday parties. They also have llama packing trips, llama fiber, Angora rabbits and more. Call 865-981-2871 and visit www.lilesacres.com.