Penny’s Smokies Hiking and Kayaking Recommendations

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Date Published/Updated: 06/19/2024
Author: Heidi Fendos
Location: Sevierville, TN.

If you’re coming to check out Soaky Mountain Waterpark, Penny, our food and beverage director, would like to recommend that your family takes a couple of extra days to explore some of the Smokies great hiking trails and kayaking.

Penny’s family loves spending time in the great outdoors, and she is always quick to offer advice on this subject. Here is what she suggested:


If you are new to hiking, or hiking with littles in strollers, check out Laurel Falls. It’s an easy 2.6-mile paved trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall.

My absolute favorite hike is The Jump-Off. It’s a lengthy hike with an amazing view and cliff drop-off at the top. You take the Charlies Bunion Trail most of the way up, so I usually pair the two hikes together. It’s 9 miles roundtrip.

Another favorite and very popular trail in the area is The Chimney Tops. It’s a lot shorter, also has amazing views, and rivers along the way. This hike is still moderately difficult with a lot of stairs (don’t say I didn’t warn you!) Due to the fires in 2016, you’re unable to reach the summit at this time, but they’ve provided a great viewing area just before you reach the top. I’ve been hiking this trail with my kiddos for years. It’s a family favorite.


The French Broad River allows for some of the best kayaking around because it is nice and deep. But check the Douglas Dam generation release schedule before you go so you’re not caught off guard if they open several gates at a time. However, it is nice when a few gates are open. You don’t have to paddle as much. 😊

As you head down The French Broad River keep your eyes open for bald eagles. If you’re lucky you’ll see some along the river, in the mountains. As you head towards Seven Islands State Birding Park you’ll come across Rock House Cave on the right. This is a fun cave to get out and explore.

If you love the outdoors as much as I do, you’ve come to the right area. The Great Smoky Mountain are full of places to bring the family for a great adventure. Check out some of my pictures below!

The Jump-Off

6.5 miles roundtrip/ 1275 feet of elevation gain/ Moderately Difficult  

Charlie’s Bunion

8.1 miles roundtrip/ 1640 feet of elevation gain/ Strenuous Difficulty

Chimney Tops

3.6 mile roundtrip/ 1487 feet of elevation gain/ Moderately Difficult

Kayaking the French Broad River

Bald Eagles

Rock House Cave

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