Adventure Park at Five Oaks helps guests take in the natural splendor of the Smoky Mountains with leisurely horseback-riding trails and a towering network of adrenaline-inducing ziplines, which together span the park's 70-acre expanse. Staff members select from more than 50 horses residing at the park’s stable, allowing them to make careful matches with customers based on their comfort and experience levels. Guests seeking solace can weave through wooded trails while bonding with noble beasts, whereas thrill seekers reach up to 50 miles per hour on a network of ziplines. The canopy-scanning lines are also open during evening hours, providing guests with ample opportunity to view starlit mountaintops and roast hotdogs in their homemade lunar ovens.
Wahoo Ziplines centers on stretch of six ziplines that runs for a total of more than two miles in length. The canopy tour is two hours in length and offers scenic views of the mountains and surrounding terrain from up to 250 feet in the air. Guides help visitors of all ages don the harness before launching them from hilltop to hilltop at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
As Steve Garrett hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2008, he felt called to leave the corporate life he led near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and move to the mountains with his family. His wife, Johnna, supported his dream?so they and their children moved to Tennessee to run Smoky Mountain Llama Treks.
Their fluffy, pettable llamas don't spit, kick, or run off?rather, the gentle pack animals carry loads for hikers on treks through fields and woods. Though the llamas can't be ridden, their ability to carry food and gear makes it easier for hikers to enjoy mountain views and cartwheel down the trails. In addition to leading groups on hikes, the staff can also coordinate adventures including zipline tours through the forest canopy, rafting, and helicopter tours.
A seasoned purveyor of outdoor sporting equipment, River Sports Outfitters' adventure experts put gear to work on indoor climbing walls and local kayaking excursions. Rock-top scramblers suit up in provided harness and shoes at the climbing gym, lined with vertical slopes that impersonate cliff faces with gritty-textured walls, rocks in many shapes and sizes, and animatronic dancing mountain goats. Climbers of all skill levels can strengthen and stretch muscles on ascents up the tall rope-climbing wall, or free-climb on the shorter bouldering walls, which lose the rope and vertical ascent in favor of low routes that challenge spidery-men to master specific maneuvers and grips.
Deep within the Appalachian Mountains, the forest's leaves flutter as a blurry figure speeds by. But the creature high above the treetops isn't a bird, a plane, or a sports mascot recently released back into the wild. It's a person strapped into one of Black Mountain Thunder Zipline’s 11 ziplines, which take customers some 400 feet above the ground and at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. Spread over 1.5 miles, the ziplines wind through canopies and down mountain slopes on trips that last roughly two hours. Expert guides tag along on every tour to ensure safety and instruct adventurers on equipment.
At Iron Palm Bouldering, the rock-climbing walls don't extend much higher than about 14 feet?a good deal shorter than one might imagine. That's because the gym caters exclusively to bouldering, a version of climbing that places more emphasis on body control and problem solving than speed, height, or practice for beanstalk scaling. This might sound like a more demanding version of rock climbing?and it can be?but Iron Palm welcomes all levels to the sport with group and individual classes. As climbers get better, they can progress to more difficult techniques and more complex bouldering problems, which the gym happily encourages by changing the climbing routes every month.