A man runs through the forest, pausing briefly to take in his surroundings: rolling mountains and verdant trees as far as the eye can see. Suddenly, a twig cracks, breaking the silence, and the pristine view dissolves within a cloud of paint. The game is over.
At its outpost within the mountains, Smoky Mountain Paintball has converted the area's natural terrain into outdoor paintball fields. Here, players weave between trees and peak over walls in search of enemy combatants. The simulated battlefields are also a strategist’s dream; referees take requests, and will set up almost any type of game provided that players adhere to the rules and don't require a human-sized chessboard.
Away from the colorful warzone, a pro shop brims with camouflage and Tippmann markers, In addition to paint-fueled grudge matches, combatants can also settle scores with Smoky Mountain Paintball’s expanded arsenal of Airsoft and laser-tag battles.
The riders and technicians at Harper's Bike Shop love bicycles, and their love for riding is matched only by the joy they get from helping other cyclists. For 50 years, Harper’s has outfitted riders for the pathways, streets, and mountain trails around Knoxville. The crew helps riders find bikes to suit their riding needs, and perform custom bicycle-fitting services to ensure a great match. In addition, the crew repairs and rebuilds ailing cycles with a complete list of services that includes adjusting brakes, truing wheels, cleaning drivetrains, overhauling suspensions, and kicking some sense into tires.
Ski Scuba Center is an aquatic activity hub where undersea sojourners purchase gear and learn to reach new oceanic depths. With more than 50 years of diving experience among them, instructors prepare flippered feet to scuba, swim, and lifeguard, edifying water-goers and offering certification during private and group classes. The Center also sends its snorkel constituents to Florida and the Caribbean on scuba trips and presents a number of tips on equipment-servicing treatments, such as filling tanks with air and feeding sugar cubes to well-behaved goggles.
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.
Uncle Lem's Mountain Outfitters offers a wide selection of outdoor gear and apparel from brands such as Patagonia and North Face. Charge up a black diamond or gently sloping city street with all the essentials packed inside an Osprey Talon 22 daypack ($99). Equip yourself with a North Face Denali Jacket ($165) and a MSR Pocket Rocket camp stove ($39.95) to help keep campsites warm and facilitate excessive ramen noodles consumption. Trailblazing torsos can gear up with Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-Ts ($119) and Isis Sultana Vests ($99) before resting comfortably on Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite sleeping pads ($59.95) after a long day of karate chopping uprooted trees into firewood. Uncle Lem’s also carries an assortment of backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents as well as flip-flops, hiking boots, and boat shoes for outdoorsy fashion shows.