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BHR- Riding in the Smokey Mountians

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Slinkky

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My husband and I are wanting to make a riding vacation in the Smokey Mountains. We live in Texas (ain't no mountains here!) Should we worry about the horses being able to make it there? Is the elevation even enough to matter? Am I worrying over nothing?

Thanks for your input.
 

Marty

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What a good question.

Moving up from Florida there was a definite difference and I'm not that high at all compared to other mountain ranges. I'm the same as the Smokies. My kids were complaining for a while about it and I could feel it myself. Air is thinner than down in the valley but I don't notice it much anymore except in summer. We would get a little bit dizzy at first from time to time. Mostly it was a lot of ear popping, just annoying stuff like that and took some adjusting so we did nothing with our horses for a while as in no riding because I had no way of knowing how they felt and didn't want to chance anything. You'd be hauling the horses up and down from mountain to valley like crazy so my suggestion to you would be to leave your horses at home and use rental horses; they are everywhere available at the Smokies and very used to the steepness and terrain up here. Best wishes.
 

Marty

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I'll find out but its not much of nothing compared to other mountain ranges in other states

We're not far from the smokies.

OK here is what I found so far and we are not that high as I thought then

ELEVATIONS IN THE PARK

The crest of the Great Smokies runs in an unbroken chain of peaks that rise more than 5,000 feet for over 36 miles. Elevations in the park range from 876 to 6,643 feet.

The Top 10 Peaks (elevation in feet)

Clingmans Dome - 6,643

Mount Guyot - 6,621

Mount Le Conte (High Top) - 6,593

Mount Buckley - 6,580

Mount Love - 6,420

Mount Chapman - 6,417

Old Black - 6,370

Luftee Knob - 6,234

Mount Kephart - 6,217

Mount Collins - 6,118

Elevations of Popular Destinations (in feet)

Andrews Bald - 5,920

Charlies Bunion - 5,565

Balsam Mountain Campground - 5,310

Newfound Gap - 5,046

Alum Cave Bluffs - 4,970

Spence Field - 4,920

Chimney Tops - 4,800

Rainbow Falls - 4,326

Ramsey Cascades - 4,275

Grotto Falls - 3,770

Cataloochee Valley - 2,680

Laurel Falls - 2,600

Smokemont Campground - 2,198

Elkmont Campground - 2,150

Little Greenbrier School - 2,070

Oconaluftee Visitor Center - 2,040

Cades Cove Visitor Center - 1,716

Fontana Dam - 1,709

Abrams Falls - 1,473

Sugarlands Visitor Center - 1,462

Abrams Creek at park boundary - 876

Oh good heavens no we are not near that. The hightest point on my particual backside of the mountain where I live according to my plot plan thingy is 3259.
 
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Slinkky

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Thanks for the info Marty. We just got back from riding in the Kiamichi Mountains at around 2,200 elev. We have time to think about it...just wanted some opinions.

thanks,

Have a great weekend!
 

Baydreamfarms

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I know the elevations around the Smokey Mountains ranges from 3000 to about 6500. I was just on a trail ride a few weekends ago and we started at about 2500 and at the peak we were at 5900. That all in all was an 8 hour ride. The gaited horses around here have no issues with it, but any type of "trotting" horse as the locals call them, or quarters or thoroughbreds tend to have a dificult time if they aren't used to it. My friend that I ride with has paints and we opted not to bring her horses and borrow some TWH's because we knew her horses wouldn't have a chance and they are trail ridden on a weekly basis. And local trails that have a fairly decent elevation rise. She actually lives in Sevierville right outside of Pidgeon Forge right in the heart of the Smokey Mountains.

Honestly if your horses aren't used to big mountains and teeny trails I second the idea of renting some trail horses here. These mountains are no joke with 40 ft free falls if you miss a step. Our trail ride consisted of 3 or 4 spots like this that were about 100 ft long each. One of the horses did slip and almost fell over the edge with the rider. That was VERY VERY SCARY!!! And that horse had ridden that specific trail for years. So if you aren't used to the mountain trails they are def not for those type. I am originally from AZ, land of the flat and the trails here scare the crap outta me, no joke I had a panic attack up on one of the trails because of the steepness and the narrowness of them. It made me very much miss AZ.
 

TN Belle

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But, Oh, the scenery is all well worth it. The Smoky's are my second home away from home. I don't know the trail she was on, but the one's I have been on weren't that challenging. About my worst experience was sliding down a steep embankment for about 100 ft, I felt like my horse was on his butt, it was that steep. I wasn't brave enough to do the Snowy River thing, whew! There are thousands of trails for different reasons, elevations, locations, and experience levels. I have never camped with the horses up there, but have been told there are plenty of those to choose from also. The mountians, lakes and creeks, flowers, horse and hiking trails are all beautiful. Some trails are open to everyone, so you have to watch out for bikers and atv's on some too. Some horse rental rides do allow you to rent the horses for your own use and not restricted to their own trails, so just be sure to ask around. The majority of the stables advertised are for tourists and are the rent by the length of ride kind, nose to tail, and no trotting. Check with the visitors office and I am sure they can answer all of your questions.

I lived in Florida for a while and that was one thing I hated about it, no mountains. Also, depending on your vacation, there is a "tourist trap" called Pigeon Forge with all the shopping, eating, games, go carts, golf, etc... that you could want plus Dollywood and the Dixie Stampede (an awesome dinner show). You could also try "Gatlinburg" that is still touristy, but all walkable and great scenery with plenty of nice hotels. Then, if you want total peace and quiet, try "Townsend" wich is very nice. If you are a gambler, you can drive through the mountains to Harrah's in Cherokee, NC and it's a nice ride, about 30 minutes. You can expect to see wildlife no matter where you go and you do have to be aware of bears at all times. Everything is relatively close together and most locals are very nice and transplanted themself there.
 

Slinkky

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Thanks for the info on the Smokies. It sounds like we need to change our destination. We definately want to go trail riding for our vacation. It looks like the Smokies may not be the place for us to go.

Ok, we'll back up and re-evaluate.

Thanks for the information. I would hate to come one here a month from now and tell some horrible story about how everyone got hurt sliding down a mountain running from a bear!


We've been to Bar50 in Bismarck, Ark and A to Z in Smithville, OK. Does anyone know of other places similar that they have enjoyed?
 

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