Horseback Riding Trails in Deep Creek
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Traveling with your horse? You can explore miles of forest roads and trails in the Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just outside of Bryson City. Visitors who traverse these backwoods trails on horseback will be rewarded with views of dazzling creeks and waterfalls or perhaps some long range mountain views.
Several trails that originate in the Deep Creek area allow horseback riding. These include:
- Deep Creek Horse Trail
- Noland Divide Trail
- Thomas Divide Trail
As you enter the Deep Creek section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, almost immediately on your left you will find the horse trailer parking lot and access to the Deep Creek Horse Trail and the Noland Divide Trail. There is another trailer parking area off Galbraith Creek Road for access to the Thomas Divide Trail. Do not try to access this trail with your trailer from the Deep Creek entrance; this is a one-lane dirt road. Access this trail from the other end of Galbraith Creek Road, off US Hwy 19 about 1.5 miles outside Bryson City toward Cherokee.
Although the Deep Creek area represents just a small portion of the National Park's trails, about 550 miles of the park's hiking trails are open to horses. Horses are restricted to trails specifically designated for horse use. If you wish to ride your own horse in the park, please obtain a copy of the park's trail map. This map indicates the trails on which you may ride horses and explains the park's rules and regulations concerning horse riding in the backcountry. It also provides information about backcountry camping, and permit requirements. To obtain an official trail map, stop at any park visitor center or call (865) 436-0120. The cost of the map is $1. You may also download a trail map.
Looking for guided horseback riding stables and guided tours? Check our main horseback riding page.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has hundreds of miles of trails for visitors to enjoy, over 550 of which are open to horse use. To download the full map of all horse trails, including Deep Creek, from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, click on the button below
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Rules and Regulations for Horse Use:
Horses and other pack animals (i.e., mules and llamas) are permitted in the park, but they are restricted to trails specifically designated for horse use (see map). Many horse trails are very steep and narrow—a challenge for even the most experienced horse and rider. Remoteness and difficulty of access often make continual trail clearing and care impractical. Expect to encounter rugged conditions. Please report down trees or landslides to a ranger. Off-trail or cross-country use is prohibited. Horse parties may use designated campsites open to their use (see chart). Horse parties are subject to all backcountry regulations.
Requirements: Horse parties must obtain a backcountry camping permit and reservation for any overnight backcountry camping. Horses must be under physical control at all times; they may not be left to water unattended; grazing is prohibited. All food for stock must be packed in, and unused food must be packed out. At designated backcountry sites where stock are permitted, the number of animals in any one party is limited to one per person plus one pack animal per person, but shall not exceed a total of ten (10) animals for the same group or the stock capacity for that site. (See chart.)
In campsites with no hitch posts or racks, horses must be cross-tied so that they cannot chew on or otherwise damage trees or other vegetation. Tying horses directly to trees is prohibited.
Horses are not permitted within 100 feet of trail shelters or in cooking or sleeping areas of campsites. Their manure must be scattered away from the campsite. Horses must not be tied closer than 100 feet to any stream or water source.
• Carry and use a collapsible bucket to water your horse—keep horses away from springs. • Never leave feed where wildlife can get to it—wildlife attracted to feed can come into conflict with people. • Use processed feed to eliminate introducing weed seeds into the park—hay may contain seeds of exotic plants, and some non-native plants can take over the habitat of native plants.
If you wish to ride your own horse in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please obtain a copy of the park's trail map. This map indicates the 550 miles of trails on which you may ride horses and explains the park's rules and regulations concerning horse riding in the backcountry. It also provides information about backcountry camping, and permit requirements. To obtain an official trail map, stop at any park visitor center or call (865) 436-0120. The cost of the map is $1. You may also download a trail map.