Tag Archives: Winter

4 Winter Hikes to Enjoy in the Smokies

The beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains draws folks to Pigeon Forge all year long – not just when the weather is fair. Winter weather turns the mountains and hills around Pigeon Forge into a veritable wonderland and winter hikes in the Smokies are a perfect way to experience all the beauty the region has to offer this time of year.

Ready to plan your cold weather adventure? Here are four winter hikes you can enjoy in the Great Smoky Mountains during your next Pigeon Forge vacation.

laurel falls

1. Laurel Falls Trail

Named for the beautiful Mountain Laurel shrubs that produce beautiful springtime blossoms, Laurel Falls is truly a sight to be seen year-round. Laurel Falls Trail takes hikers right to this glorious landmark, with a wooden walkway crossing the stream and the base of the fall’s upper section. Long stretches of below-freezing weather turns the falls into a natural wonder, as the frozen water cascades create a crystal castle.

The Laurel Falls trail is only 2.6 miles round-trip and paved, but can be steep in parts. Wet weather and ice can make the trail slippery, so caution is advised during winter weather hikes.

*TIP: It takes about two hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Plan on spending more time on the trail if you plan to stop for photos: You’ll find many Instagram-worthy photo ops along the trail.

2. Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald

Want to take in a breathtaking sight? Hike to Andrews Bald along the Forney Ridge Trail. This hike starts at the Clingmans Dome parking lot and gives hikers a chance to take in postcard-worthy winter views of snowcapped Smoky Mountain peaks. A final rise through a forest will bring you to the grassy Andrews Bald area, giving you the perfect place to pause and reflect.

It’s a 1.8 mile hike to Andrews Bald, with 1,200 feet in elevation changes.  

*TIP: Want to make your hike memorable? Before you head out, fill a Thermos with hot chocolate and stash it in your backpack. Sharing a few sips with a loved one as you take in the views at Andrews Bald will likely make the experience even sweeter.

The best thing about hiking trails is, if you take enough turns, they never end! #GSMNP

A photo posted by Gatlinburg, Tennessee (@visitgatlinburg) on

3. Alum Cave Trail

Beautiful views of icicle formations are a worthy payoff for a challenging winter hike on Alum Cave Trail. The trail begins by crossing over Walker Camp Prong and Alum Cave Creek on log bridges, leading hikers through an old-growth hardwood forest – which is teeming with life even in winter.

You’ll find the Alum Cave Bluffs about 2.3 miles from the trailhead. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, moisture from the ground freezes to form icicle formations forming frozen stalactites –creating a stunning scene you’ll remember for life. You will experience an elevation change of 1,200 feet as you hike to Alum Cave Bluffs, making a steep trail and challenging terrain. Additionally, the trail follows the edge of a ridge in sections. Make sure you’re wearing rugged shoes and are ready for a climb before you set off!

*TIP: Alum Cave Trail is undergoing restoration and may be temporarily closed some days during the week. Please call the National Parks Service at (865) 436-1200 or click over to NPS.gov for additional information before you plan your weekday hike.

4. Porters Creek Trail

Porters Creek Trails is the perfect family friendly winter hike: It promises great views, offers a moderate challenge, and the 4-mile round-trip trek to Fern Branch Falls is enough to wear the kids out before dinner. Porters Creek Trail is located on some of the park’s lowest terrain, so you can count on it being open year round – even when snow and winter weather have forced upper-elevation areas closed.

The first mile of Porters Creek Trail is actually an old gravel road, so it is wide and easy to travel. After this, the trail turns into a dirt footpath. Fern Branch Falls are about two miles down the path and drop off on the left side of the trail. Porters Creek with also take you through the Elbert Cantrell farmstead, which was settled around the turn of the century – giving you the perfect opportunity for a history lesson as you take in the woodland mountain scenery.

*TIP: Remember to dress for the elements when you’re heading out for a winter hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. Keep in mind that a hat is a hiker’s thermostat and is an essential part of your cold-weather outdoor gear. Dressing in layers will also help you stay warm, and always remember to make your base layer a moisture-wicking garment.


A photo posted by Laura (@laurak921) on

Winter hikes let you see a different side of the Smokies and give you an opportunity to explore and make lasting mountain memories. Make a winter hike in the Great Smoky Mountains part of your next Pigeon Forge vacation.

9 Indoor Activities To Beat The Cold in Pigeon Forge

9 Indoor Activities To Beat The Heat

The winter season in the Smoky Mountains can be a bummer for many outdoor enthusiasts or just plain cold-natured people who prefer warm, wide open spaces. Not that the Smokies aren’t beautiful coated in a blanket of snow; if you can brave the cold, a winter hike is totally worth it. But let’s face it. Sometimes we just want to stay in the warm indoors. Luckily Pigeon Forge has plenty of indoor activities to enjoy.

Pigeon Forge Indoor Activities

  1. Cozy up by a warm Pigeon Forge cabin rental with a fireplace. Winter is the perfect time to get close to your loved ones and appreciate each other’s company while snuggling up under a blanket near a fire with some hot cocoa.
  2. Smith Creek MoonshineHit up the outlets on a Pigeon Forge shopping trip. While you’re out and about, be sure to stop by Smith Creek Moonshine to sample one of their 13 flavors of delicious moonshine. Try their Apple Pie or Cinnamon flavors to warm up and embrace the winter season.
  3. Take part in Townsend’s Smoky Mountain Snowdown from January 26th through the 29th. Stay warm over a hot stove with cast iron cooking classes. Are arts and crafts more your thing? Enjoy quilting demonstrations by the Foothills Quilters Guild. You can even practice your fly fish tying skills to prepare for the warmer weather, or just get your blood pumping with some good ol’ fashioned square dancing!
  4. Alcatraz EastVisit one of the unique and entertaining Pigeon Forge museums. If you’re a pop culture enthusiast, stop by the Hollywood Wax Museum. Or if history is more your thing, check out the incredible Titanic Museum. Want to check out something new? We absolutely recommend the newest musuem in Pigeon Forge: The Alcatraz East. Learn about the history of crime and crime fighting in America while also playing some exciting games and seeing some legendary items you wouldn’t get the chance to see anywhere else. Also be sure to check out our 5 Must See Exhibits & Items at the Alcatraz East before you go!
  5. Beat the crowd and catch a flick at Governor’s Crossing Stadium 14. Check out the schedule for January 13th through the 19th and pick a movie or two that you and a friend can pair with a giant tub of popcorn and enjoy together.
  6. Wyile CiderSip on some hard or soft hand-crafted cider at Wyile Cider Barn, the one and only craft cidery in the state of Tennessee. Grab a friend and tour the cidery while sampling some of the delicious blended recipes created by this family business. Be sure to check out our blog on how the cider is made before you go.
  7. Take a leap of faith with Fly Away Indoor Skydiving, the longest running wind tunnel in business today. You can still mark it off your bucket list, even if it’s indoors! Test your skills of human flight without the altitude scaring you away. No experience is needed, and all ages are welcome.
  8. Pepper PalaceSpice things up at “The Planet’s #1 Hot Shop” Pepper Palace. What better way to escape the cold weather shivers than some of the hottest hot sauce around? Their “Death By Wings” sauce is described as “Insanely hot wing sauce that will burn you down.” If that’s a little too extreme for you, try their Honey Chipotle Rum BBQ sauce or some of their milder flavors.
  9. Explore the different species and exhibits at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is a classic on any Smoky Mountain to-do list, and even if you’ve been before, you’re guaranteed to appreciate the beauty and wonder of oceanic life time and time again. Say hi to the penguins for us!

Looking for more things to do in Pigeon Forge? Check out our list of 25 Rainy Day Activities for more awesome suggestions, and keep up with our events page for information on what’s happening around town this winter.

5 Things to Do in Pigeon Forge in the Winter Season

When winter weather strikes, Pigeon Forge comes alive with tons of family-friendly ways to enjoy the cold weather. Here are 5 things you can do to enjoy in Pigeon Forge in the winter time:

See the Twinkling Lights of Winterfest from the Fun Time Trolley

Make the most of a chilly evening aboard Pigeon Forge’s Fun Time Trolley at dusk to take in the glittering Winterfest lights. From November to February, Pigeon Forge comes alive with millions of shimmering holiday lights, and there’s nothing like snuggling up with family to make it all even more magical. The guided trolley tour gives you extra insight on the displays you’ll see with friendly stories and narration. See more about Winterfest trolley and driving tours at PigeonForgeWinterfest.com!

Enjoy a Brisk Nature Walk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We’ve mentioned it before, but winter can be a great time to see the Smokies. Bare trees let the region’s topography shine, letting you truly see the beauty of our majestic mountains! See Mother Nature and Old Man Winter together by taking a short nature hike! GSMNP’s Sugarlands Visitor Center should remain open even if snow falls; consider stopping for maps and information here before heading out for a brisk walk. You’ll see signs for short, easy nature trails right off the main road as you travel through the park. Bundle up and let the family experience the natural beauty of Smoky Mountains during Winterfest.

Warm Up At Pigeon Forge’s Favorite Indoor Attractions

If bundling up and enjoying the winter weather isn’t your idea of a good time, you’ll still find many ways to enjoy a snowy day in Pigeon Forge. Consider checking out some of our favorite indoor attractions: Think WonderWorks, Titanic Museum Attraction, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and many others! Each of these attractions offers its own unique opportunities for fun and education, all in a comfortably climate-controlled environment!

Check Out A Holiday Themed Show

You certainly won’t run out of things to do in Pigeon Forge during the holiday season. With the whole city lit up with winter lights and holiday cheer, many of the most popular dinner theaters and shows in the area host a special Christmas performance. Pay a visit to one of the most famous family feuds in the country at The Hatfield & McCoy Christmas Disaster Dinner Show, or get tickets to Country Tonite’s Christmas Show. Keep an eye out for all kinds of family theaters and holiday themed shows on the Pigeon Forge events calendar.

Shop ’til You Drop!

As the holidays approach, the Smoky Mountains turn into a shopper’s paradise! Favorite stops like the Tanger Outlets center in Sevierville and the shops at the Island in Pigeon Forge start extending their hours as the winter holidays draw near, giving you ample opportunities to experience retail bliss. Looking for something truly unique? Make the most of the artistic experience by traveling through the Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts Community. Here you’ll see all kinds of Appalachian handicrafts and have a chance to see artists at work with folk arts demonstrations and more.

What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day in Pigeon Forge? Share your thoughts at the PigeonForge.com Facebook page or consider signing up for our weekly E-Newsletter to get all kinds of ideas in your inbox every Wednesday.

How to Properly Take Photos of Winter Light Displays

Nothing gets you in the cozy holiday spirit faster than taking a drive on a winter evening to marvel at the festive light displays.

There’s just something about the way they twinkle and light up the night that makes you feel nostalgic, happy and in the mood to celebrate. The lights of Winterfest in Pigeon Forge start to twinkle from early November and last through to the end of February. There are so many great light displays to admire all over the city.

You’ll probably want to capture the beauty of the lights on your camera – but taking photos of Christmas lights can be tricky. Read on for some tips on how to take the best possible pictures of the lights. Of course, the driver should be keeping their eyes on the road so make sure that the passengers are the only ones concentrating on taking photos!

Start at Dusk

What you might not know about night photography is that the best time to start is before it is fully dark. You should begin around sunset when it still appears semi-light to your eyes. This will give you time to plan your shot.

The lighting is better in the half-light of dusk before it gets fully dark. It allows you to see the brilliance of the lights while also seeing the details of the surroundings. You might need to ask homeowners nicely if they will turn their lights on early – many people don’t turn them on until it gets fully dark.

Keep it Steady

Use a tripod to steady your camera, as your shaky hands will cause blurred and streaky lights in your photos. If you are shooting with your smartphone, try to brace yourself against something solid with both hands. Also, make sure that you turn off your flash.

Make Sure to Include the Sky

A simple trick for adding more interest to your Christmas light photos is to include as much of the sky as possible. This will add more light to the composition and if you are photographing during dusk the sky will be a beautiful, complex background of blue and purple tones. Including other items such as lampposts and trees might also improve the composition of a photo. Here are some basic tips for understanding how to compose a great photo.

Consider “Night Portrait Mode”

If you want to take a photo of a friend or family member standing in front of the lights, try using the “Night Portrait Mode” if your camera has it. Many of the typical point and shoot cameras of today will have a “Night Portrait Mode.” This is a setting that fires the flash to light up the subject in the foreground, but also keeps the lens open for long enough to record the lights that are glittering in the background. You’ll be able to see your subject’s face but also capture the Christmas lights.

Keep these tips in mind while you’re taking gorgeous photos of the holiday lights during Pigeon Forge Winterfest!

Pigeon Forge Cabin Rentals with fireplace things to do in pigeon forge

Gerald Dickens Performs “A Christmas Carol” at The Inn At Christmas Place

On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, November 6th through the 8th, The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge welcomes back Gerald Dickens, great-great-grandson of literary master Charles Dickens, for a seventh season. Hailing from Oxford, England, Gerald will perform his captivating, one-man rendition of the timeless holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, each evening. In addition to the season’s favorite, Gerald will perform two other adaptations of works by Charles Dickens: Dr. Marigold, and A Child’s Journey with Dickens.

It’s a wonderful show–a great family tradition–the best way I know of to kick off the holiday season.Bob Byers, President of Byers’ Choice Ltd.

Gerald bears more than a passing resemblance to his famous ancestor, who originally toured the U.S. in 1867 reading his literary works before spellbound audiences. Historians report that A Christmas Carol was his favorite piece to perform. According to Gerald, his great-great-grandfather adored theater and initially wanted to be an actor but pursued writing as a career for practical purposes. For many years Gerald says that he himself “avoided anything to do with Dickens like the plague.” But in 1993 when a friend asked him to do a reading of A Christmas Carol on its 150th anniversary of publication to help raise money for an historical restoration project, he couldn’t turn him down. To his surprise, he enjoyed doing it, and has been delighting audiences around the world with his performance ever since.

During his energetic one-man show, Dickens brings A Christmas Carol to life. He leaps, he sobs, and he laughs as he depicts 26 characters of the classic tale, with just a table, wing chair, and hat rack accompanying him on stage. He has created different postures and voices for each character, achieving this so adeptly that the audience has no doubt about “who is who,” so to speak.

Sunday, Nov. 6th 3:00 PM
8:00 PM
A Child’s Journey with Dickens, You & Me Tea
A Christmas Carol
Monday, Nov. 7th 3:00 PM
8:00 PM
4:30 PM
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol
Benefit Reception, Second Harvest Food Bank
Tuesday, Nov. 8th 11:00 AM
3:00 PM
8:00 PM
– book signing at The Incredible Christmas Place
Dr. Marigold
A Christmas Carol

To purchase tickets for a show, tea, or the benefit reception, call the hotel at 865-868-0525. A limited number of hotel packages including show tickets and souvenirs are also available.

Reserve Your Room Today

Everyone is invited to meet Mr. Dickens at Christmas Place on Tuesday, November 8th, from 11 a.m. until noon, where he will be signing a special, illustrated copy of the book “A Christmas Carol.” Gerald will be happy to pose for photos during the signing as well. This year marks Gerald’s seventh appearance at The Inn at Christmas Place.

Many of our guests have returned year after year to see Gerald’s performance of “A Christmas Carol” because he relates in a personal way to every member of the audience. It’s one of the most entertaining shows I have seen – and I didn’t expect his performance to have me laughing so much!Carolyn Fairbank-Biggs, Managing Partner
The Inn At Christmas Place

Mr. Dickens returns to the U.S. for his 2016 tour that will take him to more than a dozen states across the country. He will transform manufacturing facilities, churches, hotel ballrooms and lobbies into scenes straight out of the classic holiday tale, much as Scrooge was transformed from a dispirited miser into a joyous soul after his Christmas Eve encounter with ghosts from the past, present and future. His performance is produced by Byers’ Choice Ltd., makers of the nationally-known Carolers® and Kindles® figurines, located in Chalfont, PA. For more information on Mr. Dickens’ 2016 tour calendar, visit www.byerschoice.com or phone 215-822-6700.

All photographs, audio, and video recordings are prohibited during Mr. Dickens’ performances.

Find more information about Gerald’s appearances at The Inn at Christmas Place at innatchristmasplace.com or by calling 1-888-465-9644.