If you’re considering a visit to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, this guide will take a close look at Gatlinburg’s walkability.
The layout of Gatlinburg is relatively straightforward, with the main Parkway running through the heart of the town, flanked by River Road and Historic Nature Trail on either side. This forms a loop around the central area and makes navigation easy even for first-time visitors.
We’ll discuss pedestrian infrastructure, crime rates, most and least walkable areas, and public transportation options to help you get around without the car.
In Gatlinburg, there’s a significant focus on making the town accessible for pedestrians. This includes a study funded by the city in 2021 to better manage traffic flow and pedestrians, especially with increasing tourist numbers.
Gatlinburg has a WalkScore of 61, meaning it is somewhat walkable. But downtown Gatlinburg is very walkable, with areas like the Parkway and River road filled with restaurants, shops, and attractions, and flanked by wide sidewalks.
This is also where you’ll find the aquarium, and if you stay in a downtown hotel you’ll barely need a car to get around.
Recommended: Fun Things to Do With a Toddler In Gatlinburg
One great option is the Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg, which is right in the middle of town and just steps away from the Anakeesta Theme Park. Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg is a Jimmy Buffet-inspired hotel complete with a water slide, sun loungers inside of a pool, a spa, biking trails, and much more. In other words, you could just about have a full vacation without leaving the resort.
Safety is another essential factor to consider when determining a town’s walkability. Gatlinburg unfortunately has a higher than average crime rate, according to multiple sources, including Best Places, Neighborhood Scout, and Area Vibes. The property crime rate is especially high in Gatlinburg.
Of course, most tourists are able to visit Gatlinburg, have a wonderful vacation, and go home without a problem. But it’s definitely something to consider.
You may also want to check out Neighborhood Scout’s Crime Map of the area.
The Most Walkable Areas in Gatlinburg
When it comes to the most walkable areas in Gatlinburg, the downtown area takes the crown. Here, you’ll find a cluster of attractions, shops, and restaurants that are all within easy walking distance of each other. The downtown area is also home to some of Gatlinburg’s most popular attractions.
The River Road area is another walkable part of Gatlinburg. As the name suggests, this scenic pathway runs along a river, giving some beautiful scenery. It’s also home to the popular Gatlinburg Trail, a 1.9-mile path that leads to the Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This is the intersection of River Road and the Gatlinburg Trail, which takes you to the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
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The Least Walkable Areas in Gatlinburg
While most of Gatlinburg is pretty walkable, there are some areas where getting around on foot is more challenging. The mountainous regions, in particular, can be difficult to navigate due to steep inclines and uneven terrain.
Areas such as Chalet Village and Ober Mountain, while offering stunning views and serene ambiance, are best explored by car or trolley due to their remote locations and hilly landscapes. Don’t get me wrong – these are top places to visit. It’s just you’ll need a car to get there.
Ober Mountain is a must-visit, but it’s definitely not accessible on foot!
Similarly, the outskirts of Gatlinburg, where many cabin rentals are located, are also not really walkable due to the lack of sidewalks and the long distances between properties.
Finally, the Arts and Crafts Community, located on an 8-mile loop road, is a haven for art lovers. Here, you can check out lots of local artisans. But Glades Road, where much of the loop is, doesn’t have sidewalks and is narrow, so it would not be a safe place to walk. You’ll want to enjoy a lot of this loop by car or trolley (more on that below).
If you’re planning to explore areas of Gatlinburg that are less walkable, or you simply want to give your feet a rest, the town’s public transportation is an excellent option. Gatlinburg’s Trolley is free and covers most of the town’s key attractions.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Gatlinburg is a pretty walkable town. With its pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in the downtown area, where most of the attractions are, and a free trolley service to take you to other parts of town, you can easily spend a vacation in Gatlinburg without needing to get into the car too often.
If you stay in a hotel in a good location, you’ll easily be able to enjoy a vacation without much driving at all.