6 Fun Things to Do on the Little Pigeon River this Summer

The Little Pigeon River is a must-visit spot for families looking to spend a little time in the great outdoors during their summer family vacation in Pigeon Forge. In addition to its scenic natural beauty, you will find plenty of fun activities and things to do on the Little Pigeon River during your stay. From fishing and swimming to rafting and strolls along the Riverwalk, here are a few of our favorites!

Family enjoying time together at the Little Pigeon River
Family enjoying time together at the Little Pigeon River

About the Little Pigeon River

Located entirely in Sevier County, Tennessee, the Little Pigeon River flows along the borders between Tennessee and North Carolina within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The river splits off into three separate tributaries. The East Prong runs parallel with State Route 416. The Middle Prong emerges in the Greenbrier area of the national park. And the West Prong runs through the Smoky Mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

It is important to note here that this river should not be confused with the Pigeon River, which is in Hartford, Tennessee, about 50 minutes from Pigeon Forge. The Pigeon River is well known for its thrilling white-water rapids, making it a popular spot to go rafting or kayaking while on vacation.

Things to Do on the Little Pigeon River

1. Paddle Through Whitewater Rapids

Get your adrenaline pumping with a run through class III whitewater rapids on the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The Greenbrier area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers the perfect spot for whitewater rafting during any season. The most popular spot to put-in is at the confluence of Porters Creek, right before the road cross the creek.

2. Cool off with a Leisurely Float

A leisurely float down the river is one of the best ways to cool off during the summer in Pigeon Forge. For those with younger children or those just wanting to spend the day relaxing and taking in the beautiful views and scenery that flourishes in the Smoky Mountains, it’s the perfect way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

Fishing is a popular pastime on the Little Pigeon River
Fishing is a popular pastime on the Little Pigeon River

3. Fish for Wild Rainbow Trout

The river is known for its trout fishing streams. Anglers come from far and wide to fish for wild rainbow trout and the native brook trout typically found further upstream. You’ll find numerous access points for fishing the river. From spots along the Riverwalk Greenway in Pigeon Forge to trails along the highway as you follow the river upstream within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

4. Find the Perfect Swimming Spot

The Little Pigeon River boast crystal clear water perfect for taking a dip on a hot summer day. The Middle Prong of the river in the Greenbrier area near Gatlinburg is one of the most popular swimming spots in the Smoky Mountains. Another option is where the West and Middle Prongs meet at the intersection of Laurel Creek Road and Little River Road. These spots offer deeper holes with slower moving water that are perfect for swimming. And the large boulders make for great sunbathing spots.

5. Visit the Iconic Old Mill

One of Pigeon Forge’s most historic and popular attractions, The Old Mill, lies along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Visit the iconic gristmill that used to generate power for the entire city in the early 1900s. The mill continues to grind grain into flour for The Old Mill Restaurant and The Old Mill Pottery House Café & Grille to use in making baked goods and other products.

Stroll the Riverwalk Greenway that runs along the Little Pigeon River
Stroll the Riverwalk Greenway that runs along the Little Pigeon River, Photo credit: Eakkarat Rangram

6. Stroll Along the Riverwalk

The Riverwalk Greenway in Pigeon Forge is a peaceful, tree-lined greenway trail that runs parallel to the river. Enter at Patriot Park and run, walk or bike your way along the trail from Old Mill Avenue, past the LeConte Event Center, through The Island in Pigeon Forge, all the way to the Pigeon Forge Community Center. You’ll find plenty of benches along the trail to sit and relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Places to Stay Near the Little Pigeon River

For those that just can’t get enough of the water, you’ll find a great selection of places to stay either on or near the water. Plan your stay at one of our hotels with private balconies overlooking the river or enjoy a more secluded stay in one of our cabins with the river at your back door. Pigeon Forge also has a great selection of campgrounds and RV parks that sit right on the river.

You’ll find countless activities and things to do on the Little Pigeon River during your summer family vacation. Start planning your next visit to Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains today!