Oconaluftee River Trail is a 3.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cherokee, North Carolina that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.1 miles Elevation Gain: 52 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

wheelchair friendly

kid friendly

stroller friendly

hiking

nature trips

road biking

walking

bird watching

running

forest

partially paved

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

The Oconaluftee River Trail is one of two walking paths on which visitors can walk dogs and bicycle. It is relatively flat, but does have a few small hills. The trail runs from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center through the forest along side the Oconaluftee River and offers beautiful views of the river.

hiking
1 day ago

An easy walk on a wide flat mostly shaded, mostly gravel path with nice scenery of trees by following along a river. However this is all overshadowed by the intrusive road noise from following along the road as well.

hiking
3 days ago

Easy hike and 95% shaded! Nice casual walk and saw 6 elk through the forest.

Nice well-maintained trail along the river did not see any wildlife but still a beautiful walk

hiking
8 days ago

We really enjoyed this trail. We went in knowing the hike would be beside the road or close to the road the entire time so the cars didn’t bother us. The trail was relaxing, shaded, smooth, and easy.

hiking
14 days ago

Pretty!! Dog friendly, kid friendly Easy, flat- you may want to wade in the water We saw Elk in the river in May 2020. It’s by an old farmstead. Has bathrooms and gift shop at oconaluftee visitor center

hiking
19 days ago

TURN BACK AFTER REACHING THE BRIDGE. We thought this was a trail that you would reach a point and turn back, but found a further trail that lead into a little touristy town. If you want to extend your hike, it is worth the walk. Overall, was gorgeous and saw elk by the river in the first five minutes!

hiking
3 months ago

Good dog friendly riverside trail.

hiking
flooded
washed out
3 months ago

Nice, simple, enjoyable trail for all fitness levels. Runs right next to the Oconaluftee River. You can see elk along the trail most evenings.

hiking
5 months ago

Easy little stream side trail at the National Park Service. Always very crowded but there’s not much choice with dogs not allowed in the Park. Keep going on the sidewalk through Cherokee for a little extra distance

hiking
6 months ago

Pros: dogs allowed, pretty river view and elk in the field Cons: you could hear/see the road the entire time. Not very peaceful.

hiking
6 months ago

Would have been a very nice woodsy walk BUT construction and the loud Jackhammers made this a very noisy hike! The River was beautiful and still some nice fall colors. Did not see any elk on the trail. Will try and return when construction is over!

hiking
6 months ago

Made this walk at sunrise on a cold Sunday morning. As others have said, it's pretty much a woodsy walk, but it's a nice woodsy walk. It was quiet but for the sound of the river. The only people we encountered were two fisherman on the way back. We say a couple of bull elk... and we got to see the sun pop over the ridge and light up the tree tops. So, yeah, nice... but with some beautiful moments.

hiking
6 months ago

Nice, short, easy trail. A little bit crowded.

6 months ago

Nice flat beautiful river trail to downtown Cherokee and back. Will go again.

hiking
7 months ago

Nice easy trail next to the river

hiking
7 months ago

Nice hike along a rocky river. Trail turnaround is at the edge of Cherokee.

hiking
7 months ago

Easy, nice walk along the river

hiking
7 months ago

got to see some Elk up close but not much else to see on the trail

hiking
8 months ago

I always take visitors down the trail and we always see the elk.

hiking
8 months ago

Underwhelming. Never far from the road & there was construction going on. Would have been two stars except for the elk.

hiking
8 months ago

Basically a woodsy walk, but one of only two trails in the park that allows dogs. Mostly shaded.

hiking
8 months ago

A bit busy but perhaps it was because it was Labor day weekend. Really enjoyed the walk. We got there in the morning so we saw elk, even got a video of a bull crossing the river half way across he stopped and bugled. Wow! Found a nice area for our lab to swim along the trail, near an overpass. the only reason for 4 stars instead of 5 was the number of people on the trail. So the stars represent our experience not anything negative about the trail or perhaps better stated "walking path."

hiking
9 months ago

Always an enjoyable stroll in the forest along a beautiful river.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice dog friendly trail along the river.

hiking
10 months ago

Nice easy walking trail with easy access to the river

hiking
10 months ago

Nice and very easy trail, I was accompanied by my dog. I crossed path with a couple of elks

hiking
10 months ago

Only hiked about .8 miles of this trail due to our dogs being too tired after hiking Mingo Falls. Very well maintained, flat trail. No elk or bear were spotted by us today, though we did see several turkeys alongside the road as we left the parking lot. I will be back to hike the entire trail sometime.

walking
11 months ago

More of a walking trail then a hiking trail. One of the few places in Smokey that is dog friendly. My 13 yr old rat terrier loved it. Lots of things for her to smell. Nice to stroll and watch the tubers on the river. I enjoyed it very much

hiking
Sun May 19 2019

Easy hike in a very busy area. Beautiful river.

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