Thrilling river-bound expeditions and some of the most gorgeous views in the Smoky Mountains await you in Hartford, TN. Did you know that Hartford is now regarded as one of the best Whitewater Rafting destinations in the country by adventure enthusiasts worldwide? If you’re trying to decide which activities you should check out, here are our top suggestions for things to do during your time in this Tennessee mountain paradise:

White Water Rafting at the Smoky Mountain River Rat

Guided Whitewater Rafting expeditions on the Pigeon River are the ultimate Smokies adventure for visitors of ALL experience levels! Take on the Pigeon River rapids with the best – River Rat Whitewater. Our Rafting Outpost is ranked among the “Top 10% of Attractions in the World” by Tripadvisor and has maintained this Certificate of Excellence for almost a decade now. Choose from 4 different adventures:

Have young ones or want to take it easy? Raft the Lower Pigeon River Adventure, which offers plenty of Class I and II rapids, along with gorgeous views of the Smokies in Hartford, Tennessee.  This route is suitable for ages 3 and up.  It features fun and refreshing swimming holes to be enjoyed along your journey as your river guide leads you on an adventure that your family won’t soon forget!

Adventure-seekers, this is for you! For those ages 8 and up, if you were picturing a rafting expedition in the Smokies, the Upper Pigeon Adventure is probably what you had in mind! This expedition route offers something a little more daring for those seeking an adrenaline-pumping adventure.  This route features five miles of scenic river with rapids ranging from class III to IV, along with fun and refreshing swimming holes for those times you’re ready to stop and play. When you choose the Upper Pigeon Rafting experience, you choose a combination of thrills, rapids, and natural beauty that is second to none—not to worry, one of our expert guides will lead you through it all.

Thrill-seekers, look no further! Take all of the excitement of the Upper Pigeon route to the next level with our Xtreme Upper Pigeon Adventure. Our smaller XTREME Rafts capture every ounce of excitement to be had on each rapid for the ultimate adventure you’ll want to experience again and again! The X-boat is a smaller raft that invites a much bigger splash. Led by a world-class guide, the X-boat gives you more agility and control, and ensures that you will get wet and feel the full excitement of every single twist and turn along the river. Each X-Boat holds up to four rafters and a guide. This trip is available to rafters 8 years and older only.

Want a full day of adventure? Our Daycation package is the ultimate way to ensure your day is packed with unforgettable thrills! This includes 2 whitewater rafting adventures of your choice.

Hiking in Hartford, TN

The famed Appalachian trail’s entrance in Hartford, Tennessee is just minutes from The Smoky Mountain River Rat Whitewater outpost.  Hiking enthusiasts will want to lace up their boots and take a day to enjoy some of these hikes:

  • Little Fall Branch Trail offers an easy hike at 0.9 mile.  It is considered lightly traveled and its highlight is a lovely waterfall.  Little Fall Branch is a good for those of all skill levels; it is also a dog-friendly trail, but make sure to bring a leash!
  • Davenport Gap to Max Patch, 9.6 miles, where is a beautiful stretch, where hiking, camping, and backpacking and are accessible year-round. Careful, though, this hike has a “hard” rating.


While they aren’t technically part of Hartford, Tennessee, we couldn’t resist telling you about these nearby activities that are well worth the drive:

Outdoor activities just outside Hartford, TN:

Visit Midnight Hole near Hartford, TN 

Midnight Hole is a beautiful, natural pool below a 6-foot waterfall.  Midnight hole has become a popular swimming destination for visitors to the area and can be found in the Big Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, on Big Creek Trail.  The trailhead begins on the road, just before the parking area on the right.  You’ll hike about one and a half miles in to find the Falls and Midnight Hole.  

Enjoy all the beauty of Max Patch near of Hartford, TN 

You can also pick up  the Appalachian Trail at Max Patch, just across the state line.  Max Patch is one of North Carolina’s most popular mountain view points/hikes, and touts stunning photo ops from a bald covered in wildflowers. Visitors come early to watch the sunrise, stay late to see the sunset, and often picnic on this moderately difficult two-mile loop with gorgeous views all around.

Grab It ‘N Growl Food Truck in Hartford, TN

Choose from a tasty variety of lunch options at this local favorite! This food truck is located onsite at our River Rat Whitewater Outpost. You can find their full menu here

The Bean Trees in Hartford, TN

Enjoy lunch on a lovely back porch just feet from the river, along with your choice of snacks, burgers, sandwiches, and ice-cold beer. This women-owned eatery touts its own blend of fair trade, organic coffee, along with lots of gluten-free and vegetarian options to an array of Southern comfort menu items. Some evenings, between Memorial and Labor Day, you’ll find live music at The Bean Trees too!

Goodwater Vineyards in Hartford, TN

A family owned and operated vineyard & winery specializing in fine vintagesGoodwater Vineyards’ Winery offers a tasting room, and a walking tour of the winery and grounds.  It’s a wonderful way to while away an afternoon.  You can also enjoy a catered picnic on their grounds and they’re happy to wrap up a few bottles for you to take home and enjoy later.

Bootleggers’ Moonshine Distillery in Hartford, TN

Brought to you from a family of 14th-16th generation distillers, Bootleggers’ will give you a tour through their distilling process and answer all your pressing distilling questions; you’ll also have the opportunity to try each of the family’s unique products and shop for spirits and apparel.

Triple Creek Campground

Triple Creek Campground is situated on 12 acres of wooded property, surrounded by three beautiful creeks. A traditional campground in an exceptional, rustic location, it adds to the adventure of your stay in Hartford, TN.

Friendship Falls Campground is a quiet and scenic mountain getaway boasting tiny cabins, a wagon, and large RV spaces just a short walk from the Creek.  A clean, updated bath house, a hot tub for those staying in the cabins, and a welcoming pavilion with picnic tables, along with an outdoor kitchen make it the perfect home away from home for campers.  

Imagination Mountain Campground offers cottages, cabins, yurts and campers that make for a big welcome to those who are in search of a country mountain setting that is as pretty as it is charming.   Choose your favorite space and settle in to stay for a while!

We hope you thoroughly enjoy your stay in Hartford, Tennessee! We can’t wait to see you on the River!