The Oconaluftee River Trail and Mountain Farm Museum are located behind the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, just 2 miles from Cherokee. The trail and museum are also located within just minutes from Smokemont Campground in Great Smoky National Park, making this a perfect destination for families.
The trail and museum are filled with educational opportunities, wildflowers, wildlife, river access, and beauty. At the Mountain Farm Museum you can explore multiple farm structures that have been brought in from numerous sites all over the Smoky Mountains. Among them is the Davis home, a log cabin built of chestnut wood and including a working blacksmith shop.
After checking out the farm, enjoy a stroll down the Oconaluftee River Trail, a 3-mile round trip along the river. This trail is one of only two trails in the park that allows leashed dogs on the trail. The trail is also smooth and wide enough for strollers and wheelchairs. Bicycles are also allowed on the trail, unlike on other trails in the park. Along the way, you will find multiple side trails that lead to the river.
As you're exploring, keep an eye out for wildlife, including the locally famous elk. In 2001, after being eliminated from the park in the 1700s and 1800s, the elk were reintroduced and are thriving. They are often seen along the trail and in the fields around the visitor center—just remember to stay back 150 feet and capture your photos from that distance.
Along the river, you will also find beautiful stories of the Cherokee. The area is the ancestral home of the East Band of the Cherokee, and the trail will end at the boundary of their reservation in Cherokee, where you can choose to return to the visitors center or explore the local shops.