Feeling Great in Hartford!
Hartford Tennessee is a scenic, unincorporated community just off Interstate 40. With approximately 800 residents there’s plenty of elbow room here except for the days that the Tennessee Valley Authrity (TVA) is releasing water on the Big Pigeon River, also known as just the Pigeon River. Hartford’s history includes once being the headquarters for the logging industry which removed over one million board feet of lumber out of the Big Creek watershed of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The Big Creek ranger district of the National Park is located just a few short miles from Hartford and offers limited tent camping in its rather small campground. Midnight Hole, a favorite swimming hole with a six-foot waterfall, can be found 1.4 miles up the Big Creek Trail. Parking for the trail head can be found near the campground.
Rafting the Pigeon River
Hartford bustles with activity as thousands of families visit each season in search of river adventures. The rafting industry on the Pigeon River is the economic engine of Hartford with about a dozen whitewater outfitters running the river. Not only do they offer up rafting adventures, they have zip lines, climbing walls, mountain biking, fishing, and more. The beautiful Pigeon River offers two types of rafting trips; you can have it wild or mild! The Upper Whitewater section is ten miles of excitement and fun. Surrounded by the beautiful Smoky Mountains, you can shoot the Class I, II, III and IV rapids with an expert guide. Discover why many of the rapids have earned colorful names like “Lost Guide” and “Double Reactionary.”
“That was an amazing trip! It’s totally different from any amusement park ride; it just keeps going and going, getting better and better! I am definitely making this an annual tradition for my family,” says Chip from Brandon, MS.
Lower Pigeon River Float Trip
The lower section of the river is a more relaxed stretch of water suited for younger children and folks who just want to float along and take in the scenery of the beautiful Pigeon River gorge. There are no major challenging rapids but plenty of the best swimming holes you will ever find in the Southeast! Taking it easy affords many chances to glimpse wildlife of all kinds but please help us keep them wild and don’t give them handouts.
Whether you want to brave the rapids or just float along singing a song, Hartford and the Pigeon River will not disappoint. No hotels are available in Hartford, but you will be able to find some pretty good food at the gas stations, most outfitters and couple of cafes located just off the Interstate.
“We took our lunch down to the river bank. The whole family sat in the sun and recapped our big adventure on the water. I don’t think lunch ever tasted as good as it did after our rafting trip!” says one full-bellied rafter from North Carolina.
History of Hartford
There is a great deal of evidence to remind us of the past logging operations throughout the community. Now dismantled, the foundations of railroad bridges can be found along the watercourse. The railroads which traversed much of what is now the National Park and the Cherokee National Forest have long since stopped being a part of Hartford history but many of the today’s roads now follow the course of their old tracks.
For more information, or to order a Visitor Brochure, contact the Cocke County Partnership at 423-625-9675.