November 6

Official Race Hike Recommendations!


At Vacation Races, we believe a race is more than a 13.1 mile run. A race is an opportunity to experience the location. It would be a shame if you traveled all the way to the Smokies to run a race, and didn’t even take the short drive to see Cades Cove! Can you imagine? What a waste. To encourage our runners to get out and explore the area where we hold races, we do something a little unique.

Each race has an official “race hike”. What you do is this: upon completing the race, each runner is challenged to embark on a little adventure. Within 72 hours of finishing the race, you need to complete the designated race hike, take a picture of you with your race bib at the summit of the hike and submit it to us. Everyone that does this becomes a member of that hike’s club AND gets 50% OFF their registration for that race the following year!

For example, at the Zion Half Marathon, we initiated the Angels Club. We had 103 runners hike to the top of Angels Landing. If you have never seen the view from the top of Angels Landing, it is breathtaking.

At the Rocky Mountain Half in Colorado, runners summited Hallett Peak to join the Continental Divid Club. We had six runners complete the challenge, which is extremely hard core. The hike to Hallett Peak is a little longer and a little more intense than Angel’s Landing. We also had fewer race participants than at Zion, so we are proud of our 6.continental divide flattop

At Lake Powell it was Rainbow Bridge.

rainbow club

At the Grand Canyon it will be a hike down into the canyon to Skeleton Point and then back out (this hike doesn’t take you to the canyon floor).

skeleton club

You get the idea. So, the question is: what do we do for Great Smoky Mountains? We want activities that are going to be a challenge, but that are actually doable. We are opening it up to suggestions and nominations. Are there iconic hikes around the Smokies that our runners should be a part of? Maybe a hike doesn’t make sense for this location. Is there some other activity we could do instead of a hike? All you Great Smoky Mountains fanatics, experts, veterans, etc. sound off and let us know!


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  • I agree with Chimney Tops or Charlies’s Bunion. You HAVE to choose something on the AT. Not having an official race hike here would be a huge disappointment! Iam sooooooo excited for both activities.

  • I agree with Mt. LeConte but would be really tough after a race. Chimney Tops or the Charlie’s Bunion would be great options with spectacular views with a little less distance than Mt. LeConte.

  • A shakeout run in Cades Cove is another possibility, and there are 3 possible distances to choose from–the Sparks Lane loop is approximately 3 miles; the Hyatt Lane loop is 7ish; and the whole loop is just shy of 11miles. Absolutely beautiful, and challenging but doable.

  • I would have to agree that the hike to LeConte is awesome especially on Alum Cave. To Clifftops or to Myrtle point would be great. Another option would be the AT from Newfound Gap to Clingman’s Dome Observatory Tower. It’s almost an 8 mile one way hike but you could easily have your car left at Clingman’s Dome parking lot and shuttle back down to Newfound Gap and begin the hike.

  • I agree Mt. LeConte would be a great summit. Clifftops or the lodge for the picture. Can’t wait to do the Smoky Mnt race.

  • Without a doubt, the best hike in the Smokies is Alum Cave Trail up to the Mnt LeConte Lodge. Its a moderately difficult trail but the views on the way up and especially at the top are awesome. You’ll need to allow for around 6-7 hrs roundtrip. Can’t wait to run this one!!

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