Play a unique game of miniature golf in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Take a ride up the mountainside before playing 18 holes on the way back down. 

People riding hillside incline at Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (photo courtesy of Hillbilly Golf)

A bright-orange incline that once belonged to the flagship Coca-Cola bottling plant takes players to the top of this miniature golf course that promises to be one of the most unusual you’ve ever encountered. Hillbilly Golf opened in 1971 and sits along Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s famed Parkway. It offers families 36 holes of miniature golf fun, and a line begins forming outside well before the place opens each day.  

Once visitors reach the small stand run by Nancy Howard and Rande Hackler, the daughters of Hillbilly Golf founder Shelby Boyd, they select their golf club and ball and take a seat for their ride to the top of the course. After ascending 300 feet, groups play their way down the mountainside on one of two whimsical and challenging courses. The A side, on the right, was unveiled on opening day, July 4, 1971, while the B side, to the left, came a year and a half later. Each course features 18 holes and plenty of opportunities to take in the natural beauty of the Smokies.  

 Along the way, golfers encounter holes where balls travel through underground tubes and pass beneath tractors, moonshine stills and more. They are tasked with maneuvering the ball under a path of arches made from horseshoes and through the spokes of an old wagon wheel. The setting feels snatched from an idyllic farm scene in a movie and makes for a fun outing together ripe with photo opportunities. 

The owners invite kids and families to climb on tractors, sit on barrels and explore all the props along the course as part of the experience. Once you reach the end of hole 18, grab a $1 bottle of water while waiting for the incline to pick you up. At the bottom, hang tight for a moment, and Howard or Hackler might even snap a family photo for you, so the memories go far beyond the mountainside. 340 Parkway, Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738, 865/436-7470,