There were around 57.81 million hikers in the US in 2020. That figure has likely increased over the last two years. It tells us how people here are enthusiastic about following many trails. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular destinations in America for Hikers, and for a good reason.
This natural wonderland has been home to native people for thousands of years, and today you can explore this gorgeous mountain range on foot. There are tons of trails that wind through these ancient peaks. Many offer breathtaking views from high above the forest floor.
Plan Ahead for Your Trailing Adventure
Before leaving for your trail, you should make sure that you plan. When planning the trip, there are many things to consider. The weather, trail conditions, and park service websites are all essential steps in preparing for your hiking adventure.
Additionally, if you’re trekking, you’ll need a location to stay and recover in between your excursions because long treks can be exhausting. Vacation rental cabins are the ideal place to stay, making them perfect for hikers who want a place where they have the necessary basic amenities available. These rentals are usually furnished and offer a pleasant place to stay for relaxing and making travel plans.
You should also check local weather forecasts and news reports to get an idea of what conditions might be present on your hiking journey.
Continue reading to explore the ten best hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains:
Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
While you’re in the Smoky Mountains, head to Alum Cave Trail. It is an excellent trail for families and those looking for a moderate hike just over 5 miles long. The trail will take 3-4 hours to complete, depending on your speed and how often you stop along the way. In addition, you can see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Mount LeConte. Take some time to enjoy this fantastic view from one of its highest peaks.
Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls Trail is a relatively easy hike to some beautiful sights. It is just a 2.3 miles roundtrip with approximately 314 feet of elevation. The trailhead parking lot is close to the road and easy to find, so it’s worth stopping by. From there, it’s a short walk to the falls overlook, where you can see them up close; they’re gorgeous.
The water is cold and refreshing but be careful of slippery rocks in wet and downed trees in dry weather. It’s also significant for hikers who want to get closer than most people do since this area does not allow dogs on leash or pets at all.
Rainbow Falls Trail
Rainbow Falls is a 3.5-mile round trip hike that takes you along a middle path before reaching the base of three waterfalls, easily viewable from the road. However, if you want to get closer, this trail offers many scenic views and places where you can dip your feet in cold mountain streams.
It is an easy hike for all ages and fitness levels, requiring no real climbing or strenuous activity. Perfect for families looking for an active day trip in the mountains that won’t leave anyone feeling sore or exhausted by the end.
Chimney Tops Trail
The Chimney Tops Trail is a relatively easy and pleasant hike with moderate elevation changes. The hike will take you about 1-1.5 hours to complete and is approximately 2 miles long one way. The trail starts at Clingman’s Dome parking lot, so wear good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water. There are restrooms at this location as well.
It is perfect for families looking for an adventure together. You’ll get beautiful mountainside views along your journey, which will leave you feeling inspired after finishing it all up.
Grotto Falls Via Trillium Gap Trail
This trail is 6.5 miles long and rated as moderate. The trail can be accessed from the Trillium Gap Trailhead in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN. It’s open from late March to early November, with a total elevation gain of 1,140 feet.
As you hike along this path, you’ll see many different plants growing throughout the forest that surrounds you on either side of the trail. It includes rhododendron trees and many other types of flowers, such as lady slippers or dogwoods. If it’s your first time hiking in this area, don’t forget your camera so you can take pictures along the way.
Peregrine Peak Via Alum Cave Bluff Trail
The hike to Peregrine Peak starts at the Alum Cave trailhead, located on the far eastern side of the park. It is a relatively easy trail and takes about 2 hours to complete. The most challenging section of this hike involves crossing a very deep creek that can be slightly tricky.
The reward for hiking this trail is getting stunning views from atop Peregrine Peak, a small rock outcropping. You can see all over the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from here and even get some nice snapshots of the picturesque view.
Charlies Bunion Via Appalachian Trail
Charlie’s Bunion is a rocky outcropping towering above the Appalachian Trail. The trail is 4.4 miles long and gains 1,400 feet in elevation. It’s moderate because of the steep incline and can be done year-round. Though, during winter, you may want to bring snowshoes or cross-country skis to help prevent slipping on ice. The trail passes through forests and offers many views of the Smoky Mountains along the way.
Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail
Clingmans Dome is the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. The observation tower is at its summit and offers scenic views of surrounding peaks and valleys and a 360-degree view of Mount LeConte below. You can access Clingmans Dome from several different trails, but the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is a convenient option to reach atop.
Abrams Falls Trail
Abrams Falls Trail is your best bet if you’re looking to hike without the crowds. It is less than a mile from downtown Gatlinburg, TN. The trailhead is located at the end of Cherokee Orchard Road and can be accessed from Pigeon Forge or Sevierville.
The trail has varying difficulty levels, including both flat areas and steep terrain. The total distance covered by this hike is 6.6 miles one way, with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet for its entire length. So don’t forget your hiking boots if you plan on taking this trek.
The Gatlinburg Trail is a 6.6-mile moderate hike with beautiful mountains and lake views. The trail is open year-round, although many steep inclines can get slippery in the winter months. It’s dog-friendly and accessible to all skill levels.
The trail begins at either end: east or west of downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee, so you can choose how and where to start. Several places along this trail will show signs of other trails branching into different directions. Some of these lead down into little valleys with waterfalls that look almost magical.
Have Fun Hiking in the Smoky Mountains
The National Park Service estimates more than 11.3 million recreational visits were made to the park’s 522,427 acres in 2016. In the Smoky Mountains, there are many trails to hike on. Whether traveling with family or friends, hiking can be a great way to spend time together. Hiking is also a great way to get exercise and see some beautiful scenery. We hope these tips have helped you prepare for a fantastic time on the trails. Remember that preparation is necessary, but enjoying yourself and having fun following the hiking activity is essential.