Hiking Trails-Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You can enjoy hiking year round, each season offers a different experience. The Appalachian Trail runs 70 miles along the park’s top ridge. More than 850 miles of hiking trails are across the Great Smoky Mountains. They range from easy to difficult. Some are half hour walks & some are week-long back packing trips. Allow plenty of time for your hike, hikers typically travel about 1.5 miles per hour. Backcountry camping requires a permit. Unfortunately pets are only allowed on the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail
Great Smoky Mountain Short Hiking Trails
Abrams Falls Hiking Trail
This is one of the most popular trails in the Smokies and leads conviently to Cades Cove. The trail begins at the wooden bridge over Abrams Creek, it takes hikers along a great level course. The trail does get challenging as is steepens when you come to Arbutus Ridge and climb into a gap in the ridge. The path then leads to Abrams Falls, one of the parks largest falls and a thing of absolute beauty.
Distance: 5.0 Miles
Alum Cave Bluff Hiking Trail
Even though this trail is one of the shortest it includes the natural arching “Arch Rock” along with three other sites. First being Huggins Hell, named by settlers who were detoured by the areas rhododendrons and laurel. You will then come across Inspiration Bluff, which has a spectacular view of the Little Pigeon River’s upper basin. You then come across the site that is responsible for the trails name. Alum Cave Bluff is a massive ledge of black slate high above the trail.
Distance: 4.6 Miles
Andrews Bald Hiking Trail
This trail follows the upper end of the Forney Ridge Trail, beginning where the paved path to Clingmans Dome Tower leaves the road. The trail ends at Andrews Bald, the highest bald in the Smokies. On a pleasant day the view can be breathtaking, offering an endless landscape of mountains stretching all the way into North Carolina.
Distance: 4.4 Miles
Baskins Creek Falls Hiking Trail
Beginning at the Roaring Fork Nature Trail parking area, this trail offers visitors a seldom-visited sanctuary from higher traffic trails. Visitors will enjoy an easy rise and fall in the trail, with only a slight descent before turning and rising towards the falls. Just before the falls you will pass the Baskin Cemetery, where a little more than a dozen graves still stand. The hollow that receives the falls sits some thirty-five feet below the bluff to create Baskins Creek Falls.
Distance: 3.8 Miles
Chimney Tops Hiking Trail
This hike is short and very steep. But, don’t let the quick ascent detour you from one of the Smokies finest views. Relatively easy for the first mile, you will endure a 600-yard climb to the Chimneys before experiencing a breathtaking view that rivals any other. This trail is not particularly dangerous, but is not recommended for small children.
Distance: 4.0 Miles
Clingman’s Dome Tower Hiking Trail
This trail is a wide, paved course that is easily accessible with a wheelchair or stroller. Rest room facilities and benches assist in navigating the path. When you reach the summit, you will be standing on the second highest peak east of the Mississippi River. The tower is reached via a wide ramp, making this trail an immediate favorite amongst families and groups with children.
Distance: 1.0 Mile
Grotto Falls Hiing Trail
This trail is located off the Roaring Fork Motor Trail and offers the only waterfall that visitors are able to walk behind. Though the trail is primarily traversing a hemlock forest, it is a suitable trek for novice hikes. The distance to the falls is relatively short and the slope is easy to travel. Located close to Gatlinburg, Grotto Falls has long been a tourist favorite.
Distance: 2.4 Miles
Laurel Falls Hiking Trail
Laurel Falls offers the easiest waterfall access in the Smokies. Following a paved trail, hikers walk through a progression of cascades before arriving at the flat, rocky base of the 60-foot waterfall. This trail is easily accessible by wheelchair and stroller and offers the perfect spot to sit and take in the beauty of the falls and mystifying sounds of rushing water. Because of this, Laurel Falls is one of the Smokies most visited trails.
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail
Though this trail is a bit challenging, it takes visitors to the highest waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. Beginning at the upper end of Cherokee Orchard, the path takes visitors through a field of boulders, hardwood and hemlock forests and along a streamside to the base of the 80-foot falls. Though this is one of the more difficult short trails, it is well worth the trip once you reach the falls.
Distance: 5.4 Miles
Great Smoky Mountain All Day Hikes
Alum Cave to Mt. Le Conte Hiking Trail
Many will argue that this trail is the best in the Smokies. The trail is highlighted by Arch Rock, Huggins Hell, Inspir-ation Point, Alum Cave Bluff, and Le Conte lodge atop the mountain. The trail ranges from fairly level to steep and difficult, offering hikers the opportunity to view countless treasures and breathtaking views. At the top of Mount Le Conte, hikers can view a plethora of scenery standing at 6,593 feet above sea level.
Distance: 10.2 Miles
Charlies Bunion Hiking Trail
A heavily traveled path, the trail to Charlies Bunion follows the Appala-chian Trail for a majority of your trek. Offering a moderately difficult hike, the trail is relatively easy with more difficult terrain towards the end of the trail. The highlight of this hike is the fine panoramic views that are available at both the beginning and the end of the hike. You can either stand atop Charlies Bunion, offering an easy resting place, or the Jump-Off. Both give visitors an amazing view that is well worth the walk.
Distance: 8.2 Miles
Gregory Bald Hiking Trail
This hike is not an easy one, but those who choose to take it can look forward to one of the finest views in the Smokies. Overlooking the beautiful Cades Cove basin, Gregory Balds also offers a mid-June spectacle of azaleas. This hike is intended for experienced hikers and will often take an average of four hours just to reach the Balds.
Distance: 11.6 Miles
Ramsay Cascades Hiking Trail
Ramsay Cascades offers one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, but the trek arriving there can be very difficult to traverse. Though the trail begins as a fairly easy path, it becomes a rocky surface that can become very slick and dangerous when moist. Lying deep within the serene surroundings of the mountains, the trail takes visitors through pristine wilderness to two streams cascading over a ledge and forming an immaculate scene that begs for a picnic lunch. Though this trail offers an amazing destination, make sure that you are up to the trip.
Distance: 8.0 Miles
Spence Field – Thunderhead Hiking Trail
This trail begins at the Cades Cove Picnic Grounds and takes visitors on a tour that culminates at Thunderhead Mountain. Though the trip is not an easy one, it offers visitors the opportunity to view Thunderhead, the highest peak in the western Smokies, and Spence field, the largest bald in the park. This trail is fairly steep and offers quite a challenge to novice hikers, but it offers both spectacular views and magnificent scenery in route to an unforgettable destination.
Distance: 14.4 Miles