A favorite pastime of people who visit the Smoky Mountains is hiking. There are tons of trails in the Smoky Mountains, it’s just a matter of which ones you are physically capable of walking. Some people could walk the trails for miles and others are limited on what they can walk. If you are able, then check out these 5 best trails in the Smoky Mountains for walking. *Keep in mind that the Smokies are still wildlife and it’s rare to find a trail that is completely paved.
5 Best Trails in the Smoky Mountains for Walking
One of the easiest trails to hike in the Smoky Mountains is Laurel Falls. It’s a fairly easy trail that most can walk up to in order to see the water fall. Although it’s easy, it is still very physical. However, once you get up to see Laurel Falls, the hike is totally worth it.
Access trail: Laurel Falls Trail
Trailhead: From Sugarlands Visitor Center, turn toward Cades Cove on Little River Road and drive 3.5 miles to the trailhead where there are parking areas on both sides of the road.
Trail Notes: The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 2.6 miles and the hike is considered moderate in difficulty. It takes about 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Pets and bicycles are prohibited on the trail. The trail is paved but the pavement is rough and uneven. Due to the steep grade and roughness of pavement, this trail is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.
You can find out more about Laurel Falls Trail here.
If you’re looking to see some major views while you’re visiting the Smokies, then Andrews Bald is for you. Hikers say that this is still a very rugged trail, so keep that in mind when you decide to hike it. Andrews Bald is a total of 3.5 miles for the whole hike.
Trail: Forney Ridge Trail Driving to the Trailhead: Drive to the Clingmans Dome parking area at the end of Clingmans Dome Road. Look for a short access trail down to the left between the bulletin board and the paged trail to the Clingmans Dome Information center and Clingmans Dome tower.
Hiking Distance: 1.8 miles one way to Andrews Bald. Forney Ridge Trail continues past Andrews Bald for a total of 5.6 miles down to Springhouse Branch Trail.
Trail Conditions: Elevation change of 1,200 feet
Trail Notes: Pets are not allowed on this trail. The only two trails in the park that allow pets are the Gatlinburg Trail near the Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Oconaluftee River Trail near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Find out more about Andrews Bald here.
5 Best Trails in the Smoky Mountains for Walking
With a name like Abrams Falls, you’re probably hoping the hike is super easy. Well, you’re in luck because this tends to be an easier hike and it around the location of Cade’s Cove. The roundtrip length is about 5 miles.
Access trail: Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove
Trailhead: The turnoff for the trailhead is located past stop #10 on the Cades Cove Loop Road. The turnoff is signed.
Trail Notes: The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 5 miles and the hike is generally considered moderate in difficulty. Due to the length and terrain however, some visitors may rate it as difficult. It takes about 3-4 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Please remember that if you begin your hike late in the afternoon, you may have to return in the dark! Portions of this trail are rocky-sturdy your favorite hiking boots are recommended. Do not attempt to hike the trail in sandals or flip flops. Hikers must cross three narrow log bridges to reach the waterfall. Pets and bicycles are prohibited on the trail. Find out more about Abrams Falls here.
An adventure awaits you on Grotto Falls. This is a trail that is about 2.77 miles round trip. Some say this is one of the most beautiful trails because you can actually walk behind the falls. The trail is fairly simple to walk, but you are walking in nature still, so be prepared for that. The trail is not paved.
Access trail: Trillium Gap Trail on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Trailhead: From the parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to stop #5 where there is a large parking area. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a narrow, winding, one-way road that is closed in winter. Buses, RVs, and large trucks are prohibited on the road.
Trail Notes: The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 2.6 miles and the hike is generally considered moderate in difficulty. It takes about 2-3 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. Portions of this trail are rocky-sturdy hiking shoes are recommended. Do not attempt to hike the trail in sandals or flip flops. Pets and bicycles are prohibited on the trail. Find out more about Grotto Falls here.
Indian Creek Falls
A simple trail awaits you with Indian Creek Falls. It’s nearly 2 miles long and is a fairly easy trail. The nature along this trail is beautiful and is a favorite among many!
An easy 1.6 mile roundtrip hike will allow you to enjoy two beautiful waterfalls in the Deep Creek area. Walk Deep Creek Trail 0.7 mile to the junction with Indian Creek Trail. On your way you can view the elegant, 60' high Tom Branch Falls located on the far side of Deep Creek. Turn right at the junction with Indian Creek Trail and proceed approximately 200' to Indian Creek Falls. The falls are 25 feet in height. Watch the brief video Deep Creek Waterfalls and Wildflowers for an overview of the Deep Creek area.
Access trail: Deep Creek Trail
Trailhead: Follow the signs to the national park through downtown Bryson City to Deep Creek Campground. Continue past the campground to the trailhead at the end of Deep Creek Road.
Trail Notes: The roundtrip distance to the waterfalls is 1.6 miles and the hike is generally considered easy. It takes about 1-2 hours to hike to the waterfalls and back. Carry drinking water with you. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended. Bicycles are permitted on this section of the Deep Creek Trail. Pets are prohibited on the trail.
Finding a trail to hike in while in the Smoky Mountains can be difficult, but it’s possible. Always try a portion of the trail to make sure you can handle it. There’s nothing wrong with determining you can’t finish it, but it’s always fun to see if you can. The Smoky Mountains are full of wildlife and nature worth getting your eyes on. Don’t worry if none of these trails fit your hiking agenda, there are plenty more options in the Smoky Mountains!
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