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Best Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

2742 reviews

#1 of 10 National Parks in Tennessee

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The Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains, have a wide range of elevations, making them home to over 400 vertebrate species, 100 tree species, and 5000 plant species. Hiking is the park's main attraction, with over 800 miles (1,300 km) of trails, including 70 miles (110 km) of the Appalachian Trail. Other activities are fishing, horseback riding, and visiting some of nearly 80 historic structures.

on Chimney Tops Trail
13 hours ago

hiking

One of my favorite trails in the GSMNP. There are a few very steep ascents, but the trail is well groomed and worth the effort. The summit involves some intense scrambling to get to the panoramic view, but for those who wish to not make the extra climb, there are enjoyable views at the clearing.

on Grotto Falls Trail
17 hours ago

hiking

Wonderful trail!! I hiked it with my four year old daughter and she had no trouble at all. The falls are absolutely beautiful!! Great memories were made.

on Rainbow Falls Trail
1 day ago

The rough hike was well worth it for the end result!!

on Rainbow Falls Trail
1 day ago

Crowded trail (for us) in late August. Some water and good shoes recommended. Lots of rocks on the trail. We took our time going up, hung out at the falls for a while and ate lunch, super easy going down. Round trip took us (from deep south, not avid hikers) 4 hours. Small waterfall about 0.5 mile to the falls, nice refresh point. Definitely worth the hike for the waterfall.

on Mount Cammerer via Low Ga...
1 day ago

hiking

It was a fun hike a lot of great scenery and challenging trail

on Abrams Falls Trail
1 day ago

hiking

Beautiful trail. Very rocky, so be aware of tripping. It took about an hour to hike to the falls at a decent pace. Can be steep in spots. Some people were swimming at the falls, but I wouldn't recommend it. The current was pushing them around significantly.

on Rainbow Falls Trail
1 day ago

hiking

The route shown on the map ends at Rainbow Falls, but the trail continues on from there if you want all the way up to near the top of LeConte. There is connects with the Bullhead trail not too far from the LeConte Lodge, the Alum Cave Trail, Cliff Top, the LeConte shelter, and the top of Mt. LeConte is also within strking distance. This is definitely a challenging trail but an excellent hike.

on Alum Cave Trail to Mount ...
1 day ago

hiking

Great trail, but this route as shown does not actually take you to the top of Mt. LeConte. It says to Mt. LeConte but the end of the trail as shown leads to Cliff Tops. This route needs to be edited so that it leads to the correct location. To get to the actual top of Mt. LeConte, continue east past the lodge on to Boulevard Trail. About a quarter mile up you'll see the pile of rocks on your right.

on Alum Cave Trail to Mount ...
1 day ago

Hiked this trail and loved it. It was pretty crowded so i would suggest going early in the morning. Well worth no matter what though!

on Appalachian Trail to Char...
2 days ago

awesomeness
first 4 miles are rocky and uphill
but its gravy after that

on Meigs Creek Trail
2 days ago

hiking

*No facilities at the trail head. Make a pit-stop at the IGA grocer/gas station in Townsend, or drive further ahead from trailhead and stop at Metcalf Bottoms picnic area, then turn around and go back to trail head*

The parking lot gets very full, very quick.....especially when the warmer months are upon us. Folks come an take a dip in The Sinks, and stay for hours....so my suggestion is to get there early. There are no other parking options near the trail head.
Wonderful trail, with many, many creek crossings...18 times, two times (out and back). Be prepared to get your shoes wet, if we've had heavy rains, or be sure to bring along/wear water shoes.
The trail is challenging enough, but not brutal. The water level was very low, the day I went (July 19th), only only got my shoes wet because of misplacing my foot.
The Meigs Creek Cascades are beautiful. Again, the water was low enough for me to rock hop to the middle of the water, and not get wet.
The last 1/4 of the trail, before the Meigs Mountain and Lumber Ridge trail junctions, was becoming quite overgrown, when I was there. The nettle was very high, and flopping over the trail. The ferns, although gorgeous, was creeping into the trail, and was thick....no snakes were seen, but because of the over growth of foliage, I couldn't see one even it one was there! Many varieties of mushrooms, and there were several HUGE American Beech trees that are a lovely sight!
Had my first bear sighting, while on the first 1/4 of the trail....but he/she was so far away, there was no threat. I just watched in awe, from afar, until I knew it was at a safe distance that I could continue.

on Snake Den Ridge Low Gap T...
2 days ago

hiking

Mixed review. Snake Den Ridge is long and hard. There is a lovely old growth forest at the bottom, but not many views. It is unrelenting uphill all the way to the AT. It main advantage is being the shortest access to the Old Black/Mt. Guyot section of the AT. Water available on the bottom third, pretty dry the rest of the way.

on Cades Cove Loop Road
2 days ago

scenic driving

Love the history of this area! Really nice way to see a lot of historic buildings and way of life as far back as the 1800's. Several hiking trails off of the loop as well.

on Laurel Falls Trail
2 days ago

hiking

Good trail for our first day in the Gatlinburg area with a 9- and 12-year old. Manageable uphill climb. The falls were a nice payoff for the kids' first hike.

on Clingmans Dome Observatio...
3 days ago

We loved this hike !!!

on Baskins Creek Falls Trail
3 days ago

hiking

*No facilities at the trail head. On your drive in on Cherokee Orchard Loop Rd, they can be found at the Bullhead/Rainbow Falls trail head, or make a pit stop at a gas station/restaurant in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.*

Parking for this trail head is limited. I chose to start my trek at the Baskins trail head that is kiddycorner from the Grapeyard trailhead....more parking options. There are a few parking spots/pull offs along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, at the Baskins/Trillium trail junctions. It will be up to you, where you decide to start.
This was a wonderfully challenging trail, with some significant elevation gains, inclines/declines. Going down may be hard on your knees, and going up may give your quads the work out of their lifetime. It's no joke, however the upside is that this trail is 90% dirt....no huge rocks/boulder, or copious amounts of tree roots. So, although the trail can be steep at times, it's easy on the feet and not difficult to get a nice pace going to get yourself up and down.
The temperature and air felt very damp/humid...but that made for excellent conditions for all the beautiful, varying mushrooms!! Things are VERY green, on this trail.
There are a few creek areas where you may need to rock hop/walk through water, if the levels are high. No foot bridges are in place to help you cross. So, keep this in mind, if the rains have been plentiful.
The falls are amazing!!!! Be extremely cautious navigating down some of the steeper rocks...they have a significant pitch to them, and the trail is very slippery and wet. Once you get down to the fall...there is no swimming hole, but you can stand in the falls and get yourself very wet, like standing in a shower. There are many big boulder and rocks to sit on and enjoy the sounds and sights.
This trail is not heavily trafficked, at all, so you may have the falls all to yourself, like I did. I was there for 30ish minutes, and didn't see another person until arriving back at the main trail.
The two cemeteries are peaceful. The Baskins Cemetery, although only 0.2 miles off the main trail, has more significant elevation/steep grade to climb. But, I feel that some time should be spent at both cemeteries that you come across, to pay respects to the mountain folks who once called the Smoky's, their home.
The book, Hiking Trails of The Smokies, states that there are beautiful views from the Trillium trail junction side of Baskins Creek Trail.....but to see them, it's best to hike this trail in the fall when the leaves are all off the trees. But, that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this trail, and the falls.
If you have time, be sure to visit the many old historical cabin homes, that are along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail...lots of history about this area is listed on the information placards.