Explore Great Smokies - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great Smokies Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Beautiful the whole way through, with the river running parallel for the first bit of the hike and several smaller falls along the way. Loved the wooden and rock bridges and saw a few deer as well. It was raining during our ascent, and because it’s highly trafficked, it resulted in a muddy mess on the way down. This trail is very rocky and I highly recommend proper footwear, especially with the rain and mud. Great trail but would be better once it dries out in a couple days. The waterfalls were huge though because of the rain!

This is a scenic trail with lots of great views. However, it is extremely muddy and slick. I would not recommend it as a trail run.

hiking
5 days ago

Great hike. Very difficult at sections (it was snow capped and iced over) in sections near the waterways, from the recent snow melt. Some challenges upward but worth the efforts when you reach the observation platform.

There was a very good amount of snow at the top, which made it somewhat challenging. The view at the very top is so worth it! Dress warm! The way down was challenging too, there are lots of trees down and debris. Overall more than we expected which made it wonderful. The bullhead way down was fairly muddy, and very much less traveled.

Once you make it up to the top of Mt. Leconte it’s a must to go to cliff top! Have fun!

Love this hike loved it more when I could climb to the top, I personally think this is harder than hiking to Mount Le Conte. I recommend doing some hills and longer hikes prior to this one. The view is still stunning from the overlook. This is a must do hike in the park

hiking
9 days ago

Great hike with 2 kids, ages 9 and 4. The river was beautiful!

My favorite Hike Gorgeous!

Beautiful hike!

on Rainbow Falls Trail

hiking
15 days ago

Even though it was super cold it was still an awesome hike!!! Snowing at the falls and it was gorgous!!! Closer to the falls the ground and rock crossings were icy. But it was still a great hike!!!

God this was the trail that led to my first view of a waterfall. Waterfall was breathless and worth the hike. However park ranger told us it was pretty easy hike, but my friend and I were struggling. Then again we weren't used to the altitude. Also lots of inclines, definitely not for beginners. Plenty of people hiking on trail which made me feel safe.

hiking
19 days ago

Everything you’ve read about how relentlessly steep this trail is? It’s all true. Had we not been training for several months for this hike, wife & I probably wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed the next morning. Trekking poles are A MUST for this steep hike; your thighs and calves will thank you.
Even in the segments that don’t contain long flights of stairs, it’s still nearly always an uphill climb. All that said, the views from the overlook are pretty amazing. The bare “chimney tops” themselves are clearly visible from the overlook, so there’s really no need to follow the trail beyond the overlook (where it dead-ends at a gate).
After lots of rain a few days earlier, the trail was extremely muddy on the day we hiked it.
This trail is definitely showing signs of being “loved to death” by scores of hikers. (Wonder if some sort of daily lottery to manage the number of hikers might be the answer?)
Encountered a young couple on the trail with their dog, and had to politely let them know that dogs aren’t allowed on most hiking trails within the park.
Be sure to start this hike early enough in the day that you’ll arrive back at the parking lot before it starts to get dark. On our mid-afternoon trip back down, we encountered a number of folks just getting started who almost certainly would be coming down all those steep stairs in twilight.
As always, carry – and drink – plenty of water, and take some energy snacks (or lunch) to enjoy at the overlook before heading back to the trailhead and the pain reliever of your choice. Sunscreen and bug spray are wise precautions.
Although parking area is fairly large, it appears to fill up quickly, so plan to get there early to avoid having to park along the busy roadside and walk to the trailhead.
After completing this challenging but rewarding hike, treat yourself to a burger in Gatlinburg – you’ve earned it!

hiking
19 days ago

Wife & I made this our first stop in Cades Cove to beat the crowds while everyone else was exploring the 3 churches. Large parking lot with 2 pit toilets at trailhead.
This hike was quite enjoyable on a beautiful autumn day, and the falls themselves were impressive. The trail stays close to Abrams Creek much of the way, which makes the hiking all the more pleasurable.
The path is broad and smooth most of the time. On the way to the falls, the trail makes 4 crossings of feeder streams on sturdy footlogs. Although this hike could probably be done in sneakers, hiking boots with good ankle support are perhaps a better choice.
Recommend the side trip to the Elijah Oliver Place – interesting cabin and outbuildings.
As always, carry – and drink – plenty of water, and take some energy snacks (or lunch) to enjoy at the falls before heading back to the trailhead. Even though much of this trail is shaded, sunscreen is never a bad idea. And since the trail is near the creek much of the time, bug spray is advisable during the warmer months.
Highly recommend driving Rich Mountain Road out of Cades Cove. It’s a winding forest road with awesome views! And dinner at one of Townsend’s restaurants is a nice alternative to the craziness of downtown Gatlinburg.

Great trail that isn’t too challenging with some great Mountain View’s.

just loved all aspects of this hike...the waterfalls were beautiful and the hike was worth every step!

Gorgeous views from the tower. Very busy, lots of people when we were there. Concrete pathway with incline.

Was very steep! The beginning along the water in the woods was beautiful. Waterfall not impressive. Much more abundant falls in North Carolina.

Moderate not hard

Very nice trail with incredible views from the observation tower! Trail is wide and paved, but steep.

Easy and pretty

It’s alright. Very, very busy. Fantastic views of the Smokies. Concrete path all the way up.

Short hike, but with an incline. We went at sunrise hoping to see the sun hit the trees in the fall, but the fog was so thick we could see much at all. However, this didn’t bother me. It was absolutely beautiful – the fog rolling off the evergreens. I’d say this is a must do for everyone visiting the park. It’s a great spot with wonderful vantage points.

Day after Thanksgiving, not too crowded. I have heard the trail can get busy. It was just the right moderate for after turkey day.

walking
25 days ago

Nice hike up the hill. Mighty cold on top but nothing you can’t survive.

My son and I hiked this trail this morning. It was challenging, but definitely worth the effort and we were glad we chose to do it. We will definitely hike this one again and hopefully the top portion will be opened up again soon.

hiking
29 days ago

Not too difficult of a hike! Steep walk up. Steps, bridges, more steps, inclines, but it’s relatively short of a hike now that the walk to the chimney tops is gated off. Took my gf and I about an hour to climb up with a solid 10 minute rest(were young and in great shape). We did see a handful of people struggling but nothing that will be hard. Beautiful view from the new lookout

Went their in the middle of October amazing views the walk would’ve been easy if I was in shape but the views at the end were totally worth it. Just take your time coming up the mountain. We came on a Friday and it was packed their was no where to park in the parking lot so we parked about a 1/2 mile down the road because that’s where most people were parking so be aware it gets busy lol but totally worth it

Hiked this as part of a two day trip this weekend. We hiked up to Icewater Spring shelter to overnight, then went on to Mt LeConte (and down the Alum Cave Trail) the next day. I think this is a total ascent of 1500 feet, rather than what’s listed: check other sources. Some great views along the way on a fairly strenuous hike. There is a nice spring available for water near the shelter, btw. Trail was in good condition. Few people on the trail, at least at this time of year.

hiking
1 month ago

One of my favorite trails. I did not like all the bear jams along Cade’s cove though. Took a long time to get out of the park. But we’ll worth it. Saw a total of 16 bears mostly mammas with their cubs. Wild turkey. The biggest red headed woodpecker I ever saw and bunch of deer. Great day.

hiking
1 month ago

There is a paved steep pathway to the observation deck. Not far but steep. Beautiful view from the top. Take the clingmans dome bypass trail back down to the parking lots it’s worth it. I wish I knew there was an adjacent trail before I saw the ranger at the deck.

Load More