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

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great hike. moderate as described. beautiful views the whole way up and the top is just breathtaking

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

My family and I have done this trail many times. We like to park at Sugarlands and walk it to Gatlinburg to eat breakfast then walk it back. Makes for a good morning

The trail was fairly easy; but has amazing views! I highly recommend it. Many areas to stop for a rest or just to take in the amazing energy there.

Saw more people than I would have liked, but the views were amazing. Go all the way to Myrtle Point. If icy, crampons are worth carrying.

Good easy beginners hike. All paved with slow grade up. Waterfalls was just another proof of Gods handiwork!

Most beautiful trail in the park. If I could only do one this would be it for sure.

Beautiful hike!

easy trail

walking
8 days ago

Pretty fun walk. My recommendation would be park at the visitor center and walk right towards the river across the street. There are signs posted that say Gatlinburg trail. It runs right next the road for a while, with the river on the other side. There are some great photo opportunities on this trail where you can get right next to the river. One of the only trails in the park that allows dogs, so it was definitely worth it to be able to walk my corgi.

Amazing trail. Paved all along the way and wasn't hard. As a novice hiker, this trail was a great start. Waterfall at the end was beautiful. Lots of people though so if you want that solidarity and personal experience, it won't happen. But still enjoyed it! Saw a cub up close too!!

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
10 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!

Wife & I hiked this trail to the bluffs and back for a total distance of 4.6 miles. This was perhaps our favorite of all the trails we hiked in the park, not so much for the destination but for the trail itself.
The first segment of this hike is just delightful, with gorgeous views up and down Alum Cave Creek. We did this hike after a day of heavy rain, which made the creek particularly full and active – and scenic.
Nice, wide path from the trailhead all the way to the bluffs. Numerous crossings on bridges or sturdy footlogs. Climbing the rock stairway through Arch Rock is a unique experience. The last segment past Inspiration Point is rather steep.
As always, carry – and drink – plenty of water, and take some energy snacks (or lunch) to enjoy at the bluffs 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.
A couple of days later we drove past this trailhead and parking was INSANE! Dozens of cars lining both sides of the road in both directions! This is most definitely a situation where you’ll want to be at the trailhead early in the morning to avoid the crowds – and an extra half-mile walk from your car to the trailhead!

The drive itself is quite a treat. Although paved, the road is narrow and winding.
All the historic structures along this route are worth exploring. Glad to see so many of these buildings being maintained. Definitely recommend purchasing the self-guiding brochure, which provides a wealth of information about each stop.
Wife & I did this after a day of heavy rain, and the Place of a Thousand Drips near the end of the route was simply incredible!

hiking
10 days ago

Wife & I did this hike after a day of heavy rain, and the falls were really pouring! Much heavier than in any of the photos we’d seen.
Also due to the rain, the several side stream crossings weren’t the easy rock hop they probably are under normal conditions. A couple of strategically placed footlogs – so common on other trails throughout the park – would be welcome here.
The trail was extremely muddy because of all the rain; even without the mud, this trail definitely shows signs of heavy use.
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.
We were hoping to cross paths with the llama train, but no such luck.
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 or on up to Le Conte Lodge. Even though much of this trail is shaded, sunscreen is never a bad idea. And bug spray is probably advisable during the warmer months.
Parking lot isn’t terribly large, so plan to arrive early or be prepared for a walk to the trailhead.

hiking
10 days ago

Wife & I did this hike after a day of heavy rain, and the falls were really pouring! Much heavier than in any of the photos we’d seen. Due to time limitations, we turned around at the falls rather than venturing farther down the trail to explore the old-growth forest.
Because the trail is paved due to heavy use, this hike can certainly be done in sneakers, although hiking boots to provide better traction are a good alternative.
Parking lot fills up fast, so arriving early is advised. No toilet at trailhead.

hiking
10 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.

9-29-17 one of the most beautiful trails out there. Cute log bridges and interesting features along the way. We sighted bear scat. At the top we had a foggy view but the smell of pine and lush flora made it more than worth it! We hit the trail very early and had some solitude at the way up- as always the further out you go the less people you see. Took us a little over 5 hours.

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.

Best trail to the top of Mt. LeConte. Absolutely the prettiest views. At times you'll feel like you want to quit, but once you get to the top you'll see that it's worth it. After getting to the top, I recommend spending a couple of hours to recharge before the trek down. Maybe eat some lunch over on Cliff Tops. If the store is open, pick of a shirt to commemorate the year you hiked it, and don't forget the pic in front of the lodge. Remember, no gifts for people that didn't make the hike.

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

Pretty Day for picnic. There is a flat rock up the hill a little past the Water Fall

Definitely a challenging hike but WELL worth it! This was the most beautiful hike we did on our trip by far. My 10 year old son handled it like a champ. Even after twisting his little ankle, and lots of tears, he made it to Alum Cave!
The first half of this trail is breathtaking along the river. We had lots of photo ops and the kids LOVED stopping to climb up the rocks, on fallen trees and play in the river. After a pretty steep climb it opens up to amazing views. You can see Alum Cave from that point but still have a good half mile to climb. There are areas with stairs where it gets really steep.
Beware going during early fall, when we were there on 11/21 water froze into giant icicles atop the cave and were melting and dropping down from above over the trail. I nearly got hit by a huge one that fell 3 feet from where I was walking up the steps and shattered.
Overall an amazingly beautiful trail that we will definitely hike again on our next trip!

walking
15 days ago

We just hiked this trail on 11/23. There were 7 of us, 4 adults and 3 kids. It was definitely a fun trail. The falls were gorgeous. Lots of places for the kids to explore and climb. We turned back after the falls (the kids couldn't handle another 5 miles to LeConte).
Lots of roots and rocks but overall an easy hike. It was VERY muddy in some areas but nothing that a good pair of waterproof hiking boots couldn't handle.
The only thing was, with it being Thanksgiving week it was VERY crowded. Way too many people to the point where it was difficult to maneuver around everyone at the falls. I highly recommend this trail, just not during a heavy tourist season.

nature trips
15 days ago

Went the day before Thanksgiving with our 3 and 7 year old boys. Like the reviews mentioned, it was quite busy. We parked in the loop before the actual parking area. It was an easy walk, just crowded. We enjoyed taking some steps off the trail to explore a bit, and sit on some rocks to just enjoy the beautiful views.

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