Explore Smoky Mtns TN - 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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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

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.

Great trail to visit after a few rainy days. Beautiful waterfall but the hike is difficult particularly toward the end.

Steep with a rewarding view. Make sure you follow the green arrows on the ground after you come to what you might think is the end. That's where the view is.

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

on Rainbow Falls Trail

hiking
9 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!!!

hiking
12 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!

hiking
12 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.

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!

I’m not this fittest guy in the world but for most of this trail I was thinking it was more moderate than hard. Then I reached the last section (the rock scramble) and oh boy, it’s definitely a calf burner and a knee killer on the way down. But overall I really enjoyed this trail! Fantastic waterfall at the end. It took just over 5 hours to complete.

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.

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

This is a great trail. We had limited time, so this hike fit. The trail is easy to reach, not hard to find parking, and was less traveled on the trail. GPS clocked 1.9 miles, but it is rocky and rooted, and the leaves hid a lot of that very well. I tend to agree that this is more moderate because of the terrain and narrow foot path. I took my 2 year old and it was pretty slow going.

Moderate not hard

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
16 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.

Easy and pretty

Easy and pretty

on Grotto Falls Trail

hiking
17 days ago

We loved this hike and you can walk behind the falls! We hiked it the day after Thanksgiving with our 8/11 yr old boys. We got there about 9:30 and it wasn’t too busy until we made our our way down, it took us just over two hours including time at the falls. You cross several small streams on the way up and the falls are gorgeous. There are numerous spots you have to walk over areas of roots which could be challenging for some but the trail has some great views of ridges and areas that are dense with rhododendrons along the sides of the path and hills which I’m sure are even more amazing when in bloom. We saw people of all ages on the hike so I’d rate it as easy but do recommend hiking boots as it can be muddy and wet. The drive out of the park was stunning and is worth the drive even if you don’t do the hike. You pass many smaller falls, cross single track bridges and pass Cade’s Cove I believe (we didn’t have time for this). We did Rainbow Falls a few days before which is about 5.6 miles in and out but the scenery on this hike is on par with Rainbow and shorter if pressed for time or not up for the longer uphill hike.

Fairly difficult, fun and scenic hike. Very crowded. Both All Trails and local signs say 10 miles round trip but the All Trails GPS clocked us at nearly 15. Took just over 5.5 hours to complete.

Easy trail filled with families and presumably first time hikers, AKA no hiking etiquette what so ever. Quick and easy to get to the waterfall, keep following the trail past the waterfall for peaceful hiking. I suggest doing this early am or before sunset to beat the crowds and ease of parking. Would not do again or recommend to friends

Best hike in the park.
Although it is extremely difficult.
I’m 24, I go to the gym 5 days a week and in decent shape. It took 7 hours to do the whole trail.
The dining room was closed at the top and it was 50 at the bottom, 20 at the top. You need at least 3 bottles of water and 2 snacks person.
I did this in Nike Running Shoes. I’d suggest a hiking shoe instead and definitely trekking poles or your knees and hips will be swollen for a week after. Going down is worse on your body than going up. If you plan to summit I’d start before 9am at the latest. It gets very crowded.
The best views however are before the bluffs after the cave stairs.

Very beautiful, not difficult, and good for kids. Bring extra socks and shoes as it gets muddy and slippery and your socks will get soaked. At least one bottle of water per person. Get there early like 7-8am or you won’t find parking.

Camped at the top at the backpacking shelter, only thing was it hit a low of 12 degrees.. ouch. Awesome hike and views, must see. Best hike in park hands down.

hiking
20 days ago

great trail, a lot slippery though from the little river but the views and the end are well worth it

Great hike!
Going up to alum cave is beautiful! Love going along creek & steps through the rock formation. After alum cave, great views and neat cliffs. Path is very narrow in spots.
Obviously, LeConte is such a neat place, brownies are to die for. We hike every year.
Note that the hike after alum cave is longer than you think, especially after going back into the woods (after eagles eye). Perseverance....it’s worth it.

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.

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