Explore the most popular Backpacking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hiked this morning. Left about 8am and made it to the top about 9:30; back to the bottom about 10:30. Only saw two groups on the way up; lots of people heading up as we were coming down. I am pretty slow/out of shape but with some stops along the way we made it. It’s a steady incline the whole way, with lots of rocks and tree roots to navigate. Overall though, very well maintained and easy to follow. There was a lot of fog, so we didn’t see too much. The trail itself was neat; I’d do it again to try to make it the extra few miles to Charlie’s Bunyon if I was in better shape.

Incredible views

Love love love this hike the steady elevation gain can be difficult at time but well worth the effort once you make the top. I would give this a 5 star if it wasn’t for the fact that you have to go through the cafes cove loop to get there LOL

The first 3/4 of a mile or so are the hard part but overall it is a nice walk in the woods. I use this trail every year as a filler hike when I need to make my daily mileage.

1 day ago

This hike is truly amazing! It’s very difficult with lots of steep uphills, but my girlfriend and I — both probably novice to moderate-level hikers — were able to do the whole thing in about five hours. Definitely bring more water than you think you’ll need and a snack to refuel once you reach the top. In peak seasons the trail is VERY busy up to Alum Cave but then loses many of the more casual hikers at the Bluff. I’d recommend hitting the trail early to miss that big crowd. From that point on the crowd thins out and the trail gets much more strenuous. However, all that being said, the trail features many amazing panoramic views and stunning natural features that will keep you motivated and inspired to reach the top. Once at the top, refill your water at the LeConte Lodge and then take the half mile hike up to Cliff Tops for a magnificent, unobstructed view of Clingman’s Dome, Chimney Tops, Gatlinburg and more.

this is an awesome hike that takes you through some amazing landscapes.

We left around 830am and the trail wasn’t too busy. The trail is a bit longer than we read, overall we hiked 11.8 miles and it took us around 4.5 hours. This was a strenuous hike with a lengthy incline in the beginning and another lengthy decline closer to the site, which means two large inclines throughout the hike. Lots of rocks and climbing so wear good shoes. Overall a great hike with a view worth the climb.

Great shorter out and back hike, mostly under canopy. Well traveled!!... with lots of people. Well marked. Parking lot gets full early. The trail continues after the waterfall and loses the masses of people.

I went with a group of four- all in our late twenties. We all considered ourselves in reasonably good shape before this hike. Could have been the altitude, but overall this hike wore us out. It took us about an hour and a half to make it up to the falls. The hike up to Rainbow Falls consisted of a lot of switch backs, as you descended up. This became exhausting after a while. The views along the way were beautiful. We saw lots of wildlife- a bear (in the parking lot of the trail head), turkey, a snake, and a few chipmunks. Overall was a nice hike, although I will say I was a little disappointed with the “falls” itself- not much water trickling out. We did get some satisfaction as there’s always that sigh of relief when you reach the destination.... the way back down was much easier. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the trail head. If you are considering this trail, my recommendation would be to pack water, a snack, and some good shoes.

The trail was amazing!!! My first real hike and I feel accomplished! My knees hurt though.

Favorite trail in the Smokes. Fabulous view. Not many people on trail so we got to view point and had a snack by ourselves. After we went to Charles Bunion. That was neat too.

Beautiful hike. You MUST do the extra 0.2 after you reach the lodge.

good trail...long and tiring especially during the second half. definitely a challenging and rewarding trail. I moved quick and completed the trail in about 4 hours, with about 20 minutes of hanging out at the top of the cliff. personally, I prefer challenging short trails (3-4 miles) so this was not as enjoyable, but not deducting any stars for my personal preference.

bird watching
3 days ago

Great hike, and some excellent birds! We were here early August, and it was cool to see the variety of warblers change as we rose in elevation. Plus some dark eyed juncos up top and tons of salamanders along the way. We were rewarded with a great view at the top! Definitely a challenging hike for people not used to altitude changes.

4 days ago

I hiked from Clingmans Dome, not in the recording, to Fontana Dam. The trail was in good shape. This was the hardest hike I have done in the Smokies.

fun trail. saw a black snake. waterfall was worth it. some steep inclines but worth it

Perfect day hike. The variety of scenery once you get to Arch Rock is hard to beat. You go quickly from rhododendron-lined creeks to the open views at Inspiration Point, then the massive Alum Cave, then steep cliffs along the final climb, then high-elevation spruce forest, then the shrubs and bare rock on Cliff Tops. The sections with cables along exposed drops are just intimidating enough to be interesting but shouldn't be dangerous at all when the trail is dry. The well-maintained trail and the efficient route make the peak surprisingly accessible for being so high and remote. There were young children and people old enough to be my grandparents on the highest section of the trail. I took exactly 3 hours to reach Cliff Tops. The most experienced hikers were moving faster than that, but most people I saw were on pace for about 3-3.5 hours. It wasn't too crowded on a Saturday morning. I only encountered other hikers about every 5-10 minutes until I came back down the lower sections later in the afternoon.

6 days ago

This trail was my least favorite in the park. Very rocky with an uphill climb straight out of the parking lot. Not a very pretty trail with not a lot to look at until the falls which was a trickle. I have climbed the Rockies so I am not a novice hiker.

9-9-19 gorgeous day for hike up and back with hubby. It was hard and slow but will likely do it again. This was my second trip 23 years later on a nicer day. \0/

A must do in the smokies. They do a great job with trail maintenance

Well-maintained, beautiful trail. Some nice views on the way up and on the top. The point of summit is a little underwhelming (basically a giant cairn-like rock structure), but it’s very close to a beautiful overlook. To get to the best views, keep going past the lodge. There will be a sign on the right that indicates another trail that is .2 miles. If you take that, you will find the best overlooks. It is not far from the lodge at all. To be honest with you, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the name of the trail, but it is not hard to find.

7 days ago

We did this trail after hiking Spruce Flats Falls across the road. We did detour to the right to the small cemetary. Always interesting to read the headstones. Nice hike, only people on it. Could hear the river most of the way. We, too, never saw a waterfall. All in all, nice, quiet hike.

This is a nice trail that is definitely moderate. Lots of up hill but lots of down hill too. Enjoyed sitting on the rock at Charlie’s Bunion and taking in all the beauty. We apparently didn’t go far enough when on the jump off trail. We came to a part that just looked like it was going into the forest but after looking at peoples pics, we should have kept going...next time! We went 9.1 miles and it took us just a little over 5 miles.

We hiked this in September and since there wasn’t much rain the waterfalls were just a trickle of water. Still a nice family hike and it’s good for trail-running. We stopped a few times to dip our feet and legs into the water to get cool.

We were entertained while hiking on this trail as you walk along the creek, then briefly through a cave, then you pass the arches and of course while climbing to the top there are various lookouts to stop for a short break. Once you get to the top it’s wonderful. Make sure not to miss the clofftops trail as I thought it was better than the Mt. LeConte viewpoint (but definitely see both and judge for yourself). It’s a short easy hike to see both. We packed a lunch and just enjoyed sitting and watching the scenery. Stopped at the cabins to refill our water bottles before heading down.

Started out only going to the bluffs but pressed on to the lodge on top. excellent views. My battery went dead so recording is incorrect. Hiked 11 miles not 7.5.

The trail was in good shape. Long way to the top but totally worth it. Lots of lookouts and the lodge was cool

8 days ago

More challenging because of the elevation change. Start early in the day even in Sept. Absolutely worth it

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