#3 of 61 national parks in United States of America

Best trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

49,516 Reviews
Looking for a great trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee? AllTrails has 332 great hiking trails, trail running trails, forest trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 145 moderate trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranging from 0.8 to 32.7 miles and from 1,105 to 6,646 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
Description

The Great Smoky Mountains is in the Appalachian Mountains and is America's most visited National Park. In large part due to the highly varied elevations in the park, there is a wide range of plant and animal species. There are over 800 miles of trails, and a large section of the Appalachian Trail in the park as well as 80 historic structures. There is no fee to enter the park, but camping is $14-23 per night. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However some secondary roads, campgrounds, and other visitor facilities close in winter. For seasonal info see: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hours.htm Accessibility: The Interagency Access Pass for free or discounted admission for US Citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities is accepted here. The Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitor Centers are wheelchair/mobility equipment accessible and have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and a drinking fountain. The Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill have packed gravel paths so assistance may be needed for those with mobility challenges. There are wheelchair accessible Ranger-led programs listed in the Smokies Guide newspaper. Temporary disabled parking permits are available at the visitor centers. The most wheelchair accessible amphitheater is at Cade’s Cove and it also has accessible restrooms. Three campgrounds have wheelchair-accessible campsites. Service animals must be on-leash throughout the park. Additional accessible trails and facilities information can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

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Map of trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Park information
Acreage:
521,490 acres
Park hours
Monday
All day
Tuesday
All day
Wednesday
All day
Thursday
All day
Friday
All day
Saturday
All day
Sunday
All day
Contact
(865) 436-1200
Top trails (332)
#1 - Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(3734)
Length: 10.6 mi • Est. 5 h 17 m
This trail begins with a mild incline along Alum Cave Creek and the Styx Branch. At 1.3 miles you will get to Arch Rock, one of the trail's prominent landmarks. The arch's interesting geological features were formed when wind and water eroded away the softer rock. The trail passes right under the natural arch making a great vantage point for photos. At the 2 mile mark you will arrive at Inspiration Point. From here, you will be rewarded with views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge and The Eye of the Needle, as well as Myrtle Point on Mt. LeConte. Past Alum Cave, at the peak of Mount LeConte is the LeConte Lodge where you can stay in one of the primitive cabins that are the only formal lodging in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. At the summit you can also purchase drinks and use the restroom. This is a popular trail, so you will likely be in the company of other hikers. You can continue to hike up to Myrtle Point following this route: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/trail/us/tennessee/myrtle-point-and-mount-leconte-via-alum-cave-trailShow more
#2 - Chimney Tops Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2305)
Length: 4.5 mi • Est. 1 h 37 m
Note: The top of this peak closes due to inclement weather such as wind and snow. Due to the spectacular views and short length, this is one of the more popular hikes on Newfound Gap Road, but that doesn't mean it isn't steep! Users recommend to take this slowly, as the second mile is steeper than the first with almost 1000 feet of elevation gain in the last mile alone.Show more
#3 - Rainbow Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2313)
Length: 5.5 mi • Est. 3 h 12 m
This trail is quite a bit more difficult that it appears. It's easy to follow, but nearly constant incline with pretty rugged terrain. Lots of wildlife. Parking lot gets full early. The trail continues after the waterfall and is much less trafficked at that point, so feel free to continue your hike if you like.Show more
#4 - Laurel Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2782)
Length: 2.4 mi • Est. 1 h 14 m
Dogs and pets are not permitted in Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park and parking at the trailhead is limited. The area is especially busy on weekends year-round and on weekdays during summer. Laurel Branch and the 80-foot high Laurel Falls are named for mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub which blooms along the trail and near the falls in May. Though the trail is paved, the pavement is rough and broken so can be rough for wheelchairs and strollers in sections.Show more
#5 - Grotto Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2123)
Length: 2.6 mi • Est. 1 h 2 m
NOTE: This trailhead is accessed by Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which is closed during the winter. If visiting in winter months, be prepared to park outside the closure and walk 2 miles to the trailhead. Please see the Roaring Fork webpage for more information: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/roaringfork.htm An easy to moderate hike that is popular with families. The highlight is Grotto Falls, under which the trail continues. Accessed via the Trillium Gap Trailhead, this is a cool, well-shaded hike with gentle elevation gains. The only difficulties are numerous rocks and roots that just require you to watch your step.Show more
#6 - Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluffs Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(1355)
Length: 4.2 mi • Est. 2 h 24 m
#7 - Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1852)
Length: 1.2 mi • Est. 42 m
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina, rise higher. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360 views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top. On clear days views expand over a 100 miles. Unfortunately, air pollution often limits viewing distances to under 20 miles. Clouds, precipitation, and cold temperatures are common at Clingmans Dome. Temperatures at the dome can be 10 -20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the surrounding lowlands. In fact, the cool, wet conditions on Clingmans Dome's summit make the spruce-fir forest that grows there a coniferous rainforest. Proper preparation is essential for a good visit. Dress in layers and be sure to bring a jacket, even in summer. Although Clingmans Dome is open year-round, the road leading to it is closed from December 1 through March 31, and whenever weather conditions require. It's seven miles to the end of Clingmans Dome Road and there are scenic pullouts with endless views of ridges and valleys along the way. The road ends in a large parking area from which a 0.5 mile trail leads to the summit. The trail is paved but steep, and leads to an observation tower on top. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on the paved trail to the observation tower, or on any other trails in the area. A bike rack is located near the beginning of the paved trail to park bikes while walking to the top. You will need to bring a lock with you to secure your bike. Besides the trail to the summit, there are several trails that start on Clingmans Dome Road and parking area. The Appalachian Trail (AT) crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its journey from Georgia to Maine. The Forney Ridge Trail leads to Andrews Bald, a high-elevation grassy bald.Show more
#8 - Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1133)
Length: 8.6 mi • Est. 4 h 48 m
Nice hike along the summit of the Smokies, with views of Charlies Bunion. Drive to and park at Newfound Gap. The trail to Charlies Bunion isn't marked, so follow signs for the Applachian Trail and Icewater Spring. Once you get to the Spring, keep on going for about 20 minutes to arrive at Charlies bunion. The trail starts off with a gradual ascent of about 300 feet in the first mile. For the most part, the trail is tree covered, but there are a few views on the way to the Ice Water Spring-AT shelter. The shelter is one of the nicer structures along the AT in North Carolina. It sleeps 12, but a permit and reservation are required through the Park Service. Some of the comments in the AT logbook note that elk have been seen in this area. The trail continues onto a side trail about a mile north of the shelter. This trail is well marked and goes left to Charlies Bunion. This is a large rock out cropping created years ago by a fire, rain and subsequent landslide.Show more
#9 - Abrams Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1664)
Length: 5.5 mi • Est. 2 h 24 m
Abrams Fall is a popular waterfall with a 25 foot drop over a rocky cliff beside it. The trail is well maintained. It does have roots and rocks. The trail gets a lot of use. Expect other hikers. At certain times of the year, it will be extremely crowded. The park closes the Cades Cove Loop Road to motor vehicle traffic all day on Wednesdays between early May and late September of each year, to allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove.Show more
#10 - Myrtle Point and Mount LeConte via Alum Cave Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(998)
Length: 13.0 mi • Est. 6 h 43 m
This trail is marked hard but note that most of the incline isn’t steep. This is definitely doable for the casual hiker or someone who doesn't hike normally and wants a really good workout.Show more
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