Night Hiking in the Smoky Mountains Made Simple

night hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Night hiking in the Smoky Mountains is an extraordinary experience. Not only do guests have a greater chance of seeing wildlife, but they also give you a whole new perspective on the Great Smoky Mountains.

Please keep in mind that if you do decide to go night hiking in the Smoky Mountains, it is very important that you remember to make safety your number one priority. There are no lights or reflectors along the trail ways, so you need to be mindful of where you step and always hike with a friend.

What You Need to Bring to Go Night Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

As we mentioned, safety when night hiking in the Smoky Mountains is extremely important. You always want to make sure you are prepared for anything that you may encounter.

To help you plan your trek, be sure to bring these essential Smoky Mountain hiking items with you when you go:

Extra Layers and Jacket

Remember, the temperatures will drop when the sun goes down, so you will want to remember to bring a couple of extra layers and a jacket to stay warm when you are night hiking in the Smoky Mountains.

Night hikes in the Smoky MountainsHeadlamp and Flashlight (with backup batteries)

As we mentioned, there are no lights that line the trails. So, if you do plan on hiking at night, you will want to remember to bring a headlamp, flashlight, and extra batteries for both. The headlamp is so you can have light where ever you look, and the flashlight will help if you need to see further off into the distance.

Spare Socks

With minimal light available, you never know what you may accidentally step in. Be prepared for any unexpected puddles or patches of water by including an extra pair of socks or two to keep your feet warm and dry.

Extra Water

Just as if you were hiking during the day, you want to make sure that you have enough water and snacks to keep you fueled and energized so you can complete your hike.

Boots

Boots are always smart to go hiking in. However, they are especially useful at night in the event you run into a snake or another creepy crawler that comes out at night in the Smoky Mountains. Boots are typically thicker and they can help protect you against a snake bike. They can also help you trek through those unforeseen puddles we mentioned earlier.

Our Favorite Night Hikes in the Smoky Mountains

Night Hikes in Cades CoveCades Cove

Cades Cove is beautiful to visit, no matter what time of day it is. However, it is remarkable to see this area lit up by moonlight right after the sun goes down or just before sunrise.

Please keep in mind, the main entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road closes at sundown every night. If you do want to experience this area at night, you will have to access this part of the park through the secondary entrance. This road is also what you would use if you find yourself in Cades Cove after the gate is closed.

Clingman’s Dome

Clingman’s Dome is a moderately difficult paved trail that takes guests up to an observation tower that overlooks the Smoky Mountains. Although this trail is paved, you still want to be careful as you climb to the top due to the steep incline of the trail.

Now, you may be thinking that there won’t be much to see from the observation tower. However, the light from the moon will help your eyes adjust to take in the magnificent view of the Great Smoky Mountains from atop the tower.

Also, please keep in mind that the road leading to Clingman’s Dome is closed from December 1 to March 31, so, if you plan on traveling during this time, you need to remember you will have a little longer to hike.

Upcoming Smoky Mountains Night Hikes

Cades Cove at nightFull Moon Hike in Cades Cove

Following the open-aired loop road that surrounds the Cades Cove area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the full moon hike in Cades Cove is an easy hike that is perfect for guests of all ages. Led by a park ranger, this hike also includes various stories and historical anecdotes that visitors will enjoy.

This hike begins at the entrance of the loop road around 7 p.m., passes the Myers overlook, and concludes back at the entrance.

Night Hike in Cades Cove

A little longer than the full moon hike, the Night Hike in Cades Cove is a unique opportunity for visitors to ‘listen to the spirits’ of Cades Cove. This hike is also lead by a park ranger, and it follows Sparks Lane to the water and back.

Recent guests to this hike recommend that guests bring their own flashlight. Pieces of red plastic and rubber bands will be provided to cover the bright light.

Dates and times for the two night hikes in Cades Cove have not yet been released. Be sure to follow our blog for more details on these two exciting outdoor adventures as they develop. These hikes are weather permitted.


If you would like to learn more about the fun and exciting things to do in the Smoky Mountains, be sure to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park page on our website. There you will find a ton of information about hiking trails, fishing spots, auto tours, and more!

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  • We think Cades Cove has the most amazing views at night year round! You can’t beat them!