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winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Ultimate Guide to Winter Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

With winter now officially upon us, you might think you have missed your opportunity to go hiking in the Smokies this year. However, you will be glad to know that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains open to the public all year round. While there are some seasonal road closures, there are still plenty of trails that are waiting to be explored. Here is the ultimate guide to winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains:

Advantages of Winter Hiking

winter hike in the Smoky Mountains The cold weather tends to keep people away from the hiking trails during winter, but there are many advantages that you need to know about. One plus is that the trails do tend to be a little less crowded, which makes it easier to appreciate the natural beauty of the Smokies. Since things tend to be a little quieter, you can take in the sounds of a creek running in the distance or the birds chirping as they fly high in the sky. Some of the other things you can expect to see while hiking in the Smoky Mountains are waterfalls, historic buildings, and plenty of stunning mountain views. You might even get lucky enough to see some snow during your hike!

Best Trails to Take

Now that you know why you should hit the trails this winter, let’s dive into some of the best places to go hiking. Perhaps one of the most popular winter hikes in the Smokies is the Alum Cave Trail. It is just over 4.5 miles roundtrip to the bluffs, but you can continue on to the peaks of Mount LeConte if you choose. One of the highlights of the trail is the trip up a set of stone steps that make the trek a little more manageable. Once you reach Alum Cave, you will be blown away by its features. During the cold winter months, you may even see icicles hanging from the bluffs which is a sight that you don’t want to miss! Some of the other hikes to explore this winter include Laurel Falls, Andrews Bald, Rainbow Falls, and Porters Creek.

Tips for the Trip

footbridge in the Smoky Mountains covered in snowWeather in the Smoky Mountains can be unpredictable during the winter months, so it’s important to plan ahead. Before you hit the trails, be sure to check and see if there are any road closures that you will need to make it to your hiking trail. With the possibility of heavy snow and ice in the higher elevations, the National Park may be forced to close some roads to keep everyone safe. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should probably plan a shorter hike than you typically would in the summer and spring. Because there are fewer hours of sunlight during the day, you want to give yourself time to make it back before dark when icing is more common.

Things to Bring Along

If you are planning your first experience winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains, it is crucial to ensure you have everything you need. Be sure to bring plenty of water to last you throughout the hike. Many people don’t think about bringing water because it’s cold outside, but your body will need to remain hydrated being out in the cold. Something else you should always bring along is some type of navigation. Whether you want to print out a copy of the trail or use a traditional compass, it is important to always know where you are and stay on the designated trails. It is also a good idea to bring a friend along hiking with you, or at least make sure someone knows where you are.

Where to Stay

big blue ridge cabinYou can make the most of your winter hiking trip when you stay in one of the incredible cabin rentals in the Smokies. There are rental options for all occasions, including cozy cabins for couples and larger lodging spaces for families and groups. During your vacation, you can enjoy all sorts of incredible amenities, including a hot tub and a fireplace to warm up after your day of outdoor adventures. In addition to being close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will be just minutes away from all the exciting attractions, shops, and restaurants in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!

Are you ready to start planning your next trip to go winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains? Explore all our cabins in the Smokies today. We look forward to seeing you soon!