6 of the Best Hikes in the Smoky Mountains for Kids
Do you want to go hiking with your family when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains? There are plenty of easy trails that are perfect for young children, older kids, and parents! You’ll be able to see some wildlife, natural features, and just enjoy being together out on these trails. Here are 6 of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains for kids:
1. Elkmont Nature Trail
If you’re looking for a short nature walk through the woods, Elkmont Nature Trail is the perfect hike for you and your kids! Located near Gatlinburg, this trail is 0.8 miles roundtrip, making it a great length for younger children. If you hike this trail in the spring, you will see wildflowers along the sides of the path, and you might see small animals, such as birds and squirrels. You’ll also pass by streams and creeks. If you keep an eye out, you might just spot the Elkmont troll bridge along this trail!
2. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
Another one of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains for kids is the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail. This is one of the only paved trails in the national park, making it ideal for strollers and wheelchairs. The path runs alongside the river, so you can see and hear it as you walk. The roundtrip length of this hike is 0.5 of a mile, making it ideal for people of all ages and skill levels!
3. Cataract Falls Trail
If you want to go on a kid friendly trail that has a small waterfall, you should hike the Cataract Falls Trail! This trail is 1.1 miles roundtrip, and it is located near Gatlinburg. Your kids will want to splash in the stream that runs alongside the trail. There are all kinds of neat things to see as you hike this trail, including twisting trees with holes in the trunk, small bridges that take you over the creek, and the 20-foot-tall Cataract Falls at the end of the trail!
4. Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls Trail is another great waterfall hike that’s great for kids! This out-and-back trail is paved and is a little over 2 miles roundtrip. In the spring, you will see trees full of mountain laurel, which is where the waterfall got its name. As you hike up the mountain, you’ll be able to look out and see mountain views in the distance. When you’re finally at the top, you’ll see the 80-foot-tall, two-tiered waterfall!
5. Gatlinburg Trail
Gatlinburg Trail is one of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains for kids! People of all ages and skill levels enjoy hiking this trail. It is about 3.8 miles roundtrip, but don’t let that scare you! The trail is mostly level, so you won’t have significant elevation gain. You’ll cross over the west prong of the Little Pigeon River on a large footbridge. You might also spot some furry friends along the trail because this is one of the only dog friendly trails in the national park. Near the end of the hike, you might see some remains of pioneer homes, including chimneys and foundations.
6. Porters Creek Trail
Although this is the longest trail on our list, Porters Creek Trail is worth hiking with your kids! If you come in the spring, there are hundreds of wildflowers lining the path. Near the start of the trail, you’ll come across an old homestead where there is a barn and a cabin you can explore. You’ll make your way through the woods where you might spot some wildlife and enjoy looking out into the trees. At the end of the trail, you’ll come up on Fern Branch Falls, which is 60 feet tall!
These are some of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains for kids you don’t want to miss! Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then start planning your next vacation now!