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The Smokies is the place to be in the summer season! Everyone enjoys spending time outdoors in the beautiful weather. With so many places to explore, you’ll have plenty of options for where to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To help you decide, we’ve made a list of 6 of the best places to visit in the Smoky Mountains in the summer.
1. Metcalf Bottoms
Metcalf Bottoms is one of the most popular areas in the Smoky Mountains in the summer. The Metcalf Bottoms Trail is a short, 1.2-mile roundtrip hike along which you’ll see a canopy of trees and historic landmarks and structures, like the Little Greenbrier School. The Little Greenbrier School is a small cabin that was used as a schoolhouse and a church for over 50 years. You’ll have the opportunity to walk inside the school and explore! After the hike, many visitors stop to enjoy lunch in the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. You can also bring your swimsuit to cool off in the river!
Many visitors love exploring the Greenbrier swimming hole during the summer! This area offers more peace and privacy than some of the more popular areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Little Pigeon River flows through the Greenbrier area and creates several deep pools surrounded by large rocks. The river is wide with a lot of rocks, so it’s the perfect spot to stop, relax and dip your feet in the water! Many people love sunbathing on the large rocks that sit in the river. You can easily access the Greenbrier area from Gatlinburg!
3. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is a popular place to visit in the Smoky Mountains all year long, not just in the summer! One of the reasons people love to explore it in the summer is because the scenic drive allows them to escape the heat and see the sights from their cars. The Cades Cove Loop Road is an 11-mile, one-way loop that takes you through the cove and offers views of historic structures, mountains and wildlife. We recommend stopping at one of the many pull-offs and getting out to explore! You can walk inside some of the buildings like the famous churches, or hike to Abrams Falls. Summer is a great time to see wildlife out and about in the area too, like white-tailed deer and black bears!
4. Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls is one of the best hikes to do in the Smoky Mountains in the summer! This hike is a little less than 3 miles roundtrip, and takes you to a 25-foot-high waterfall. After taking you through an old-growth hemlock forest, the trail actually runs behind the waterfall! The cool, moist environment around Grotto Falls makes it perfect during the summer. This simple hike is one that the whole family can do together!
5. Townsend “Y”
The Townsend “Y,” or the Townsend Wye, is a popular swimming and tubing spot in the Smoky Mountains. It’s located just inside the park’s boundary, where the road splits into a Y. After parking in the parking area on your left, the fun begins! Take a dip in the cool mountain river, grab a tube and relax, or spend time and have a picnic with your family. You’ll have no trouble keeping cool when you visit the Townsend Y. Although this area is located on the quiet side of the Smokies, keep in mind it gets busy during the summer season and parking fills up quickly.
6. Midnight Hole
Midnight Hole can be considered a hidden gem in the Smokies. You can get to this special spot by hiking the Big Creek Trailhead. This spot is on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains, but if you’re looking for a day trip, this is the place to go! Just under a mile and a half along the trail, you’ll come across Midnight Hole. You’ll see an incredible 6-foot waterfall that runs into a deep pool. The spot gets its name from the dark blue colors of the pool. After you cool off in Midnight Hole, continue your hike along the Big Creek Trail until you reach Mouse Creek Falls. This 45-foot waterfall is a gorgeous sight to see and the perfect spot to stop for a moment to relax.
Visit the Smoky Mountains in the Summer
The truth is, any place in the Smoky Mountains is a great place to be in the summertime! The places we listed above offer ways to keep cool during the summer heat, but anywhere you go will provide a fun adventure and plenty of memories. For more help planning your vacation to the Smoky Mountains in the summer, check out some of the best summer hikes!