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Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains

8 Easy Hikes in the Smoky Mountains to Add to Your Outdoor Bucket List

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 800 square miles of hiking trails, so there really is a trail that’s perfect for every type of hiker! Whether you’re looking to hike with your children or you just want a short, relaxing hike in the mountains, an easy hike may be the best way to spend your day! Check out these top 8 easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains to add to your outdoor bucket list:

1. Gatlinburg Trail

bridge along the gatlinburg trailThe Gatlinburg Trail is a nature walk through the woods that sits right outside of downtown Gatlinburg. The hike is 3.8 miles roundtrip from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. It runs through the forest along the Little Pigeon River, so you will see views of the water as well as foundations of several old homesites along the way. The Gatlinburg Trail is the only pet friendly trail on the Gatlinburg side of the national park.

2. Elkmont Nature Trail

The Elkmont Nature Trail is the perfect easy hike in the Great Smoky Mountains when you’re looking for a short, easy hike for a family. It’s a self-guided nature trail that is a little less than a mile long. This trail is great for learning about the Elkmont area and its rich history. Plus, you can find a cool troll bridge a little ways off the trail!

3. Andrews Bald

andrews bald

This trail begins from the Clingmans Dome parking lot and drops in elevation as you hike to Andrews Bald. You’re actually hiking the Forney Ridge Trail which is 1.8 miles one-way to Andrews Bald. If the time of year is right, you can find blackberries or raspberries along this trail. At the end of the trail, you’ll come out to the bald on the mountaintop, where you will see incredible mountain views.

4. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

The Sugarlands Nature Trail is a short, half-mile trail in the national park. It’s the only trail that is wheelchair accessible because it is paved. You can find this trail about a half mile past Sugarlands Visitor Center, right on Newfound Gap Road. You’ll see remains of homes and a stream running alongside the trail.

5. Abrams Falls

abrams falls in the springAbrams Falls Trail is located along the Cades Cove Loop. You’ll make your way through old forest growth and hike alongside the river. Even though the Abrams Falls waterfall is only 20 feet tall, the amount of rushing water over the waterfall is what makes it so popular. This hike is 5 miles roundtrip. Due to the length of the hike (it takes about 3-4 hours to finish the trail), many may consider this trail moderate in difficulty.

6. Porters Creek

During the springtime, the Porters Creek Trail blooms with wildflowers, which makes it one of the popular wildflower hikes. Not only will you see wildflowers, you’ll also see a ton of foliage throughout the year, as well as historic buildings along the trail. Porters Creek Trail is 4 miles roundtrip. 

7. Laurel Falls

Stunning photo of Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Laurel Falls is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We recommend this one for families and anyone who needs an easy hike in the Smoky Mountains because the trail is paved. Just keep in mind that the paved trail is somewhat rough, steep, and uneven, so it’s not great for strollers or wheelchairs. The hiking trail is 2.6 miles roundtrip and will take about 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. The Laurel Falls waterfall is 80 feet tall, and it is split into two tiers. It’s important to remember that the trail gets very busy during the peak hiking months during the summertime.

8. Grotto Falls

Another easy hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains with a waterfall is Grotto Falls Trail. To get to Grotto Falls, you will take the Trillium Gap Road on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It’s a 2.6 mile roundtrip hike and takes about 2 to 3 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. The Grotto Falls waterfall is a 25 foot waterfall, and you might see lots of salamanders!

These easy hikes are just some of the ways you can spend your time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Want to know even more about the Smokies? Learn more about the Smoky Mountains before you visit!

Comments

  • Avatar for Emily Metzger
    Emily Metzger

    Is this a list that takes into account the areas that were burned in the wildfires last fall (2016)? So the hikes listed in this article are all unaffected by the fires?

    March 18, 2017 at 6:02 pm
    • Avatar for Emily Wolff
      Emily Wolff

      Hey Emily, you can still hike all of these. Many of the trails that were temporarily closed have been reopened. The current closures include: Chimney Tops, Road Prong Trail, a section of Sugarland Mountain Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Bull Head Trail and the Cove Hardwood Nature Trail. But be sure to check with the National Park Service closings since they update them almost daily >> https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm. Many of those specific trails could be reopened before you visit! 🙂

      March 18, 2017 at 8:40 pm
      • Avatar for Emily Metzger
        Emily Metzger

        Thanks!

        March 18, 2017 at 11:17 pm
  • Avatar for lkfman
    lkfman

    The Little River Trail at Elkmont is truly a beautiful walk. A nice distance and pretty easy. my mother, who will be 82 in December, and I, walk this trail every year. If you want more distance and a little more difficulty, not much, you can take it to Cucumber Gap trail which brings you back to where you started.

    May 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm

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