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Are you visiting the Smoky Mountains soon? Make your trip more fun with a Smoky Mountains scavenger hunt! There are plenty of incredible sights and places to see in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We’ve put together a list of the top 8 things for you to see when you visit. See what’s included in our Smoky Mountains scavenger hunt:
You can visit the spots on our list in any order you want! Click here to download and print our scavenger hunt list.
1. The National Park Sign
The first item on our list is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sign. This is one thing you’re sure to see as you’re entering the Smokies! It’s one of the most popular spots for visitors to get out and take pictures. This is the perfect start to your Smoky Mountain scavenger hunt!
2. A Black Bear
While seeing a black bear isn’t always guaranteed while you’re in the Smoky Mountains, it’s one of our visitors’ favorite things to spot. There are more than 1,500 black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! The best places to see them are in Cades Cove and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and the best times are in the early mornings or late evenings. While seeing a black bear is exciting, it’s important to keep in mind safety tips that will protect both you and the bear, like keeping a safe distance.
3. A Cades Cove Church
While you’re in Cades Cove hoping to spot a black bear, stop by one of the historic Cades Cove churches! This area is rich in history and home to some of the most famous historic structures in the national park. You can actually go inside the churches and get a feel for what worship was like for residents of Cades Cove. There are 3 churches total in Cades Cove: the Primitive Baptist Church, the Missionary Baptist Church and the Methodist Church.
4. A Waterfall
Your visit wouldn’t be complete without seeing a gorgeous waterfall! Waterfalls are one of the best things to see in the Smoky Mountains. If you’re looking for an easy waterfall hike, try Grotto Falls. You’ll hike along the Trillium Gap Trail for 1.3 miles before reaching the 25-foot waterfall. What’s special about this hike is that the trail actually runs behind the waterfall! If you want to spend most of your visit in the Cades Cove area of the park, hike to Abrams Falls, a 20-foot waterfall with an incredible volume of water rushing down the falls. Other popular waterfalls are Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls and Ramsey Cascades.
5. A Visitor Center
Stop by one of the visitor centers during your trip to the Smoky Mountains! Visitor centers are some of the best places to go during your adventure in the Smoky Mountains. You can pick up a park map, talk to a park ranger, and purchase guides and books about the park. The Cades Cove Visitor Center is right next door to the Cable Mill, a working grist mill that operates spring through fall. This visitor center has both indoor and outdoor exhibits of Southern mountain life and culture, and includes a bookstore and shop and restrooms. The Sugarlands Visitor Center has exhibits, a gift shop and restrooms as well, and also offers a free 20-minute film about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This visitor center is a great spot to start your visit to the park!
Please note that to protect the health and safety of staff members and visitors, visitor centers currently have capacity limits, social distancing floor decal reminders, and theater and museum spaces are closed until further notice.
6. House of the Fairies
You’ll definitely want to try to find this hidden gem when you visit the Smoky Mountains! The House of the Fairies, also called the Fairy House, is part of the Voorheis Estate. Much of the Voorheis Estate is still present in the park. The estate includes a main house, 2 guest cabins, a horse barn and an apple barn. However, the National Park Service removed several buildings and historic landscape plantings from the estate. One structure you can still see is the House of the Fairies, which is the springhouse at the Voorheis Estate. To find this secret spot, hike the Twin Creeks Trail. Just past the Resources Center, you’ll see a small path that juts off from the trail. This path will lead you to the Fairy House!
7. Elkmont Troll Bridge
Elkmont Troll Bridge is another hidden gem in the Smokies you’ll want to find. It’s located in the Elkmont area of the park, also known as “Elkmont Ghost Town.” Elkmont used to be a pioneer community, then a logging town, then a resort town. When the park was established, it eventually began turning into a ghost town. However, one structure still standing is the Troll Bridge. To find it, you’ll take the side trail to the right about 100 feet into the Little River Trail. All you have to do is follow the path parallel to the stone walls, and you’ll stumble upon the bridge!
8. Walker Sisters Cabin
The Walker Sisters Cabin is another one of our favorite spots in the Smoky Mountains that is rich in history. The Walker Sisters spent their entire lives in this cabin in Little Greenbrier Cove. Without any men around, the Walker Sisters were self-sufficient managing the farm — they raised livestock, grew vegetables and made their own clothes! When the National Park Service took over, the five unmarried Walker Sisters refused to give up their farm and eventually became quasi-ambassadors for the park. They greeted visitors and sold handmade products, from fried apple pies to children’s toys. The historic cabin is still standing today, and you don’t want to miss the chance to see it! To get there, take the .7-mile hike from Metcalf Bottoms to the Little Greenbrier School. Then, continue on the trail for .6 miles, where you’ll cross over a footbridge. After 1.1 miles, you’ll reach the .2-mile side trail that takes you to the Walker Sisters Place.
Visit the Smoky Mountains
We know you may have to split our Smoky Mountain scavenger hunt up into more than 1 visit because there are just so many great things to see in the Smoky Mountains! You can mark off the items on our list in any order you want. You can start with the national park sign and a visitor center, or head to one of the hidden gems first! While half of the list can be completed in Cades Cove, the rest of the special spots take longer to find. You can spend 2 or 3 days of your vacation exploring the park, or save some of the scavenger hunt for your next vacation in the Smoky Mountains!
Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then get ready to visit and complete our Smoky Mountain scavenger hunt!