Top 5 Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails with Waterfalls for Families to Enjoy

laurel falls in the smoky mountains
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With more than 850 miles of hiking trails to explore, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect place to go to discover the natural beauty of the mountains with your family by your side. There are so many incredible sights to see when you go hiking, but nothing beats the picture-perfect view of a waterfall cascading over the rocks. The National Park has a number of trails with waterfalls that are easy to hike so the kids don’t have to miss out on the fun. Here are the top 5 Smoky Mountain hiking trails with waterfalls for families to enjoy:

1. Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail is paved, which makes the hike fairly easy! Be careful though, because the pavement is rough and uneven in spots. This 2.6-mile round-trip hike takes about 2 hours to complete, and the view of the 80-foot-high waterfall makes every step worth it. Keep in mind the trail gets busy during the summer because everyone wants to see the gorgeous waterfall!

2. Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls is one of the best family-friendly hikes in the Smoky Mountains. To get to Grotto Falls, you’ll follow the Trillium Gap Trail on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Like Laurel Falls, the roundtrip distance to the waterfall and back is 2.6 miles and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. Families love this hike because the trail actually runs behind the 25-foot-high waterfall!

3. Abrams Falls

The hike to Abrams Falls and back is about 5 miles. It’s a little bit of a longer hike, taking about 3 to 4 hours to complete, but it’s definitely worth it. This is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the park. It only stands 20 feet high, but the large amount of water makes up for its lack of height. The pool of water at the base of the falls makes for a stunning picture, so make sure you bring your camera!

A happy family of four hiking in the woods with backpacks.4. Cataract Falls

Cataract Falls is a short, 1-mile trail that is great for families! This is one of the lesser-known trails in the park, so you won’t have to worry too much about it being busy when you visit. If you have younger children, this is the best trail for you. The trail offers incredible views of Cataract Falls, a 25-foot-high waterfall. Kids will love crossing the bridges along the trail, and parents will love being less than 2 miles from downtown Gatlinburg!

5. Porters Creek Trail – Fern Branch Falls

Porters Creek Trail is a relatively easy hike that has it all. You can see historic sites, gorgeous wildflowers during the spring and summer and even a waterfall. Along the trail, there is an old farmstead where the Porters Creek community settled in the early 1900s and a barn from 1875. About 2 miles along the trail, you’ll reach Fern Branch Falls, a 40-foot waterfall that got its name from all the mosses and ferns surrounding it and the boulder field at the bottom. Families love hiking this trail all throughout the year, but it’s most popular during the spring.

Experience the beauty of the mountains when you go hiking with your family. These Smoky Mountain hiking trails with waterfalls provide picture-perfect opportunities and help you create memories that last a lifetime. Browse other things to do in the Smoky Mountains during your visit, and start planning your trip today!

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