How to Survive Your First Hike in the Smoky Mountains

couple hiking in the Smoky Mountains
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Hiking in the Smoky Mountains is one of the best activities that people can enjoy in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Not only is this a great source of exercise during your vacation, but it is also a good way to experience the beauty of the area like never before.

That being said, there are still probably a few visitors who are yet to explore the natural wonders of the area from a Smoky Mountain hiking trail. To help these guests, we have put together everything you need to know on how to survive your first hike in the Smoky Mountains.

Dress for Success

Believe it or not, what you wear can really make or break your first hiking in the Smoky Mountains experience. The trick is to not only prepare for how the weather will be when you are at the base of the mountain, but also to know how the temperature and climate might change the higher in elevation you go.

Smoky Mountain hiking shoesThe most important part of your outfit when you go hiking in the Smoky Mountains is what is on your feet. You want your shoes to be comfortable enough that you can stand to walk around in them for a few hours, but you also want them to be durable enough to hold up against the rough terrain of the trails. We prefer tennis shoes and hiking boots that fit your feet properly and can easily be laced up. For socks, we say the thicker the better. Nothing is worse than thin, cheap socks that can tear up easily and leave blisters while you are walking.

Above the ankle, we suggest that guests preparing for their first hike in the Smoky Mountains to wear clothes that are lightweight and water resistant. Please keep in mind, but lightweight we do not mean that you should not pack an extra layer or two. We mean that you want to wear fabrics that won’t weigh you down while you are hiking in the Smoky Mountains. Nylon fabrics are our favorite.

Pick a Smoky Mountain Hiking Trail That Suites Your Ability

family hiking in the Smoky MountainsThere are over 100 different hiking trails that guests can choose from for their first hike in the Smoky Mountains. Obviously, these trails vary in difficulty level from very easy to quite strenuous. It is important for your first Smoky Mountain hiking experience that you pick a trail that is easy enough that you can complete without feeling discouraged, but also challenging enough that you will want to try it again next time you are in the area.

Also, even if you consider yourself to be in perfect health, hiking in the Smoky Mountains is more than just walking around in the woods for a few hours, thanks to the vast changes in elevation and terrain, so you will not want to push yourself too hard on your first try.

One of our favorite resources for information on Smoky Mountain hiking trails comes from our friends at Hiking in the Smokies. They are really good about breaking down trail information based on difficulty rating, location, features and more. Visit thier website here:

Bring the Essentials

As we mentioned, hiking in the Smoky Mountains is more than just walking, so you will want to prepare yourself by packing a few essentials that will help boost your energy and keep you safe while on the trail.

Inside a lightweight backpack, we suggest that visitors bring the following items for their first hike in the Smoky Mountains:

  • man holding a compass when hiking in the Smoky MountainsLight jacket
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Extra water
  • Protein bar
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Compass
  • Map

Click here for more information everything you need to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains this fall.

Check the Weather

The last thing you want to have to deal with on your first hike in the Smoky Mountains it to accidentally get caught in a rain shower that you didn’t know was coming. The best way to avoid this is to always check the weather before hitting the trails.

If you want to stay up-to-date on all the weather trends in the area, be sure to follow Visit My Smokies’ weatherman Paul Poteet’s Smoky Mountain weather reports on our website. He posts a new video every Monday and Friday afternoon.

Have Fun

Even if you have everything you need to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains, the experience will still not be as enjoyable as it could be if you do not have the right attitude. As with all the other fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains, the true key to a successful mountain hike is to have fun.

Want to learn more information on how to prepare for your first hike in the Smoky Mountains or any of the other fun activities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, be sure to check out the Smoky Mountain Information page on our website.


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