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grotto falls

7 Trails in the Smoky Mountains for Beginner Hikers

If you’re just now getting into hiking, we know that a few of the bigger hikes in the Smokies can seem intimidating. Don’t worry, you don’t have to start with hikes like Chimney Tops or Mount LeConte. Instead, try a few of the beginner-friendly hikes that our national park offers. Here are 7 trails in the Smoky Mountains for beginner hikers:

1. Grotto Falls

For an easy hike with a beautiful waterfall at the end, try the trail to Grotto Falls. Only 2.6 miles roundtrip, this hike normally takes hikers around 2 to 3 hours to finish, accounting for time you spend at the falls. Grotto Falls are only 25 feet high, but they offer a unique walkway under the falls for visitors to explore. Keep a lookout for salamanders at the falls!

2. Gatlinburg Trail

gatlinburg trailIf you’re bringing your pet with you to the Smokies, the Gatlinburg Trail is the perfect hike for the both of you! Starting at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, this trail is 3.8 miles roundtrip and takes you along the Little Pigeon River. You’ll even be able to see historic Appalachian buildings throughout the hike.

3. Porters Creek

Whatever time of year you visit, you don’t want to miss hiking Porters Creek. This is one of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains because of the variety of flowers, foliage and historic sites you’ll see along the way. In the springtime, you’ll be able to view wonderful wildflowers, and in the fall you can take in the mountain’s Autumn colors.

4. Cataract Falls Trail

cataract fallsThis easy hike is only 1.1 miles and is located close to the city of Gatlinburg. Hike along a mountain stream before you arrive at the beautiful Cataract Falls. This trail is good for any skill level and is most scenic from May to November in the spring and fall seasons. In addition to the waterfall, you may also see some wildlife and seasonal wildflowers growing along the trail.

5. Baskins Creek

For another quick and easy waterfall hike, try hiking to Baskins Creek Falls. This trail is only 3.1 miles out and back and is a fan favorite among hikers from March to October. The terrain can be rocky at times, so make sure you’re wearing proper hiking shoes for this trail. Once you reach the falls you can stop and take in the views for a while before heading back.

6. Metcalf Bottoms Trail

metcalf bottomsThe Metcalf Bottoms Trail is mostly flat with a slight elevation gain of 187 feet. Out and back, this trail is only 1.5 miles and is used among hikers and runners. This trail will lead you to the Little Greenbrier School historic site. If you are a history buff as well as a beginner hiker, you’ll love this option. With beautiful views and some East Tennessee history, it’s no wonder Metcalf Bottoms is considered one of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains.

7. Little River Trail

Located off of Elkmont Road, the Little River Trail is 4.9 miles roundtrip and is considered easy to moderate. On this trail you’ll be following the Little River, so you’ll be listening to the sounds of the water throughout your journey. You’ll even see a few small waterfalls along the way!

If you’re planning on visiting the Smokies during the fall season, there are plenty of other easy hikes that offer some awesome Autumn views. All these hikes are also ideal for beginner hikers or those who are hiking with the family.

Now that you know more about the best trails in the Smoky Mountains for beginner hikers, you can decide which hike to venture on during your next visit to the national park. Are you looking for other fun outdoor activities? Check out all the other fun things to do in the national park and begin planning your next Smoky Mountain vacation!