#8 of 61 national parks in United States of America

Best Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Want to find the best trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for an adventurous hike or a family trip? AllTrails has 351 great hiking trails, biking trails, running trails and more. Enjoy hand-curated trail maps, along with reviews and photos from nature lovers like you. Ready for your next hike or bike ride? Explore one of 50 easy hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that are great for the whole family. Looking for a more strenuous hike? We've got you covered, with trails ranging from 6 to 5,242 meters in elevation gain. Whatever you have planned for the day, you can find the perfect trail for your next trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Description

The Great Smoky Mountains is in the Appalachian Mountains and is America's most visited National Park. In large part due to the highly varied elevations in the park, there is a wide range of plant and animal species. There are over 800 miles of trails, and a large section of the Appalachian Trail in the park as well as 80 historic structures. There is no fee to enter the park, but camping is $14-23 per night. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However some secondary roads, campgrounds, and other visitor facilities close in winter. For seasonal info see: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hours.htm Accessibility: The Interagency Access Pass for free or discounted admission for US Citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities is accepted here. The Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitor Centers are wheelchair/mobility equipment accessible and have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and a drinking fountain. The Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill have packed gravel paths so assistance may be needed for those with mobility challenges. There are wheelchair accessible Ranger-led programs listed in the Smokies Guide newspaper. Temporary disabled parking permits are available at the visitor centers. The most wheelchair accessible amphitheater is at Cade’s Cove and it also has accessible restrooms. Three campgrounds have wheelchair-accessible campsites. Service animals must be on-leash throughout the park. Additional accessible trails and facilities information can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

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Map of trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Park information
Area:
211,040 hectares
Contact
(865) 436-1200
Top trails (351)
Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
#1 - Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(5604)
Length: 17.5 km • Est. 6h 21m
This challenging trail leading up to Mount LeConte is one of the most popular in the area. Featuring incredible views, well-maintained trails, and a cave, this great hike is a great choice for anyone looking to see the best of the Smoky Mountains. Due to its popularity, the parking lots on Newfound Gap Road fill up early. This is a more popular route to the summit than the nearby Rainbow Falls Trail. The trail begins with a climb along Alum Cave Creek and the Styx Branch. At 1.3 miles you will get to Arch Rock, one of the trail's prominent landmarks. The arch's interesting geological features were formed when wind and water eroded away the softer rock. The trail passes right under the natural arch making a great vantage point for photos. At around 2.3 miles in you will arrive at Inspiration Point. From here, you will be rewarded with views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge and The Eye of the Needle, as well as Myrtle Point on Mt. LeConte. Shortly after you’ll come to Alum Cave Bluff, a great photo opportunity characterized by its orange clay. Past Alum Cave, at the peak of Mount LeConte, is the LeConte Lodge, where you can stay in one of the primitive cabins or multi-room lodges. Don't expect to just show up and find a place to stay overnight, however. Reservations must be made months in advance. The cabins are the only formal lodging in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At the lodge you can also purchase drinks and use the restroom. Once you reach the lodge, you’ll be on the Bull Head Trail. The Bull Head Trail leads to the Boulevard Trail, which takes hikers up to the summit of Mt Leconte. Those looking for an extra challenge can make the climb to Cliff Top from the lodge as well. From Mt LeConte, you can choose to continue to hike up to Myrtle Point.Show more
Laurel Falls Trail
#2 - Laurel Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(4807)
Length: 3.9 km • Est. 1h 14m
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the park and parking lot at the trailhead is limited. There is potential for parking along the sides of the road, please watch for all rules and regulations and be careful when driving amongst pedestrians. The area is especially busy on weekends year-round and on weekdays during summer. Laurel Branch and the 80-foot high Laurel Falls are named for mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub which blooms along the trail and near the falls in May. Though this is a paved trail because it was originally built to allow fire crews access to the Cove Mountain area and the Cove Mountain Fire Tower was built a few years after this trail was completed. Despite being paved, the aging pavement of the falls trail is rough and broken so can be rough for wheelchairs and strollers in sections. Due to this and the moderately steep to very steep grade, it is not marked as wheelchair or stroller friendly. Additionally, the rocks around the falls are slippery. Do not climb on the rocks! Many people have been injured over the years due to falling from the steep drop of the falls area. Bikes and pets are not permitted in Great Smokey Mountains National Park as per park service rules. Show more
Rainbow Falls Trail
#3 - Rainbow Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(4010)
Length: 8.2 km • Est. 3h 9m
The hike to Rainbow Falls is a must-do for all visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With moderate difficulty, a stunning waterfall, and lush Tennessee forest, it’s no wonder this trail is popular. Starting out from the Rainbow Falls and Bullhead Parking Area, this trail climbs steadily as it meanders along Le Conte Creek. Beware the parking lot gets full often, so arrive early! If it’s full, there is another parking area further down Cherokee Orchard Loop. At roughly a mile, you reach a nice overlook. Continue along the trail and you’ll soon cross a couple of bridges, and you’ll start to see some smaller falls. After a little more hiking, you’ll reach Rainbow Falls. When the afternoon sun hits the mist from the falls just right, you can see a faint rainbow appear. Most hikers turn around here and return to the parking area. The trail does continue onward if you’d like to extend your hike.Show more
Chimney Tops Trail
#4 - Chimney Tops Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3436)
Length: 7.1 km • Est. 2h 42m
The climb to the Chimney Tops is one of the most popular hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all of Tennessee! Although steep, the breathtaking views of the mountains at the top make every step worth it. Starting at the Chimney Tops parking area located east of the Chimney Picnic Area off Newfound Gap Road, the trail starts out relatively flat and quickly begins to gain elevation. The first mile takes you across the rushing Road Prong over bridges and past small waterfalls. When the path begins to turn west, you’ll come to an intersection for the Road Prong Trail. You can choose to go down this route, where you’ll pass a couple more waterfalls and meet up with the Appalachian Trail at Indian Gap. This trail takes us straight and continues the climb along the Chimney Tops Trail. The ascent is tough, but the trail is well marked and maintained. At the top, there is a recently built observation platform that allows you to see incredible views of the Smoky Mountains, including Mount LeConte and Sugarland Mountain. Unfortunately, the trail has been closed a quarter-mile from Chimney Tops due to wildfire damage in 2016. A gate has been constructed to prevent hikers from entering the damaged area. Please do not hike past the gate and instead enjoy the view from the observation deck. Show more
Grotto Falls Trail
#5 - Grotto Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3282)
Length: 4.2 km • Est. 1h 25m
Accessed via the Trillium Gap Trailhead, the Grotto Falls Trail is a moderately easy hike that is a family favorite. There is ample shade throughout the hike, lots of small streams, wildlife, and during the right time of year — plentiful wildflowers. Starting near the base of Piney Mountain, this trail to Grotto Falls can be busier during the warmer months and the parking area is limited so it’s recommended to get there early. While the falls are not big, it’s a wonderful place to picnic for lunch or dip your feet on a hot day.Show more
Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluff Trail
#6 - Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluff Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(2845)
Length: 7.2 km • Est. 2h 36m
The Alum Cave Bluffs Trail, or Alum Cave Trail, takes you to a “cave,” which is really more of a huge rock overhang, and on to Peregrine Peak. It has a gradual ascent to Arch Rock, then gets steeper and ends with many steps at the end. It includes a soft forest floor, log bridges to cross, beautiful flowers and trees and countless photo opportunities along the picturesque Alum Cave Creek. Keep an eye out for great views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge between Inspiration Point and Alum Cave Bluff. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy in the cave at the top. Be sure to bring your trash back out, as there are no trash receptacles. Park at the Alum Cave Trailhead to begin this hike. This hike can get crowded, so get to the parking lot early.Show more
Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail
#7 - Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(3189)
Length: 12.9 km • Est. 4h 30m
Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail is a great day hike along the summit Great Smoky Mountains. The route traverses multiple peaks including Mount Ambler, Mount Kephart, Masa Knob and terminates at Charlie’s Bunion. Parking at Newfound Gap, the trail to Charlies Bunion isn't marked, so follow signs for the Appalachian Trail and Icewater Spring. Once you get to the spring, keep on going for about 20 minutes to arrive at Charlies Bunion. The trail starts off with a gradual ascent of about 300 feet in the first mile. For the most part, the trail is forested, but there are a few viewpoints on the way to the Ice Water Spring-AT shelter. The shelter is one of the nicer structures along the AT in North Carolina. It sleeps 12, but a permit and reservation are required through the Park Service. Some of the comments in the AT logbook note that elk have been seen in this area. The trail continues onto a side trail about a mile north of the shelter. This trail is well marked and goes left to Charlies Bunion. This is a large rock out cropping created years ago by a fire, rain and subsequent landslide.Show more
Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail
#8 - Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2885)
Length: 1.9 km • Est. 42m
The Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail takes you to the highest point in Tennessee. Enjoy 360-degree views of the Smokies and the beautiful Spruce Fir Forest from Clingmans Dome. The weather conditions can get chilly at the highest peak (6,643 feet at Clingmans Dome) so it is recommended that you bring a jacket and warm clothes. There is a large parking area and visitor center as well as several scenic pullouts in the area. Show more
Abrams Falls Trail
#9 - Abrams Falls Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(2419)
Length: 8.9 km • Est. 2h 38m
Tennessee’s picturesque Abrams Fall Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park leads to a popular waterfall with a 25 foot drop over a rocky cliff. The hiking trail is well maintained by the National Park Service but does have tree roots and rock obstacles along the way so it is of moderate difficulty. This is a popular hiking trail and it can get crowded during certain times of the year. The turnoff for the trailhead is located past stop #10 on the Cades Cove Loop Road. The turnoff is signed. The park closes the Cades Cove Loop Road to motor vehicle traffic all day on Wednesdays between early May and late September of each year, to allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove.Show more
Ramsey Cascades Trail
#10 - Ramsey Cascades Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(1507)
Length: 13.0 km • Est. 4h 46m
This is a great hike with lots of good scenery. The trail is an out-and-back type trail with the route to Ramsey Cascades all up hill. It's a gradual climb that only gets remotely steep the last mile or so approaching the Cascades. The first 1.5 miles follow an abandoned logging route. The trail then becomes a typical Smokey Mountain hiking trail that is only wide enough for one person. The last mile or so becomes more steep and is also very rocky. Caution should be taken especially on the way back down. Once reaching the Cascades, you will want to cross over the shallow pool at the bottom to reach a rock ledge on the other side to get in position for some good pictures of the Cascades.Show more
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