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Best Hikes In The Smokies

The Smokies attract visitors from around the world, many venturing into the National Park looking for the best hikes. Finding the best hiking trails can be a difficult task as there are hundreds of miles of trails ranging from easy to strenuous.   Our favorite hikes when visiting the Smokies are those with a payoff at the end, such as a waterfall, breathtaking views, or even beautiful plant life that you can only see after venturing through the trails. Let’s get to it!

Best Hikes #6….Gatlinburg Trail 

Gatlinburg Trail

Gatlinburg Trail

Gatlinburg trail is on this list because it is one of the only trails to allow bike riding and pets. It is a lovely trail that is relatively flat and makes for an easy hike. Many travelers like to take hikes with their pets and that is what makes this trail great. The entire trail runs along the Little Pigeon River, which has small rapids and crystal clear water. The trailhead begins at the Sugarland Visitor center and ends 1.9 miles away on the outskirts of Gatlinburg. If you have pets, are looking for a bike trail or a leisurely walk along the river, this is the trail for you.

Best Hikes #5…Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls

Next on the list is Laurel Falls. This trail is extremely popular as it is the only paved trail in the Smokies and the end offers you the sight of stunning Laurel Falls. Being paved, it allows for the use of strollers, which is great for families with small children.   Hikes taken on this trail can be expected to last around 2 hours as the round-trip distance to the falls and back is 2.6 miles.  Laurel Falls trail has several rises and falls in elevation and should be considered easy to moderate in difficulty. Be sure to get to there early as parking can be an issue due to the popularity of the trail. The falls at the end really make the hike worthwhile and this is why it has made the list of our best hikes in the Smokies.

Best Hikes #4…Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls

Hikes on Grotto Falls Trail are popular because once you reach the falls, you can walk behind them and enjoy to true beauty of nature at work. Hearing and seeing the sound of the water roaring past you while you stand in the cavernous area behind the falls is truly a sight to see! Most of the trail follows the river and parts even traverses through old forest growth and areas full of wildflowers. This trail is easy to moderate in difficulty as it has a slight gain in elevation. Being able to walk behind the falls gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity and this is why this trail makes our list of best hikes in the Smokies.

Best Hikes #3…Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls

Hikes taken on Abrams Falls Trail are sure to stun those who venture to the end. The trail ends with the sights of roaring Abrams Falls which is the most powerful waterfall in the Smokies. What it lacks in height it makes up for in sheer power. Once you reach the falls you can sit on the edge of the huge pool and take in the beauty of the roaring falls. As inviting as the pool appears, be warned that swimming here is extremely dangerous. The falls are so powerful that even the most capable of swimmers can be swept under the extreme current. While hiking the trail you will follow the beautiful stream and can even venture out into the stream and sit on the large rocks. There are also several footbridges you will cross which will bring out the adventurous side of yourself. Abrams Falls Trail is considered moderate in difficulty as it is very rocky, is 5 miles round-trip, and has about 1700’ rise in elevation. Due to the sheer strength and flow of the falls, this is a must see on our list of best hikes in the Smokies

Best Hikes #2…Gregory’s Bald

Best Hikes In The Smokies Gregory's Bald

Gregory’s Bald

Hikes taken on this trail are by far the toughest on our list and should be considered strenuous in difficulty. At 11 miles in round-trip length and with a 3000’ rise in elevation, be aware that you are in for a trek! The payoff of this trail is not a waterfall but instead is a meadow full of beautiful azaleas. The colors are something that can only be describes as overwhelmingly stunning! It is a very difficult place to hike to but again, the payoff of seeing the azaleas in full bloom (observed in mid to late June) is well worth it!

Best Hikes #1…Ramsey Cascades

Best Hikes In The Smokies Ramsey Cascades

Ramsey Cascades

I’m going to finish this list with the best of the best. Hikes on Ramsey Cascades are not for those looking for a leisure stroll through the park. This trail is moderate to strenuous in difficulty, especially the last mile or so but the payoff at the end is well worth it. Ramsey Cascades is a very tall waterfall at about 100’ and it does have a small pool at the bottom that hikers can wade in. It is not recommended to climb on the falls as many hikers die each year doing so, but wading through the pool to the bottom of the falls does allow you to stand in the falls and cool down with the ice-cold water. While traversing the trail, hikers will come across old forest growth and a few footbridges. These footbridges may be overwhelming to those who are scared of heights but trust me, it is well worth it to make it to the end of the trail and see the falls. After hiking this difficult 8-mile round-trip trail, you will have a feeling of accomplishment and you can know that you have seen something that very few have seen. The falls are well worth the hike and the 2500’ rise in elevation is sure to be a great workout!

 

The trails included in this list are certainly not an all inclusive list of the best trails, but these are the trails we most often fund ourselves hiking. Comment below and let us know which hikes make you list of the Best Hikes In The Smokies.  For a full list of hiking, visit the Smoky Mountain National Park Website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hiking.htm

Why Travel Insurance Is A Must When Traveling To The Smokies

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Let’s face it. Life presents us with unpredictable circumstances all the time. It doesn’t matter who, what, when, where, or why. With that said, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about travel insurance and why it is so important to you as a traveler.

When booking a vacation, often times it is booked several months in advance. In those months, you just never know what curveballs life will throw at you. Upon booking the trip, especially at a vacation rental property, many travelers will review the cancellation policy and notice that it is not very flexible in terms of refunds upon cancellation (unless cancelled months in advance).

To combat this, trip insurance can be a traveler’s best friend. When those unforeseen circumstances occur you will be glad that you have it. Whether it is due to an illness/death in the family or severe weather conditions, trip insurance will have you covered.

It is especially recommended when travel takes place during the winter season in the Smokies. Traveling on mountainous roads can be a difficult task in and of itself. Add some snow and/or ice and you’ve go yourself a situation that puts safe travel at near impossible odds. If you are currently staying in a cabin and find that you can’t leave due to hazardous conditions presented by inclement weather, or you are due for check-in and find you can’t make it to the cabin due to the same reason, unexpected expenses can arise. If you don’t have insurance, you are liable for all expenses.

In the event that a family member is ill or that an emergency occurs back home while you are on vacation, you will be covered as well. Unexpected expenses can accumulate rather quickly when changing vacation plans last minute, especially when flights are involved.

With all of this said and as travelers ourselves, we ask you to please protect yourself. www.insuremytrip.com is a great place to start and will find and compare plans from a variety of different insurance companies. We hope the need never arises that the insurance is needed, but if it does, you will be thanking yourself for buying it!