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 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
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
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
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
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
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