Attractions, Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Parks

Easy Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains

Whether you’re looking to hike with your children or you just want a short, relaxing hike in the mountains, an easy hike may be just what you are looking for!

Gatlinburg Trail

bridge along the gatlinburg trail

The Gatlinburg Trail is a nature walk through the woods that sits right outside of downtown Gatlinburg. The hike is 3.8 miles roundtrip from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. It runs through the forest along the Little Pigeon River, so you will see views of the water as well as foundations of several old homesites along the way. The Gatlinburg Trail is the only pet friendly trail on the Gatlinburg side of the national park.

Elkmont Nature Trail

The Elkmont Nature Trail is the perfect easy hike in the Great Smoky Mountains when you’re looking for a short, easy hike for a family. It’s a self-guided nature trail that is a little less than a mile long. This trail is great for learning about the Elkmont area and its rich history. Plus, you can find a cool troll bridge a little ways off the trail!

Andrews Bald

andrews bald

This trail begins from the Clingmans Dome parking lot and drops in elevation as you hike to Andrews Bald. You’re actually hiking the Forney Ridge Trail which is 1.8 miles one-way to Andrews Bald. If the time of year is right, you can find blackberries or raspberries along this trail. At the end of the trail, you’ll come out to the bald on the mountaintop, where you will see incredible mountain views.

Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

The Sugarlands Nature Trail is a short, half-mile trail in the national park. It’s the only trail that is wheelchair accessible because it is paved. You can find this trail about a half mile past Sugarlands Visitor Center, right on Newfound Gap Road. You’ll see remains of homes and a stream running alongside the trail.

Abrams Falls

abrams falls in the spring

Abrams Falls Trail is located along the Cades Cove Loop. You’ll make your way through old forest growth and hike alongside the river. Even though the Abrams Falls waterfall is only 20 feet tall, the amount of rushing water over the waterfall is what makes it so popular. This hike is 5 miles roundtrip. Due to the length of the hike (it takes about 3-4 hours to finish the trail), many may consider this trail moderate in difficulty.

Porters Creek

During the springtime, the Porters Creek Trail blooms with wildflowers, which makes it one of the popular wildflower hikes. Not only will you see wildflowers, you’ll also see a ton of foliage throughout the year, as well as historic buildings along the trail. Porters Creek Trail is 4 miles roundtrip. 

Laurel Falls

Stunning photo of Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Laurel Falls is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We recommend this one for families and anyone who needs an easy hike in the Smoky Mountains because the trail is paved. Just keep in mind that the paved trail is somewhat rough, steep, and uneven, so it’s not great for strollers or wheelchairs. The hiking trail is 2.6 miles roundtrip and will take about 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. The Laurel Falls waterfall is 80 feet tall, and it is split into two tiers. It’s important to remember that the trail gets very busy during the peak hiking months during the summertime.

Groto Falls

Another easy hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains with a waterfall is Grotto Falls Trail. To get to Grotto Falls, you will take the Trillium Gap Road on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It’s a 2.6 mile roundtrip hike and takes about 2 to 3 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. The Grotto Falls waterfall is a 25 foot waterfall, and you might see lots of salamanders!

Cataract Falls

Cataract Falls is a 1.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and walking and is best used from May until November.

Spruce Fir Trail

The Spruce Fir Trail is a short hike that takes you 0.35 mile through a spruce-fir forest. Along this hike, the most common trees are red spruces and Fraser firs, but you’ll definitely spot some other plants including yellow birch, hobblebush, and blackberries! In addition, there are large chunks of exposed quarts along the trail. Much of the Spruce Fir Trail takes place on wooden boardwalks so you don’t have to worry about rocky or uneven terrain. This trail isn’t on the official park map, so you’re finding a hidden gem! To get to the trailhead, simply follow Clingman’s Dome Road until you reach the parking area for the Spruce-Fir Nature Trail.

Little Brier Gap

If you want to learn about the history of the Smoky Mountains, the Little Brier Gap Trail is the one for you! This 2.6 mile hike follows a stream called the Little Brier Branch for the first portion. Then, at 1.1 miles, hikers will reach the Walker Sisters Place. The Walker Sisters were five sisters that lived in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains and refused to sell their 123 acre farm to the National Park Service. Although the outside world moved on, they continued living their traditional mountain lifestyle until the last sister passed away in the 1960s. Today, all the historical structures on this trail are a part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Noah Ogle Self-Guiding Trail

The Noah Ogle Self-Guiding Trail is 0.8 miles long and takes you past multiple historic buildings. The first is the Ogle Cabin that was built in the 1880s. The cabin is known as a “saddle-bag” house, meaning it is made of two parts with a common chimney. After crossing two small bubbling brooks, you’ll pass the Ogle “tub” mill, where the Ogle family used water from LeConte Creek to power the mill to process corn meal. Finally, you’ll see the Ogle family’s “drove-through” barn, where visitors could drive or park their carriage under a covering while they picked up or dropped off supplies.

Spruce Flats Falls

spruce flats falls

Spruce Flats Falls is a 1.4 mile hike that takes visitors to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Smokies. Spruce Flats Falls cascades down in four tiers, over heights of 30 feet. This is another trail that isn’t on the official park map, but it still gets plenty of visitors because of the beautiful waterfall. To hike this unlisted trail, drive toward the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and start at the Lumber Ridge Trailhead.

If you’re trying to squeeze a hike into a busy day, these are some great options for you! These hikes are short and easy, while still diving into the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains. Learn more about hiking in the Smokies and plan your trip today!

Taken from Visit My Smokies and Posts


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