cataract falls in the great smoky mountains national park
June 14, 2019

One of the wonderful things about exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is that there are scenic hiking trails for all skill levels! If you are visiting the Smokies with your family and looking for some easy trails to explore, there are plenty of options available! Here are just 4 easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains that your family can enjoy together during your vacation:

1. Gatlinburg Trail

The Gatlinburg Trail is not only one of the top easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains, but it travels directly to the Sugarlands Visitor Center where you can enjoy a free 20-minute film about the national park. This relatively flat hiking trail begins in the outskirts of Gatlinburg TN and travels for 1.9 miles to the Visitor Center, where it runs through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. While exploring this trail, you can experience beautiful views of the river and see the foundations and chimneys of several old homesites. Keep in mind that the Gatlinburg Trail is one of the only hiking trails in the national park that allows bicycles, so be aware of cyclists.

2. Porters Creek Trail

historical cabin along Porters Creek Trail in the Smoky Mountains

Another one of the easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains is the Porters Creek Trail, which is located 6 miles east of Gatlinburg in Greenbrier Cove. During the 1 mile walk from the parking lot to Porters Flat, you have the opportunity to experience some of the natural communities in the cove hardwood forest. This hiking trail also contains the remnants of settlers who lived in the area before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established. There was once a community of about 500 people in Porters Flat and Greenbrier Cove, so keep your eyes peeled for evidence of old homesteads, stone fences, stairs and the Ownby cemetery.

3. Cataract Falls Trail

If you love waterfalls, enjoy an easy hike along the Cataract Falls Trail that is located less than 2 miles from downtown Gatlinburg. This trail is only 3/4 miles roundtrip, making it a perfect destination for families with kids and other family members who have trouble walking long distances! The trail starts off paved but quickly turns to gravel as it travels over Fighting Creek on several well maintained bridges and through a stunning canopy of trees. While the highlight of the Cataract Falls Trail is naturally the 25 foot waterfall, you will also find a unique photo opportunity in an old hollowed out tree!

4. Grotto Falls Trail

grotto falls

When you want to combine one of the easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains with one of the most enchanting hikes, be sure to check out the Grotto Falls Trail! While this is an easy hike, note that you should allow up to 3 hours to complete the roundtrip trail that is 2.6 miles in length. You will enjoy a peaceful walk through an overgrown forest before experiencing the gorgeous sight of Grotto Falls! This is one of the only waterfalls that you can actually walk behind, offering one of the most amazing views and photo opportunities in the national park!

Now that you know some of the easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains that are perfect for the entire family, you can enjoy these beautiful trails in the National Park! In addition to hiking, learn some of the other ways that you can enjoy the Smoky Mountains National Park with your family.