hiking in the great smoky mountains national park
June 24, 2024

One of the benefits of visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the summer months is that you can enjoy long days of daylight, giving you plenty of extra time to hit the trails! While the summer temperatures in the Smokies are generally moderate, especially at higher elevations, there can still be heat waves where you’ll want to be extra careful on the trails! If you happen to visit the Smokies when it’s a bit warm outside, check out these top 4 ways to keep cool while hiking in the Smoky Mountains this summer:

1. Hike Early in the Morning

view from Clingmans Dome at sunrise

The best advice for a summer hike in the Smokies is starting as early in the morning as possible! Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open 24 hours a day, so you can start as early as sunrise to beat the warm afternoon temperatures! As a sweet bonus, you’ll likely beat the crowds to some of the more popular trails in the parks and have better parking options! Of course, you’ll want to monitor the weather conditions before your departure to prepare for the potential for rain or thunderstorms. And always bring plenty of water to stay hydrated!

2. Consider Hikes at Higher Elevations

Another one of the top ways to keep cool while hiking in the Smoky Mountains this summer is by considering the hikes at higher elevations! You’ll notice a significant difference in temperatures as you venture higher into the Smokies, so you may even want to throw a jacket in the car just in case! For example, the temperatures at Clingmans Dome (the highest peak in the Smokies) can be 10–20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than in the surrounding lowlands! Some of the high elevation hikes that you can experience in the Clingmans Dome area include the Spruce-Fir Nature Trail, Noland Divide Trail, Fork Ridge Trail and Andrews Bald Trail.

3. Explore Some of the Waterfall Trails

Grotto Falls in Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountains are home to a gorgeous variety of scenic wonders including waterfalls! Therefore, create a hiking itinerary to see the best waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains! You’ll not only have the chance to encounter some of the best scenery in the national park, but may even get lucky enough to feel the mist of the falls! For the best chance to experience a little spray, head over to Grotto Falls as this is the only waterfall in the park that you can actually walk behind!

4. Wear Light Clothing and Gear

It is essential to dress properly for a summer hike in the Smoky Mountains, so you’ll want to choose light colored clothing such as tan or khaki. This helps to reflect the sun’s rays away from you and keeps you cooler. You’ll also want to select clothing with zipper vents as it allows cool air to flow through and prevents air from getting trapped against your skin. As far as gear, shoot for a good lightweight backpack, as a heavier backpack will trap more heat and make you feel hotter!

Now that you know how to keep cool while hiking in the Smoky Mountains this summer, learn about some of the hikes in the Smoky Mountains that are perfect for summer! Remember to stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothing and pack your good hiking shoes for your outdoor adventure!