cades cove loop road
November 20, 2021

If you are not up for a strenuous hike but still want to experience the beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take a stroll along one of the park’s scenic nature trails! These easy self-guided trails were developed by park rangers for visitors of all ages to enjoy the highlights of the park’s natural environment so bring the whole family along for the trek! Here are 4 nature trails in the Smoky Mountains that you need to experience:

1. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is the only trail in the National Park designated as an all-access trail, which means it’s even wheelchair accessible! Although this flat, concrete trail is only about a half mile long, it offers a tremendous amount of rewarding things to see! While exploring this trail through the forest, you will find all kinds of unique plants and flowers, chimneys and other remnants of old homesteads, and possibly even some wildlife! The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is just under half a mile from the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

2. Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail

Another one of the nature trails in the Smoky Mountains that you need to experience is the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail, which is renowned for the wildflowers that bloom there during the spring months! Of course, it is a lovely trail to visit all year long because it travels through a gorgeous old growth forest and crosses several streams. Note that even though this trail is less than a mile long, it is rated as moderate because of a few steep sections along the way. The Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail starts in the Chimney Tops Picnic Area off of Newfound Gap Road.

3. Elkmont Nature Trail

Elkmont Trail

The Elkmont Nature Trail is a short loop that passes 13 interpretive markers, which you can read about by purchasing a brochure at the trailhead for a nominal fee. This nature trail was designed to educate visitors on how to read the changing forest landscape, as well as to provide an opportunity to observe the rich human and ecological history of the area. The Elkmont Nature Trail is less than a mile long, making it the perfect diversion while exploring this amazing area of the National Park! The trailhead is about 2.0 miles from Little River Road on the left.

4. Cades Cove Nature Trail

When it comes to the best nature trails in the Smoky Mountains, you won’t want to miss the Cades Cove Nature Trail! Cades Cove Loop Road is one of the most popular destinations in the National Park, as it features a stunning valley surrounded by mountains and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities! The Cades Cove Nature Trail is a great way to stretch your legs while driving the loop, and features a scenic 2 mile path with a variety of beautiful trees! The trail starts just about 1 mile from the Cades Cove Visitor Center.

All of these nature trails in the Smoky Mountains provide a fascinating glimpse into the ecosystem and diversity of the National Park! If you still have some additional time to explore the Smokies, be sure to check out these easy Smoky Mountain hikes! We hope to see you soon!