light fall colors
September 21, 2020

When people come to the Smoky Mountains in the fall, they want to take in the beauty of the changing leaves. There are several ways you can get out in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and enjoy the foliage, as well as the other fun things the Smokies have to offer. Here are the top 3 things to do in the Smoky Mountains in the fall:

1. Go on a Hike

gregory bald

The most popular activity any time of the year in the Smokies is hiking. No matter what your skill level is, there’s a hiking trail you can enjoy. Hiking in the fall is cooler than in the summer but not as cold as it is in the winter, making it pretty comfortable. This is a great way to get out in the national park and really enjoy being in nature while taking in the fall foliage.

The Gatlinburg Trail is a great place for beginners who want to see all kinds of nature while being close to downtown. This trail is considered easy with a roundtrip length of 3.8 miles. Baskins Creek Trail is a moderate trail that is 3 miles roundtrip that is off of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. You’ll get to walk through wooded areas and see a waterfall near the end of the trail. A hard trail with a roundtrip length of 11.6 miles is Gregory Bald. Since it has higher elevation, it’s a great place to go early in the fall if you want to see color changes in the leaves.

2. Take a Scenic Drive

Roaring Fork in the Fall

Going on a scenic drive is another popular thing to do in the Smoky Mountains in the fall. Many people don’t want to get out and hike, but they want to be able to enjoy the changing colors. On many of these scenic drives, you can stop and stretch your legs along pull offs or overlooks on the side of the road. There are several roads you can take to enjoy the beauty of the area.

Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a very popular scenic drive in the Smokies because of its off-the-grid feel. There are historic buildings where you can get out and explore along this road. Foothills Parkway is another road people love to drive in the mountains. There are several spots where you can see views of the mountains, and while you’re driving, you’ll see all kinds of fall foliage. The most popular drive in the mountains is Cades Cove. It is an 11-mile paved loop with incredible views of the mountains, up close views of the leaves, and you might see wildlife along the drive.

3. Have a Picnic

picnic table smoky mountains

Planning a picnic is another fun thing to do in the Smoky Mountains in the fall. People love picnicking any time of the year in the Smokies, but fall is popular because you’re in the woods and possibly next to a creek where you can enjoy all kinds of beautiful views. Fall is also a great time to plan a picnic in the mountains because of the cooler weather. Every picnic area has a table and a charcoal grill.

Cades Cove has a picnic area right before you enter the loop. Several of the picnic sites are next to the creek, and there are restrooms in this area. Metcalf Bottoms is another popular picnic area, with several spots next to the river and plenty of wooded views. Look Rock has 51 picnic sites and beautiful views.

These are just some of the fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains in the fall. Want even more information about visiting the Smokies in the fall? Check out our ultimate guide to fall in the Smoky Mountains.