Elkmont Bridge
June 19, 2024

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains is always an adventure, and you never know what you’ll encounter while exploring the trails! Some of the things that you may discover are footbridges, narrow bridges that lead over small creeks and streams to connect trails. You’ll also find several unique pedestrian bridges that are fun to cross, including one that is directly behind a waterfall! Here are 3 unique Smoky Mountain bridges to experience during your hike in the national park:

1. Gatlinburg Trail Pedestrian Bridge

One of the most accessible trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Gatlinburg Trail which travels 1.9 miles in one direction from the outskirts of Gatlinburg to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The trail is relatively flat and runs through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, making it a popular destination for hikers, joggers, and bicyclists. At one point, you’ll cross the river via a pedestrian footbridge that offers a fantastic view of the river! While exploring the trail, you’ll also have the chance to see the foundations and chimneys of several old homesites.

2. Laurel Falls Bridge

Laurel Falls

Another one of the unique Smoky Mountain bridges to experience during your hike in the Smokies is the Laurel Falls bridge! Laurel Falls is a stunning 80-foot tall waterfall that features both an upper and section, and the bridge allows hikers to enjoy an up-close view of these majestic falls! Note that the Laurel Falls Bridge crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls. To access Laurel Falls and the bridge, you’ll hike along the Laurel Falls Trail for 1.3 miles (allow about 2 hours to complete the roundtrip hike). This trail is quite popular, and parking at the trailhead is limited, so arrive early on summer weekdays and weekends year-round!

3. Elkmont Troll Bridge

The Elkmont Troll Bridge is a bit of a hidden gem in the Smoky Mountains, as it’s situated near the Elkmont Campground and on a small side path just off the Little River Trail! The Elkmont area began as a pioneer community before becoming a logging town, and it eventually became a resort town for wealthy vacationers. Elkmont slowly started turning into a ghost town once the National Park Service took over, but the bridge (that was built at some point during the logging town era) remains! The structure spans a small creek, is made of moss, and is covered with stones, creating a whimsical sight that gives the bridge its fairytale name!

Other Amazing Bridges Outside of the National Park

Gatlinburg SkyBridge

If you want to experience some other bridges during your visit to the Smokies, you’ll find several amazing destinations outside the national park! Gatlinburg SkyPark features the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the United States! This spectacular bridge stretches nearly 700 feet across a deep valley and features 30 feet of glass at its midpoint so that you can look straight down! Meanwhile, Foxfire Adventure Park is home to America’s second-largest swinging bridge, which spans 335 feet across the Foxfire Gorge!

These unique Smoky Mountain bridges are just some of the fun things that you’ll discover when hiking in the national park! Here are some other amazing things you can spot while hiking in the Smoky Mountains!