Explore the National Park On Foot

Hiking In The Smoky Mountains

Laurel Falls

One of the best ways to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is by going for a hike. Hiking is a popular activity in the Smoky Mountains because of the abundance of trails and variety of gorgeous sights. From historic structures to waterfalls, you can see it all up close when you go for a hike in the Smokies! There are over about 850 miles of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, ranging from easy hikes for the whole family to more challenging trails.

When deciding where you want to hike in the Smoky Mountains, think about what you want to see. There are trails with waterfalls, gorgeous mountain views, historic structures, old-growth forests and more. All of the hikes have something to offer during each season: wildflowers in the spring and summer, fall foliage in autumn, and icicles and snow-covered mountains in the winter. We’ve created a guide to some of the most popular hikes in Smoky Mountains below:

Best Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails

Gatlinburg Trail

Looking for a hike that the whole family can do? You’re in luck! The Smoky Mountains are home to plenty of fun hikes that everyone from the kids to the grandparents will enjoy. Here are the best kid-friendly hiking trails:

  • Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
  • Gatlinburg Trail
  • Elkmont Nature Trail
  • Cataract Falls

Best Hiking Trails with Views

Alum Cave Bluffs

If a mountain view is what you’re looking for on your hike, there are some trails you won’t want to miss. Here are the best Smoky Mountain hiking trails with views:

  • Andrews Bald
  • Gregory Bald
  • Chimney Tops
  • Alum Cave

Best Hiking Trails with Waterfalls

Laurel Falls

One of the best sights to see on a hike is a gorgeous waterfall! If you’re hoping to see this feature on your hike, check out the best hiking trails with waterfalls:

  • Laurel Falls
  • Grotto Falls
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Ramsey Cascades

Most Popular Hiking Trails

Grotto Falls

There are definitely some can’t-miss hikes in the Smoky Mountains. From waterfalls to panoramic mountain views, these trails offer it all. Here are the most popular hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains you have to try:

  • Grotto Falls
  • Laurel Falls
  • Chimney Tops
  • Alum Cave

We’ve named some of the best trails for hiking in the Smoky Mountains, but you can’t go wrong anywhere you choose to hike when you visit!

Hiking Safety Tips

When you go hiking in the Smoky Mountains, there are a few safety tips you need to keep in mind. Here are a few basic hiking safety tips:

  • Don’t hike alone
  • Carry drinking water with you
  • Bring a small first-aid kit
  • Check the weather before starting your hike
  • Wear shoes/boots with good ankle support
  • Don’t cross rain-swollen streams
  • Don’t hike at night
  • Carry a flashlight
hiking boots and backpacks next to stream

If you happen to encounter a black bear along your hike, keep these black bear safety tips in mind:

  • Stay at least 50 yards away
  • Don’t run from the bear
  • Remain watchful
  • Slowly increase the distance between you and the bear while keeping your eyes on the bear at all times
black bear in the Smoky Mountains

If the bear continues to follow you or approach you, do the following:

  • Change your direction
  • Talk loudly/shout at it
  • Act aggressively to intimidate the bear
  • Throw non-food objects at the bear, like a rock