Porters Creek Trail
October 3, 2023

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has more than 800 miles of hiking trails. These trails range from easy to very difficult, which means there are options for hikers of all skill levels. If you’re new to hiking or you’re looking for hiking trails your whole family can explore together, check out this list of the top four easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains!

1. Gatlinburg Trail

The Gatlinburg Trail is one of the most popular easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains. This hiking trail is perfect for young children and older adults. You can find the Gatlinburg Trail just outside of downtown Gatlinburg, making it one of the easiest hikes to find, too. This hike travels 1.9 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of downtown. You can start on either end, and you’re welcome to walk the entire trail out and back, or turn around at any point to make the hike as long or as short as you’d like. This hiking trail is relatively flat and smooth, with an elevation gain of only 164 feet. You’ll get to walk through the woods, along a river, past an old homestead, and even over a bridge across the river!

2. Laurel Falls Trail

Laurel Falls Trail bridge view

One of the best easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains for families and beginners is the Laurel Falls Trail . That’s because this trail leads to a gorgeous waterfall! This is one of the most family-friendly waterfall hikes in the Smokies, and it’s one of only a few trails in the national park that is paved. This hiking trail is 2.3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 314 feet, making this a steady but manageable climb to the waterfall. Some portions of the path are steep with drop-offs on the side, so keep an eye on small children. The waterfall itself is 80 feet tall with a footbridge that crosses from one side to the other. Laurel Falls is a breathtaking waterfall that makes the perfect family photo backdrop!

3. Elkmont Nature Trail

The Elmont Nature Trail is another easy hiking trail in the Smokies. This trail is a 0.8-mile loop not far from Gatlinburg. The Elkmont Nature Trail is one of the lesser-known easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains, which means you will likely come across fewer people during your hike. This makes it a quieter hike so you can enjoy the company of your hiking companions and the peaceful sounds of nature. As you walk through the woods, you’ll be surrounded by trees and a variety of foliage. You’ll also walk along the creek and even across a small footbridge. This hiking trail has an elevation gain of only 95 feet, meaning you won’t have to maneuver steep inclines.

4. Porters Creek Trail

Porters Creek Trail

One of the more well-known easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains is the Porters Creek Trail . This 4-mile out-and-back trail is perfect for hikers of all ages and all skill levels. You can find the trailhead for Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbriar section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just 6 miles from downtown Gatlinburg. This hiking trail starts as a gravel road that will take you through a mossy portion of the forest and along Porters Creek. You’ll get to see old stone walls along the trail that are leftover from an old farmstead. You will also come across an old cemetery and a farm site with a barn. Eventually, the gravel road turns into a dirt path that will bring you to Fern Branch Falls, a 60-foot waterfall!

More Family-Friendly Hiking Trails

These are some of the best easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains that your entire family can enjoy together, from the youngest kids to the oldest adults! If you’re looking for more trails to explore, check out this list of the best family-friendly hikes in the Smokies !

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