One of the best ways to experience the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to take a hike. Hiking can be a very rewarding activity because you get to both see and be a part of nature. With more than 850 miles of trails in the park, trying to decide which trail to take can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve created a list that should help you out. Here are our top 5 favorite hiking trails in Gatlinburg ranked from low to high difficulty level:
1. Laurel Falls (2.5 miles)
If you’ve always dreamed of taking a photo near a waterfall, then this is definitely the hike for you. Laurel Falls is the easiest waterfall hike on the Tennessee side of the park. It’s a breezy trail that cuts through the middle of a series of cascades. Laurel Falls stands tall at 60 feet high. Remember to bring a camera for plenty of photo-ops!
2. Alum Cave (4.4 miles)
This hike is considered to be moderately difficult. Along the way you see sights like Arch Rock, a natural arch, Inspiration Point, and the Alum Cave Bluffs. Inspiration Point offers a grand view of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River’s upper basin. History buffs will love this trail because the bluff resulted from Confederate mining of saltpeter during the Civil War. If you decide to push onward the trail continues to Mt. LeConte with all of its beautiful viewpoints.
3. Charlies Bunion (8 miles)
Don’t let the slightly silly name fool you, Charlie’s Bunion is still a moderately difficult trail to hike. Round trip the hike will take you about 8 miles to complete. It follows the Appalachian Trail going out to rocky crags along the State-line ridge. Throughout the trail you’ll be traveling at elevations around 6,000 feet, so if you are afraid of heights you might want to skip this one. Along the way, hikers will see a wide variety of wildflowers that bloom at these elevations.
4. Rich Mountain (8.5 miles)
For those looking for quiet and isolation, the Rich Mountain Loop is for you. It ranks high in terms of difficulty level, so make sure your body can handle the hike. The trail features gorgeous views of Cades Cove with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. Just be aware of bears in the area. If you do encounter a bear during your hike, follow these bear safety guidelines.
5. Gregory Ridge (11 miles)
Prepare yourself for a climb if you choose to hike the Gregory Ridge trail. It is a strenuous climb that gains 3,000 feet in elevation as you follow the trail. Although this is one of the harder hiking trails in Gatlinburg, you can still find plenty of hikers that are willing to take on the challenge. The trail is popular for its stunning views year-round.
Whether you want to choose an easy trail to start out or challenge yourself to a more difficult trail you’ll be sure to enjoy the scenery around you. Browse this list of more hiking trails in Gatlinburg to discover even more about our beautiful area!