great smoky mountains national park sign snow

4 Popular Winter Hiking Trails in the Smoky Mountains

Dec 01, 2022

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park experiences every season nature has to offer. This park stays open year-round, only under extreme weather conditions do roads and trails in the park close. If you are wanting to get out and trek around in the mountains, but aren’t sure of the best trails to get the Smoky Mountain experience, then we have some options for you. If you are visiting during the snowy, winter months and want to hike we have 4 popular winter hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains for you to try.

1. Porters Creek

porters creek trail foot bridgePorters Creek is relatively flat trail and is 4 miles round trip. This trail is perfect for families too since the path is relatively flat. You’ll hike through the woods, possibly seeing birds and snow along the way, as well as historic sights. Near the end of the trail, you’ll get to see Fern Branch waterfall. Porters Creek is one of the most ideal winter hiking trails because of its low elevation and easy access during the winter months.

2. Laurel Falls

One of the best winter hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains is the Laurel Falls Trail, it’s also very popular. This trail is 2.6 miles round trip and paved, so it’s perfect for younger kids and families. Through the trees as you climb up the paved path, you might be able to see views of the mountains. The reward at the end of this hike is an 80-foot-tall, two-tiered waterfall. In the winter, there could be ice around the running water. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a frozen waterfall!

3. Alum Cave

alum cave trailAnother hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains you should go on this winter is Alum Cave. This trail is considered moderate with a roundtrip length of 4.6 miles. You’ll hike through the woods and come across a ton of cool rock features. There are stone steps to help you climb your way up the trail. The first place you’ll come across is Arch Rock, which is incredible to see. As you keep climbing, you’ll start seeing beautiful views of the mountains. Once you reach Alum Cave, which is technically bluffs instead of a cave, you will be blown away by the size. In winter, there could be large icicles that could fall, so be careful.

4. Andrews Bald

A great winter hiking trail to try is Andrews Bald, which is 3.5 miles round trip. This easy hike is peaceful at any time of the year. It has a slow elevation gain, and several scenic points along the way. Once you reach the bald, you will be able to see views of the North Carolina mountains for miles, and they may even be covered in snow! The bald is a perfect spot to take a break, grab some water, a snack, and take a few pictures.

Tips for Winter Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

snow smoky mountainsWe want you to be as prepared as possible when you head out into the national park. Check out these important hiking tips:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wear several layers when hiking on trails that have any elevation gain. Weather in the Smokies during winter can vary from dry and sunny to wet, rainy or snowy.
  • Wear the correct kind of shoes. The best kinds of shoes are any that will keep your toes protected and give you traction.
  • If snow is on the ground on any of your hikes, keep an eye on the ground. Grooves, dips, and roots are harder to pick out when shaded by snow.

More Hiking Trails in the Smoky Mountains

We’ve told you about some of our favorite winter hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, but these aren’t the only trails you can enjoy when you visit. Learn about more of the best hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains to do this winter and choose which one you want to hike while you’re in town!