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. Laurel FallsOne 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 to take small children on. The reward at the end of this hike is an 80 foot tall double layer waterfall. In the winter, if any ice is present around the running water it makes for gorgeous photo opportunities.
2. Andrews BaldA second winter hiking trail to try is Andrews Bald, which is 3.5 miles round trip. This easy-ranked hike is peaceful at anytime of the year. It has a slow elevation gain, and several scenic points along the way. Once reaching the ‘bald’ open area of the hike 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.
3. Porters CreekPorters Creek is relatively flat trail and is 4 miles round trip. This trail is easier to navigate then Andrews Bald because it is gravel at first then a dirt path, which also means it’s fine to bring your children along. The reward at the end of this hike is the 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. This is probably the easiest winter hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains.
4. Cades CoveCades Cove is one of the most visited areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 11 mile loop has rolling hills, beautiful, distant views of the mountains, historical structures, and plenty of wildlife. This is not exactly a hiking trail, but you can free walk any part of the area and/or follow dirt paths to the historical structures along the loop. If there is snow present in the area Cades Cove turns into a winter wonderland that you are welcome to explore. It’s a great place to learn a little about the area and take pictures.
Tips for Winter Hiking in the Smoky Mountains
- Drink plenty of water!
- Bundle up! 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.