5 Top Hiking Trails in Gatlinburg
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there is a Gatlinburg hiking trail waiting for you.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is home to 150 official trails spanning 800 gorgeous, meandering miles. 71 of those miles are part of the iconic Appalachian Trail. Routes range from rugged and challenging to gentle and scenic, ideal for solo hikers, hobbyists, and families. The biggest question most visitors have is, “Where should I start?”
We’ve created this guide to help visitors discover 5 of our favorite hiking trails near Gatlinburg, TN. The list contains everything from leisure hikes to difficult, day-long treks. No matter what your speed, you’re certain to find your next adventure on this list.
Let’s dive in and discover your next spectacular Smoky Mountain hike!
1. Laurel Falls Hike
We’ll help you warm up with this easy, family-friendly hiking trail in Gatlinburg. This two-and-a-half-hour trek is about two and a half miles long. The trailhead is just a short drive from the Sugarlands Visitors Center.
This is an atypical trail because it is paved. This feature makes it uniquely suited for families with strollers or visitors using mobility aids.
Though there is a gradual incline, we believe the final destination is more than worth the trek. This trail terminates at Laurel Falls, a flower-strewn sight to behold. The trail will be in full bloom in the Springtime but contains mountain views year-round. On a hot summer day, come prepared to splash in the stream.
2. Gatlinburg Trail Hike
When in Gatlinburg, hike the Gatlinburg Trail! This hike is a little under four miles and should not take you more than two hours. It’s another family favorite, with a mostly flat, gravel-covered terrain that active kids can handle.
Better still, this is one of the few trails that welcomes four-legged visitors. It is easy to access from the visitor’s center and even allows bicycles.
As you explore, you’ll enjoy views of the rapids at Little Pigeon River. You’ll also find a few historical landmarks to explore. There are ample opportunities to stop and enjoy the scenery on your journey. If the kids start to get antsy, you won’t be far from town and can stop in for a bite or a rest.
3. Alum Cave Trail Hike
The next hike on our list is better suited to intermediate or advanced hikers. It may not be appropriate for families with children. This hike is an eleven-mile round trip and will likely take you the full day.
Alum Cave is one of the most popular hiking trails in Gatlinburg, TN, and there’s a reason for that. You’ll end up on gorgeous Mount LeConte. We think the lodge is worth a visit, even if you’re staying in better-suited accommodation. If you time it right, you can enjoy an easy lunch at the top!
This hike is dotted with spectacular viewpoints that are worthy of photography. It is sure to become the backdrop of many of your best vacation photos. Along the way, visit Arch Rock and Alum Cave.
If you have the stamina, expert hikers should hike all the way to the breathtaking Myrtle Point viewpoint. Once there, you will enjoy a 360-degree view of the smokies.
4. Grotto Falls Trail Hike
Grotto Falls trail is one of the best hiking trails in Gatlinburg. It’s ideal for intermediate hikers looking for a moderately challenging outing. It’s a 2.6-mile round trip with plenty of river views along the way.
Like many of our favorite hikes, it ends at the mouth of a gorgeous waterfall. In this case, you’ll get up close and personal with 25-foot-tall Grotto Falls. This waterfall is unique because visitors can walk behind the falls. This hike is fun for families with older children who can handle a little challenge.
5. Rainbow Falls Hike
If you love waterfalls, Rainbow Falls is a can’t-miss destination. At 80 feet, it is the tallest single-drop waterfall in the entire national park. As its name suggests, the afternoon light creates brilliant rainbows on the surrounding rock faces.
Though this is one of the oldest and most popular hikes in Gatlinburg, it is not ideal for children. The trek to the top involves some steep elevation changes that might be challenging for the youngest visitors. It also tends to be rockier than other hikes on the list, so make sure you have the proper footwear. Even experienced hikers should bring food and snacks to help them conquer this hike, which is a little over five miles.
We also suggest you bring your camera because there is so much to see along the way! You’ll pass smaller waterfalls, gorgeous bridges, and boulder fields on your trip to the falls.
Where Are You Heading After You Hit the Trails?
After a long day hiking Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you deserve a comfortable place to lay your head. When you stay at Bear Camp Cabins in Gatlinburg, TN, your home away from home will be steps away from the trail.
The suite of luxurious amenities allows you to kick back and relax in between excursions. Enjoy game rooms, hot tubs, and theatre rooms in properties so cozy you won’t want to leave! Plus, our staff of enthusiastic locals can help you discover the best-kept secrets around town. We consider it our mission to ensure you have an incredible trip.