The Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s regarded as the most visited national park in the country.
This region is home to various animal and plant life, ancient mountains, and the Southern Appalachian Mountain culture preserved for their cultural significance.
Aside from its natural beauty, the park also has plenty of activities for people who love the great outdoors.
These include hiking and exploring the Smoky Mountains’ numerous trails and the famous Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The article covers the best Trails in the Smoky Mountains (NC).
Where Are The Smoky Mountains?
The Smoky Mountains are a group of mountains that rise along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. They’re part of a physiographic region known as the Blue Ridge Province.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the country’s most popular national parks. It was established in 1934 and attracted over 11 million visitors annually.
This national park is dedicated to protecting the various areas of the Smoky Mountains.
This national park is home to over 187,000 acres of old-growth forest, the most significant area east of the Mississippi River.
The area’s lower elevations are also home to various hardwood forests, and the spruce-fir forests found in the upper elevations are the largest of their kind in North America.
Trails In The Smoky Mountains (NC)
There are so many great trails in the Smoky Mountains that it can be hard to choose just one. However, we’ve compiled a list of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains.
These are all recommended for anyone looking for amazing views, natural beauty, and mountaintop luxury.
These are the best trails in the Smoky Mountains;
1. Alum Cave Trail
One of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains is the Alum Cave Trail, which is approximately 11 miles. This route is ideal for people who are looking for amazing views.
This trail takes you to the summit of Mt. Leconte. Several other trails can take you to the top of this mountain, such as the Bullhead Trail, The Boulevard Trail, and the Rainbow Falls Trail.
This hike is considered one of the more challenging in the area, as it can take up to 2,763 feet of elevation gain.
It’s essential to wear the proper shoes during this section of the trail, as some of the steps can be dangerous.
Mount Leconte is one of the highest peaks in the Smoky Mountains, and it has a top of 6,593 feet.
2. Chimney Tops Trail
The Chimney Tops Trail is a popular hiking route in the national park, approximately 3.3 miles. This route is very steep, requiring participants to hike more than 960 feet to reach the summit.
One of the few places in the area with bare rock summits, this mountain has an elevation gain of 1,487 feet.
3. Charlies Bunion
The Appalachian Trail begins at the Newfound Gap parking area. This route takes you through the mountains and is ideal for people looking for spectacular views.
The Charlies Bunion is a shorter route that takes you to the summit of this mountain.
This hike can be a bit challenging, but with an elevation gain of over 1,600 feet, it’s perfect for anyone looking to add this to their list.
4. Low Gap Trailhead
This shorter route takes you to the top of Mt. Cammerer, and it’s ideal for people looking for amazing views.
This mountain has an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. The views from this mountain are unique, and all the extra challenges are worth it.
5. Andrews Bald
The Andrews Bald is a moderately challenging hike, about 3.5 miles long. This trail used to be very rocky, but it has been improved to make it safer.
This hike is ideal for people who are looking for amazing views and the opportunity to see the blooming flowers.
This route is popular, so get there early to enjoy the walk. This hike can also be challenging, but with an elevation gain of over 899 feet, it’s perfect for anyone looking to take this route.
6. Ramsey Cascades
One of the best things about a great hike is the opportunity to see animals, flowers, and waterfalls. The Ramsay Cascades is a short route that takes you through old forestry.
This is an excellent way for people who are passionate about water and want to find peace in nature. This hike can be very challenging, but with an elevation gain of over 2,200 feet, it’s worth it.
7. Clingmans Dome Trail
The beautiful and short Clingman’s Dome Trail is a great way to enjoy a casual stroll or early morning run in the Smoky Mountains.
This trail takes you through old forestry, with panoramic views of the mountains. This is the highest point in the park, which is why it’s considered the most popular trail.
This is also why it’s not the safest place for elders to try this hike.
8. Gregory Bald
One of the most popular trails in the Smoky Mountains is the Gregory Bald, and it’s known for its fantastic azalea bloom in June.
This hike can be very challenging, but it’s worth it for those looking to see these flowers. Even though this trail is a bit hard, it’s still one of the most popular ones in the park.
9. Middle Prong Trail
The Middle Prong Trail is a great way to view water activities. This route takes you through various waterfalls and has bonuses such as minor falls and cascades.
This hike can be very challenging, but it’s worth it for those looking to see these beautiful areas.
Begin the trail at Thunderhead Prong and Lynn Camp, and continue to your destination.
This trail might be for you if you’re looking for an adventure.
10. Rocky Top And Thunderhead Mountain
The Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain hike is approximately 13.9 miles long and has an elevation gain of over 3,500 feet.
It’s a great way to pass through grassy meadows and take in the views of North Carolina.
After reaching the first summit of Thunderhead Mountain, take a break and hike along the Appalachian Trail.
After reaching the first summit of Thunderhead Mountain, hikers have the option to continue up to the other two summits.
This is a lengthy and challenging climb, so set aside a couple of hours to enjoy the sun.
11. Cades Cove Loop
The Cades Cove Loop is a great way to enjoy a full day of hiking in the Smoky Mountains. This route takes you through various historic buildings.
It’s also a great way to see the wildlife that can be found in this area.
12. Mount Sterling via Big Creek Loop
One of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains is the Mount Sterling Via Big Creek Loop.
This is a lengthy and challenging climb, but it’s worth it for those looking to see these beautiful areas.
If you cannot complete the 17-mile loop, there’s a 2.7-mile trail leading to Mount Sterling.
13. Abrams Falls Trail
This waterfall hike is an excellent way to spend a weekend in the Smoky Mountains. The Abram Falls Trail is also one of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains.
14. Deep Creek Loop
The Deep Creek Loop is an excellent way to take in the various waterfalls found in the Smoky Mountains.
This route is perfect for people looking to enjoy a lazy river trip during the summer.
15. Little River Trail
This trail is an excellent way to view the mountains and enjoy a walk along the river. It also provides a perfect opportunity to bring the kids along for the fun of hunting salamanders.
16. Laurel Falls Trails
This Smoky Mountains Trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is an easy route popular with walking and hiking.
It can take around one h 6 min to complete, and it’s open all year round. This trail is not dog-friendly. You’ll need to leave your pets at home to access this trail.
This trail is one of the best trails in the Smoky Mountains. It is also one of the most popular attractions in the vicinity.
There are limited parking spaces near the Falls, but there are also potential spots on the side of the road. Please be aware of all the rules and regulations when driving through the park.
17. Rainbow Falls Trail
The route is generally considered moderately challenging and usually takes around three and ten minutes to complete.
However, this trail is popular for hiking and can be enjoyed during quieter times of the day.
The hike to the Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-do for anyone who visits the area. It offers a beautiful view of the Tennessee forest.
18. Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail
The route is generally considered moderately challenging and usually takes 41 minutes to complete. This area is also trendy for both walking and running.
This trail can be visited during the peak season, from April to November.
It’s essential to bring warm clothes and a jacket as the weather can get very cold at the highest peak, 6,643 feet, at the observation tower known as the Clingmans Dome.
There are also several campsites and parking areas near the Falls.
19. Gatlinburg Trail
This trail is quiet and serene. It starts from the Smoky Mountains National Park visitor center and goes to the city of Gatlinburg. It takes about 45 minutes to complete.
There are six parking spaces near the Sugarlands Visitor Center. These are accessible using the parking lot’s striped access aisles.
The trail’s surface is natural, and it can be described as having a wide variety of raw materials such as gravel, dirt, and paved asphalt.
20. Cataract Falls
This area is trendy for walking and hiking, so you’ll likely run into other people while exploring. This trail is best visited during the May to November season. You must leave your dogs at home as pets are not welcome.
The Sugarlands Visitor Center is also accessible to wheelchairs and other mobility equipment. In addition, there are picnic tables and benches at the beginning of the trail for resting.
21. Gabes Mountain Trail to Hen Wallow Falls
The route is generally considered moderately challenging and usually takes around 2 hours and 18 minutes to complete. This area is trendy for both hiking and walking. The trail is open year-round.
The walk to Hen Wallow Falls is pleasant as it follows a path through a rhododendron and hemlock forest. It then leads to the falls’ base.
Unfortunately, the waterfall at the top of the falls is only two feet wide and 90 feet high. Therefore, the side trail that leads to the bottom of the falls has a steep climb.
Best Time To Visit Smoky Mountains
The best times to visit the Great Smoky Mountains are during the summer and autumn. People flock to the park during summer to explore its various attractions. In October, people enjoy the autumn foliage.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit The Smoky Mountains?
The Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few national parks that don’t charge entrance fees. However, starting in March 2023, those who park in the park will have to pay a fee.
This includes a parking tag for $5, a 7-day pass for $15, and an annual pass for $40.
When choosing a destination for this trip, the resort town of Pigeon Forge is often the cheapest option. However, it’s important to note that there are some exceptions.
Therefore, before you make a final decision, it’s essential to compare the prices of various accommodations and activities in different cities.