One of the most popular things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains is to take a day hike, or even spend days backpacking in the mountains. Within the Great Smoky Mountains there are plenty of trails for any hiker of all difficulties to explore. However, we would like to share with you some of those trails not by their difficulty, but by the amount of beautiful scenery they posses. If you’re looking for some gorgeous Smoky Mountain hiking trails with old growth forests, endless views or waterfalls, check these out:
This gorgeous trail can be found within Cades Cove off of Parson Branch Road. The round trip length for this trail is around 8.8 miles. On your way to the top of Gregory Bald, you can find multiple panoramic views, but also unique to Gregory Bald is the overwhelmingly beautiful amount of azaleas of all different colors you will find when hiking in the late spring and early summer.
This largely popular trail has great views, sites of waterfalls and many wildflowers blooming along your way. It will also take you through an old growth forest, where you will be able to gaze at all of the older forest scenery. The round trip length for this trail is 6.8 miles, and it will take you straight to the top of Brushy Mountain. The difficulty of this trail is strenuous, but is really a gorgeous site to see if you are prepared the long hike to the top.
Abrams Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls and Smoky Mountain hiking trails to see in the area. The entire hike is about 5.2 miles roundtrip located in Cades Cove. This moderate hike is popular because of the beauty of the falls, and the large pool of water it produces. If you’re really lucky you might get to see a river otter, which is a regular site for visitors hiking the trail. Check out these other Cades Cove hiking trails for more ideas of where to hike in this area.
Alum Cave Trail
Alum Cave Trail is just off of Newfound Gap Road, where there is plenty of parking available for hikers of this popular trail. The round trip length for Alum Cave Trail is 4.4 miles. On your way up this moderate trail you will find the likes of many rock and geological formations as well as beautiful views. In the summer you will find many rhododendron blooming along the trail for some added natural beauty.
Like Alum Cave Trail, on Bullhead Trail you will find multiple interesting geological formations, as well as beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains. This trail is 5.9 miles long round trip, and has an elevation gain of 1607 feet. This beautiful trail is located off of Cherokee Orchard Loop Road, just minutes from downtown Gatlinburg.
Another popular and beautiful trail located within Cades Cove is the Rich Mountain Loop. This trail gives you 8.5 miles of views, wildflowers and history round trip. You will find John Oliver cabin just 1 and a half miles into your hike, the old home of a War of 1812 veteran. John Oliver and his family were one of the first to settle in the Smoky Mountain area. If you are really into wildflowers, this is your trail. This trail is known to have the most extensive amount of different wildflower species.
The roundtrip length of this strenuous trail is 13.9 miles, but if you are willing to hike up the 3665 ft of elevation you will be rewarded at the top. Rocky Top is one of the Smoky Mountain hiking trails home of some of the most beautiful panoramic views in the area, and you will also find many Mountain Laurels, a popular and native plant to the region.
Like Rocky Top, when hiking this 13.3 mile hike you will get to experience some of the best panoramic views in the area. Russell Field – Spence Field Loop is also another great trail to see some of the beautiful Mountain Laurels while hiking. You can find this trail from the Anthony Creek Trailhead located in Cades Cove picnic area.
Rainbow Falls Trail
This trail is a cooler, shaded, trail that offers panoramic views as well as it’s own waterfall, Rainbow Falls. While hiking this 13.8 mile trail round trip, you will get to see a view of the Great Smoky Mountains for miles. You can also walk up Rainbow Falls Trail, and then descend down Bullhead Trail for a loop hike.
Chimney Tops Trail
Chimney Tops Trail is a moderate and short hike of only 3.8 miles round trip. You can find this trail off of Newfound Gap Road not far from the visitor center. Even though the trail is somewhat steep, once at the
top you will get to see great panoramic views that stretch across the Smoky Mountains. On your way up, you will cross Road Prong Creek, and see some of it’s beautiful cascading stream water.
Grotto Falls is another hiking trail with it’s own waterfall. You can also see an old growth forest with many large Eastern Hemlocks. You will also find many different types of wildflowers on this 2.6 mile round trip trail. Even though you won’t find much view of the Smoky Mountains, Grotto Falls is one of the very easy Smoky Mountain hiking trails that leads to one of the area’s favorite waterfalls.
Middle Prong Trail
Middle Prong Trail is known to some as the best waterfall hike because it possesses more than one waterfall along the trip. Even though some of the falls don’t compare to Abrams, Rainbow or Grotto Falls, the variety of hidden waterfalls makes this one a must see. On this 8.3 mile hike, you can also find some of the mountain’s oldest history artifacts along the way.
To learn more about some of the best Smoky Mountain hiking trails, be sure you read about the short hikes of the Smoky Mountains next!