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Posted on 4/6/2022

The Top 6 Best Trails in the Smoky Mountains



Easy Hiking Trails

1. LITTLE BRIER GAP TRAIL

This 2.8-mile out-and-back trail starts at the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse, an 1880s school, and church. Watch for wildflowers, cross the log footbridge, and stop at the log homestead of the Walker Sisters. Learn how these fiercely independent sisters held onto their traditional way of life. Just beyond the Walker place is a hardwood forest.

2. LAUREL FALLS TRAIL

Laurel Falls is popular, thanks to the paved trail and a great view of the 80-foot-high waterfalls. Try this 2.4-mile, out-and-back hike on a weekday, because weekends can be busy. The trail is rich in native plants, especially the flowering laurel which gives the falls their name. Though the trail is paved, it’s not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

Moderate Hiking Trails

3. GROTTO FALLS TRAIL

Though the national park is laced with waterfalls, 25-foot Grotto Falls is the only one where you can walk behind the cascade. The 2.6-mile hike is a moderately difficult out and back trail starting at the Trillium Gap trailhead. This route bursts with blossoms in spring.

4. PORTERS CREEK TRAIL

Rated moderately challenging, the four-mile trail is known for wildflowers, a historic farm, an old cemetery, and a 40-foot waterfall, Fern Branch Falls. The out and back Porter Creek trail runs through thick woods, providing refreshing shade in summer.

Difficult Hiking Trails

5. BOULEVARD TRAIL TO MT. LECONTE

The payoff for this rugged, strenuous hike is the spectacular view all along the way. The 15-mile hike has a total elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Boulevard Trail starts at the Newfound Gap parking area and rises until you are walking on the ridge of the Smoky Mountains.

6. ROCKY TOP TRAIL

The gentle valley of Cades Cove is the starting point for this challenging 14-mile hike with an elevation gain of more than 3,600 feet. Rocky Top is one of three summits forming Thunderhead Mountain and boasts remarkable views. Continue past Rocky Top, or spend time at that summit and then head back.

After your hike, you’ll crave a relaxing place to lay your head. Choose a Smoky Mountains vacation cabin. Browse our rental cabin selections now.

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