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Best Trails to Hike in Smoky Mountains

Foggy Trail in Smoky Mountains for Blog Cover Photo

Top Trails to Explore in the Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, offers a diverse array of trails for every type of adventurer. From mist-shrouded mountain peaks to lush forests and cascading waterfalls, the park boasts over 800 miles of paths. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely walk in nature, here are some of the best trails to explore in the Smokies:

Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

One of the park’s most popular hikes, the Alum Cave Trail, offers stunning panoramic views and unique geological features. The trail is a moderate to strenuous 11-mile round trip that takes you past Alum Cave Bluffs and Inspiration Point before reaching the summit of Mount LeConte. At the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains.

Andrews Bald

For those looking for a shorter hike, Andrews Bald is a great choice. This 3.5-mile round trip starts from the Clingmans Dome parking area and descends to a beautiful grassy bald. It’s particularly stunning in June when the flame azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom.

Charlies Bunion

This 8-mile round trip trail starts at the Newfound Gap and follows the Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion, a rocky outcrop that offers impressive views of the mountain ridges and the deep valleys below. It’s a challenging hike, but the vistas are well worth the effort.

Ramsey Cascades

The trail to Ramsey Cascades is the park’s highest waterfall and one of the most spectacular. The strenuous 8-mile round trip takes you through old-growth forests and along rivers and streams, culminating in the magnificent, 100-foot high waterfall.

Porters Creek Trail

Perfect in spring, the Porters Creek Trail is a 7-mile round trip that features historic buildings, a lush forest setting, and the enchanting Fern Branch Falls. It’s especially magical when the wildflowers, such as trilliums and phacelias, blanket the forest floor.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

If you prefer a mix of hiking and driving, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail offers both. This one-way loop road offers access to multiple trails, including the popular Grotto Falls trail where you can walk behind the waterfall. It’s a great way to see the historic buildings and forests of the Smokies.

Cades Cove Loop

Cades Cove offers a variety of hiking options and the chance to see wildlife like deer, black bears, and turkeys. The loop itself is an 11-mile one-way road that can be driven, biked, or walked, and several trails branch off from the loop, leading to scenic viewpoints and historic sites.

No matter which trail you choose, the Smoky Mountains are sure to offer unforgettable views and experiences. Remember to pack plenty of water, wear appropriate footwear, and bring your camera to capture the stunning scenery. Happy hiking!

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