With 150 officially recognized hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is the best place to stay for exploring all of the area’s phenomenal hiking opportunities. With each hiking trail offering its own special features and things to see, you’ll need to take on all of them to fully experience the beauty and wonder of the natural scenery surrounding Gatlinburg. We’ve put together a list of some of the best hiking trails in Gatlinburg to help you get started.
Gatlinburg Hikes to Waterfalls
This easy waterfall hike in Gatlinburg provides beautiful scenery and two waterfalls along the 1.6-mile trail. The quick, 1-2-hour hike on Deep Creek and Indian Creek Trails take you to the 25-foot-high Indian Creek Falls and 60-foot-high Toms Branch Falls. The trailhead is located off of Deep Creek Trail, past Deep Creek Campground.
2. Abrams Falls Trail
This popular waterfall trail can be accessed in the historic Cades Cove area. Although moderate in difficulty, this 5-mile trail is worth the hike, showcasing one of the most powerful waterfalls in the Smokies. At 20 feet tall, the falls are shorter than many in the area, but it is among the strongest, with water rushing over the falls into a deep and wide pool at the base. Hikers should allow 3-4 hours for the hike to the falls and back. The trailhead is located past stop #10 on Cades Cove Loop Rd.
3. Ramsey Cascades Trail
As the tallest waterfall in the national park, Ramsey Cascades is an impressive 100 feet tall and offers a strenuous hike that is as scenic as it is challenging, making it one of the best hiking trails in Gatlinburg. This trail makes an ideal winter hike in the Smoky Mountains, as the falls will freeze over, leaving behind a stunning ice column. The 8-mile hike gains more than 2,000 feet in elevation along the way and will take about 5-7 hours to complete. It can be accessed through the Greenbrier entrance of the national park.
Smoky Mountain Wildflower Trails
4. Little River Trail
This moderately difficult hike can be accessed from the Little River Trail parking area located left of the Elkmont Campground. In early spring, hikers can spot spring beauties and trailing arbutus, as well as hepaticas, yellow trillium, dwarf cinquefoil, stonecrop, Canadian violets and umbrella leaf as the season progresses. Summer brings ideal viewing of mountain mint, orange jewelweed and pale jewelweed. For fall and winter hikers, the 4.9-mile Little River Trail is still well worth the trip with Huskey Branch Falls tumbling along the trail on its way to the Little River.
5. Cucumber Gap Loop
This 5.6-mile hike offers gorgeous views of rhododendron, spring beauties, trailing arbutus, hepaticas, yellow trillium and several other wildflowers throughout the spring and summer months. When the wildflowers aren’t in bloom, hikers can still enjoy abundant wildlife sightings and historic summer homes. Cucumber Gap Loop is located off the Little River Trail.
Historic Trails in Gatlinburg
6. Grapeyard Ridge Trail
Offering several creek-crossing opportunities and views of Mt. Chapman, Mt. Sequoia, Charlie’s Bunion and Mt. LeConte when leaves are sparse, Grapeyard Ridge Trail offers a bit of everything. After crossing Rhododendron Creek several times, you’ll be led to Injun Creek where an old steam engine lies in the stream. The artifact, a Nichols and Shepard self-propelled, steam-powered traction engine, was brought to the area in the 1920’s to saw wood for the Greenbrier School. This moderately difficult, 5.8-mile hike can be accessed through the Greenbrier entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before the Ramsey Cascades and Porters Creek trailheads.
Albright Grove Loop Trail dates back to the early 1930s when it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps who had a camp located by the hike’s trailhead. This strenuous, 7-mile hike starts off as an ascending gravel road for the first 2.3 miles, leveling off at Baxter Cabin. The 1-room cabin was built by Willis Baxter as a wedding gift for his son. The cabin was forged from a single giant chestnut tree. In addition to the historic cabin, the hike provides an excellent example of old-growth cove hardwood forest and is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the Smokies. The Albright Grove Loop Trail is accessed from the Maddron Bald Trailhead.
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We know you’ll have a great time seeing these amazing sights along some of the best hiking trails in Gatlinburg. For more fun activities to enjoy during your stay, check out our list of other fun things to do in Gatlinburg.