With over 500,000 acres comprising the Great Smoky Mountains National Park choosing where to hike and sight see can be a bit overwhelming. Use this helpful list of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains to get a head start on your journey. Hiking in the Smoky Mountains is a fun way to explore the inner beauty this natural preserve holds. Aside from the spectacular beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s hidden treasures waiting to be discovered along the Park’s numerous trails.
The Appalachian Trail is one of America’s national treasures. Spanning 14 states and 6 national parks, this 2,180+ mile trail stretches all the away from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. More than 71 miles of the trail run through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Abrams Falls Trail
Located in Cades Cove, the Abrams Falls Trail takes hikers to one of the national park’s most beautiful waterfalls. Hikers will find the Abrams Falls trailhead soon after crossing Abrams Creek on the Cades Cove loop road. The entire round trip length of the hike is 5.2 miles. The highlight of the trail is of course Abrams Falls, the gorgeous waterfall named after the Cherokee Chief Oskuah, who took the name Abram and once ruled a village downstream from the waterfall.
Laurel Falls Trail
The Laurel Falls Trail is another one of the most popular hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Named after the mountain laurel that bloom along the trail in May, this 80 foot waterfall is a sight to behold. This easy 2.3 mile round trip hike begins at a parking lot along Little River Road at the top of Fighting Creek Gap.
Alum Cave Trail
The Alum Cave Trail is one of the most unique hikes in the Smokies. Beginning at a parking lot along Newfound Gap Road, this 4.4 mile round trip hike takes visitors to the famous Alum Cave. Alum Cave was mined for salt as far back as the 1830s, and during the Civil War, the Confederate Army used saltpeter from the bluff to make gunpowder.
Trillium Gap Trail
Beginning at a trailhead off of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, this 13.9 mile round trip hike will take you all the way to the top of Mount LeConte, the highest peak in the state of Tennessee. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, however, you can stop when you reach Grotto Falls, about 1.3 miles into the trail. Grotto Falls has the distinction of being the only waterfall in the national park that you can walk behind.
Whichever hike you decide upon, we felt you may benefit from these safety tips before heading out on your Smokies adventure.
1. Pack the Essentials
Don’t forget these seven must-have items:
- Food and water
- First-aid kit
- Rain gear
- Bug spray
- Extra clothes
2. Always Remember Snacks
Bring easy-to-carry-and-eat snacks like trail mix, nuts, dry cereal and granola bars.
3. Get the Gear
You don’t want to be uncomfortable or unsafe, so it’s important you have the right gear, most importantly hiking boots. Be sure to buy a pair with good grip so you can hike safely and successfully up the mountain, regardless of terrain.
4. Staying hydrated
Make sure you drink plenty of water before starting your hike and carry plenty of water with you.
5. Hiking alone
While some hikers may enjoy going alone, it seems most enjoyable and recommended to go in groups.
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