Home Cades Cove 9 Easy Hikes in the Smoky Mountains to Add to Your Outdoor List

9 Easy Hikes in the Smoky Mountains to Add to Your Outdoor List

by Millie

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 800 square miles of hiking trails, so there really is a trail that’s perfect for every type of hiker. Easy hikes are great for anyone visiting the Smoky Mountains! Whether you’re looking to hike with your children or you just want a short, relaxing hike in the mountains, an easy hike may be the best way to spend your day.

If you’re a beginner hiker or you’re looking for one of the easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains, this list will help you find the best hike for you.

1. Gatlinburg Trail

The Gatlinburg Trail is one of two walking paths on which visitors can walk dogs and bicycle. Pets and bicycles are prohibited on all other park trails.

The trail travels 1.9 miles one-way from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of the city of Gatlinburg, TN. It is relatively flat and runs through the forest along side the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The trail offers beautiful views of the river, which at one point is crossed by a pedestrian foot bridge. Foundations and chimneys of several old homesites are visible along the trail.

The Gatlinburg Trail is frequently used by joggers, walkers, and bicyclists.

  • Highlights: Old Homesteads, peaceful streams and forested settings.
  • Elevation Change: Some hills, but mostly level
  • Round Trip Hike: 2.6 Miles
  • Trip Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

2. Kephart Prong Trail

The Kephart Prong trail is great for kids! Kids can explore the Smoky Mountains on this trail. There’s remnants of the logging era and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The hike is 4 miles round trip and you can expect to see wildlife, like salamanders along the stream. During the spring months, there’s lots of wildflowers and plant life along the trail.

  • Trail Location: Between Cherokee and Newfound Gap
  • Roundtrip Length: 4.2
  • Total Elevation Gain: 955 feet
  • Aveg. Elev. Gain / Mile: 455 feet
  • Highest Elevation: 3717 feet
  • Trail Difficulty Rating: 6.11 (moderate)

3. Elkmont Nature Trail

The Elkmont Nature Trail is the perfect easy hike in the Great Smoky Mountains when you’re looking for a short, easy hike for a family. It’s a self-guided nature trail that is a little less than a mile long. This trail is great for learning about the Elkmont area and its rich history.

4. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

The Sugarlands Nature Trail is a short, half-mile trail in the national park. It’s the only trail that is wheelchair accessible. You can find this trail about a half mile past Sugarlands Visitor Center, right on Newfound Gap Road. You’ll see remains of homes and a stream running alongside the trail.

  • Highlights: Old Homesteads, peaceful streams and forested settings
  • Elevation Change: Very little on this flat trail
  • Round Trip Hike: 0.5 Miles on this loop hike
  • Trip Time: 20 Minutes

5. Andrews Bald

This trail begins from the Clingmans Dome parking lot and drops elevation as you hike to Andrews Bald. You’re actually hiking the Forney Ridge Trail which is 1.8 miles one-way to Andrews Bald. If the time of year is right, you can find blackberries or raspberries along this trail.

  • Trail Location: Clingmans Dome Area
  • Roundtrip Length: 3.5 Miles
  • Total Elevation Gain: 899 feet
  • Aveg. Elev. Gain / Mile: 514 feet
  • Highest Elevation: 6310 feet
  • Trail Difficulty Rating: 5.30 (moderate)

6. Abrams Falls

Even though the Abrams Falls waterfall is only 20 feet tall, the amount of rushing water over the waterfall is what makes it so popular. You can use the Abrams Falls access trail in Cades Cove to reach the 5 mile round trip hike.

Due to the length of the hike (it takes about 3-4 hours to finish the trail), many may consider this trail moderate in difficulty.

  • Trail Location: Cades Cove
  • Roundtrip Length: 5.2 Miles
  • Total Elevation Gain: 675 feet
  • Aveg. Elev. Gain / Mile: 260 feet
  • Highest Elevation: 1758 feet
  • Trail Difficulty Rating: 6.55 (moderate)

7. Porters Creek

This trail may be considered moderate by some, but it’s a beautiful trail! During the springtime, the Porters Creek trail blooms with wildflowers which makes it popular. The trail is 4 miles round trip (2 miles one way). This is also a great trail any time of year, even when the snow makes upper elevations a little difficult for hiking.

  • Trail Location: Greenbrier
  • Roundtrip Length: 4.0 Miles
  • Total Elevation Gain: 699 feet
  • Aveg. Elev. Gain / Mile: 350 feet
  • Highest Elevation: 2642 feet
  • Trail Difficulty Rating: 5.4 (moderate)

8. Laurel Falls

This is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We recommend this one for families and anyone who needs an easy hike in the Smoky Mountains because the trail is paved. Just keep in mind that the paved trail is somewhat rough and uneven, so it’s not great for strollers or wheelchairs. The hiking trail is 2.6 miles and will take about 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. The Laurel Falls waterfall is 80 feet high, but it’s important to remember that the trail gets very busy during the peak hiking months during the summertime.

  • Features: Cascading Waterfalls, Mountain Views
  • Elevation Change: Slow climb to Laurel Falls
  • Round Trip Hike: 2.5 Miles
  • Trip Time: 2 hours

9. Grotto Falls

To get to Grotto Falls, you will take the Trillium Gap Road on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. It’s a 2.6 mile roundtrip hike and takes about 2-3 hours to hike to the waterfall and back. The Grotto Falls waterfall is a 25 foot waterfall and, in the area, you’ll see lots of salamanders!

  • Trail Location: Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Roundtrip Length: 2.6 Miles
  • Total Elevation Gain: 585 feet
  • Aveg. Elev. Gain / Mile: 450 feet
  • Highest Elevation: 3777 feet
  • Trail Difficulty Rating: 3.77 (moderate)

Via visitmysmokies.com


Related Articles

The Ultimate Gatlinburg Guide To Everything You Need To Know About The Smoky Mountains
The Ultimate Gatlinburg Guide To Everything You Need To Know About The Smoky Mountains


Sign up with your email and download the

Top Activities In The Smoky Mountains