Top 5 trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the largest national park east of the Rocky Mountains and hosts 9-10 million visitors annually, making it the most visited park in the nation. This iconic park was founded in 1934 and is one of the few national parks to offer free admission year round. People come to camp, hike, ride horses, fly fish, gaze at waterfalls and wildflowers, search for wildlife, and enjoy other outdoor activities. Every season has its own highlights. If you are planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, check out one of these Top 5 trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you can’t miss:
- Mount Cammerer
Located on the edge of a rocky setting, and overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge, this “western” style lookout, which was fully restored in 1995, provides hikers with 360-degree panoramic views. Enjoy this about 11 miles roundtrip, looking in any direction and seeing row upon row of smoky blue mountains.
- Rocky Top
This 13.9 miles round trip can be especially hard for the first 5 miles, but your work will be paid-off once you reach Spence Field. If you can arrange it, hike the trail in late spring when Spence Field showcases the most spectacular display of mountain laurel you’ll see just about anywhere. The views get even better if you continue along the Appalachian Trail for another 1.2 miles. The panoramic views from Rocky Top are some of the best in the Park.
- Mount Leconte
If ever there was a classic hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte would certainly qualify. One of the most iconic trails in the park, the hike to Mount LeConte is a strenuous 11 mile roundtrip hike. Known for its views of the park, LeConte also has a lodge where hikers can reserve rustic cabins. Upon reaching the summit, you won’t believe what you’re seeing.
- Andrews Bald
Only 1.7-mile hike to see magnificent views. Sounds great! This is still a fairly rugged hike, but spectacular views of the southern Smokies await you at the end of this hike. Andrews Bald is the perfect place to open up a blanket, relax, and enjoy a picnic lunch during the warmest months.
- Charlie’s Bunion
An 8.1-mile roundtrip hike, Charlie’s Bunion offers amazing panoramic views of the park and a large variety of wildflowers. The trailhead is located in the Newfound Gap parking lot. A long steep climb from the parking lot quickly leaves most of the crowds behind. Eventually, you’ll reach a long stretch of trail that traverses a ridge where you’ll be hovering around an altitude of roughly 6000 feet.