It has been said that there is no better way to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park than to hike it. But lets be honest, not all of us can handle an Appalachian Trail like hike! With so many miles of hikes available in the park, there are a number of trails for every level of hiker. If you’ve got little ones or just aren’t feeling like hiking a strenuous trail, here are some great easy trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Easy Trails in the Smokies
Clingman's Dome Tower
Distance: 1.0 mile
The trail up to Clingman’s Dome Tower is paved but steep and well worth the trip! Once you reach the summit you will have a view of the entire Smoky Mountain range and will be standing on the second highest peak on this side of the Mississippi. Near the summit you can also see part of the Appalachian Trail so if you are feeling extra adventurous, you can hike part of it!
Distance: 2.6 miles
Laurel Falls is a favorite among park visitors since it offers the easiest access to a waterfall in the park. A paved trail leads you through a series of cascades before you finally arrive at the flat, rocky base of a 80-foot waterfall. Remember that the trail gets busy in the summer months and arriving early to the trail head can help you beat the crowds.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Abrams Falls is accessible from Cades Cove and can be considered an easy to moderate hike due to the length of the trail. Even though the falls are only 20 feet high it is the volume of water that makes it a sight to be seen. As you make your way through a pine-oak forrest, you’ll find hemlock and rhododendron along the creek eventually leading you to the picturesque deep pool at the base.
Distance: 1.9 miles
The Gatlinburg trail is one of two dog friendly trails in the park. It takes you from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the edge of Gatlinburg, along the Little Pigeon River. It is also a great option for those looking to bike along the trial. As the river creates a soundtrack to your hike, you come across foundations and chimneys of old homesites.
Kephart Prong trail
Distance: 4.0 miles
This trail is great for kids where you can see wildlife along the trail. This trail allow you the chance to explore the area’s history – from the logging era through the Civilian Conservation Corps days. You can even see part of the old logging railway along the trail and remnants of the CCC camp that was in the area. During the spring, wildflowers paint the trail with color.
Distance: 4.0 miles
This beautiful trail is great at any time of year and located just 6 miles east of Gatlinburg. Like the Kephart Prong Trail, Porters Creek has historical remnants of those who lived in the area before the park was created and established including the Ownby Cemetery. When you reach Porters Flat you will a barn, springhouse, and cabin that show you the daily life of 19th century residents.
Elkmont Nature Trail
Distance: 0.7 miles
This easy but fun trail is located in Elkmont, the area of the park that use to be summer vacation homes for Knoxville’s wealthy before the park’s creation. It is a perfect quick day trail if you are looking to get some time in the great outdoors but don’t have a whole lot of time. Elkmont Nature Trail is full of rich history and a favorite trail for families.
Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
This short half-mile trail in the park is the only trail that is wheelchair accessible. Located near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, it is a perfect quick trail to walk while you stop at the Visitor Center.