As the weather gets warmer, getting out into nature becomes more and more appealing. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, bordering Tennessee and North Carolina, is revered by hikers in the United States for a reason. This mountain range, famous for the atmospheric mist that surrounds it’s many summits, is an incredible destination for seeing waterfalls, wildflowers, old growth forests, and more.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or someone who wants to start exploring nature, this region has stunning trails for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the best places to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains this Spring and Summer.
Easy Hikes for Beginners
Maybe you’re just getting into hiking or you want to add an outdoor adventure to your family vacation. These easy trails allow you to experience the wonders of the Appalachian mountains without breaking too much of a sweat.
- Little River Trail is a simple trail perfect for families or those in search of a more leisurely stroll. This gentle walk is full of babbling brooks and wildlife; kids especially love the salamanders that live in the streams. If you can, visit Little River Trail in June to see the fireflies that come out at twilight.
- New hikers looking for a challenge with a big reward should check out Chimney Tops. This 2-mile hike is short yet steep; be prepared for some hills. However, the payoff is worth it. You’ll be treated to a stunning vista of the lush forests and mountains.
- The Middle Prong Trail is an essential destination for visitors to the Gatlinburg area, no matter your skill level. This delightful trail gives a taste of all the wonders that the national park has to offer. You’ll see waterfalls, wildflowers, and can even take some detours to explore historical buildings. Don’t forget to check out the 100-year old Cadillac on the trail as well!
If you love chasing waterfalls, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the place to go. The Smoky Mountains waterfall hikes are some of the most popular in the region.
- The Laurel Falls Trail is a simpler hike leading up to a mighty waterfall. Make sure to have your camera ready – Laurel Falls is known for being photogenic, which makes it the busiest trail in the park. Arrive early in the morning or later in the evening to beat the crowds. It’s not only people who love this trail; bears are known to frequent this area, so stay careful.
- Ramsey Cascades is the biggest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains, making it an incredible sight to behold. However, the waterfall is only part of the joy of this hike; the Ramsey Cascades trail brings you through amazing old growth forests, making every moment of this hike special.
- The Three Waterfalls Loop is an easy to medium hike that brings you through three waterfalls – Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek falls, and Juney Whank falls. Visit this loop on a hot day so you can cool off by tubing through Deep Creek afterwards.
Each Spring, the Great Smoky Mountain region comes to life with vibrant wildflowers blooming, adding an explosion of color to hiking trails. Nature lovers and floral enthusiasts won’t be able to get enough of the wildflower hikes in the Smoky Mountains.
- Regarded as one of the most iconic journeys in the Great Smoky Mountains, Gregory Bald is a hard trek but worth every minute. While this summit brings beautiful views all year round, June is the best time to do this hike because of the unique flame azaleas that bloom throughout the area.
- The White Oak Sinks, located off of the Schoolhouse Gap Trail, dazzles in the Spring with thousands of wildflowers of different colors and varieties dappling the forest floor. One of the best spots for wildflower lovers, make sure that it’s open before you visit; space is limited to protect the bats that call this trail home.
After every hike, you deserve a reward. Why not indulge in a winery- or five? Treat yourself to a wine tasting and indulge in a glass of your favorite at Rocky Top Wineries. After your post-hike happy hour, explore the many delicious restaurants and sights that Pigeon Forge has to offer. After all, you’ve worked hard – you deserve to relax! Learn more about Rocky Top Wineries here!