Guidebook

Find Your Perfect Trail in Great Smoky Mountains NP

From family-friendly outings to tough overnighters, these top 10 hikes reveal the best of the Smokies.

Description

The Great Smoky Mountains are some of the wildest mountains in all of the Appalachian Range. High summits, deep valleys, rushing rivers, dense forests, and treeless balds make up an intricate landscape that’s best explored on foot.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, but that statistic is a little misleading. Most visitors simply drive through a section of the park to reach Gatlinburg or other tourist destinations, and never step off the pavement. With more than 800 miles of official trails, you can be sure that utter solitude awaits somewhere in the woods. There’s quite a range of possibilities, from easy and popular waterfall paths to grueling treks on remote ridgelines. These 10 hikes cover all of that, but they’re just a small taste of what's in the park. Find the one that’s right for you, then set out to explore the Smokies.

Clingmans Dome
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Clingmans Dome

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
0 - 1 hrs
1.9 km
101 m
101 m
Paved path to an observation tower at the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Easy
Private
Laurel Falls
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Laurel Falls

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
0 - 1 hrs
4.0 km
136 m
136 m
Family friendly, paved trail to one of the best waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Easy
Private
Chimney Tops Trail
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Chimney Tops Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1 - 2 hrs
6.3 km
430 m
430 m
Steep climb to a popular viewpoint near a craggy summit.
Difficult
Private
Abrams Falls
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Abrams Falls

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1 - 2 hrs
8.0 km
222 m
222 m
Popular hike from Cades Cove to a waterfall and great swimming hole.
Moderate
Private
Smokemont Loop
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Smokemont Loop

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
2 - 3 hrs
10.5 km
459 m
459 m
A classic hike from the Smokemont Campground.
Moderate
Private
Mount LeConte via Alum Cave
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Mount LeConte via Alum Cave

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
4 - 5 hrs
17.1 km
933 m
933 m
A popular route to the summit of Mount LeConte.
Difficult
Private
Mount Sterling Loop
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Mount Sterling Loop

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
6 - 7 hrs
26.9 km
1,331 m
1,331 m
Overnight loop with huge elevation gain along waterfall creeks and steep ridgelines in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Difficult
Private
Appalachian Trail: Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap
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Appalachian Trail: Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1 day +
66.1 km
3,830 m
2,849 m
The approach to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Difficult
Private
Appalachian Trail: Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap
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Appalachian Trail: Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1 day +
52.2 km
2,381 m
3,467 m
The second half of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Difficult
Private
Mountains to Sea Trail: Clingmans Dome to Oconaluftee Visitor Center
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Mountains to Sea Trail: Clingmans Dome to Oconaluftee Visitor Center

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1 day +
43.6 km
1,197 m
2,502 m
The western terminus for North Carolina's Mountains to Sea Trail.
Difficult
Private