One of the most popular things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hiking! People come from all over the world to explore the trails, but you don’t have to be an avid hiker to go out and romp around in the woods! There are plenty of easy hikes you’ll be able to enjoy while you’re in town! Here are 6 of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains for beginners:
1. Elkmont Nature Trail
A great way to start out hiking if you’ve never gone before is to hike on nature trails. These trails aren’t quite as long or difficult as regular trails, but they still have all the beauty you want to experience. The Elkmont Nature Trail is 0.8 of a mile roundtrip, and it is a popular trail for bird watching and nature walks. You’ll get to stroll alongside small streams, see wildflowers along the trail, and possibly see small wildlife!
2. Cataract Falls
Another hike in the Smoky Mountains that’s great for beginners is Cataract Falls. The trail is 1.1 miles roundtrip, and the path is easy to follow with wooden logs laid out on both sides of the trail. Cataract Falls has all kinds of cool things to see as you hike, including unique trees, a waterfall at the end of the trail, and creeks following along the path. You can easily find the trailhead because it’s located next to the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
3. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is also located next to the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This trail is 0.5 of a mile long, making it a popular option for beginner hikers. This is one of the only trails that is paved in the national park, so it is ideal for strollers and wheelchairs. This path takes you through the dense woods and beside the rushing river. You might even spot some small wildlife along your hike!
4. Laurel Falls
Another popular hike in the Smoky Mountains that’s great for beginners is Laurel Falls. The trail and the waterfall get their name from the mountain laurel that covers the trailhead in the spring. This hike is also paved, but it is a pretty good uphill climb. There are a few steep drop offs, so be cautious as you hike up. Once you reach the top, you’ll see the 80-foot-tall Laurel Falls, which is worth the trek up the mountain!
5. Gatlinburg Trail
If you stay with us in Gatlinburg, you could easily go hiking on the Gatlinburg Trail. This hike is 3.8 miles roundtrip, and it is great for people just starting to hike because the elevation gain is minimal and most of the trail is flat. You’ll cross over footbridges and be able to enjoy seeing and hearing the river. During some portions of the trail, you may even get a glimpse of the Smokies in the distance! Gatlinburg Trail is one of the only trails in the national park that is dog friendly, so you also may spot some furry friends as you hike!
6. Little River Trail
Little River Trail is considered easy, which makes it perfect for beginners. The roundtrip length is 4.9 miles, and you’ll start out hiking beside the cascading river with large boulders and several small waterfalls. In the spring and summer, you’ll spot a ton of wildflowers along the path. This is a great trail for enjoying the scenic beauty of the mountains.
These are just some of the hikes in the Smoky Mountains that are great for beginners! After a long day of hiking in the national park, you’ll be ready to come back to a cozy room and relax. Our hotel is the perfect place to unwind after exploring! Look through our Gatlinburg hotel rooms and book your next trip today!