menuTimber Tops logo
mountain landscape

4 Easy Hikes in the Smoky Mountains That Are Great for Kids

A family hiking in the forest.
September 16, 2016

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to over 800 miles of beautifully maintained hiking trails. While some of the trails are best left to the pros, there are also a number of short trails that are ideal for families. To help you make the most of your vacation, Timber Tops Luxury Cabin Rentals has put together a guide to four easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains that your kids are sure to love:

1. Fighting Creek Nature Trail/Cataract Falls

Cataract Falls in the Smoky Mountains.

If you’re looking for a quick hike close to town, you can’t beat the Fighting Creek Nature Trail. This scenic trail begins near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, less than 10 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg. Hikers at the Fighting Creek Nature Trail will find a 1.4 mile loop trail with wooded views and gorgeous wildflowers in the spring.

Roughly 300 yards into the trail, you will have the option of extending your hike by a half mile with a visit to Cataract Falls. This small waterfall is definitely worth visiting after periods of rainfall, when the water flow as its most impressive. For a very short hike, you can even skip the rest of the Fighting Creek Nature Trail and just enjoy the ¾ mile round trip hike to Cataract Falls.

Be advised that the Fighting Creek area is sometimes closed by the National Park Service if bears are active in the area. If you have any questions about the trail, don’t hesitate to ask a park ranger!

2. Gatlinburg Trail

The Gatlinburg Trail also begins near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, making it very convenient to visit. What makes this 1.9 mile one-way hike unique is that it is the only trail in the Tennessee side of the national park where you can walk your dog or ride a bicycle. Guests at our pet friendly cabins in the Smoky Mountains will love exploring a trail where the whole family, including Fido, can join in on the fun!

Your kids will enjoy seeing the Little Pigeon River from the trail, along with the remains of historic buildings that were built centuries ago. It’s easy to see why the Gatlinburg Trail is one of the most popular easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains!

3. Little Greenbrier Gap Trail/Walker Sisters Place

The Little Greenbrier School in the Smoky Mountains.

The Little Greenbrier Gap Trail is great if your family wants to learn some local history during your vacation. This trail will take you to the Little Greenbrier School and the Walker Sisters Place, two buildings that were built in the 1800s. The Walkers are legendary in the Smokies because the unmarried sisters in the family continued to live in a log cabin without electricity until the 1960s, long after the national park had been established on their land.

The Little Greenbrier Gap Trail begins at Metcalf Bottoms, one of the park’s best picnic areas. It is a 0.7 mile hike from Metcalf Bottoms to the Little Greenbrier School, which was built by the Walker Sister’s father. Once you’ve seen the schoolhouse, continue on the trail for 0.6 mile, where the path crosses a footbridge. After 1.1 miles, you will find the 0.2 mile side trail that leads to the Walker Sisters cabin. In total, the round trip length of the trail is 2.6 miles.

4. Laurel Falls Trail

The highlight of the Laurel Falls Trail is, of course, the 80 foot high waterfall at the end of the hike. Laurel Falls is one of the park’s best waterfalls, and at 2.6 miles round trip (about 2 hours) the hike is relatively short. Additionally, the trail is paved, which makes it easier to hike. The Laurel Falls Trail begins off of Little River Road.

While the hike is popular with families, it’s important to keep an eye on your children at all times, since the trail has steep drop-offs and certain sections can be slippery when wet. Climbing on the rocks near the waterfall is strictly prohibited.

Want to do something fun with your kids? Check out these top things to do in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with kids.A bridge next to Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains.

When you stay with Timber Tops, you will be just a short drive from all of these easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains. We offer one of the best selections of cabins in the area, with everything from 1 bedroom honeymoon cabins to 15 bedroom lodges. To start planning your vacation, browse our complete listing of Smoky Mountain cabin rentals!

Related Blog Posts

Cades Cove church at night with lights on
April 8, 2014
Cades Cove Tours Bring the Smokies to Life at Night
Scenic spring photo of the Smoky Mountains.
July 16, 2020
Top 4 Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains in Summer
aerial view of downtown Gatlinburg
November 4, 2010
Top 5 Things to do in the Fall in the Smoky Mountains
Abrams Falls Gatlinburg waterfall
April 1, 2024
5 Gatlinburg Waterfalls That Will Make Your Vacation Unforgettable