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6 of the Best Smoky Mountain Trails for an Easy Hike

Laurel Falls one of best free things to do in Gatlinburg
September 19, 2018

One of the best ways to experience the true beauty of the Smoky Mountains is by going for a hike. Luckily, you don’t have to be an avid hiker to enjoy hiking in the Smokies . With more than 850 miles of trails, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has something for every skill level. Whether you’re hiking with kids or just want a leisurely stroll, we’ve put together 6 of the best Smoky Mountain trails for an easy hike:

1. Gatlinburg Trail

Not only is the Gatlinburg Trail an easy hike, but it has easy access! This trail begins at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and and runs for 1.9 miles. The paved trail goes through the forest along the Little Pigeon River, offering views of both the water and chimneys of several old homesites. It is also one of only two trails in the national park that visitors can walk dogs and ride bicycles.

2. Elkmont Nature Trail

little river near the elkmont trail

If you’re looking for a short and simple hike that shares a little bit of Smoky Mountain history, the Elkmont Nature Trail is perfect. It is a self-guided nature trail that is a little less than a mile long. During the spring and summer you can see gorgeous wildflowers, but the best part about the experience is learning more about the Elkmont area of the park.

3. Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls is not only an easy hike, but it is one of the most popular! It is a 2.6-mile roundtrip hike featuring an 80-foot-tall waterfall. The waterfall has both an upper and lower section that is divided by a walkway that crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls. This trail is especially great for families, but keep in mind that the paved trail gets rough and uneven in certain spots, so it is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

4. Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grotto Falls is another popular family-friendly hike! To get to Grotto Falls, you will actually hike the Trillium Gap Trail for 2.6 miles roundtrip. The trail runs through an old-growth hemlock forest and actually runs behind the waterfall! Grotto Falls is a 25-foot-high waterfall that has a cool and moist environment perfect for salamanders and summer hikers.

5. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is a short and easy hike that is great for all skill levels. This half-mile loop trail is right near Gatlinburg and has a stream running alongside the trail. It is the only trail in the park that is wheelchair accessible, and there are informative plaques along the way to help you learn more about the nature around you.

6. Cataract Falls Trail

Cataract falls in smoky mountains

Cataract Falls Trail is less than 2 miles from downtown Gatlinburg, but will make you feel miles away from all the hustle and bustle. This trail is one of the best-kept secrets in the Smoky Mountains. It is a little less than a mile roundtrip and is great for families with kids. Along your hike, you will get to cross a bridge to pass over Fighting Creek, see an old hollowed-out tree, and take in the views of a 25-foot waterfall. The waterfall has 2 low-flow streams that drop into a small pool below. It’s most impressive after rainfall!

Now that you know some of the best Smoky Mountain trails for an easy hike, it’s time to start planning your vacation! Our cabins put you just a short drive away from the national park, where you will have your choice of which trail to hike. Browse all of our cabins in the Smokies and reserve your stay today!

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