Best Hiking Trails Near the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains, a realm of more than half a million acres, beckons you to explore its array of spectacular trails. Here, each path tells its own tale of adventure, each peak and valley brimming with the echoes of explorers past and present. Experience a snippet of the Appalachian Trail, chase waterfalls, and journey across mountain landscapes, all as part of your hiking adventure. Here are our top trail recommendations, each detailed with distance and difficulty ratings, ready for your exploration. And when the day’s hike is done, immerse yourself in the tranquility and mesmerizing beauty of the “Land of Blue Smoke” with a stay at Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains.

Clingmans Dome

Distance: 1.2-miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Clingmans Dome Trail is a moderately challenging, 1.2-mile round-trip hike that rewards you with views from the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. This short but steep trail takes you to an observation tower on the summit, where you can feast your eyes on breathtaking panoramic views of the Smokies. On clear days, visibility can reach over 100-miles, offering an unrivaled vista of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Appalachian Trail

Distance: Varies

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Covering over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, the esteemed Appalachian Trail promises an epic hiking adventure. Its 72-mile stretch through the Great Smoky Mountains offers stunning vistas and diverse wildlife, providing a challenging but rewarding hike. The trail’s length varies based on your chosen starting point and destination, making it an ideal pick for a tailored trek. The most accessible day trip hike is the 4-mile segment from Newfound Gap to Charles Bunion, featuring a rocky cliff with a breathtaking view of the Smokies.

Abrams Falls Trail

Distance: 5.2-miles

Difficulty: Moderate

The Abrams Falls Trail, a moderate 5.2-mile round trip hike, promises a physical challenge and a worthwhile destination. You’ll be rewarded with the beauty of Abrams Falls, a 20-foot fall and one of the most powerful in the Smoky Mountains, a mesmerizing spectacle that is undoubtedly worth every step. At the bottom lies a picturesque swimming hole where you can enjoy a refreshing swim.

Grotto Falls Trail

Distance: 2.6-miles

Difficulty: Moderate

The enchanting Grotto Falls Trail is a 2.6-mile round-trip hike rated as moderate. It offers a unique ‘walk-behind’ waterfall experience that’s few and far between. It’s a magical, mist-veiled world that provides a tranquil retreat in the forest. Visitors can swim here and might also enjoy looking for salamanders who call the Grotto Falls home.

Charles Bunion

Distance: 8.1-miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

The 8.1-mile Charles Bunion Trail, rated as strenuous, is renowned for its magnificent rock formations and sweeping views of the Smokies. The iconic craggy outcrop, known as “Charlie’s Bunion,” provides a remarkable backdrop for a mountaintop picnic.

Alum Cave Trail

Distance: 11-miles

Difficulty: Strenuous

The 11-mile Alum Cave Trail takes you through old-growth forests to the summit of Mount Leconte, the third-highest peak in the Great Smok Mountains, offering stunning vistas along the way. Alum Cave, a site of early 19th-century epsom salt mining, is a perfect rest stop after a lengthy hike and offers an excellent photo opportunity.

Gatlinburg Trail

Distance: 3.8-miles

Difficulty: Easy

The Gatlinburg Trail is a flat 3.8-mile round-trip trail ideal for a leisurely hike. It’s one of the few trails in the park that is dog-friendly and allows bicycles. The trail runs through the forest to the outskirts of Gatlinburg city, offering beautiful views of the Little Pigeon River and remnants of old homesites.

Stay at Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains

After a day spent conquering the trails, rest and rejuvenate at Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains. Offering an enticing mix of rustic charm and modern luxury, our glamping accommodations provide the perfect home base for your hiking adventures. Experience the Smokies with the comfort of plush amenities awaiting your return.

The trails await, the mountains are calling, and Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains stands ready to welcome you.

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