Best Hikes in the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains has over 900 miles of world-renowned trails showcasing grandiose mountain vistas, cascading waterfalls, charming mountain streams, 1800s historic structures, and quiet woodland meadows. A trip to the Smokies is the ultimate way to refresh and recharge. There is no bad time for a retreat because every season has something to offer. You can take a visit to see the spring-time wildflowers, experience the brilliant summer weather, witness the leaves changing to their autumn colors, or enjoy a winter wonderland. Whatever you decide, it is sure to be a marvelous experience. Feeling inspired? Here’s our guide for the best hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Best Panoramic Views
Mount Cammerer is an 11-mile roundtrip hike. It is rather strenuous due to the steep grade of the mountain. The terrain is fairly level and there is only a bit of rock scrambling. The hike will take you along the Appalachian Trail. The summit of Mt. Cammerer is situated on the edge of a rocky outcropping overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge. There is a stone fire lookout that provides hikers with outstanding 360-degree views. Many people consider this hike to have the best views in the whole park.
Chimney Tops is a moderate hike, and although it is only 2.6-miles roundtrip, the climb is very steep. Reaching the top is strenuous as it requires scrambling over the rocks, as you can see in the picture above. The good news is that the summit is bare rock, so you will be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of the blue ridge mountains There is a terrific picnic area here by the stream just below the chimneys.
Mount Le Conte
Mount Le Conte is the most classic Great Smoky Mountains hike due to its combination of interesting geological features, history, high adventure, and stunning panoramic views. If you start at Alum Cave Trail, it is an 11-miles round trip hike, which should take about a half-day to full day. The trail is both gorgeous and exhilarating. Part of the trail is lined with beautiful rosebay rhododendron that bloom in early spring and part of the trail will have you hugging the cliff face as you cling to the cable handrails. You can choose to spend the night in the Mt. Le Conte lodge and cabins near the top of the mountain. The actual summit of Mt. Le Conte does not offer the best vistas, although the nearby Myrtle Point and Cliff Top have spectacular viewpoints.
Laurel Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park due to the incredible scenery, abundant wildlife, and it’s a great location for photos. It is only 2.6 miles round trip, so the trip will take anywhere from 2 hours to a half-day, depending on your fitness level. This hike is great to do with kids, although there are parts with steep drop-offs, so keep a close eye on them.
Grotto Falls is a nice hike for amateur hikers, although be careful on the rough terrain and it can be slippery when crossing the stream. It is a 3-miles roundtrip hike and will take you behind a 25-foot waterfall! The hike typically lasts around 2 hours to a half-day. If you hike in the spring, you will be greeted with a wealth of blooming wildflowers.
Abram Falls is the most voluminous waterfall in the park. It is only 20 feet high, but it pumps out a large volume of water and creates a deep pool at its base. Although the pool is very picturesque and inviting, swimming here is extremely dangerous due to strong currents. Also, use caution on the slick rocks surrounding the waterfall. It is a 5-miles roundtrip hike, so it typically takes a half-day to full day to complete. The hike through the forest is moderate for experienced hikers and considered difficult for novice hikers.
Best Hiking Experience
Hiking with a Llama
What better way to discover the beauty of the smokies than with a furry friend? Llama treks are a delightful adventure for the whole family. You can enjoy a 2-hour short trek, a 3-hour lunch trek, or special treks such as the Yoga Llama Trek, Live Music Llama Trek, Snow-Sledding Treks, and Pajama Llama Parties. If you wish to stay overnight, you can reserve their 13-foot Glamping tent with electricity, luxurious bedding, comfy log furniture, a heater for winter or a fan for summer, and a wine and coffee bar! You will discover sparkling creeks, cascading waterfalls, hidden ponds, and so much more. The knowledgeable guides at The Wandering Llamas are such a treat and make the experience truly unforgettable. Experience the spectacular scenery and snap some awesome pictures for your Instagram.
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