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The Best Hiking In The Smoky Mountains

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  • June 28, 2013

Hiking In The Smoky Mountains Gatlinburg

Get out your hiking boots, your backpack and your camera because we’re heading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! The Smokies have some of the best hikes in the country and we’re here to tell you about the best of the best hiking in the Smoky Mountains. Here are our top five favorite hikes of all time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Fighting Creek Nature Trail: If you only have time to do one hike while you’re here in Gatlinburg on vacation and you need something fairly quick that also shows you the vast array of wildlife and flora in the national park, the Fighting Creek Nature Trail is your best bet. Located directly behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center, this trail is a 1.25-mile loop that takes about one hour to complete. Because of its ease, it is a perfect trail for families. Keep a lookout for bears, wild boars and other wildlife while hiking the Fighting Creek Nature Trail because they are frequently spotted by visitors. And don’t forget to snap a family photo in front of the restored log cabin located on the trail.

Mt. LeConte (via Alum Cave Trail): Seasoned hikers will love the payoff of this eleven-mile roundtrip hike to Mt. LeConte. On your way to the top you’ll see the beautiful Arch Rock, a natural rock formation caused by erosion and you’ll also want to stop at Inspiration Point for a few photographs. At about 2 miles into the trail, you’ll come across Alum Cave which, interestingly enough, isn’t even a cave! It’s actually an eighty-foot high bluff that was also the home to Epsom Salts Manufacturing Company from 1838 – 1854. Finally, you’ll come upon the LeConte Lodge. Once you travel another half mile, you will reach the summit of Mt. LeConte. And what an amazing sight it is! And if you love the view so much that you want to stay a while, you can. Book your reservations early to stay in the LeConte Lodge.

Chimney Tops Trail: If views are what you seek, but you don’t want to spend all day hiking to Mt. LeConte, then the Chimney Tops Trail is for you! The roundtrip journey to the Chimney Tops is only four miles – a great day hike for you and your family. This is one of the Smoky’s most popular trails, and it’s no wonder! As you hike, you’ll cross over a stream and see beautiful wildflowers (if you’re there during the Spring and Summer months). Once you reach the top, you have two options: will you watch the people climb the craggy rocks to the very top so they can soak in that amazing view or will you join them? We recommend the latter, but if you don’t feel comfortable going to the very top, there are still amazing views to be had along the trail.

Ramsey CascadesThe Smoky Mountains have over fifteen waterfall hikes for your viewing pleasure, but Ramsey Cascades is one of our favorites. If you’re going to hike to a waterfall, why not hike to the highest waterfall in the Smokies? And since it’s the highest, it takes a bit of effort to get to it – eight miles roundtrip to be exact. And a lot of that is uphill! But, it’s well worth it once you get to the waterfall. If you’re more of a novice hiker or you’re with your whole family, we recommend Laurel Falls which has a paved trail.

Andrew’s Bald: If you’ve never seen a bald (no, not a bald person, but a bald) then it’s about time! Balds in the Smoky Mountains are thought to have been created by grazing livestock many years ago. There are a few balds in the Smokies, but our favorite is Andrew’s Bald, located near Clingman’s Dome. The hike to the bald is  moderate and at that elevation you really get to see some different flora and fauna than you would see on another trail. As you hike through the dense forest, all of a sudden you’ll turn a corner and you’ll be on the bald: a wide meadow with a stunning view. It’s the perfect place for a picnic or a rest before you tackle the route back.

The hikes listed above are some of our favorites, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t explore the many others out there. For a full list of hikes and more information, click here. You might also want to check out the Smokies Hiking Trail App that really makes hiking in the Smoky Mountains a breeze. We also recommend you read our blog post about What to Know Before Hiking in The Smokies so that you and your family can be prepared!

And don’t forget that you’ll need a place to stay and relax while you’re doing all of this hiking in the Smokies. That’s where we come in! Check out our affordable Gatlinburg rental cabins and find the perfect place for your Gatlinburg vacation!

See you soon!

– Your Gatlinburg Concierge






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