5 of the Best Hikes in the Smoky Mountains You Have to Try

5 of the Best Hikes in the Smoky Mountains You Have to Try

One of the best ways to explore the Smoky Mountains is to go for a hike. Hiking allows you to see the beauty of the Smokies up close. There are more than 850 miles of trails for you to explore in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To help you decide which trail to hike on your vacation, we’ve made a list of 5 of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains you have to try.

1. Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls is one of the best hikes because it’s easy enough for the whole family to do together! To get to Grotto Falls, you’ll hike the Trillium Gap Trail, which runs through an old-growth hemlock forest. About 1.3 miles into the trail, you’ll come upon the 25-foot waterfall. This is the only waterfall in the park that you can actually walk behind! Keep an eye out for salamanders when you hike to Grotto Falls — you can often see them in the area around the falls. The hike is 2.6 miles to the waterfall and back and usually takes anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to complete.

2. Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls waterfall in the Smoky MountainsLaurel Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the Smoky Mountains! This is another hike that families love because you don’t have to be an avid hiker to be able to complete. It takes about 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back, for a total distance of 2.6 miles. Laurel Falls is a gorgeous 80-foot waterfall that’s separated into an upper and lower section. There’s a walkway that crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls, so hikers can walk right beside the waterfall!

3. Alum Cave

For breathtaking views, hike the Alum Cave Trail. The hike starts off leading you through an old-growth hardwood forest before you reach Arch Rock, one of the highlights of the hike. Then you’ll climb up Peregrine Peak and approach a heath bald full of wildflowers before reaching Inspiration Point. Inspiration Point offers gorgeous views of the valley. About 2.3 miles into the hike, you’ll reach the Alum Cave Bluffs. If you hike during the warmer months, you can see water droplets from the ledges above. If you hike during the winter, these water droplets turn into icicles! This hike is a little more challenging than the previous two, featuring an elevation change of 1,200 feet. After you reach the bluffs, most people turn around. However, you can continue for about 5 miles to the summit of Mount LeConte.

4. Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls in the Smoky MountainsAbrams Falls is another impressive waterfall hike in the Smoky Mountains. While the waterfall itself is only 20 feet high, the volume of water rushing over the falls makes up for its lack of height. At the base of the falls is a long, deep pool that makes for the perfect picture. To get to Abrams Falls, you’ll hike along Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove, which features a pine-oak forest on the ridges and a hemlock and rhododendron forest along the creek. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 5 miles.

5. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is an 80-foot waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. This is one of the more challenging hikes because of the length, elevation gain and rocky terrain on some parts of the trail. However, the view of the gorgeous waterfall makes it worth every step. On sunny afternoons, hikers can see a rainbow produced by the mist of the waterfall. During extended cold weather, an ice formation builds around the falls. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 5.4 miles total.

Best Smoky Mountain Items for Hikers

Take a Hike Smoky Mountain Water BottleIf you love to hike, then we have the perfect gifts for you! Showcase your love for the hikes in the Smoky Mountains by purchasing one of the hiking items from our Smoky Mountain shop! We have t-shirts, hoodies, water bottles and more, all of which allow you to show off how much you love hiking. Some of our best-sellers are our Make Your Own Trail hoodie and our Take a Hike hoodie, both of which are great to wear when you’re hiking on a cold day. And, of course, one thing you won’t want to forget to take with you on your hike is water — so carry it in one of our stainless steel water bottles!

Check out all of our items in our Smoky Mountain shop, then get ready to experience some of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains!