Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking is the number one activity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and for good reason. The park is home to 150 trails covering more than 800 miles. The National Park Service maintains all 150 trails, keeping them in peak hiking condition.
Occasionally, wildfires, storms, or maintenance requires trails to be closed for periods of time.
In addition, the historic Appalachian Trail (AT) divides the park in half along the Tennessee / North Carolina border. The AT provides 70 miles of hiking adventure in the park.
Beginners can enjoy easier hikes on shorter trails with little elevation changes. For example, Porters Creek Trail is a kid-friendly trail with historic buildings. Although rated “moderate”, the National Park Service recommends this trail for families.
Middle Prong Trail, located near the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, is a wonderful experience. This trail is the best in the park for enjoying rivers and waterfalls. Kids will love it, and at 1.9 miles in, an old 1920’s Cadillac sits a few yards from the trail.
We suggest perusing the trails on our 38 Popular Day Hikes to find trails rated “Easy” or “Moderate”.
Hiking enthusiasts can choose from trails that are difficult to hike, but have amazing payoffs. Gregory Ridge Trail is challenging, but the views and colorful flowers at Gregory Bald are amazing.
Another trail with incredible views is Chimney Tops Trail. It is rather strenuous, but the views are unlike any other. After the wildfire of 2016, this grail was renovated under the Trails Forever program. Gregory Ridge and Chimney Tops are just two of the many unbelievable trails from which to choose.
Cades Cove is the starting point for a number of trails with historic buildings, wildflowers, and waterfalls that can be enjoyed by beginners and pros alike.