cataract falls in the smoky mountains

Top 5 Easy Hiking Trails in the Smoky Mountains

One of the most popular activities in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hiking. With over 850 miles of hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, you have plenty of trails to choose from! If you’re just starting out or want to take small children, you’ll want to go on an easy hiking trail. Here are the top 5 easy hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Elkmont Nature Trail

footbridge on the elkmont nature trailLooking for the perfect trail for you small kids? Take them on the Elkmont Nature Trail! The trail’s roundtrip length is 0.8 of a mile. It is used for bird watching, and you might spot other animals along the way! In the spring and early summer, you’ll find all kinds of wildflowers along the path. You’ll walk past a stream or two where your kids will want to splash in the water. It’s a great first trail for people who can’t do any of the strenuous trails in the national park.

2. Cataract Falls

For a short hike that’s perfect for children and older visitors, you should try Cataract Falls. This trail is 1.1 miles roundtrip and is right outside of Gatlinburg. The path is clearly laid out, with wooden beams on either side of the trail. The trail is named after a waterfall, which is impressive after rain since water gushes over the rocks and into a creek. You’ll also see old forest growth, unique looking trees, and cross over the creek on a footbridge.

3. Laurel Falls

laurel fallsLaurel Falls is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains. This could be because it’s easy, but the entire trail is paved, making it easier to travel due to no roots or rocks to climb over. This trail is an out-and-back walk that is 2.8 miles roundtrip. Some of the trail has steep drop offs, so be careful as you’re walking along the trail. Once you’re at the end, you’ll see Laurel Falls, the 80-foot-tall waterfall. A foot bridge cuts the waterfall into an upper section and a lower section. There’s a paved section where you can easily take pictures in front of the waterfall.

4. Gatlinburg Trail

Right outside of downtown Gatlinburg, you’ll find the Gatlinburg Trail. This hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains is 3.8 miles roundtrip and has an elevation gain of 164 feet. It’s an out and back trail instead of a loop. Most of the trail travels along the river so you always have a scenic view while you’re hiking. You even cross the river on a footbridge. In the spring, there are hundreds of wildflowers along the path, and even in the fall, you’ll be amazed by all the colorful leaves you’ll see. Farther along the trail, you’ll come across the remains of old homesteads, such as rock fireplaces. The Gatlinburg Trail is one of the only trails in the entire national park that allows dogs on the trail.

5. Twin Creeks Trail

Want a trail that’s a little longer but is still easy? Twin Creeks Trail is the right one for you. The out-and-back trail is 4.5 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 790 feet. You’ll walk past a creek and even cross over it on a footbridge. You’ll also find an old cabin along the trail you can walk inside. Wildflowers line the sides of the trail in the spring. Twin Creeks Trail gets its name from two creeks that run parallel.

All of these easy hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains are perfect for you! If you want more information, check out our about the area page.