Photo of Hiking Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

The Best Hiking Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

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Adventures in America's most visited National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in the United States. The park sprawls over 500,000 acres of North Carolina and Tennessee wilderness. Within this park there are hundreds of amazing hiking trails, each with their own character.

The best hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will take you past landmarks like Mt. Leconte, Clingmans Dome, and Alum Cave. The Appalachian trail also passes through the park. You can walk a few miles on it and imagine making the whole journey from Georgia to Maine.

At Strava we use data from millions of hikes to make sure you have the most accurate and up to date information before you head out on the trail. Check out this list of the best hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National park.

Top 10 hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

1

Alum Cave Trail

Hard
6.22 mi(2h 38m)·
1,596 ft
The Alum Cave Trail is a stunning hike with memorable geological features like a natural stone arch and, of course, a large cave. You’ll pass under Arch Rock just over a mile into the trail and then reach the cave bluffs at approximately 3 miles. This trail follows an out and back route. Because of the length and significant elevation gain, most hikers consider this a hard hike. This route is for those who wish to turn back after the Alum Cave Bluffs, but you can also continue on to the summit of Mount LeConte if you’d like to extend the hike to 10+ miles. The Alum Cave Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2

Laurel Falls Trail

Easy
2.46 mi(58m)·
387 ft
The Laurel Falls Trail is a welcoming and partially paved hike to a beautiful waterfall. The hike follows an out and back route. Because of the relative lack of elevation gain, most hikers consider this an easy hike. But, be prepared for slippery conditions. Due to a few steep sections in the concrete, the National Park Service does not recommend this trail to wheelchair users or those pushing strollers. Take a look at the community photos to get a sense of the waterfall that awaits you.
3

Abrams Falls Trail

Easy
4.95 mi(1h 58m)·
707 ft
The Abrams Falls Trail is a great hike along Abrams Creek to the beautiful Abrams Falls. You’ll cross a few streams and take in the peace of the forest on your way to the waterfall. The trail follows an out and back route. The Abrams Falls Trail doesn’t have significant elevation changes or steep sections, but is considered moderate because of its overall length. This is one of the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
4

Appalachian Trail to Charlie's Bunion

Hard
7.9 mi(3h 22m)·
1,889 ft
Channel your inner thru-hiker and take the Appalachian Trail to Charlie's Bunion. This is a memorable out-and-back day hike that passes several peaks before arriving at a natural rock formation called Charlie’s Bunion. You’ll summit Mount Amber and skirt the summit of Mount Kephart before arriving at The Bunion. The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, so depending on the time of year, you might bump into some folks doing the whole thing! Because of its length most hikers consider this a hard hike. This is a popular hike in the park with Strava Members.
5

Chimney Tops Trail

Hard
3.62 mi(1h 49m)·
1,360 ft
The Chimney Tops Trail is a fun and challenging hike to an overlook of the beautiful, bare rock peak of Chimney Tops, a 200 million year old mountain. The trail follows an out and back route. Because of the steep grades throughout the hike, most hikers consider this a hard trail. This is one of the popular hikes with Strava members visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
6

Rainbow Falls Trail

Hard
5.3 mi(2h 24m)·
1,612 ft
The Rainbow Falls Trail is a great hike through rich woodland to a beautiful waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail follows an out and back route. Because of its length and sustained steep grade, most hikers consider this a hard trail. The Rainbow Falls Trail is a popular hike with Strava members visiting the park. Check out the photos from the community to get a sense of the waterfall that waits for you at the end of the trail.
7

Cataract Falls

Easy
1.01 mi(24m)·
33 ft
The Cataract Falls Trail is a short and welcoming trail that leads to a pretty waterfall. Bring the whole family and enjoy this simple, beautiful adventure. The trail follows an out and back route. It does not have significant elevation gain or long steep sections. Most hikers consider this an easy trail. This is a great option for new hikers or families with young children. Cataract Falls is always a popular trail with Strava members visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
8

Clingmans Dome Trail

Hard
1.12 mi(26m)·
336 ft
The Clingman’s Dome Trail is a steep, paved trail to Clingmans Dome Observation Tower, which sits at the highest point in Tennessee. You’ll enjoy panoramic views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park once you make your way to the top. The trail follows an out and back route. Despite its short length, this thing is steep! Come prepared for a challenging ascent. This is one of the most popular hikes for Strava members visiting the park.
9

Spruce Flat Falls Trail

Hard
1.62 mi(53m)·
453 ft
There are a number of fun waterfall hikes to choose from in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Spruce Flat Falls Trail is a short but challenging hike to one of these great waterfalls. This trail follows an out and back route. There are a few sections which require scrambling over rocks and climbing slippery wooden steps. Because of these technical sections, we’ve classified it as a hard hike. This is a popular hike for Strava members visiting the park.
10

Trillium Gap Trail to Grotto Falls

Hard
2.58 mi(1h 7m)·
574 ft
When a waterfall forms, it can create an “undercut,” which is an open space behind the cascade of water. The Grotto Falls Hike takes you into the undercut behind Grotto Falls. You’ll take the Trillium Gap Trail to the waterfall then have the opportunity to go behind the main wall of water. This hike follows an out and back route. Because some sections will be steep and slippery and accessing the space behind the falls requires clambering over slippery rock, we’ve labeled this a hard hike. But, just getting to the falls is a more moderate route and may be suitable for less advanced hikers. The Grotto Falls hike is a popular trail with Strava members visiting the park.