There are few ways more perfect to explore the Smoky Mountains than take a simple hike through these wooded rolling green landscapes. While visiting the area, you’ll have a plethora of hiking trails in Gatlinburg to choose from on any given day, ensuring that your adventurous side is completely sated by the time vacation is over. Whether you’re a regular hiker looking for a real challenge, or in town with the kids and want a nice leisurely walk to take after lunch with the little ones, you’ll find the perfect option among these hiking trails in Gatlinburg.
6 Hiking Trails in Gatlinburg
- Rainbow Falls Trail
Located off Cherokee Orchard Loop Road, the Rainbow Falls Trail is a 5.4 mile out and back hike of moderate difficulty. Hikers can expect to gain over 1,600 feet in elevation as they enjoy the surrounding beauty of old growth forests and multiple waterfalls along the way. The LeConte Creek is followed for quite a ways along the hike, and in the cooler months you may see ice formed in the slower moving sections, and even icicles in the falls. The trail ends at Rainbow Falls, but can be extended to the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains if you want to continue to the summit of Mt. LeConte.
- Alum Cave
Another moderate hike, the Alum Cave trail is among the most unique hiking trails in Gatlinburg. The round trip hike is 4.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,125 feet. The Arch Rock is the first striking characteristic of the hike, and is the remains of a weathered rock face whose soft interior was worn away by the elements, leaving an arch that hikers actually get to climb stairs right through. The hike ends at Alum Cave, which is actually a concave bluff reaching 80 feet high and 500 feet across.
- Chimney Tops
A shorter moderate hike, Chimney Tops Trail runs for 3.8 miles and gains a total of 1,487 feet in elevation, which is quite a steep grade at times so be prepared! You will follow the cascades of the Road Prong Creek over footbridges to meet up with the rocky path to Chimney Tops, which is known as one of the oldest trails in the Smokies. Thought to date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, the ancient trail is commonly known as the Indian Trail Gap. Chimney Tops Peak is unique for being one of the only bare rock summits in the Great Smoky Mountains, and on a clear day you’ll be able to see all the way to Sugarlands Valley.
- Mt. LeConte
There are various routes to the top of Mt. LeConte, most of which are a round trip of over 10 miles making them all more strenuous and longer hikes. Summiting LeConte is an adventure for more experienced hikers and should be approached with caution and wisdom. Be sure you’re fully stocked with food and water, and that you are careful to observe the weather patterns along the way. Otherwise, enjoy the breathtaking views!
- Baskins Creek Falls
This trail starts off with a short, easy climb and then levels out for a decent view of the mountains and the city of Gatlinburg. This trail is best known for the beautiful waterfalls you can see along this hike. Baskins Creek Falls is a shorter trek at only 3 miles, giving you the best of both worlds with an easy hike and beautiful sights.
- Bullhead Trails
Starting on an old gravel road, this nearly 6 mile trek is well worth the views. Hikers begin behind a locked gate and follow the gravel road until they reach the Bullhead Trail. During your hike, you will be able to catch glimpses of the surrounding mountains and Balsam Point. By standing on the rock cairn at the end of the trail, hikers are able to capture beautiful views including Brushy Mountain and the Greenbrier Valley.
There are so many experiences waiting to be had on these hiking trails in Gatlinburg. Whether you’ve seen it all before, or are visiting the Smokies for the first time, this is sure to be an experience of a lifetime!