Hiking in the Smokies

Most Popular Hiking Trails

About 1.4 miles down the Alum Cave Bluff Trail, you’ll come to Arch Rock. Pictured are the stairs that wind through and under the rock.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is well known for its vast amount of hiking trails. Visitors flock to the park to gaze at rushing waterfalls, view breathtaking vistas, explore fascinating historic settlement remains, and enjoy the sanctuary of the wilderness.

Hikes can range from simple to very strenuous. Some hikes can be completed in a half day, a full day, or (for the adventurous) multiple days. A person could literally spend an entire vacation walking through the Smokies.

Before You Come

  • Decide if you’re a causal hiker or a serious hiker and plan your hike accordingly.  Most folks can hike a 2-3 mile round-trip but only those who are physically fit can do the full-day or multi-day trips.
  • Review how difficult the climb will be.  See further down for details.
  • If you’re planning a multiple day hike, call the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backcountry Office at (865) 436-1231 to reserve a campsite or shelter that is on your hike path and file for a backcountry permit.  Shelter reservations must be made one month in advance.  No tent camping is allowed at shelters.  You can only stay one night at a time at a shelter; you can stay up to three nights at a campsite.  Pets are prohibited in the backcountry.
  • If you are not starting and ending at the same site, have plans for someone to pick you up or drop you off.  There are several hiker shuttle services that operate in the Smoky Mountains area.

When You’re Ready To Hike

  • Go to any Visitor Center within the park to find out the latest trail conditions.
  • Pick up a backcountry permit if you are planning to spend the night on the trails.  You may also decide to purchase a trail map (recommended for multi-day hikes).
  • Travel to the trailhead and begin your hiking adventure!

Streams are very common along trails, since many trails in lower elevations are carved out along side the streams’ banks.

Remember to plan ahead, bringing enough water, food, a first aid kit, and any other needed supplies.

If you aren’t sure where to begin your hike in the Smokies, we recommend checking out some of the park’s waterfalls for starters.   You can also check out these most popular trails in the Smokies.   Or if you need something a little more adventurous, you can choose a geographical section on the left side of this page and find a trail that you would like to explore.

Difficulty of Trails

  • Easy – Beginner level with easy access to sites.
  • Moderate – Beginning level trails with uphill and downhill slopes.
  • Average – Length of less than five miles taking up half a day. Trail may include uphill, downhill sloped terrain.
  • Expert – Trail that has many obstacles and requires a full day or more to hike it.
  • Strenuous – A very difficult trail, including climbing a mountain, crossing streams with no bridges, steep ledges, vertical climbs, and steep down-hills.

Trail Length

  • Hour – A trail that can be done in two hours or less
  • Half-Day – A trail that may require water and a snack.  Hiking up to 5 miles
  • Full-Day – A trail that will take most of the day to hike.  Hiking 5-13 miles
  • Multi-Day – A trip that will take more than one day to complete. Hiking 13+ miles
  • Winter Hiking Series : Backpacking Flat Laurel Creek (6.5 miles)

    Backpacking Western N.C. (etc) This is the first and shortest of the Two Backpacking Trips of the Winter Hiking Series. *****************************************************************************Also Note : Everyone should consider themselves on the Waitlist Until March 14th. This is to give participants in the Winter Hiking Series a Chance to join in, not just first come first serve. I hope you all understand hopefully we will see you for the other events!*****************************************************************************Note : A Bear Canister is Required for this Trip. If you are interested and do not have one, please reach out to me and/or post in the comments.***************************************************************************** Saturday : We will hike in about 4 miles from 215 past Devils Courthouseand setup camp by Flat Laurel Creek and Flat Laurel Falls.From there we will hike 2-3 miles with day packs and enjoythe view from Sam's Knob. Returning to Camp for evening. Sunday : After breakfast we will hike about 4 miles back to the car.Stopping for Lunch on the way home. Note : You do not need to attend other Winter Hiking Series to attend.For Backpacking and Car Camping preference will be given tothose who do. Canton, NC 28716 - USA Saturday, March 26 at 10:00 AM 10 https://www.meetup.com/Western-NC-Backpackers/events/283350375/

  • Melony's Last Hike!! Meigs Mtn-Curry Mtn - 3 Options - 5 / 8 / 12 Easy/Moderate

    Great Smokies Hiking & Adventure Group *** PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE POSTING BEFORE SIGNING UP *** THE EVENTCome celebrate Melony's completion of her 900 Mile Map! Friends, family and guests will share the last few miles of her Map before a casual celebration at The Peaceful Side Social Brewery and Craft Kitchen in Townsend around 4:30. => https://tinyurl.com/4... If you want to attend the after-hike festivities, please answer "Yes" to the third question in your RSVP. QUALIFICATIONSYou should be comfortable hiking a 1.5-2.5 mph pace for Options 1 and 2, and 2.5-3.0 mph for Option 3, and regularly hiking 3-5 miles with 300-500 feet of elevation change for all Options. MEETING LOCATION(S)** Each Option will have different initial meeting locations and times. ** SHUTTLESOption 2 and 3 hikers will need to shuttle from the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area Parking A, just off Little River Road, where they will end their hikes, up to the Jakes Cr TH. We depend on volunteers to shuttle hikers over, and others to take those drivers back to the Jakes Creek parking lot to pick up their cars afterwards, to make these hikes available. ** If you are late and miss the shuttle, you can meet us at the trail head. ** CO-LEADERSWe'll need several co-leaders for each option to make this work. Please let me know in the comments, Meetups Message, or by email if you can help lead an Option, or have questions about about what that entails. DETAILS Option 1 - Jakes Cr-Meigs Mtn out-and-back - 5 miles +/- 500' - Easy - (Red dots) O1 hikers will meet at the Jakes Creek Parking Area at 11:00 (see link). We'll hike out Jakes Cr to the Meigs Mtn junction, and then out to backcountry campsite BC20, climbing 500 feet. O1 folks will then reverse back to JCPA and should be off trail by early afternoon. JC Parking Area => https://goo.gl/maps/Q... Option 2 - Jakes Cr-Curry Mtn - 8.1 miles +600/-1100 - Moderate - (Blue Arrow) (15 minute shuttle required) Hikers will meet at the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area Parking at 10:30 sharp, and shuttle over to the Jakes Creek Parking Area. We'll follow the O1 route above to BC 20, and then continue West out to the Curry Mtn junction, before hiking down Curry to Metcalf Bottoms. We'll gain 600', and drop 1100' during the hike, with slopes between 300-500 feet-per-mile. Hikers should be off trail between 3:30 and 4:00. Volunteers will be needed to help run shuttle drivers back to collect their cars afterwards. Option 3 - 12 miles +700/-1200 - Moderate - (Purple dots) - (15 minute shuttle required) Hikers will meet at the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area Parking A at 10:30 sharp, and shuttle over to the Jakes Creek TH. Hikers will follow the Option 2 route until they reach the Curry Mtn junction, and will then do a 3.8 mile out-and-back to the Meigs Creek junction, before descending Curry Mtn to the cars. Total elevation gain is around 700', with a 1200' descent, averaging a 300-500 feet-per-mile slope. Hikers should be off trail between 4:30-5:00. O3 hikers will leave their cars at Metcalf so they can get to Townsend in time for the party. WATER CROSSINGSThe Meigs Mtn trail has creek crossings which we can *normally* rock-hop across, depending on recent rains. WHAT TO BRINGWe always suggest carrying the 14 essentials when going into the woods. You can download a pdf file here that discusses these essentials. https://db.tt/6TXGHbe... Because it’s the Smokies, we always need to be mindful of the weather, and bring waterproof outer layers to be safe, and an extra insulation layer. NAVIGATION AIDSJakes-Curry Mtn Map => https://tinyurl.com/y... O1 - Jakes-BC20 O/B Profile => https://tinyurl.com/y...Note: Profile chart slopes may be exaggerated to show details. O2 - Jakes-Curry Profile => https://tinyurl.com/y... O3 - Jakes-MM- Curry Profile => https://tinyurl.com/y... Jakes-Curry Mtn GPS file => https://tinyurl.com/y... Trail Slope Key => https://db.tt/Z9fgt6G... Gatlinburg, TN 37738 - USA Saturday, January 22 at 10:30 AM 22 https://www.meetup.com/Great-Smokies-Hiking-Adventure-Group/events/282594310/

  • Fort Dickerson

    Great Smokies Hiking & Adventure Group We will be doing a loop trail around Fort Dickerson Quarry this will be approximately 2.5 to 3 miles with a 200 - 300 foot elevation gain over a 1/2 mile. Some parts of the trail are rated easy to moderate only due to the elevation gain and rocky areas. We will take it slow coming up the hill. Wear layers it will be a little cold I think the high is forecasted to be 34. We will be meeting at the large parking lot at top of the hill off of Chapman highway. Link tohttps://www.outdoorkno... Please remember you are attending this event at your own risk. By signing up for this event you understand that there are inherent risk with hiking and the COVID virus. You are responsible for you and your family's safety whether it be from COVID or on the trail. Please bring water, snacks, the appropriate clothing and foot wear. If you (and your family) choose to wear a mask during the event that is your choice however please remember people also have a choice not to wear a mask. I will choose not to discuss either choice as this is a hiking event and we are here to enjoy nature. Knoxville, TN 37920 - USA Friday, January 21 at 10:00 AM 9 https://www.meetup.com/Great-Smokies-Hiking-Adventure-Group/events/283356644/

  • Winter Hiking Series : Day Hike Jones Gap 9 Miles

    Backpacking Western N.C. (etc) This is the forth event of the Winter Hiking Series where we will test our legs and get out for longer hike. Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in northwestern South Carolina very near the state line with its neighbor to the north. Along with Caesars Head State Park, these two share an area known as Mountain Bridge Wilderness. On this hike I hope to see Rainbow Falls and make a 9 mile loop through Jones Gap. This area is fairly technical with rocks and roots. Not a lot of elevation change but it's sure to be a little strenuous. Bring your poles for this hike! *****************************************************************************Note : South Carolina does charge for parking. I believe its 6 dollars but make sure you check and make sure you bring exact change in form of Cash! ***************************************************************************** Note : You do not need to attend other Winter Hiking Series to attend.For Backpacking and Car Camping preference will be given tothose who do. Marietta, SC 29661 - USA Saturday, February 26 at 10:30 AM 7 https://www.meetup.com/Western-NC-Backpackers/events/283350187/

  • Winter Hiking Series : Car Camping- Location TBD

    Backpacking Western N.C. (etc) This is the third event of the Winter Hiking Series where we will start to weed out the talkers! This weekend will test our gear and start to gain some confidence being outside in the cold. With a slight advantage of bringing more gear than we can carry and having our trusty safety net of a car just incase things are bit much for us. You're totally not going to need your car, but small steps are smart steps. *************************Please Note the Location is TBD******************** This will be updated The Weekend Prior, group size dependent Expect to pay 10-15$ Specially if we are getting hot Showers!!!******************************************************************************** We will also be day hiking 5-10 miles. Practicing fire building skills,along with sharing ideas and gear suggestions. If anyone is feeling the need for a gear check or maybe a pre-meetup earlier in the week to ease any concerns please let me know. Note : You do not need to attend other Winter Hiking Series to attend.For Backpacking and Car Camping preference will be given tothose who do. Burnsville, NC 28714 - USA Saturday, February 12 at 9:00 AM 3 https://www.meetup.com/Western-NC-Backpackers/events/283349398/

  • Winter Hiking Series : Day Hike Looking Glass Rock

    Backpacking Western N.C. (etc) This is the second event of the Winter Hiking Series where we will start get out and stretch out legs on this 6.5 mile round trip to the top of Looking Glass Rock. We may even stop by Looking Glass Falls too! The Looking Glass Rock Trail climbs about 1,700 ft. in just over three miles. The many switchbacks along the way help make for a long and moderately difficult climb. A strong hiker can make it to the top in 1.5 hours and down in one hour. The views from the top are well worth the effort. The trail is well blazed in yellow and easy to follow. Note : You do not need to attend other Winter Hiking Series to attend. For Backpacking and Car Camping preference will be given to those who do. Pisgah Forest, NC 28768 - USA Saturday, February 5 at 10:00 AM 10 https://www.meetup.com/Western-NC-Backpackers/events/283349284/

  • Winter Hiking Series : Meet and Greet Hillman Beer

    Backpacking Western N.C. (etc) It might be cold and even snowing but it's still a great time get out and start planning trips and meeting new friends. This is first of our Winter Hiking Series where we hope to cultivate new friendships and gain confidence hiking and backpacking during the Winter! Come out and join us for a warm night and great food at Hillman.We will be meeting new people, sharing our experiences and Most Importantly, Planning for our Next Car Camping Trip!!!! Car Camping is great way to get familiar with camping in the cold and testing out your gear. As it's named, we will be planning a trip to camp outside and next to our cars. We be hiking during the day and sharing the fire at night. With luck we will have a great big fire and bathrooms with hot water!! If this sounds interesting come on out and lets get to know each other! Asheville, NC 28803 - USA Wednesday, February 2 at 7:00 PM 9 https://www.meetup.com/Western-NC-Backpackers/events/283349169/

  • Camping in the Cove.... Cades Cove!

    Knoxville Hiking Meetup ***Let's go camping out!!https://youtu.be/B7zT... The booking window is now open for all sites, RV and individual site or our group sites. So, book now before they are all gone. The Cove will fill up. (Don't forget to answer the question and if yes, send the money for your spot.) The group sites are First come, first served based upon payment. I have group campsites G1 and G2 reserved for June 24th-26th. We can have as many as 20 campers (people) on each of these sites. These are large sites with plenty of room for tents. It has a large fire-pit, small fire-pits and several picnic tables. (This is a tent only area) **To setup in one of the group camp sites, you will need to send me $10 each or $15 for a family same tent.*Send payment via Venmo toRob Lemons@Robert-Lemons-900Make it a payment to a Friend, or they charge a fee. This is to reimburse me for some of the money I have paid out. **IMPORTANT: Once the group sites are full this option will go away. At that point you will need to get your own site. There is not much room for parking back in the area. Some may need to unload and then park in the lot at the store. *** I am posting this now because if you have a RV or want your own campsite the booking window open. So, come stay in the group site or get your own site, but come join us. **The group site has a limit. Once we reach that limit, the RSVP by paying the $10 will end. IMPORTANT: Just answer the question as to where you will be setting up.Everyone one will go onto the waitlist until I get payment (nonrefundable) or see that you are setting up on your own site. I will be posting some activities for this weekend in the Cove area. We can bike, hike, hangout and just enjoy the weekend.*If you have a suggestion on something you are interested in doing let me know. Standard Notice: DisclaimerMeetup organizers/ leaders are not guides. Expect the same risks and take the same precautions you would if you were hiking alone. You are solely responsible for you own safety and well-being.By signing up for/ attending this Meetup event, you acknowledge, understand, accept, and agree that hiking and other activities can be dangerous and can cause serious bodily injury and possible death. The organizers of this group and current and former members can not be held responsible or liable in any way for the actions of any participant at any event. By signing up, you affirm that you understand this disclaimer. You knowingly and voluntarily agree not to bring any type of claim arising out of or related to this meetup event against the organizers of this meetup group. **Covid-19 is still out there and spreading. So, PLEASE be respectful and follow all guidelines to stay safe and keep others safe and virus free. If you feel you have it and/or may be asymptomatic, please stay home and take care of yourself. if you are virus free, let's hike. Townsend, TN 37882 - USA Friday, June 24 at 2:02 PM 14 https://www.meetup.com/Knoxville-Hiking-Meetup/events/283272603/

  • Clawhammer Mountain - Pisgah. Moderate Winter Backpack. 13.3 miles loop.

    Backpacking Western N.C. (etc) Weather depending, please join me on a moderate overnight winter backpack starting at the Coontree Picnic area near Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest. The highlight of this trip will be Clawhammer mountain with nice views of Looking Glass Rock. Total elevation over two days is 4,050 ft. The book I found this backpack in says that it is a nice year round route with lower elevations and without road closures or impassible trails due to winter conditions. The description also says that at the beginning of the hike we will climb Coontree Mountain, and once on that ridge, the trail can seem narrow with steep drop offs in places. We will stay the night at Buckhorn Gap Shelter and camp site approximately 6.5 miles in. Day two we will hike the remaining 6.8 miles out. Bring full winter gear. I will post a map of the route for those that want it in the next week or so. Please be on time at 10 a.m., we will not wait very long for stragglers. I wouldn't consider this a beginner hike, so know your abilities and your gear. Brevard, NC 28712 - USA Saturday, January 29 at 10:00 AM 7 https://www.meetup.com/Western-NC-Backpackers/events/283312060/

  • Camino en el frio. Section 7 - South Asheville. 11.5 Miles. Moderate.

    Backpacking Western N.C. (etc) A new year, a new Camino! Weather pending, please join me for a morning hike around part of South Asheville in a big loop! Hike is considered moderate for length. There are decent hills but no big climbs. We will be going through the low traffic streets of Biltmore Forest with beautiful multi-million dollar homes before connecting with the Mountains to Sea Trail for 4+ miles. The last leg will be crossing the Oakley and Shiloh neighborhoods to end back at the start point. PACE: This hike is at a 2.5 to 3.0 pace, but mostly toward 3.0 mph even going up hill. Please be aware of your abilities and level of physical fitness. We will stop and wait for people to catch up in certain spots and for water breaks, but we don't want to leave people behind or wait a long time. It will take about 3.5 to 4 hrs to complete. WHERE: We will meet at the back middle of Ingles Parking Lot closer to the road (this is a big parking lot) at 780 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803. (GPS: 35.544255, -82.532835). WAITLISTERS: RSVPs will close a day prior to the hike. I will be paying attention to no-shows. A no-show with no notice prior to the hike or without changing your RSVP will make sure you end up on a wait list for my future hikes. Very well behaved/socialized, trained, and leashed dogs are welcome on this hike. I will be bringing my dog. If you are bringing a +1, please indicate that so I have an accurate headcount and that your plus one can handle the mileage. If anyone wants, we can get a beer at Sweeten Creek Brewery or Hillman Beer afterward. Beer is important, Priorities! Asheville, NC 28803 - USA Saturday, January 22 at 8:00 AM 7 https://www.meetup.com/Western-NC-Backpackers/events/283319039/