Hiking in the Smokies
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Recent Hiking Updates
- Alum Cave Trail closed Monday-Thursday each week through November 2016
Most Popular Hiking Trails
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, consider these tips:
- 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 the chart at right.
- 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 get to the park 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!
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.