8 Things to Do Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park You Shouldn’t Sleep On

The Best Ways to Spend Your Vacation In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, from Hiking Trails to Adventure Parks

Hello and welcome to my article on things to do around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I’ll be honest, a lot of the list is different hikes and trails you can go around the park. But I also tried to get some fun things on the list for when you are getting a little tired of hiking around all day. And I even found a few places to help you prepare for your days in the park in case you forgot to pack anything before your trip.

I included a link anytime you can use one of our convenient digital GiftYa gift cards at these fun activities around the park. I find the all digital format of GiftYa make them perfect for planning vacations. You never have to worry about forgetting to pack your gift cards because they stay on your phone all the time.

But that’s enough about how GiftYa works, let’s get right to that list of great activities around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

1 - Deep Creek Waterfalls

3 Breathtaking Waterfalls On One Short Hike!

Deep Creek Picnic Area Rd | Bryson City | romanticasheville.com

If you are looking to take a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National park and want to see a beautiful and majestic waterfall, then the Deep Creek hiking trail is going to be just the spot for you. The elevation on the trail is only 426 feet along two and a half miles. So it’s a pretty easy hike for anybody to do. Which is what brings it to the number one spot on the list today. There are many trails at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that will take you to inspiring scenery and natural beauty. The thing that sets this trail apart is that anybody can do it. The elevation isn’t too high, the hike isn’t too far, and it only takes a little over an hour to complete.

All that being said, this hike is incredibly popular. It will take you to the beautiful Deep Creek Waterfalls which is one of the most popular natural features of the park. So if you are visiting the park in the peak season, expect there to be lots of other people out hiking this trail as well. But if that isn’t a major deterrent to you, then this is absolutely going to need to be at the top of your “must do” list for your vacation at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can enjoy three beautiful, natural, and sparkling waterfalls on a light and easy hike.

“Low-key and tranquil hike. Elevation is moderate and can be slippery in some spots so bring good hiking shoes. Waterfalls offer a nice spot to take a break and relax.” - Yelp Review 

2 - Mt. Leconte

A Strenuous Hike That Features Panoramic Views of the Great Smoky Mountains

5 Different Trail Entrances | Smoky Mountains National Park | visitmysmokies.com

This is another hike you can go on in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but this one is much more difficult than the hike to the Deep Creek Waterfalls. This hike is eleven miles long and will take you much much longer than one hour. The elevation gain over the entire trail is 2,763 feet so you have to walk 500 vertical feet every hour. So this trail is not for the faint of heart. But for moderate to experienced hikers, the trek is well worth it. When you get to the end and get to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views from atop the mountain you’ll immediately think the trip was worth it. Seriously, if you are on the fence about this one, be sure to check out some of the incredible photos that other visitors have posted in the past!

“Such a beautiful hike up Trillium Gap to Mt Leconte. Long but peaceful and beautiful. Bring lots of water and wear good hiking boots. Hiking up a mountain you can expect lots of uphill climbing. Some beautiful waterfalls along the way. Beautiful scenery. I encountered no wildlife. Which for me was good, hiked solo.” - Yelp Review

3 - Appalachian Trail

One of Our Nation’s Most Spectacular Hiking Trails for Experienced Hikers

Fontana Dam | Smoky Mountains Park | hikinginthesmokys.com

The Appalachian trail runs for more than 71 miles. So technically only part of it runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But it is undoubtedly one of our nation’s most spectacular hiking trails. It takes most people up to 7 days to hike the entire part of the trail that runs through the park, so don’t expect to do the whole thing unless you want your entire trip to be non-stop hiking. 

That being said, there are plenty of hikes that can be done in just three or four days. Which means it’ll end up taking half a week either way. So I do not recommend this for anybody who is an inexperienced hiker, or anyone who has children or the elderly with you. But for everybody who is a confident hiker and wants to set out on a beautiful trail, you aren’t going to go wrong by hiking the Appalachian Trail!

“Very rocky and scenic. We did two miles in and back towards Newfound Gap. Met three other couples in those few hours.” - Review 

4 - Chimney Tops Trail

A Short, Yet Strenuous Hike, With Breathtaking Views

115 Park Headquarters Rd | Smoky Mountains National Park | gsmnp.com

Although the hike is only four miles round trip, it can be a pretty challenging hike, so be sure you are prepared and have plenty of time to complete this trail. But it is worth the trip if you can make it. You start at Newfound Gap Road and go into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once you’ve gone about 6 miles in you will find a parking lot at the Chimney Tops trail head. And from there you set out on the two miley journey to Chimney Tops. 

But I will warn you, due to the accessibility and popularity of this trail it can get pretty busy during the peak seasons. So you might not get the perfectly secluded day out and nature you were looking for. But if you are ready for a 1,300 foot incline to the Chimney-like pinnacles that the trail is named for, then you will see why the trail is so popular. And you should definitely take a look at the photos of the amazing views there are on this trail when you make it to the top. I think once you do, you will definitely want to make this one of your activities when you are visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“Ok. This is my favorite hike so far. This is rated difficult and for good reason it is straight up! But such a beautiful hike and the trail is exceptionally clear. I averages 24 mins per mile. Beautiful views and a really relaxing hike!” - Yelp Review 

5 - Columbia Sports

A Great Spot to Stock Up On Any Hiking Essentials You Forgot to Pack

Grab a Columbia Sports gift card by following the link!

1645 Pkwy | Sevierville | columbia.com

If you want to have a great time enjoying the Great Smoky Mountains National Park then it’s always important to pack appropriately for the adventure. But hey, I get it, sometimes you just forget to pack something in all the hustle leading up to vacation. So if you forgot any of the essentials you need for outdoor hiking then be sure to stop in at Columbia Sports. You can get all the gear you need for a day out in the sun on the hiking trails.

“It should go without saying the staff here are friendly and eager to help you find what you want. Their selection is plentiful and they even had the wide width shoes available.” - Yelp Review 

You can get a Columbia Sports gift card in just seconds from GiftYa by following that link!

6 - Subway

A Great Place to Grab Lunch to Take On A Hike Through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grab a Subway gift card by following the link!

600 Pkwy | Gatlinburg | subway.com

It can be a little difficult to spend a whole day in one of our national parks, because at some point you are going to need to eat, so you can either leave the trail and go to a restaurant, or you can pack a lunch and bring it with you. And I personally find Subway makes a great choice for lunch when you are spending a day in one of our expansive national parks. You can pick out each and every part of your meal, so you can eat just as healthy as you want to. 

And on top of that, you can get a full twelve inch sub, eat the whole thing for lunch, and end up with a very small amount of garbage left over when you are done. Which I think just helps make it easier for everybody to help keep our national parks beautiful and pristine.

“Typical Subway experience! Dining area and bathroom were clean, although the bathroom door did not lock...have someone stand guard! Food was good and service was friendly!” - Yelp Review 

You can grab a convenient digital Subway gift card by following the link!

7 - Gatlinburg SkyLift

The Most Incredible View of the Great Smoky Mountains That You Can Get

765 Pkwy | Gatlinburg | gatlinburgskylift.com

If you are looking to have the most incredible and breathtaking view of the Great Smoky Mountains, then the best way to do it is from the sky. The Gatlinburg Sky Lift is nearly 700 feet long and is North America’s longest pedestrian cable car bridge. You’ll spend around $32 a person to take the ride, but you will get your money's worth. The majestic view you get from 700 feet up can’t be compared to a view from the ground of the mountains. I think that if you are really serious about seeing the Great Smoky Mountains then you will do yourself a huge disservice by taking the cable car ride up to get the most beautiful and complete view of the mountains possible.

“Such a beautiful and breath taking ride. Especially at night!!! Wow. You really have to go out and see it for yourself. You get the unlimited ride and take it in the morning to enjoy the nice weather and breeze and walk through the glass on the sky bridge. During the night, Lights are on and being able to see the whole town really takes your breath.” - Yelp Review 

8 - Anakeesta

An Award Winning Theme Park In Nearby Gatlinburg

576 Pkwy | Gatlinburg | anakeesta.com

If you have enjoyed your time at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but you are getting a little tired of hiking and looking at trees, then be sure to think about adding a day at Anakeesta to your trip. Anakeesta is an award winning theme park that is located just a few miles from the park itself in Gatlinburg. 

And the cool thing about this park is that it is a 70 acre theme park built 600 feet over the city on top of a mountain. And it must be incredibly fun because this theme park attracts over 14 million guests every year. And they obviously have all sorts of fun theme park rides, but you can also enjoy plenty of great food and fun shopping when you spend the day at Anakeesta!

“Great family excursion!   A Little pricey but the views are worth it.  Main reason for reviewing is the exceptional staff at the zip line excursion. Yes it's extra but totally worth it!!!!! It's so exhilarating...Highly recommend” - Yelp Review

And there you have it, my list of great things there are to do around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are so many trails and hikes at the park that I could have filled up this list and several more listing them all. So I tried to find you some of the best hikes the park has to offer, while also making sure to offer some activities that would give you a break from hiking everyday. 

And if you need more help figuring out your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park then be sure to check out our other articles on great things to do around Gatlinburg, great places to eat near the park, and even a list of great hotels and lodging that is near the park!

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is the shopping expert here at GiftYa. Trae helps people find the best deals and ideas on popular new items to purchase.

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