The Great Smoky Mountains National Park rests along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. It encompasses over 500,000 acres of forestry and 150 official trails. Whether you are an avid hiker or someone who just wants to feel more immersed in nature, you will quickly fall in love with everything the park has to offer.
In our latest guide, we’re covering the top 7 trails to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
Before you leave, you’ll want to gear up with top-of-the-line hiking shoes and outerwear. That’s why we’re reviewing two of the best stores for hiking supplies: REI and Cabela’s. REI and Cabela’s offers everything you need for a successful outdoor trip.
Get ready to add some new trails to your travel itinerary!
Do you know someone who is planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains National Park? Surprise them with a virtual GiftYa card! With their new e-card, they can gear up on all their hiking essentials at REI and Cabela’s.
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Locations around the United States | rei.com
Before you embark on your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, remember to swing by REI. REI has everything you need for a successful hiking trip.
Whether you shop online or in-store, you’ll find a wide range of hiking and camping gear essentials, including:
Throughout the year, REI also offers deals on tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks.
Want to experience the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with an expert by your side? REI offers guided trips that last around 3-5 days. Several package options are available, and they each vary in terms of pricing and activity level. This makes it easy to find a trip that suits both your interests and budget.
Check out their website for more information!
“I always buy my outdoor gear from REI because I know I can buy expensive gear with confidence. Confidence that the gear will be worth the price and if for some reason the gear just isn't right for me after I purchase then REI's return policy makes it a non-hassle.” - Site Jabber Review
Locations around the United States | cabelas.com
Cabela’s is another great spot for grabbing all of your hiking and camping essentials. With locations all around the country and a massive online store, it’s easy to get everything you need at Cabela’s. You can even use a GiftYa card to purchase all of your supplies!
Here’s a quick snapshot of their offerings:
Not sure which supplies are best suited for your trip? Cabela’s expert associates are more than happy to assist you. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to the trip of a lifetime.
Stop by a Cabela’s near you to check out everything they have to offer!
“I have nothing but good things to report about Cabela's. The prices are as good as I will find anywhere, and when I had concerns about an order of mine, they resent the order for me ASAP. No complaints with them at all!” - Consumer Affairs Review
Tennessee & North Carolina | appalachiantrail.org
Traversing 2,193 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is one of the most challenging hikes in the country. You can try a portion of the trail out for yourself on the 72 mile stretch that falls through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The trail starts at Fontana Dam and ends at Davenport Gap. It is quite difficult, and takes around 8 days to complete. During the hike, you will encounter the highest elevation point in the entire trail — Clingmans Dome. The longest continuous stretch above 5,000 feet in elevation is also contained in this section of the trail.
But while the trail can be grueling, it is equally as rewarding with breathtaking mountain views and lush forestry. Try it out for yourself and let us know how the journey went!
“There are not enough adjectives to describe this mountainous wonderland. The history that still resides here, alone, is reason enough to visit. The roads are well maintained, and there are so many trails and pull offs that it's easy to completely immerse yourself in this rich and beautiful wonderland.” - Trip Advisor Review
If you’re looking for a less strenuous hike, try out the Rainbow Falls hike. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is only 5.4 miles. The hike is considered moderately difficult, so you can expect a great workout without feeling too fatigued to enjoy the gorgeous forestry that surrounds you.
Once you reach the waterfall, you’re in for a treat. The waterfall consists of 80 feet of descending water. On most days, you should also see a lush rainbow produced from the mixture of mist and sunlight.
Before leaving, please note that pets are not allowed on the trail. Otherwise, prepare for a hike you’ll never forget!
“WOW! What an amazing and challenging hike! Bring lots of water and take rests. The falls are beautiful, but getting to the falls is also a beautiful and challenging journey!” - Trip Advisor Review
If you want to visit Mount LeConte, we recommend going through the Alum Cave Trail. The trail starts in Gatlinburg and takes you through prominent landmarks like Alum Cave Creek, Styx Branch, and Arch Rock.
Pro Tip: Take a pit stop under the Arch Rock for some stunning photos.
After a quick photo shoot at the Arch Rock, you’ll head past Inspiration Point and Myrtle Point before finally arriving at the Alum Cave Bluff. Some travelers end their hike at Alum Cave Bluff. However, you can keep walking toward the Bull Head Trail and Boulevard Trail to reach the summit of Mount LeConte.
No matter where you stop, you’ll be treated to some of the most stunning views of the Smoky Mountains.
“Highly unique geological formations make this trail one of the best in the Smoky Mountains. Get there early at sunrise and enjoy ample parking as well as potential wildlife spottings.” - Trip Advisor Review
Greenbrier & Cosby
Looking for a short trail that will kick your butt while rewarding you with some of the best views of the park? Add Mount Cammerer to your travel itinerary. The trail is 11.1 miles roundtrip and peaks at 5,054 feet. The Sutton Ridge Overlook and Mount Cammerer fire tower are two must-see sites that you’ll encounter during the hike.
Considered by many hikers to be quite difficult, Mount Cammerer is not suited for beginners. But if you’re ready for a challenge, you will find the hike to be a fulfilling adventure.
“Beautiful hike that kicks your bottom but rewards you with one of the best views the mountains can offer. Prepare yourself for a tough uphill hike for the first 3.5 miles. Around 3.8 it flattens out a bit with short inclines before the peak.” - All Trails Review
Next up on the guide is Abrams Falls Trail. This moderately-challenging trail takes about 2 hours to complete.
It’s quite popular among visitors, so you can expect the trail to become crowded during certain parts of the year. Dogs are not allowed on the trail, so you’ll need to leave your four-legged friend at home for this one.
However, the view of the waterfall makes the hike worth it. The waterfall has a 25-foot drop over a cliff. While it’s not the highest waterfall in the park, it has a massive volume of water rushing over it. This is a site you’ll want to see for yourself!
“Wonderful trail! This trail doesn't go directly up. You have some ups and downs on the way to the waterfall. Can be rocky in some sections, so watch your step. Hiking poles and shoes/boots with good traction are helpful.” - All Trails Review
Maggie Valley, NC
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains a number of challenging, but rewarding trails. The Boogerman Trail is no exception. Coming out at 7.4 miles roundtrip, the Boogerman Trail is a long hike that requires plenty of water and snacks to keep you going. But the trip is worth it, as it takes you through some of the tallest trees in the Cataloochee Valley.
Fun Fact: The Cataloochee Valley is home to three Eastern Hemlock trees that tower over 170 feet tall.
During the hike, you will also pass by the former Robert Palmer home site, several stone walls, and the Snake Branch creek. Because you’ll need to cross over the creek several times without the aid of a bridge, we recommend bringing a pair of water shoes.
“The trail was a nice hike in an old growth forested area. There's lots of stream crossings and some have to be waded in to get across. So prepare to get wet and make sure to bring some dry socks.” - All Trails Review
Bryson City, NC
Last, but certainly not least, on the guide is Andrews Bald. This trail is only 3.6 miles roundtrip, and offers some of the best views of the surrounding mountains. It’s a great spot for families too.
Due to the rocky terrain, it is considered by some to be moderately challenging. However, the trail contains numerous walkways and stairwells to assist travelers. Throughout the trail, you’ll see numerous trees, flowers, and raspberry and blackberry patches that are perfect for picking. On clear days, you’ll also be able to see the Noland Creek watershed and Fontana Lake!
“This was my favorite hike of the visit and maybe my favorite hike so far. The parking lot has the best views!! The trail is beautifully maintained. The forest was gorgeous. Would highly recommend water resistant boots and a hiking stick.” - Trip Advisor Review
Tackling the hiking trails at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an experience visitors never forget. Are you ready to join them? Comment and let us know what hikes from the guide are on your to-do list. We love reading all about your outdoor adventures!