Short Hikes In The Smokies: Under 10 Miles Round Trip

Short hikes in the Smokies can be great if you're looking to see some natural beauty without exhausting yourself. We know everybody has a different pace, and the definition of short is certainly objective, but for the purpose of this blog we have rounded up the best short hikes in the Smokies under ten miles round trip. As a word of caution: just because a hike is short, doesn't mean it's easy! If you're looking for something even shorter, be sure to check out our blog on Smoky Mountain hikes under 5 miles.

Little River Loop Easy

Total Mileage: 5.5m R/T

This is one of these easiest and most popular short hikes in the Smokies. Starting from the Elkmont Area, you will head uphill on Jakes Creek Trail for just 0.7 of a mile; this is probably the toughest part of the hike. Take a left onto Cucumber Gap Trail for 2.4 miles until you reach the intersection with the leisurely Little River Trail.

Little River Cucumber Gap

The remaining 2.4 miles covers some of the most even terrain in the entire Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it relatively stroller friendly. The gentle incline is no match for even first-time hikers, and the sounds and sights of the Little River accompany you the entire way.

Meigs Creek Trail Moderate

Total Mileage: 7m R/T

Meigs Creek is a 3.5 mile trail that begins at The Sinks off Little River Road. Most of the incline is in the first mile and after the second, but its 6% elevation grade isn't too bad. The trail has between 18-20 unbridged water crossings, making it a fun one to rock hop in the summer.

Meigs Creek Trail

Charlies Bunion Moderate

Total Mileage: 8.4m R/T

From the Newfound Gap parking area you will travel along the Appalachian Trail for 4.2 miles before reaching signs for Charlies Bunion, an excellent vantage point along the Sawteeth at 5,565 feet. This is a very popular hike and is best enjoyed by starting early in the morning.

Charlies Bunion

Rich Mountain Loop Moderate

Total Mileage: 8.7m R/T

Just to the right of the very beginning of the 11 mile Cades Cove loop is the trailhead for the Rich Mountain Loop, one of the more fun and interesting short hikes in the Smokies. Follow the trail's incline for 3.4 miles until you reach Indian Grave Gap and continue for 2.6 miles. You'll then take Crooked Arm Ridge 2.2. more miles back to where you started.

Rich Mountain Loop

Chestnut Top Trail Moderate

Total Mileage: 8.6m R/T

A popular wildflower hike in the springtime, Chestnut Top Trail is 4.3 miles one way from The Townsend Wye to its intersection with Schoolhouse Gap Trail. It's gentle incline peaks at around 2.7 miles where it provides views of Cades Cove to the southwest.

Chestnut Top Trail

The Pulpit Strenuous

Total Mileage: 5.2m R/T

On the northwestern side of Mt. LeConte near Gatlinburg you'll find the route less traveled to reach the summit: the extremely unique Bullhead Trail. Less than 3 miles in you will find The Pulpit, an unusual marker left behind by the CCC when they built this trail. The landscape is like no other; this area was heavily affected by the Gatlinburg fires in 2016.

Bullhead Trail

Brushy Mountain Strenuous

To Summit via Trillium Gap: 6.6m R/T

Mount Leconte's next door neighboor might not have the same famous reputation as the Gatlinburg massif, but the summit of Brushy Mountain provides what is perhaps the most glorious view of the surrounding mountains in the area, and there's a shortcut to reach the very top.

Brushy Mountain Grotto Falls Parking

The quickest way to reach Brushy Mountain is from the Grotto Falls parking lot (map) adjacent to Trillium Gap Trail. From here it's only 2.9 miles to Brushy Mountain Trail. When you reach the four way intersection, take a left to find the summit just 0.4 of a mile further. From the heath bald atop of Brushy Mountain you will have views of Mount Guyot, the Sawteeth, the Jumpoff, the Boulevard, Myrtle Point, Leconte's Cliff Tops, and even more of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Ramsey Cascades Strenuous

To Waterfall: 8m R/T

This 4 mile trail from the Greenbrier campground starts off with a moderate incline through an old growth forest. The last mile of the trail is why the hike is generally rated as strenuous. With a 10% elevation grade over extremely rocky terrain, Ramsey Cascades is one of the harder short hikes in the Smokies. But the 100 foot waterfall is worth it!

Ramsey Cascades

Alum Cave Trail Strenuous

To LeConte: 10m R/T • To Bluffs: 4.6m R/T

If you know the name of only one trail in the Smokies, it's probably Alum Cave. The 5 mile trail is the shortest way to reach Mt. LeConte and offers some astounding views along the way. If you're up for the challenge, head all the way to LeConte Lodge! But many hikers just go 2.3 miles to the bluffs and back.

Alum Cave Trails

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