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!

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.

Grotto Falls Easy

To Waterfall: 2.8m R/T

Grotto Falls is a gorgeous and unique waterfall located on the first half of Trillium Gap Trail, the longest trail to Mt. LeConte. Luckily, the waterfall hike has it's own trailhead that bypasses the first 2.3 miles of the actual trail, making the trek to Grotto Falls only 1.4 miles one way. If you're lucky, you might even see some llamas!

Grotto Falls

Laurel Falls Trail Easy

Total Mileage: 8m R/T • To Waterfall: 2.6m R/T

In its entirety, Laurel Falls Trail is 4 miles one way, but most people just hike to the waterfall and back. You'll find the trailhead off Fighting Creek Gap just southwest of Sugarlands Visitors Center. From the road it's only a 1.3 mile trek on partially paved terrain to the waterfall. It is one of the most popular spots in the park.

Laurel Falls Trail

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

Abrams Falls Trail Moderate

Total Mileage: 8.4m R/T • To Waterfall: 4m R/T

Abrams Falls Trail is 4.2 miles long, but most people choose to hike to the waterfall and back, making it one of the most popular short hikes in the Smokies. Starting from Cades Cove, you will find the waterfall just 2 miles into the trail. The 20 foot waterfall pours into a large picturesque basin. Use caution around the waters of the national park.

Abrams Falls

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

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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