There are a handful of Gatlinburg hiking trails that are easy to reach from the parkway. If you're visiting this popular mountain town, plan for a day of your trip to go explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you're a beginner, start with one of the smaller hikes listed below. For those of you who are looking for a challenge, we highly recommend one of the trails to Mount LeConte listed below.
Baskins Creek Trail
This fairly easy 2.7 mile trail begins just past Cherokee Orchard and ends on the other side of Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, making the trailhead a quick trip from downtown Gatlinburg. The trail features a waterfall, a cemetery, and the remains of a lumber company steam engine wreck from the 1920s. You will find the old engine in Injun Creek.Trail Info
If you're looking for an easy stroll through the woods, the Gatlinburg Trail is for you. You can acess this 2 mile trail from Sugarlands Visitor Center and follow it along the border of Gatlinburg. It's accessible via bike and it is one of the two dog friendly trails in the entire national park. It's also a great family hike to bring younger kids along.Trail Info
Laurel Falls Trail
The popular 4 mile Laurel Falls Trail is accessible from Little River Road west of Newfound Gap Road and the Sugarlands Visitor Center. It intersects with Cove Mountain Trail on the northern edge of the park. The 80 foot waterfall is just over a mile into the trail. While the waterfall is of course an incredible sight, be aware that this is one of the most popular trails in the park.Trail Info
This horse trail is just under 4 miles total and makes for a pretty leisurely stroll through the woods. You can access it from Sugarlands Visitor Center just east of Newfound Gap Road, or at the Rainbow Falls trailhead where you will find Bullhead Trail to Mount LeConte at the 0.4 mile mark. At this side of the trail you will find on of the taller footbridges in the park over a lovely mountain stream.Trail Info
Rainbow Falls Trail
Some of the best hiking in the entire national park happens around Mount LeConte, just south of Gatlinburg. Rainbow Falls is a 6.5 mile trail off Cherokee Orchard Road. It features a popular waterfall 2.7 miles in, and at higher elevations you will get a good look at much of the damage done by the 2016 wildfires. Look for the Space Needle along the way!Trail Info
Another of the more difficult Gatlinburg hiking trails and the easternmost of the LeConte trails is the incredible Bullhead Trail. This 5.9 mile route zigzags around the hills in a series of switchbacks through what is now a large portion of burnt forest remains. It features some unique sights along the way, including The Pulpit, a great lunch spot and photo op.Trail Info
Trillium Gap Trail
If you're feeling extra motivated for a long LeConte hike, start from the true trailhead of Trillium Gap (same as Rainbow Falls) for an 8.9 mile hike to LeConte Lodge. This very rewarding Gatlinburg hiking trail has lots of interesting architecture in place for the pack llamas to make sure they don't take a wrong step off the mountain. Beware of the last 3 miles.Trail Info
Pro Tip: Trillium Gap Trail is gorgeous in the fall season with plenty of fantastical looking forest scenes; but you could say this about plenty of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. If you have the right equipment for a winter hike, this is an incredible one to do in the snowy season. If for no other reason, with Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail closed there's a solid chance you'll get Grotto Falls all to yourself.
A favorite waterfall hike in the Smokies, the trek to Grotto Falls takes place at the beginning of Trillium Gap Trail. You can access a parking lot past Cherokee Orchard and onto Roaring Fork for a short 1.4 mile hike to the falls, or start from the trailhead mentioned above for a 3.4 mile hike. Get there early! Waterfalls are bound get crowded.Trail Info
For more information on hiking in the Smokies be sure to check out our blog archive and check out some of the related articles below. Have some interesting hiking content to share? Shoot us a message on Facebook.