Smoky Mountain hikes with views are abundant in the national park. Some aren't too difficult to reach; others are not for the faint of heart. Hikes with views ranging from mountain ranges to wildflowers and more are part of the 150+ trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Which hike will you attempt?
Alum Cave Trail
This popular trail will take you to Mt. LeConte. Along the way to the top you'll follow the stream for around a mile. The first landmark you'll come across is the Arch Rock, a black slate formation that arches over your path. The real attraction is Alum Cave Bluff, a massive overhang that was mined during the Civil War. At this landmark, you'll witness incredible mountain views.Alum Cave Trail
Andrews Bald Trail
If distant views of mountain ridges are what you seek, Andrews Bald Trail leads to the highest bald in the park (5,860 feet in elevation), which is perfect for stretching out in the grass to enjoy, not only views of Fontana Lake and azaleas in the spring, but also panoramic views of the park’s amazing fall coloration in autumn months. Remember not to plan this hike for winter months unless you want to add another 7 miles each way!Andrews Bald
Anthony Creek/Bote Mountain Trails
This trail is 5.1 miles one way and is rated difficult, with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. The trailhead is located at the far end of the Cades Cove picnic area. The combination of Anthony Creek and Bote Mountain Trails takes you to Spence Field where, by walking to the left on the AT, you’ll discover panoramic views. This trail winds through a mixed forest of hemlock, hardwood, and rhododendron with Anthony Creek on the right.
A horse camp and campsite #9 are found along the way. The Bote Mountain Trail is an old road that passes along the ridge of Bote Mountain. When the road from Cades Cove to Spence Field was built in the 1850s, Cherokee workers were asked which ridge the road should follow. The workers pointed to the mountain and said “Bote”; i.e., “I vote for that one”, except there is no “V” sound in the Cherokee language.
Bull Head Trail
This trail is 12.6 miles round trip and is a strenuous climb. Take Historic Nature Trail/ Airport Road (light #8) in Gatlinburg. This road soon becomes Cherokee Orchard Road and you’ll cross the boundary to the park at 0.9 of a mile. Head to the right from the Rainbow Falls parking area into the woods and come to the intersection of trails. Turn right to get to the Bullhead Trail. This trail ascends through a canopy of young hemlock. You’ll find outstanding views as you continue your ascent.
Watch for a boulder on the left after 3.0 miles that you can stand on to see over the heath into the valley below. On a clear day, one can see English Mountain to the northeast and Sugarland Mountain to the southeast. Elevation gain for this trail is 4,000 feet.
Charlie’s Bunion Trail
This 8 mile roundtrip hike is rated moderate. Following the Appalachian Trail, this hike travels to rock crags along the state-line ridge, the main crest of the Smoky Mountains. By taking the AT trailhead in the corner of the Newfound Gap parking area, this segment will lead you to a rock outcropping, Charlie’s Bunion, which provides wonderful views of the Tennessee side of the mountains.
Chimney Tops Trail
Located about 7 miles past the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road, this 4 mile round trip hike is a very popular attraction in the Smokies. In 2 miles, hikers climb 1,650 feet! Two rock spires, 4,755 feet in elevation, await those who manage the strenuous path to the top. Please note that this trail is slippery in the spring due to its rocky nature and the creek that crosses it. Wear proper shoes and also remember to keep children close by. A spectacular 360-degree view awaits those who complete this climb!
At 6,643 feet, Clingman's Dome is Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s highest point. It is the highest point in Tennessee. Clingmans Dome is a popular Park destination. Located along the state-line ridge, it is half in North Carolina and half in Tennessee. The peak is accessible after driving Clingmans Dome Road from Newfound Gap, and then walking a steep half-mile trail. A paved trail leads to a 54-foot observation tower. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its 2,144 mile journey.
Vistas from Clingmans Dome are spectacular. On clear, pollution-free days, views expand over 100 miles and into seven states. However, air pollution limits average viewing distances to 22 miles. Despite this handicap, breathtaking scenes delight those ascending the tower. It is a great place for sunrises and sunsets.
Cloudy days, precipitation, and cold temperatures reveal the hostile environment atop Clingmans Dome. Proper preparation is essential for a good visit. Weather conditions atop Clingmans Dome change quickly. Snow can fall from anytime between September and May. Get a current weather forecast before heading to the tower.
Although Clingmans Dome is open year-round, the road leading to it is closed from December 1 through April 1, and whenever weather conditions require. People can hike and cross-country ski on the road during the winter.
Jakes Creek/Blanket Mountain Trail
This trail is 4.1 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 2,250 feet. The trailhead is located off of Jake’s Creek Road in Elkmont. The Jake’s Creek Trail climbs to Jake’s Gap where you can take the Blanket Mountain Trail to the summit of Blanket Mountain.
There is also an observation tower that is open to the public. To get to the tower you must take the 1/2 mile hike. The visibility from the observation tower can be up to 40 miles on clear days. On hazy days the visibility is much less, but the view is still one of the best around. The railing on the tower is low, so if you bring children, be sure to keep an eye on them. There is also a natural observation on the opposite side of the Look Rock parking lot, although it still harbors beautiful views, it does not offer the 360 degree panoramic view like the tower.
Low Gap Trail
This trail is 5.4 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 2,600 feet. The trailhead is located at the Cosby access in the campground just before the B100 campsite. This trail provides a shorter route to the Mt. Cammerer fire tower and forms a loop hike with the Appalachian Trail and the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail. The trail’s ascent follows Cosby Creek, with a ravine separating the trail from the creek on your right.
The trail curves left at 0.9 of a mile and continues to ascend through large hemlocks and poplars. Watch for a large poplar that leans over but then bends and stretches straight up in search of light above the canopy.
Lower Mount Cammerer Trail
This trail is 7.4 miles one way and is rated difficult with and elevation gain of 2,600 feet. trailhead is located at the Cosby access in the campground near campsite B100. There is limited parking and the campground is closed in the winter, so you may need to park at the backpacker’s parking area near the registration hut. This trail is part of a long backpack loop that takes you by the Mount Cammerer fire tower.
The trail ascends through hardwoods and rhododendron to a rock-hop crossing of a creek at 0.9 of a mile that flows down to Toms Creek, which is audible on the left. The trail then descends to cross this main creek on a footbridge at 1.0 mile. At 2.3 miles along the AT, you’ll reach a gap where the Mt. Cammerer Trail leads right 0.6 of a mile out to the Mt. Cammerer fire tower, perched atop a rock outcropping known locally as “White Rocks”. From here you can enjoy one of the best views in the park.
Maddron Bald Trail
This trail is 7 miles one way and is rated difficult. The trailhead is located off of US-321 between Cosby and Gatlinburg, 15 miles east of Gatlinburg, turn right onto Baxter Road (Past Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp Resort) and make a right onto Laurel Springs Road. Look for a gravel road blocked by a gate. This is the trailhead. This trail ascends to a heath bald with several picturesque views and along the way takes you by the Albright Grove Nature Trail (1.3 miles in) that contains one of the park’s best stands of virgin forest.
Look for a yellow poplar or tulip tree, the “largest known specimen in the park”, that is 135 feet tall and over 25 feet in circumference. Maddron Bald Trail is home to campsite #29. Elevation gain is 3,500 feet.
Sugarland Mountain Trail
This trail is 12.3 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 3,500 feet. The trailhead is located off Little River Road at the Laurel Falls parking area. This trail connects Little River Road with the crest of the Smokies, passing a good view of Mt. LeConte. The trail first climbs through a pine-hemlock woods and then turns right into a hardwood forest. You’ll climb steeply and cross the upper reaches of a ravine and a small stream.
After 9 miles you’ll find an arrow carved in a tree on the left. This is the junction of a 0.4 of a mile un-maintained manway that drops down to connect with the Chimney Tops Trail.