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
If you're up for a challenge (seriously though) and you're not afraid of heights, dare yourself to hike up Baxter Creek Trail, one of the steepest trails in the Smokies, to the magnificent Mount Sterling. The old firetower at the summit delivers 360 degree views of the rest of the national park - but only if you're willing to climb 6 stories to the top.Baxter Creek Trail
Charlies Bunion via the AT
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.Charlies Bunion
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. A spectacular 360-degree view awaits those who complete this climb.Chimney Tops
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.
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 to Mt. Cammerer
The Low Gap 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. There's plenty to see along the way, but the mountaintop destination has the best view.Mt. Cammerer
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.
This strenuous trail to Mount LeConte ascends through the debris of the 2016 Gatlinburg fires. You'll find outstanding views as you continue your ascent, and the opportunity to stand on The Pulpit (built by the CCC for no real reason) for even better views of the nearby mountains. This is one of the 6 trails leading to LeConte Lodge, where you'll find exceptional views as well.Bullhead Trail