Top Kid Hikes in the Smoky Mountains

What could be better than going out with your kids on a sunny day and exploring the beauty of nature? Going on hikes in the Smoky Mountains is a great way to bond as a family, be active and learn about the outdoor world. Pack some snacks and water and head out for an adventure on one of these kid friendly hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

Elkmont Nature Trail

The Elkmont Nature Trail is a great kid hike because it is short and filled with opportunities to learn about the forest ecosystem. Although the self-guided walk is less than a mile long, it is designed to educate visitors about how the landscape evolves from time to time.

Elkmont Nature Trail

There is even a point on the trail where you can see the traces of the railroad underneath the new forest growth. While the kids are enjoying looking at tracks, the parents can pick up a brochure and read about the areas history.

Cataract Falls

The very short and easy hike to and from Cataract Falls makes for about one mile roundtrip. You will find the trailhead to the left of Sugarlands Visitor Center south of Gatlinburg. This makes a great hike for kids because it's not too long to tire them out, they'll love the waterfall, and there's plenty of cool things to see along the way.

Cataract Falls

Laurel Falls Trail

This scenic trail was originally created in 1932 to provide local fire crews with access to Cove Mountain in case of a forest fire. It is a paved trail, so it’s a lot easier for little feet to navigate than trails with bumps and exposed tree roots. Another reason the Laurel Falls Trail is named a top kid hike is because of the impressive waterfall at the end.

Laurel Falls Trail

This a gorgeous spot for photo opportunities, but make sure you supervise your children; there are some steep drop offs and slippery rocks near the falls themselves. We also strongly recommend starting your hike early in the morning to beat the crowds, as this is a popular trail.

Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

Parents with newborns and infants will love Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail loop because it is a very easy stroller friendly hike. The half mile loop starts near Sugarlands Visitor Center just south of Gatlinburg, making the visitor center a great place to explore after your hike. Pick up a guide booklet at the trail head for more information.

Sugarlands Visitor Center

Porter's Creek Trail

This trail is a great kids hike in the Smoky Mountains for families who are looking for a moderate hike through quiet forests filled with wildflowers. You will pass the remnants of an old mountain community in the first mile before finding the 19th century John Messer farm site. Fern Branch Falls is about 2 miles in.

Porters Creek Trail

Mouse Creek Falls

This hike takes place on Big Creek Trail in North Carolina. It is a great choice for kids because the 2.1 mile portion of the trail is smooth and even. After about a mile, you'll find Midnight Hole and hear the soothing sounds of rushing water for the rest of the hike. Mouse Creek Falls awaits you at the end of this short hike, just across the creek.

Big Creek Trail

Spruce Flats Falls

This beautiful waterfall is located only about a mile from the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, and the trail forks off the beginning of Lumber Ridge Trail. Follow the sign marked Buckeye just beyond the Lumber Ridge trailhead near the Tremont dormitories. After your hike, stop inside the Tremont shop.

Spruce Flats Falls

Little Brier Gap

You can find the trailhead for Little Brier Gap near the Metcalf Bottoms parking area. Just over a mile from here is the historic Walker Sisters Cabin, an old homestead that was once home to the only family who choose not to sell their land to the NPS when the national park was established.

Little Brier Gap

These are just a few of the best kid hikes in the Smoky Mountains. It is never too early to hike the wilderness with your little ones and start teaching them the importance of nature. Once you cross these off your list, you can also try our list of beginner hiking trails in the Smokies.

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