Smoky Mountain Hikes Under 5 Miles

Smoky Mountain hikes come in all shapes and sizes. With more than 800 miles of trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hikers can come up with endless combinations of possibilities for day hikes, backpacking trips, or just a simple walk in the woods. If you're a beginner hiker or just uninterested in strenuous mileage, check out this list of the top Smoky Mountain hikes five miles or less round trip. If you're up for a little more then check out our hikes under 10 miles blog.

Walker Sisters Cabin Easy

Total Mileage: 3.6m R/T

There are a couple different ways of reaching the historic Walker Sisters Cabin. The most popular and effective route starts at Metcalf Bottoms. Head northeast on Metcalf Bottoms Trail for 0.7 of a mile before reaching the Little Greenbrier School. Then continue on Little Brier Gap Trail for 1.1 miles to reach the cabin.

Little Brier Gap Trail

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: 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

Mouse Creek Falls Easy

Total Mileage: 4.2m R/T

A wonderful summer hike, the fairly flat and wide Big Creek Trail in Waynesville, NC has several great stopping points in the first couple of miles. You'll find Midnight Hole, a popular spot for swimming, at the 1.4 mile marker, and the beautiful Mouse Creek Falls 2.1 miles from the trailhead.

Big Creek Trail

Andrews Bald Moderate

Total Mileage: 3.6m R/T

Drive on down 441 to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies, and just before the walkway to the top you'll see a sign for Forney Ridge Trail on the left. Hike the trail for 1.8 miles and you'll find yourself at one of the only maintained balds in the national park. The challenging part is the way back; you'll be hiking uphill toward the Clingmans Dome parking area.

Andrews Bald

Abrams Falls Trail Moderate

Total Mileage: 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

Chimney Tops Trail Strenuous

Total Mileage: 4m R/T

How difficult could two miles be, right? Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular Smoky Mountain hikes on the Tennessee side of the GSMNP because of the incredible views at the top, but it's not for everybody. Hikers gain 1400' of elevation in the short ascent, making the climb one of the steepest around. You can reach the trailhead by traveling south on 441 from the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Chimney Tops

Alum Cave Bluffs Strenuous

Total Mileage: 4.6m R/T

One of the most well known Smoky Mountain hikes, the short 2.3 mile trek to Alum Cave Bluffs has lots of beauty to offer. You'll walk up the steps through Arch Rock, climb the Anakeesta formation at Inspiration Point, and search the horizon for the Eye Of The Needle. But nothing quite compares to the bluffs: a cave-like clay and rock formation at about 4,950 feet.

Alum Cave Trail

A few other particularly short and popular hike options include Elkmont Nature Trail (1.6m R/T) with less than 100 feet of elevation gain, the dog friendly and accessible Gatlinburg Trail (3.8m R/T) near Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cataract Falls (1m R/T) also near Sugarlands, and the very beautiful Spruce Flats Falls (2m R/T) starting at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.

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