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15 Popular Day Hikes in the Smoky Mountains National Park

Hikes are listed from easiest to the most challenging.

Cararact Falls

Short (1.3 mi. round-trip), mostly flat hike, alongside a beautiful stream to a cascading 40′ waterfall. Begins at Sugarland Visitors Center. A great hike for kids & seniors. Side-trip to old log cabin on the nature trail. Day-hiker rated: EASY

Porters Cree Trail

One of the best “rustic’ hikes in the Park! Walk along a rushing stream past an old cemetery (on right) to an Appalachian farmstead (found by turning right where the trail forks at the first mile). Fem Branch Falls (on the left), is another mile up (best viewed in the spring & summer). Day-hiker rated: EASY (or Moderate if you go to the Falls).

Middle Prong Trail (Tremont area)

Hikey Mikey’s favorite … waterfalls! Experience two “cascading” waterfalls within the first mile (marked by log benches at each falls) along with many smaller falls, on an “easy” ascension. Energetic…hike another mile to see a “surprise” awaiting you (tum right when you see a small trail beside a short stack of rocks, follow it and look over the berm)! Trek another 2 miles up the trail and treat yourself to a gorgeous 3rd waterfall (Indian Flats Falls) on the right. This falls is not marked, so ask us how to find it. Day-hiker rated: EASY (or Moderate-Strenuous if you go to Indian Flat Falls).

Little River, Cucumber Gap & Jakes Creek Loop (Elkmont area)

This 4.9 mile loop-hike begins with a stroll up the “Little River Trail” and continues to the “Cucumber Gap” Trail junction (where you’ll turn right, staying on this trail until you arrive at the “Jakes Creek” Trail, then turn right again). Shortly thereafter, you’ll find yourself in Daisy Town where you’ll suddenly experience” yesteryear”! Day-hiker rated: EASY (or Moderate if you do the complete loop).

Laurel Falls

Most popular hike in the Park (and most crowded). You’ll enjoy an 80′ cascading waterfall (two-tiered) with a nice footbridge on this 2.3 mille (round-trip) hike. Trail is paved with some bumpy spots. Day-hiker rated: MODERATE

Grotto Falls

Only waterfall in the Park you can walk behind! Close to a 3 mile round-trip hike, with a couple of small streams to rock-hop across, so trekking pole(s) are helpful. Expect to gain about 585′ in elevation. Day-hiker rated: MODERATE

Baskins Creek Falls

Escape the crowds with this 3-mile (round-trip) hike. After an initial ascension, you’ll hike mostly downhill to the beautiful falls. Don’t miss the side trail to an old cemetery on the left. Expect to cross a few small streams, and the last 50 yards descend rather steeply (trekking poles suggested), so not a kid-friendly trail. Day-hiker rated: MODERATE

Spruce Flats Falls

A short (2.2 mile round-trip), but challenging little-known hike (with multiple personalities) to a gorgeous waterfall (30′). On the way, you’ll catch a glimpse of Thunderhead Mountain. Not suggested for small children due to its rather steep descent down to the falls. Pick this trail up at the “Institute at Tremont” parking lot. Day-hiker rated: MODERATE

Hen Wallow Falls (Gabes Mountain Trail)

Hike to a beautiful 90′ waterfall! An elevation gain of 900′ on this 4.2 mile round-trip trek, which begins at the right side of Cosby picnic area parking lot. Day-hiker rated: MODERATE

Abrams Falls

The park’s most thunderous waterfall! A great place for a picnic too! You’ll walk along Abrams Creek on this 5 mile round-trip hike, gaining 675′ In elevation. Location: Cades Cove area of the Park. Day-hiker rated: MODERATE

Alum Cave Bluff.

A popular hike to an 80′ high, 500′ long, concave bluff. You’ll be treated to Arch Rock about 1.3 miles into the 4.4 mile round-trip hike. Great water vistas and views along the way, as you gain 1,125′ in elevation to the bluff. Many hikers use this trail to travel to the summit of Mt. LeConte by adding another 2.7 miles one way. Day-hiker rated: STRENUOUS

Chimney Tops

One of the few mountains in the Smokies with a bare rock summit A rather challenging hike of 3.8 miles round-trip. You’ll climb a “Rockies-like’ 960” in elevation in the last mile. Great views and pretty streams. NOTE: The last ¼ mile is dosed due to fire damage, but still a great view of the pinnacles! Total elevation gain is 1,487′. Day-hiker rated: STRENUOUS

Rainbow Falls

It’s the highest (but sometimes without a lot of water volume) “single-drop” waterfall in the Smokies (80’), producing a rainbow from the mist on sunny days. You’ll cross footbridges to an elevation gain of 1,685′ on this 5.4 mile (round-trip) hike. NOTE: currently trail is closed Monday-Thursday for trail renovations. Day-hiker rated: STRENUOUS

Charlies Bunion

You’ll be on the Appalachian Trail as you hike the spine of the mountains to this unique stone outcropping with picturesque views. Take time to rest at Icewater Spring shelter (an actual overnight shelter used by AT through-hikers). It’s suggested you take water and snacks with you on the 8.1 mile (round-trip) hike, with an elevation gain of 1,640′. If you have the energy, check out the side-hike to the ‘’Jumpoff” on your return trip! Day-hiker rated: STRENUOUS

Ramsey Cascades

A “testy’ hike after the first 1.5 miles, but your journey is rewarded with the tallest (100′) “cascading’ waterfall in the Park! You’ll gain almost 2,200′ in elevation on this 8 mile (round-trip) hike. Day-hiker rated: STRENUOUS

This info is compliments of your friends at Hikey Mikey (865-771-7183), ratings shown can vary based upon one’s physical condition and weather factors. The hikes are also shown in order of difficulty (in our opinion), with #1 being the easiest and so forth. Hikey Mikey suggests using a trekking pole(s) on all hikes to enhance both your enjoyment and safety. Happy Stepping!