About Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains is considered one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world? They abound with exquisite forests, active wildlife and beautiful plants. The Smokies were designated as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983.
Imagine more than 800 miles of trails winding throughout the park which includes 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The Smokies are recognized as one of the most spectacular hiking destinations in the east.
Some things to know before you lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail:
The trails are accessible to hikers of all ability levels! There are 143 moderate trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park above sea level (from 0.8 to 32.7 miles and from 1,105 to 6,646 feet).
It’s FREE to enter the park, but camping will cost you $14-23 per night.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Seasonal use restrictions can be found at: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hours.htm
If you are planning for an overnight stay, be sure to visit our Star Gazer Stays page to find a wide variety of lodging options in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Another option is the Stargazer Glamping Village. Located in beautiful Wears Valley our Glamping community provides the luxury of a resort with a camping feel.
If you are looking for a great experience with some dazzling scenic views, then Chimney Tops is your ideal trail for hiking. This 3.8-mile trail is somewhat challenging, but the view you are rewarded with is worth it. The quick 1500 foot rise in elevation makes it one of the most challenging trails of the Smoky Mountains, though stairs make the trip a little smoother and easier. Enjoy a splendid view of Mount LeConte and other nearby places from the observation point located at the end of the Chimney Tops trail.
Laurel Falls Trail
Another interesting option for adventure junkies is the Laurel Falls Trail. This 80-foot trail happens to be one of the main attractions of the Smoky Mountains. This 2.6-mile path looks beautiful in all seasons. It takes around 2-3 hours to reach the falls. It ends at a wonderful pathway between the falls. Don’t forget to bring your camera as Laurel Falls offers many opportunities for scenic photos or that quintessential Laurel Falls selfie.
Clingmans Dome Hike
Rising 6,643-feet, Clingmans Dome is the third-highest mountain in the United States. Enjoy the amazing views from the parking area. What’s even more exciting is the observation tower that offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains. You have to walk only a half a mile to reach the observation tower that’s located at the pinnacle of the mountain. In clear conditions, you can see up to 100 miles!
The path is not long, but the slope can make it a bit challenging. Don’t forget to bring a jacket even if you are hiking on a warm summer day. The temperature gets a bit cooler when you reach the summit.
Rainbow Falls Trail
Offering one of the tallest waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, Rainbow Falls, is a not-to-miss hike for nature-lovers. The elevation of the mountain is approximately 1500-feet, and takes the average hiker 3-4 hours to reach it. The 80-ft falls’ view makes the trek worth every second! Rainbow falls got its name from the rainbow that appears when the sun hits the glittering mist from the falls. You are going to need quality hiking boots for this trail. It might not be the most strenuous one, but it is fairly demanding.
Andrew Bald is only 1.8-miles away from Clingmans Dome during Spring, Summer and Fall. Andrew Bald is an ideal picnic spot for families. If you are planning to link a visit to Andrew Bald with a visit the Clingmans Dome in the winter, then be advised the hike to Andrew Bald is roughly 10 miles because the shorter 1.8 mile trail is closed in the winter.