Are you planning to hiking in the Smokies? Check out my hiking tips, plus some of the best trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a massive park and is filled with mile after mile of hiking trails.
If you’re going hiking in the Smokies and are trying to plan your trip– I can help!
Check out my Smoky Mountain tips below, and then a list of my favorite hikes in the Smokies.
Headed to the Smokies? Check out my recommended hiking gear for the Smoky Mountains!
Do I Need Bear Spray While Hiking in the Smokies?
And better safe than sorry, right?
Will I Have A Cell Phone Signal Inside the Park for GPS?
If you’re like me, and typically rely on cellphone GPS to find your trail locations, no cell phone service can be a problem!
I recommend carrying a map.
We used this Smoky Mountains Trail Map from National Geographic, and it was much better than the park’s free trail map.
WiFi Tip: I was also able to connect to WiFi in some of the Visitor’s Centers!
Need a Phone Signal? Drive into a nearby town (like Gatlinburg, Townsend, or Cherokee).
Do I Need My Trekking Poles While Hiking in the Smokies?
If you typically hike with trekking poles, I’d say yes.
I was SO HAPPY that I had my trekking pole.
A lot of the trails we hiked included stairs, roots and loose rocks on the trail, and elevation changes.
The pole helped.
Do the Park Campgrounds Have Showers?
Nope, they definitely do not.
We’ve stayed at both the Cades Cove and Elkmont campgrounds, but definitely found the nearby KOAs to be more comfortable.
What Are Some Easy Hiking Trails?
The Best Trails listed below are all moderate or strenuous.
If you prefer easier trails, or you want to let your legs rest in between harder hikes, try hiking to Laurel Falls, visit the Mingus Mill, or check out the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower.
Most Popular Waterfall Trail:
5 miles, Moderate Difficulty, 629 ft Elevation Change
This extra popular waterfall trail is located just off the Cades Cove Scenic Loop and is gorgeous even during dry seasons!
Plus, you'll get to drive the scenic loop on the way to and from the trail, giving you a built-in time to look for bears!
3.6 miles, Moderately Difficult, 1200 ft Elevation Change
This trail is located next to the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower path and takes you straight down the mountain to a meadow.
The path itself is beautiful, with mossy logs, tall pine trees, and wildflowers lining your way.
9.5 miles (8.5 without the Jump Off), Strenuous, 2,000 ft Elevation Change
This day hike along the Appalachian Trail takes you to some of the best views in the Smoky Mountains!
Start your journey at the Newfound Gap Parking Area, and follow signs for the Appalachian Trail and Icewater Spring.
Best Overall Trail for Hiking in the Smokies:
12 miles (If you do the whole trail), Strenuous, 3,000 ft Elevation Change
Don't let the length scare you away from this trail-- it's got something for everyone!
Make this trail as short or long as you prefer, because the entire trail is beautiful, and there are lots of obvious stopping points.
If you make it all the way to the top of Mount LeConte, you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Smoky Mountains.
Tip: Break this hike into a 2-day journey, and stay at LeConte Lodge on the top of the mountain!