Gatlinburg is known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and there are quite a few fun places to explore right outside the city. We’ve put together a list of the best hiking and nature trails you will want to experience while you’re visiting! Here are the top 8 trails near Gatlinburg you need to explore:
1. Gatlinburg Trail
The only trail in the whole park that starts (or ends, depending on where you begin!) downtown is the Gatlinburg Trail. This is an easy trail with a round trip length of 3.8 miles. Along this hike, you will cross over the Little Pigeon River, see remains of old homes, and you might just spot a furry friend or two since this is one of the only pet friendly trails in the national park!
2. Sugarland Valley Nature Trail
Another nature trail you should take your family to explore is Sugarland Valley Nature Trail. It’s right outside of the Sugarland Visitor Center, and the path is paved, making it perfect for accessibility and strollers!
3. Cataract Falls Trail
If you’re searching for a simple nature trail near Gatlinburg, Cataract Falls Trail is a great one! It’s perfect for kids or older adults who can’t travel along rocky terrain. The path is easy to follow, and at the end, you’ll find Cataract Falls!
4. Laurel Falls Trail
One of the most popular trails near Gatlinburg is Laurel Falls Trail. It’s considered an easy trail with a round trip length of 2.3 miles, and the entire path is paved. While it is too steep for strollers or wheelchairs, it makes it easier for children to navigate. You’ll see beautiful views on the way up, and once you reach Laurel Falls, you’ll be blown away!
5. Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Roaring Fork Motor Trail is actually a scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains. Along the way, you will find several trailheads to popular hikes, an old homestead you can explore on foot, beautiful wooded views, and a waterfall! Note: Roaring Fork is closed seasonally from November to March.
6. Grotto Falls
Grotto Falls is another trail near Gatlinburg you’ll want to explore. The trailhead is along Roaring Fork Motor Trail. It is considered easy to moderate with a round trip of 2.6 miles. If you get here early enough, you may just spot the llamas that take supplies to the summit of Mount LeConte!
7. Rainbow Falls
A gorgeous waterfall hike you’ll want to check out is Rainbow Falls. Its trailhead is also along Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and the hike is considered moderate with a 5 mile round trip length. Rainbow Falls is pretty unique, because it’s the tallest single drop waterfall in the entire park at 80 feet!
8. Baskins Creek Trail
One of the most beautiful waterfalls you don’t want to miss is Baskins Creek Falls. This trail near Gatlinburg is considered easy to moderate and has a round trip length of 3.1 miles. You’ll make your way through the woods before you come up on the beautiful tiered falls!
Any of these trails near Gatlinburg are a great way to get out and explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Before you head out for the day, you need to fuel up properly! Come eat at our restaurant in Gatlinburg so you have enough energy to hike these trails!