Known as the gateway to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the town of Gatlinburg is a great jumping-off point for exploring a myriad of trails. With hundreds of miles of trails traversing the Park and weaving their way through the surrounding areas, there is never a shortage of adventures to be had. Pack your hiking boots and be sure to add some of these Gatlinburg hiking adventures to your itinerary!
One of the many great things about hiking in and around Gatlinburg is that the terrain is diverse. Hikers can journey through forests, alongside meandering rivers, or through fields of wildflowers. Trails often end at a challenging summit with stunning panoramic views or at picturesque waterfalls. In fact, Gatlinburg offers quite a few hiking excursions that lead to cascading falls, so be prepared for a refreshing dip at the end!
Ramsey Cascades Trail
A popular waterfall trek is the Ramsey Cascades Trail, which leads to the tallest waterfall accessible by trail within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park bounds. At this multi-tiered cascade, water drops 100 feet across craggy rocks, ending in a pool at the bottom. To get to Ramsey Cascades, hikers will have to make a 4-mile trek (8 miles round trip). Much of the trail follows peacefully alongside rivers and streams, with a forest covering the final stretch.
If you’re not quite up for such a challenging trek, there are plenty of other hiking trails with waterfalls near Gatlinburg. The trail to Laurel Falls is paved, making it stroller and wheelchair accessible. This 2.6-mile stroll ends at a spectacular 80-foot cascade, one of the most photographed spots in the area.
Head down the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trails to reach Grotto Falls, another easy to reach favorite. At 2.6 miles round trip, this is another great family hike. Come prepared to get wet if you want to explore one of the waterfall’s most interesting features! At Grotto Falls, you can actually make your way behind the waterfall to observe the world from behind the sheet of tumbling water.
In addition to the many waterfall hikes you’ll find around Gatlinburg, the area also has its share of peaks that offer stunning panoramic views. For unforgettable vistas over the Smokies, consider making the difficult trek to the top of Mt. LeConte. There are various trail options, with one of the most popular being the Rainbow Falls route (13.8 miles).