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5 of the Best Trails for Day Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains is one of the most popular activities in East Tennessee. You get to see beautiful forests, native plants, and all kinds of wildlife. You’ll find plenty of hikes that are simple to do in a day. No matter the time of year, you’ll experience the beauty of nature and get some exercise in too. Look at these best trails for day hiking in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Abrams Falls

abrams fallsIf you’re planning on going to Cades Cove, you should also plan on hiking to Abrams Falls. This 5.4-mile roundtrip hike is great to spend a whole day hiking. This hiking trail is considered moderate in difficulty. Along the trail, you’ll walk past many pine oak trees and rhododendron during the spring. The path follows along the creek most of the way, so you also get to enjoy it for most of your hike. Finally, you’ll reach the waterfall. It stands at 20 feet tall, but the large amount of water rolling over the edge makes up for its lack in height. The best time to hike Abrams Falls would be in the morning to avoid traffic Cades Cove can accumulate.

2. Andrews Bald

Considered moderate in difficulty, this 3.6-mile roundtrip hike to Andrews Bald is great for the whole family. As you walk along the path, you’ll go through a spruce fir forest. Once at the top, you’ll find several acres of open grassy field, where you’ll be able to see panoramic views of the southern part of the Smoky Mountains. During the spring and summer, you’ll also see flame azalea and rhododendron in the bald. You’ll definitely want to hike this trail again after you hike it once!

3. Little River Trail

crested dwarf irisConnected to Cucumber Gap, the Little River Trail is a great trail for seeing wildflowers in the spring. At the beginning, you’ll walk along the side of the river of the same name. Then you’ll come across old buildings built in the 1920s. All along the trail, you will see crested dwarf irises, yellow trillium, and Canadian violets. Near the 2.5-mile mark, you’ll come across Huskey Branch Falls, a small waterfall. If you want to make a loop, you can keep going along Cucumber Gap at this point for the full 5.6-mile hike, or you can turn around. This trail is considered moderate in difficulty.

4. Rainbow Falls

With a roundtrip hike of 5.4 miles, Rainbow Falls is considered a moderate trail but might be considered hard by others. The first part of this hike is through a boulder field. You’ll cross 2 foot bridges on your way to the waterfall. Once at the top, you’ll see Rainbow Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the Smokies. It stands at 80 feet tall and gets its name from the rainbow created by the mist around the water. From the falls, you can continue to the Mt. LeConte trail.

5. Rich Mountain Loop

monarch butterfly on a black eyed susanJust like Abrams Falls, Rich Mountain Loop starts in Cades Cove. It runs 8.3 miles and is considered hard in difficulty. The beginning starts walking through a meadow where wildflowers grow in the spring and summer, including black-eyed susans and butterfly weed. Then, you’ll see the John Oliver cabin, one of the oldest buildings in the Smoky Mountains. Farther up the trail, you’ll come across old remains of the Rich Mountain Fire Tower. Near the end, you’ll come across Crooked Arms Falls.

You can go hiking in the Smoky Mountains on these trails in a day! Once you’re done hiking, you’ll want to head back to a nice cabin to relax after a long day of exercise. Look through our available cabins now to start planning today!