(CTN News) – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a 522,427-acre natural playground straddles the Tennessee and North Carolina southern Appalachian Mountains. A popular national park in the United States, it boasts incredible biodiversity, rivers, deciduous forests, and endless mountains and ridgelines.
More than 800 miles of hiking trails can be found within the park boundaries, including 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail, the LeConte Lodge, front and backcountry camping, wildlife and wildflowers everywhere, history everywhere, and 2,100 miles of rivers and streams. To help you plan your Smoky Mountain excursions, we have listed some of the park’s best hikes below and some information about the park.
Must-do Hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
1. Newfound Gap to Charlie’s Bunion on the Appalachian Trail
A round-trip hike of 8 miles on the infamous Appalachian Trail with some of the best views in the park at Charlie’s Bunion. You may be inspired to hike the entire AT from Georgia to Maine after experiencing this taste of the AT.
The summit of Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park, making it a popular spot for visitors. There are no limits to the views; the sunrises are often breathtaking, and the sunsets reveal the Blue Ridge Mountains in a way that will leave you wanting to come back again and again. Walk to the top of the observation tower in a round-trip distance of one mile. Say hello to the gnomes as you explore the Clingmans Dome Nature Trail on your way back down the road.
3. The Cammerer Mountain
The hike to Mount Cammerer is one of the best hikes in the park. When you arrive at your destination, a lookout tower and an ocean of views will greet you. In 1937, the CCC built the tower, which is still open to the public for exploration and even napping before heading back down the mountain.
4. Trail to Alum Cave
There are views, views, and more views. Those are the things you’ll see on the Alum Cave Trail. As well as offering tranquil cascades, the Alum Cave Bluffs offer the shortest access to Mount LeConte.
5. Loop at Cades Cove
Take a hike, a bike ride, or a run on it. It is possible to drive through Cades Cove, but you will miss out on a true Cades Cove experience. Enjoy the best wildlife viewing opportunities by taking the 11-mile loop to see historic building sites.
6. Cascades around Ramsey
The hike to the tallest waterfall in the park is an eight-mile round trip. On this hike, you’ll be hiking through the park’s largest old-growth forest, so take the time to appreciate the journey rather than just the destination.
7. Thunderhead Mountain + Rocky Top
It’s possible that “Rocky Top, You’ll Always Be Home Sweet Home to Me” is one of Tennessee’s most popular song lyrics. It won’t take long for you to sing the same song when you reach Rocky Top of the Smokies. Hiking with breathtaking views is a challenging activity.
8. Gregory Bald and Shuckstack Firetower
With 360-degree views and 78 stairs up an almost century-old fire tower, you’ll be in awe of this summit hike.
9. The Big Creek Loop from Mount Sterling
You’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view at the top of one of the toughest hikes in the park. If you’re not up for the entire 17-mile loop, there is a 2.7-mile trail that leads directly to Mount Sterling’s summit.
10. Trillium Gap and Boulevard to Mount LeConte
Get the best of both worlds on this hike. It’s a waterfall, there are views, there’s a lodge, there’s the Appalachian Trail, and there’s a waterfall. You’ll need to shuttle to complete this hike unless you’re up for a long hike.