By Darryl Payne
Posted on October 5, 2018
No matter the season, one of the best ways to spend your time in the Smoky Mountains is by going for a hike. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 800 miles of trails, with some for every skill level. When you visit the area with your family, you will have plenty of options for easy and family-friendly hikes! Here are just 5 of the best Smoky Mountain hiking trails for families:
Laurel Falls is a 2.6-mile roundtrip hike that is one of the most popular in the park. The paved trail makes it great for families. The cascading waterfall you get to see after a little more than a mile makes every step along the trail worth it. Laurel Falls is an 80-foot-high waterfall that has both an upper and lower section. The two sections are divided by a walkway that crosses the stream at the base of the upper falls, meaning you get to actually cross over the waterfall!
To get to Grotto Falls, you actually hike Trillium Gap Trail, which runs through an old-growth hemlock forest. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall and back is about 2.6 miles and usually takes 2-3 hours to complete. Grotto Falls is a 25-foot-high waterfall, and the trail takes hikers behind it! There is a cool and moist environment around the falls, making it ideal for both salamanders and those hiking during the warmer months.
The Gatlinburg Trail is one of the easiest hikes in the Smoky Mountains, but is also one of the best. The walking path takes you 1.9 miles one-way from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of Gatlinburg. It is a flat trail that runs through the forest alongside the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Not only will you have beautiful views of the river, but at one point you will get to cross it on a bridge! You can also see foundations and chimneys of old homesites along the trail. If you're visiting the Smoky Mountains with your four-legged friend, this is the trail for you! The Gatlinburg Trail is also one of only two walking paths that allow dogs.
Some may consider this trail to be moderate in difficulty, but it's definitely a beautiful hike! Porters Creek Trail is 4 miles roundtrip. During the spring, gorgeous wildflowers are scattered around the trail, but it is great all throughout the year. After 2 miles, you'll reach Fern Branch Falls, a 60-foot waterfall that drops off the ridge on the left side of the trail. During high water flows, this is a spectacular sight!
Although Abrams Falls is a little longer of a hike than the others with a roundtrip distance of 5 miles, it is great for families who are up for a little bit of a challenge. It takes about 3-4 hours to hike to the waterfall and back, so be sure if you hike in the afternoon you leave early enough that you won't be returning in the dark! The trail runs through a pine-oak forest on the ridges and a hemlock and rhododendron forest along the creek. The waterfall itself is only 20 feet high, but the large volume of water rushing over falls more than makes up for it. The long, deep pool at the base of the falls is a picture-perfect opportunity!
Your family will love the opportunity to explore the mountains together on one of these beautiful Smoky Mountain hiking trails! Find out more things to do in the Smoky Mountains while you're here, then start planning your vacation.
About Darryl Payne
Darryl Payne is a native of East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He is a web developer with a passion for building great websites. As a local, he can offer a unique perspective on where to stay and things to do while on vacation in the Smokies. To read his latest recommendations, please click the Google+ follow button.