When people come to Pigeon Forge, often they look forward to visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s home to more than 800 miles of trails, offering ample hiking opportunities. In fact, the park is the most visited in the national park system, boasting a huge variety of trees, wildflowers, flowering bushes, insects, birds, and more. The beautiful trails near Pigeon Forge are a wonderful experience year-round no matter what level of hiking experience you have. The trails range from easy and flat to challenging and steep — something for beginners, kids, adults, and seasoned hikers! The trails all offer unique qualities, running through lush woods, past fields of wildflowers, and to beautiful flowing waterfalls. Many of these trails are also not too far from your Pigeon Forge cabin, so you won’t have to drive long to find some great outdoor fun.
When you’re ready to get out of the cabin and stretch your legs, check out some of these great trails. You’ll get some great exercise, breathe in that fresh mountain air, and enjoy breathtaking scenery. Some trails may be tough, but the views from the peak will be worth the climb! We’ve included the name of the trail, the length of the trail (roundtrip), and where it can be accessed, along with helpful information about each one. Choose your trail and hike the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains!
Indian Creek Falls & Toms Branch Falls | 1.6 miles | Deep Creek Campground
Find two beautiful waterfalls on this easy hike, one 60 feet high and the other 25 feet high. They’re just about 200 feet apart, and the whole thing takes about 1-2 hours to complete.
Kephart Prong Trail | 4 miles | Smokemont Campground
This beautiful trail is recommended for elementary age kids and up. You’ll see wildlife, wildflowers (March – April), log bridges, and lots of enchanting native and non-native trees. It’s a great learning experience for kids and a peaceful walk for adults.
Laurel Falls | 2.6 miles | Little River Road
The 80-foot Laurel Falls is a stunning waterfall, named after the abundance of mountain laurel that blooms around the falls and along the trail. May is a great time to see the greenery but be prepared for a busy trail — it’s a popular one!
Porters Creek | 2 miles | Greenbrier Cove
This easy hike is just 6 miles from Gatlinburg and will make you feel tucked away in the mountains. When you get to Porters Flat, see a barn, cabin, and springhouse. Springtime is fantastic for seeing blooming wildflowers along this trail.
Other nice, easy hikes include the Sugarlands Trail (1 mile) at the Sugarlands Welcome Center and the Elkmont Trail (0.75 miles) at the Elkmont Campground.
Andrews Bald | 3.6 miles | Clingmans Dome Road
At the end of this trail, find the grassy Andrews Bald, which was named after Andres Thompson, a cattle herder who brought livestock up to the scenic spot in the 1840s. Seasonally, find blackberries and raspberries along the trail, along with Fraser firs and bluets.
Charlies Bunion | 8 miles | Newfound Gap
You’ll find some incredible mountain vistas at the top of this hike that is part of the famous Appalachian Trail. The trail’s namesake, Charlie’s Bunion, is a lovely stone outcrop at the peak of the mountain, giving off those Lord of the Rings vibes.
Grotto Falls | 5.2 miles | Roaring Fork
A 2-3 hour trek through an old-growth hemlock forest and behind a 25-foot waterfall, this cool hike is great for summer. Hikers may even see salamanders due to the wet environment — after all, the Great Smoky Mountains is the salamander capital of the world!
Hen Wallow Falls | 4.4 miles | Cosby Campground
Meander through rhododendron and hemlock forest on this lovely hike. It takes about 3-4 hours and showcases the 90-foot waterfall that starts 2 feet wide at the top and fans out 20 feet wide at the bottom.
Juney Whank Falls | 0.8 miles | Deep Creek Road
The waterfall at the end of this hike is divided into upper and lower falls. You can see both sections from the footbridge. It is said to be named after Mr. Junaluska “Juney” Whank who might be buried in the area…
Rainbow Falls | 5.4 miles | Cherokee Orchard Road
One of the most popular hikes in the area, the Rainbow Falls trail leads to just what you’d expect — a breathtaking waterfall where rainbows are often seen in the mist. If you continue past the falls, you’ll head 6.7 miles to the summit of Mt. LeConte, which is another fantastic option!
Want more moderately difficult trails to check out? Try Abrams Falls (5 miles) at the Cades Cove Loop, Boogerman Trail (6.6 miles) at the Cataloochee Campground, Gregory Bald (10.6 miles) at Parson Branch Road, and Spence Field (10 miles) at the Cades Cove Picnic Area.
Chimney Tops | 4 miles | Newfound Gap Road
The length and views of the Chimney Tops trail make it one of the most popular with visitors and locals. It gains a total of 1,400 feet in elevation in 2 miles, so it’s a steep climb. If you want to go all the way to the summit, be prepared for a very steep rocky area that can get slippery when wet or icy.
Ramsey Cascades | 8 miles | Greenbrier
This strenuous hike is worth it for the adventurer. The trails lead past rivers and streams for most of the way, before finishing off with an old-growth hardwood forest that’s home to tulip trees, basswoods, silver bells, and yellow birches.
You can also challenge yourself on Mt. Sterling (5.6 miles), Shuckstack (7 miles), and the longer Thunderhead (13 miles).
HIKE THE SMOKIES CHALLENGE
If you’re up for a challenge and visit the Smokies often, consider doing the Hike the Smokies challenge. Hit the trails and keep track of how many miles you hike. Your miles don’t have to be racked up on different trails; you can add up the mileage on the same trail each day if you love a certain one. You can get a pocket-sized mileage book for just $1 at any one of the visitor centers (Sugarlands, Oconaluftee, Clingmans Dome, and Cades Cove). Then take your record to one of the visitor centers to get a pin for logging 100, 250, and 500 miles. You’ll also be added to the Hike the Smokies record book — how cool!
HIKING SAFETY TIPS
When going on hikes near Pigeon Forge, there are important things to keep in mind for your safety and the safety of wildlife. Check out our article on bear safety!
- Never hike alone.
- Always bring a flashlight with batteries.
- Always bring water to drink along the way.
- Don’t drink water from streams without proper purification.
- Let someone know when and where you’ll be hiking.
- Wear appropriate hiking shoes; we suggest breaking them in first.
- Bring a first aid kit in your backpack.
- Check the weather ahead of time to be prepared.
- Never leave items behind or bring new ones home.
- Always have a blast!
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