In between relaxing days of soaking in the outdoor hot tub, visiting the hundreds of attractions in downtown Pigeon Forge, watching movies by romantic fires in the living room, and lounging on the deck with peaceful views of the Smokies, get out and explore the mountains you have been gawking at from your Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Cabin! Fresh air, rewarding exercise, and hundreds of picture opportunities await you along each trail in the Smoky Mountains. Here are the top 10 hikes varying in length, elevation, and views – all under 10 miles!
(All length is roundtrip)
- Clingmans Dome
Length: 1 mile
Highlights: 360-degree mountain views
While the walk to the viewing tower is steep, the pathway is wide and paved and very short from the parking lot. The ramp leading to the platform is fun for those visitors with young children, resembling a spaceship nesting above the mountains as the second-highest point east of the Mississippi! Definitely have your cameras ready; the views are breathtaking and worthy of all your social media and maybe even framing.
- Andrews Bald
Length: 3.6 miles
Highlights: 360-degree mountain views, wildflowers, dreamy mountaintop plain
Sharing a parking lot with Clingmans Dome, both of these trails are easily do-able on the same day. The rail traces the upper end of the Forney Ridge Trail and ends at a mountain plain filled with wildflowers in the springtime, like a Smoky Mountain comparison to the Sound of Music. Thanks to area environmentalists, this trail was recently restructured and an enjoyable climb to a rewarding payoff.
- Laurel Falls
Length: 2.6 miles
Highlights: Waterfall, river, wildflowers, wheelchair-accessible
This paved trail meanders along dreamy stream babbling through the lush forestry and wildflowers before arriving at the impressive 60-foot Laurel Falls. Ample seating and viewing areas provide plenty of great sitting spots to be mesmerized by the sights and sounds while relaxing.
- Porters Creek
Length: 4 miles
Highlights: streams, wildflowers, historic structures
Low elevation and a subtle, meandering trail make Porters Creek Trail a great hike for families. Along the babbling stream of Porters Creek, the serene trail brings hikers through lush forestry and wildflowers before arriving at the early 20th century cobblestone walls of Elbert Cantrell farmstead and tombstones of Ownby Cemetery.
- Alum Cave Bluff
Length: 4.6 miles
Highlights: Rock formations, lush forestry, mountain views
Hikers on this trail are treated to a sample of the various terrains of the Smoky Mountains through thick forestry and ending at the 80-foot high Alum Cave Bluff. Following along Alum Cave Creek, you will come to Arch Rock under which you climb stone steps before coming out the other side to some sweeping views of Anakeesta Ridge. Then you’ll reach the incredible Inspiration Point with more breathtaking mountain views.
- Ramsey Cascades
Length: 8 miles
Highlights: Remote, lush forestry, streams, waterfalls
This natural gem is tucked away from the heavier trafficked area of the park northeast of Gatlinburg, but this trail is extremely rewarding ending at the beautiful Ramsey Cascades after following streams and hiking among lush, majestic forestry. The last portion of trail to Ramsey Cascades is a steep climb, but luckily you can rest your sore muscles in the bubbling waters of the hot tub back at the cabin!
- Spruce Flat Falls
Length: 2 miles
Highlights: Remote, waterfalls, lush forestry
This is another less-frequented trail leading to a cascading falls the locals love to visit. Located across from the Tremont Visitors Center, just follow the trail markers for “falls.” This short trek descends into a peaceful mountain valley towards the end before coming upon the beautiful Spruce Flat Falls with the largest outpouring cascading 30 feet.
- Rainbow Falls
Length: 5.4 miles
Highlights: 80-foot waterfalls, lush forestry, boulder field
Gaining 1500’ in elevation, this is another rewarding hike for those who are ready to take it on. While the trail is rocky in certain areas, your hike will take you to the 80’ rushing Rainbow Falls where visitors can enjoy the light mist from the strong outpouring and even rainbows on sunnier afternoons.
- Rich Mountain Loop
Length: 8.5 miles
Highlights: Remote, wildflowers, historical structures
If you are looking for some solitude but desire to see the beautiful landmarks of Cades Cove, take on the challenge of Rich Mountain Loop where fields of wildflowers, gorgeous mountain valleys, and preserved historic Appalachian homes await you!
- Abrams Falls
Length: 5 miles
Highlights: Mostly level, historic structures, waterfalls
This is another trail in the Cades Cove area with the trailhead accessed on the western end of the 11-mile one-way Loop Road. Hikers will meander through thick forestry alongside Abrams Creek hidden by the lush overgrowth. In certain areas, however, keep an eye on the riverbanks for otters! Released into the park in the late 1980s, the otters have been thriving in the Smokies ever since with a large selection of fish to feed on. At the end of the trail, the beautiful rushing Abrams Falls, the most volume of water passing through these falls than any other in the park, with a peaceful “beach” area where visitors can sit and enjoy a picnic lunch.
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