Perfect Fall Hikes in The Smokies

Couple hikers walking in Smoky mountains

Cooler air is making its way into The Great Smoky Mountains and we’re excited to plan fall hikes! By October, the mountains will be changing colors throughout the area and amazing visitors will be coming in from all over. To see these amazing seasonal colors we’ve picked some hikes for you and your family to take to get the best experience of fall foliage in the Smokies!


Although the colors change from higher elevation to lower, the hikes listed below still highlight the natural beauty of fall foliage!


Sugarland Mountain Trail

Sugarland Mountain is a giant ridge which spans 10 miles. You begin the hike with a steep climb of 550 feet and along the way you’ll pass drop offs and you’ll also come to an opening in the trees which provides a stunning look out of Gatlinburg! About ¾ of a mile into the hike the trail will level out and will also head downhill. Enjoy views of Mt. LeConte and Brushy Mountain at this point! This is a fantastic way to see the fall colors all over the mountains.


Clingman’s Dome

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

To reach the trail’s highest point is paved and only measures one-half mile. Although the trail is short in distance, it’s known to be difficult because of it’s steep incline. During this hike, you’ll see rest areas along the steep path for you gain stamina to the top. The trail to Clingmans Dome intersects with several other hiking trails including the Appalachian Trail, the Forney Creek Trail and the Forney Ridge Trail. At the summit there is 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains! Head over to the Observation Tower for chances to see panoramic views, and even 100- mile views on a clear day!


Baskins Creek Falls

Baskins Creek Fall is a fairly easy hike with so much in store for you! You’ll begin the hike with a short climb about a quarter of a mile through. Once the trail evens out you’ll be able to see out over the mountains and even some views of Gatlinburg. This is a great way to see the fall colors covering the mountains. After a mile hike you will come across Falls Branch as well as a creek that you’ll walk along down the mountain. A short while later you’ll see a split and you can veer off towards a cemetery or continue towards the falls. Once you’ve reached the end you’ll see a 40 foot, two- tiered waterfall! This trail is great for an afternoon hike and and an awesome way to see fall foliage!


Rainbow Falls

This trail is moderate and can be strenuous at times but the falls are worth the hike! You’ll begin the hike with a steady climb for about two thirds of a mile through several boulders. One great thing about this climb is walking beside the LeConte Creek. After a couple of miles of scenic views, you’ll crossover 2 foot bridges which will lead you to the 80 foot high waterfall! Rainbow Falls is known for being the highest single-drop waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains. The name for the waterfall comes from the rainbow that’s produced by mist on sunny afternoons!


Sutton Ridge Overlook

This is hike is wonderful for families and is definitely a hidden gem! The hike itself is moderately easy with beautiful views, creeks, and plant life. The trail begins near Cosby Campground and along the way you’ll pass through historical pioneer lands and even a brook- trout stream. For another mile and half or so, you’ll hike along the trail until you get to Sutton Ridge. There will be a sign saying that the overlook is located in 200 yards. These 200 yards will be much steeper than earlier in the hike but the views are amazing and worth the climb!


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