6 Moderate Hikes To Try On Your Next Trip To The Smokies

  • The Little River Trail

Named after the river that runs along the side, this trail has a moderate incline of 412 feet and beautiful views. This 4.9 mile roundtrip hike is great for families and avid hikers. See cascading streams and waterfalls that rush by boulders and rock formations.  The growth of rhododendron and other flora is also to be admired when hiking this trail.

  • Rainbow Falls

Get excited for this one! Rainbow Falls hiking trail is a visitor and local favorite in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As you head through Gatlinburg, turn at traffic #8 and follow the historic nature trail into the park. After passing the Noah “Bud” Ogle house you will come to the marked parking area for Rainbow Falls. This moderate trail contains rocky areas and switchbacks. You will also cross a total of 3 log foot bridges over creeks. When you arrive to the falls, you’ll notice the rainbows seen in the mist on a sunny afternoon. The 80 foot fall occasionally freezes into an hourglass shape in the winter. a great sight at anytime of the year! This trail is 5.4 miles long round trip.

  • Ramsey Cascades

Ramsey Cascades offers so much with it’s picturesque landscape and water features! This 8 mile round trip hike is labeled as moderate to more strenuous for hikers. As you make the climb, you’ll eventually gain 2000 feet in elevation! Enjoy hiking beside  rivers, streams, and old forests for majority of the hike to the cascades. Fun fact- Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and stands at 105 feet tall!

  • Clingmans Dome

As the highest point in The Great Smoky Mountains, Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular trails for visitors! The Dome sits at 6,643 feet which makes it the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although Clingmans Dome is paved and only the length of 1 mile roundtrip, it has a steep incline making it very strenuous. Enjoy miles and miles of views from the top of the observation tower, it also makes a great backdrop for photos!

  • Alum Cave Trail

For a more adventurous hike with fascinating geological features, you’ll love Alum Cave Trail! This trail is a roundtrip length of 4.4 miles and elevates about 1125 feet. Along this trail you’ll cross streams and bridges through heavily forested areas.  Once you reach the “Alum Cave” you will notice it is more of a bluff than a cave. There so many natural landmarks and geological features to explore while your there!

  • Charlie’s Bunion

Charlie’s Bunion is a perfect hike for any experienced hiker wanting to see gorgeous views! The total roundtrip length is 8.1 miles and elevates about 1600 feet. Throughout your hike you can enjoy spacious views of North Carolina and of course, the Smokies. Hikers can also be sure to spot a variety of wildflowers, trout lilies, and violets! Once you reach the summit of Charlie’s Bunion, a rock outcropping, you’ll notice how it got the name! An ancient hiker reached the top and began to take off his shoes and relax while showing off his bunion that resembled the rocks around him. The views at the top provide panoramic scenes featuring the beautiful mountains.

*Safety Tips*

The Smoky Mountain National Park is bear country. Hikers are recommended to hike in groups of three or more. Hikers should also carry bear spray, comply with all backcountry closures, follow food storage regulations, and maintain a safe viewing distances from any bears they may come across. Feeding, touching, disturbing or willfully approaching wildlife within 150 ft. is illegal in the park.  Bears should NEVER be fed.

If approached by a bear, park rangers say to slowly back away and create space for the animal to pass. Do not run. Hikers should make themselves look large, stay together in their group and throw rocks or stick at the bear. It attacked, hikers should defend themselves with any object they can find.

Though rare, bear attacks can occur. Rangers want to protect both the wildlife and the humans that pass through. That is why it is important to note these safety tips before beginning your hike in the Smokies.

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