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Are you looking for the top trails in Tennessee for hiking, mountain biking, climbing, or other outdoor activities?
- 1 #1 Snoopers Rock Trail
- 2 #2 Benton Falls Trail
- 3 #3 Honey Creek Loop Trail
- 4 #4 Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
- 5 #5 Laurel Falls Trail
- 6 #6 Rainbow Falls Trail
- 7 #7 Chimney Tops Trail
- 8 #8 Grotto Falls Trail
- 9 #9 Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluff Trail
- 10 #10 Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail
#1 Snoopers Rock Trail
Near Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Snoopers Rock Trail is a 5.9-mile out-and-back trail with a moderately trafficked river. From March to October, the trail is primarily used by hikers, walkers, nature enthusiasts, and bird watchers. The trail is also open to dogs, but they must be leashed.
In the Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, this trail follows the Cumberland Trail.
This primarily shaded trail follows the natural terrain features from Indian Rockhouse to Snooper’s Rock, including a few water crossings and numerous rock formations. Snooper’s Rock offers one of the best views of the Tennessee River Gorge. It’s a peaceful walk in the woods with a few short climbs.
#2 Benton Falls Trail
The Benton Falls Trail is a 3-mile out-and-back trail near Reliance, Tennessee, with a waterfall and is excellent for all abilities. Accessible year-round, the trail is mainly used for hiking, running, nature walks, and mountain biking. Dogs can also use this trail but must be on a leash.
Some users report that you have to walk an extra half-mile to the trailhead when the gate is shut. Parking is available at the recreation area by the lake. The fee is $3 per day.
#3 Honey Creek Loop Trail
The Honey Creek Loop Trail, a heavily trafficked 4.2-mile loop trail near Rugby, Tennessee, features a waterfall rated as difficult. From March through November, the trail offers a variety of activities. This trail is also open to dogs, but they must be on a leash.
It is a technical and challenging trail that is not well marked. The hike is very worthwhile since there are several rock houses and waterfalls. Furthermore, hiking this trail is a great way to enjoy the natural, undisturbed beauty of the area.
There are several points where you may wonder if you are heading in the right direction. This trail is marked with random arrows and green blazes. There are several boulder scrambles on the trail, as well as points where you hike in or over creek beds.
Many campsites are available along this trail, but some boulder crawls make it challenging to carry a backpack. Upon reaching the overlook area, there are a few ladders to climb. For the entire loop, the trail is approximately 5.6 miles long. The different spur trails to take become closer to 6 miles.
For every mile, you should allow at least an hour. It is mainly because there is so much to see and do along the trail that you will want to take it all in. If it has been raining recently, bring extra clothing and plenty of water. You will probably get wet.
#4 Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
Explore this 10.90-mile out-and-back trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It generally takes six h 21 min to complete this route, which is considered challenging. The area is very popular for backpacking and hiking, so you will likely encounter other people while exploring. The trail is open all year, but April through November is the best time to visit. Dogs are not allowed on this trail – you’ll need to leave them at home.
It is one of the most popular trails that leads up to Mount LeConte. Featuring spectacular views, well-maintained trails, and a cave, this hike is an excellent choice for those looking to see the best of the Smoky Mountains. Parking lots on Newfound Gap Road fill up early because of its popularity. The route to the summit is more popular than the nearby Rainbow Falls Trail.
It begins with a climb along Alum Cave Creek and Styx Branch. Within 1.3 miles, you will reach Arch Rock, one of the trail’s prominent landmarks. Wind and water eroded the arch’s softer Rock, leaving behind interesting geological features. A great vantage point for photos is right under the natural arch.
Around 2.3 miles in, you will reach Inspiration Point. Mount LeConte’s Little Duck Hawk Ridge, The Eye of the Needle, and Myrtle Point can all be seen from this location. After that, you’ll arrive at Alum Cave Bluff, a great photo opportunity marked by its orange clay.
Toward the peak of Mount LeConte, past Alum Cave, there is the LeConte Lodge, where you can rent a primitive cabin or a multi-room lodge. You won’t be able to show up and find a place to stay overnight. You’ll need to make reservations months in advance. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers only traditional lodging in the form of cabins. You can also purchase drinks and use restrooms at the lodge.
As soon as you reach the lodge, you’ll be on the Bull Head Trail. From the Bull Head Trail, hikers can reach the summit of Mt Leconte via the Boulevard Trail. Climbers seeking an extra challenge can also reach Cliff Top from the lodge. You can hike up to Myrtle Point from Mount LeConte.
#5 Laurel Falls Trail
Enjoy this 2.40 mile, out and back trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It usually takes one h 14 min to complete this route, which is considered easy. You’re likely to encounter other people while exploring this area, as it is a very popular hiking, walking, and nature trip spot. The trail is open year-round, and it is a beautiful place to visit at any time. Please leave your pups at home – dogs are not allowed on this trail.
Parking at the trailhead of Laurel Falls is limited since it is a popular attraction in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Parking is possible along the sides of the road, but please follow all rules and regulations when driving near pedestrians.
During the summer, the area is bustling on weekends. The 80-foot-high Laurel Falls and the Laurel Branch are named for the mountain laurel shrub that blooms along the trail and near the falls in May.
Even though this is a paved trail, it was initially constructed to allow fire crews to access the Cove Mountain area, and the Cove Mountain Fire Tower was built a few years after this trial was completed. Although the trail is paved, the aging pavement is rough and broken, making it difficult for wheelchairs and strollers to use. As a result of this and the steep grade, it is not wheelchair or stroller friendly.
In addition, the rocks around the falls are slippery. Please don’t climb on them! The steep drop of the falls area has injured many people.
According to the park service, pets and parking is not allowed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
#6 Rainbow Falls Trail
There is a 5.10 mile, out and back trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It typically takes three h 9 min to complete this moderately challenging route. On this popular hiking trail, you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. The trail is open all year, but between March and November is the best time to visit. Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, so you’ll need to leave them at home.
Roads leading to this trailhead are subject to seasonal closures. Click here for more information.
Rainbow Falls is a must-see for all visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This trail is popular due to its moderate difficulty, a stunning waterfall, and lush Tennessee forest.
The trail begins at Rainbow Falls and Bullhead Parking Area and climbs steadily along Le Conte Creek. Arrive early because the parking lot fills up quickly. There is another parking area down Cherokee Orchard Loop if it is complete.
After roughly a mile, you reach a nice overlook. You’ll soon cross a few bridges and start to see some more minor falls as you walk along the trail. Eventually, you’ll reach Rainbow Falls. If the afternoon sun hits the mist from the falls just right, you can see a faint rainbow appear.
The majority of hikers turn around here and return to the parking area. If you wish to continue hiking, the trail continues onward.
#7 Chimney Tops Trail
Explore this 4.40 mile, out and back trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Generally considered a challenging route, it takes an average of 2 hours 42 minutes to complete. You’re likely to encounter other hikers while exploring this popular area. While the trail is open year-round, the best time to visit is March through November. The trail isn’t dog-friendly, so be sure to leave your pups at home.
Chimney Tops is one of the most popular hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Tennessee! The views of the mountains at the top make every step worth it, despite the steepness of the climb. Chimney Tops parking area is located east of the Chimney Picnic Area off Newfound Gap Road. The trail begins relatively flat and quickly climbs. You cross the rushing Road Prong over bridges and past small waterfalls on the first mile.
Once the path turns west, you’ll come to an intersection for the Road Prong Trail. You’ll pass a few more waterfalls and meet the Appalachian Trail at Indian Gap if you follow this route. The trail takes us straight and continues the climb along Chimney Tops Trail. The trail is well-marked and well-maintained. On top of the mountain is an observation platform where you can see incredible views of the Smoky Mountains, including Mount LeConte and Sugarland Mountain.
The trail has been closed a quarter-mile from Chimney Tops due to wildfire damage in 2016. A gate has been constructed to prevent hikers from entering the damaged area. Do not hike past the entrance and instead enjoy the view from the observation deck.
#8 Grotto Falls Trail
Grotto Falls Trail is a moderately tricky 2.6-mile out-and-back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, that features a waterfall. It is mainly used for hiking.
Grotto Falls Trail is a moderately easy hike that can be accessed from the Trillium Gap Trailhead. The walk offers plenty of shade, small streams wildlife, and if you go at the right time of year, wildflowers abound.
Near the base of Piney Mountain, this trail to Grotto Falls can be more crowded during the warmer months, and the parking area is limited, so get there early. Although the falls are not significant, it’s a great spot to picnic for lunch or dip your feet in the water on a hot day.
#9 Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluff Trail
Beautiful wildflowers can be found here, and it is rated moderate. Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluff Trail is a 4.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Year-round, the trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips.
Peregrine Peak is reached via the Alum Cave Bluffs Trail, leading to a “cave,” a giant rock overhang. It begins with a gradual climb to Arch Rock, gets steeper, and ends with many steps. You’ll find a soft forest floor, log bridges to cross, beautiful flowers and trees, and countless photo opportunities along Alum Cave Creek. Between Inspiration Point and Alum Cave Bluff, you can see Little Duck Hawk Ridge. Take a picnic lunch up to the cave and enjoy it there. There are no trash receptacles in the room, so you will need to take your trash outside.
To begin this hike, park at the Alum Cave Trailhead. Parking can get crowded during this hike, so arrive early.
#10 Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail
The Charlie’s Bunion via Appalachian Trail is an 8 mile moderately trafficked trail near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, featuring beautiful wildflowers. It is best to use this trail from April until October, mainly for hiking.
Charlies Bunion via the Appalachian Trail is a great day hike along the summit of the Great Smoky Mountains. The route crosses several peaks, including Mount Ambler, Mount Kephart, Masa Knob, and Charlie’s Bunion.
Parking at Newfound Gap, the trail to Charlies Bunion, isn’t marked, so follow the Appalachian Trail and Icewater Spring signs. After reaching the spring, continue for about 20 minutes until you reach Charlies Bunion.
There is a gradual ascent of about 300 feet within the first mile. The trail is mostly forested, but some viewpoints are near the Ice Water Spring-AT shelter. The shelter is one of the more beautiful structures along the AT in North Carolina. A permit and reservation are required through the Park Service for the cabin, which sleeps 12. The AT logbook mentions that elk have been seen in this area. About a mile north of the shelter, the trail continues on a side trail. The trail is well marked and leads to Charlies Bunion. A fire, rain, and subsequent landslide created this significant rock outcropping years ago.