6 Adventure Trails in the Smoky Mountains

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor April 14th, 2022 Posted in North America Travel Blog, Travel Blog, Travel Guides No comments

Is there anything more enjoyable than exploring wilderness and magnificent landscapes with mesmerizing views? If you’re also into adventure and love to explore the unknown, then my friend, we’ve got the perfect destination for you to explore. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trails
Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

Tennessee boasts the Smoky National Park, where adventure lovers can quench their thirst for some action. This area straddles the Tennessee-North Carolina border, teaming with roaming wildlife, scenic views, and southern charm. Even though it receives the most visitors every year, the park remains a national treasure. The park attracts more than 11 million visitors annually due to its proximity to much of the Southeast. The Grand Canyon comes in second place with around 6 million visitors each year. 

Almost no one would dispute the popularity of Smoky Mountains National Park’s extensive hiking trails. The park is a popular destination for those who wish to gaze at rushing waterfalls, explore fascinating historic settlement ruins, view breathtaking vistas, and simply relax in the wilderness. 

Places to Stay

If you plan to visit the Smoky Mountain National Park, there are two main cities where you can stay, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Gatlinburg is four miles from Pigeon Forge, but whereas Gatlinburg serves as the gateway to the National Park, Pigeon Forge is right in the heart of the Smoky Mountain Range. Either city can make a great home base for your adventures but if you prefer living in a mountain town, google “places to stay pigeon forge,” find a perfect cabin and make the reservation.  

Adventure Trails to Explore

Trekking can be both easy and challenging. Visitors can go hiking for a half-day, a full day, or even over multiple days hike for the more adventurous lot. One could literally spend an entire vacation hiking in the Smokies. 

But to make it easier for you to choose the best ones, we will tell you about a few of the park’s most scenic and popular trails. Let’s look at them without wasting any more time, shall we?   

Mount Cammerer

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trails2
Photo by Phil Venditti. – CC BY 2.0

Located near the Cosby gate of the Great Smoky Mountains, Mount Cammerer makes for a great hike. Often done as an out-and-back hike, it’s also worth doing as a loop because you’ll have an opportunity to spend the night at a backcountry campsite.

As you approach the Cosby Entrance Road, you will see a parking lot for hikers on the left. Taking the Low Gap Trail up and past Cosby Campground, you’ll get to the Cosby Campground. After crossing a stream, the Low Gap Trail intersects with the Lower Mount Cammerer Trail. Follow the Low Gap Trail counterclockwise to start the loop. A few miles later, you will find yourself on the Appalachian Trail. After you cross the AT, you will come to a short spur trail that leads to the summit of Mount Cammerer.

Charlie’s Bunion on the Appalachian Trail

Charlie’s Bunion offers spectacular views on a trek of 8 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Here’s a sneak peek at the Appalachian Trail that might make you want to hike it all the way to Maine. In addition to being the longest hiking-only trail in the world, the Appalachian Trail stretches 2,190 miles from Maine to Georgia. Thousands of hikers follow their dreams of completing the AT each year, stopping at Charlie’s Bunion on the way to take in the scenery.

On the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, the Newfound Gap is a good starting point for hiking to the Bunion. Located at the start of the trail is a marker that indicates 1,940 miles remaining to Maine. Continue walking along the AT throughout the journey. You’ll have to climb the first two miles steadily or so. The deeper you go into the forest, the more solitude you’ll experience. The road is full of wildflowers in the warmer months and scenic views throughout the year.

Clingmans Dome

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trails3
Photo by Ed Ogle – CC BY-ND 2.0

There is nothing quite like the Blue Ridge Mountains in the summer, with their endless views, beautiful sunrises, and stunning sunsets that will make you want to return again and again. The park’s highest point, Clingmans Dome, is also one of its most visited areas. Walk a mile back to the observatory. Then, explore Clingman’s Dome Nature Trail and meet the gnomes on your way back down the road.

Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain

Among the songs popular in Tennessee are those that read “Rocky Top, my forever home.” You’ll sing the same song when you get to the Smoky Mountains. The trek is challenging but offers spectacular views. 

Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top, a knob at the top of the ridge, are popular overnight destinations. Located in the park’s western half, Thunderhead Mountain stands 5,527 feet high. It was likely named Thunderhead because of the unpredictable weather in the high elevations of the Smoky Mountains.

The trail to Abrams Falls

Great Smoky Mountains National Park4
Photo by mpnh08 – CC BY-ND 2.0

You can combine an easy waterfall hike with cycling along Cades Cove Loop or camping at Cades Cove Camping Area. There is no doubt that the trail to Abrams Falls is by far the most famous waterfall along the path to Cades Cove. A bridge crosses Abrams Creek at the beginning of the course, and rhododendrons surround it as it begins. Almost all the track runs alongside the creek, making it a perfect place to spot river otters, the park’s most adorable residents. Besides being a popular fishing spot, the area is also a great place to cool off in the stream.

The Chimney Tops Trail

Despite being short, this hike will make your heart race and make you speechless. After ascending 1,375 ft for over two miles, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Despite being a short hike, this one is quite strenuous. So, don’t be fooled by this hike’s short distance: this 4-mile round-trip hiking trail is anything but a stroll through the woods. You gain approximately 1,375 feet of elevation in the two miles to reach the summit, about 960 feet in the last mile. Despite its toughness, the Chimney Tops trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is among its favorites due to its short length and magnificent 360-degree vistas.  

Final Words

After spending a stressful week at work, the Great Smoky Mountains are the perfect place to relax, unwind, and replenish your soul. Various experiences will be etched in your memory for the rest of your life, including the environment, landscape, people, and amenities. If you’re looking for a place to spend some quality time with your loved ones, consider visiting the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at [email protected]