As you probably already know, there are TONS of amazing hiking and wildlife watching opportunities throughout the Tennessee area, especially here within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Here are a few we think you need to consider during your trip, as well as a map to help you pinpoint exactly where you can find them within the large park.
Grotto Falls: This is the only set of falls you can actually hike and stand behind, a really unique and memorable hiking experience to have. Technically this is a very easy hike, located right off of Roaring Fork Trail near Trillium Trail, the entire pathway paved with gorgeous old growth forest and wildflowers in the spring.
Chimney Tops: This trail is actually one of the most challenging, but also one of the most rewarding, the end providing you with outstanding 360-degree views o the forest. You will see Mt. LeConte to the east and Mt. Mingus to the North, that is, if you aren’t afraid of heights.
Laurel Falls: One of the easiest ‘must-see’ spots to get to is Laurel Falls, available by an easy 2.6-mile hike along a paved path. This 80-foot cascade is one of the most photographed spots in the entire park, located just a few miles from Sugarlands. (Note: this gets a bit crowded, try to come in the a.m to avoid the madness).
Ramsey Cascades: The tallest waterfall in the park (that is accessible by trail anyway) stands at 100 ft tall, the trail itself gaining over 2000 feet in elevation over 4 miles, the entire trek taking 5-7 hours. This one is challenging as well, but with the views of the rivers, silverbells, hardwood forest, and 6,621 foot Mt. Guyot, it’s well worth it.
Abrams: These falls will give you the most water and the deepest pools, though beware, swimming here is highly dangerous and not allowed. You can hike a 5-mile round trip full of pines, oaks, hemlocks, and wooden bridges that surround Cades Cove Valley, the gorgeous trip an easy reason to see why this mere 20ft waterfall is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the park.