The Smoky Mountains’ Most Stunning Hikes


The Great Smoky Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offer some of the most beautiful and diverse hiking experiences in the United States. With over 800 miles of trails winding through lush forests, past cascading waterfalls, and up to breathtaking vistas, the Smokies are a hiker’s paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a casual explorer, there’s a trail for you. Here are some of the most stunning hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

The Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte is one of the most popular and rewarding hikes in the Smokies. This 11-mile round trip hike takes you through diverse landscapes, from old-growth forests to the striking Alum Cave Bluffs and up to the summit of Mount LeConte. The trail begins at the Alum Cave Trailhead and follows Alum Cave Creek, offering serene creekside views. As you ascend, you’ll pass through the Arch Rock, an impressive natural archway, and the Alum Cave Bluffs, a towering rock overhang that provides a great spot for a rest. The final stretch to the summit offers stunning panoramic views, making the challenging climb well worth the effort.


Chimney Tops Trail

The Chimney Tops Trail is a shorter but steeper hike, perfect for those seeking a thrilling ascent and stunning views. This 4-mile round trip hike is known for its steep climb and rocky summit, offering hikers a challenging yet rewarding experience. The trail starts at the Chimney Tops Trailhead and crosses several picturesque streams via wooden bridges. As you climb, you’ll pass through dense forest and over exposed rock sections. The final push to the summit requires some scrambling, but the 360-degree views from the top of the Chimneys are nothing short of spectacular. This hike is particularly popular in the fall, when the surrounding foliage bursts into vibrant colors.

Andrews Bald

For those looking for a moderate hike with stunning views and rich biodiversity, Andrews Bald is an excellent choice. This 3.6-mile round trip trail starts at the Clingmans Dome parking area and descends through a spruce-fir forest to reach one of the highest grassy balds in the Smokies. The trail is well-maintained, with wooden steps and boardwalks in steeper sections. Once you reach Andrews Bald, you’ll be rewarded with expansive views of the southern Smokies and the surrounding valleys. The bald itself is a beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers in the spring and summer, making it a perfect spot for a picnic or a leisurely rest.

Abrams Falls Trail

Abrams Falls Trail offers a scenic hike with the reward of a picturesque waterfall at the end. This 5-mile round trip trail is located in Cades Cove, one of the most popular areas in the park. The trail follows Abrams Creek, meandering through lush forest and alongside the bubbling stream. The highlight of the hike is Abrams Falls, a 20-foot waterfall with a powerful flow that creates a beautiful, serene pool at its base. Despite its relatively short height, the volume of water cascading over the falls is impressive, making it a great spot for photos and relaxation. The trail can be busy, especially in the summer, but the stunning scenery makes it worthwhile.


Charlies Bunion

Charlies Bunion is a challenging hike that rewards adventurers with some of the most breathtaking views in the Smokies. This 8-mile round trip hike along the Appalachian Trail starts at the Newfound Gap parking area. The trail ascends steadily through dense forest, offering occasional glimpses of the surrounding mountains. After about four miles, you’ll reach Charlies Bunion, a rocky outcrop with sweeping views of the Smokies’ rugged terrain. The exposed cliff provides a perfect vantage point to take in the vast wilderness and distant peaks. This hike is particularly beautiful in the spring when wildflowers are in bloom and in the fall when the leaves change color.

Rainbow Falls Trail

Rainbow Falls Trail is a popular hike that takes you to the tallest single-drop waterfall in the park. This 5.4-mile round trip trail begins at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead and follows LeConte Creek through a rich, diverse forest. As you hike, you’ll pass through old-growth trees, lush undergrowth, and rocky sections. The highlight of the trail is Rainbow Falls, a stunning 80-foot waterfall that creates a beautiful mist, often producing rainbows in the sunlight. The trail continues past the falls to the summit of Mount LeConte for those seeking an extended adventure, but the waterfall itself is a magnificent destination.

Mount Cammerer

Mount Cammerer offers one of the most panoramic views in the Smokies, and the hike to its summit is a favorite among seasoned hikers. This strenuous 11.1-mile round trip hike begins at the Low Gap Trailhead in Cosby and climbs steeply through hardwood forest to the Appalachian Trail. The final stretch to the summit involves a rocky scramble, but the reward is the historic fire tower at the top. Built in the 1930s, the fire tower provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making it a perfect spot for photography and reflection. This hike is particularly stunning in the fall when the leaves are at their peak color.


The Great Smoky Mountains offer a wide variety of hiking experiences, each with its unique beauty and challenges. From the panoramic vistas of Mount LeConte and Charlies Bunion to the serene beauty of Abrams Falls and Andrews Bald, these trails showcase the natural splendor of the Smokies. Whether you’re seeking a challenging ascent or a leisurely walk through lush forests, the Smoky Mountains have a hike that will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your backpack, and hit the trails to explore these stunning hikes.

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