Did you know that according to the CDC, nearly 80 percent of adult Americans don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each week? They recommend at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week—a goal you can easily achieve by spending a few hours hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
In fact, hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best ways to meet your exercise goals, because you not only get the aerobic exercise of walking the trails, but you also get to enjoy the splendor of the Smokies at the same time! What better way to take care of your body and enjoy your Smoky Mountain getaway?
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 800 miles of hiking trails that range in intensity from easy to expert. So even if you’re not an avid exerciser and don’t think you can handle a 5.5-mile vertical climb to the top of Mt. LeConte, the Smokies still have something for you. Enjoy one or all of these easy hikes in the Smokies. They’re perfect for beginners and a great way to add a little more exercise into your routine.
Andrews Bald—3.6 miles roundtrip
This easy hike will take you through the cool and shady forest before it opens up to Andrews Bald after 1.8 miles. When you get to the clearing, it’s a perfect spot to unroll a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch. The trailhead for this hike can be found in the Clingmans Dome parking area. And keep in mind that you will experience an elevation change of 1,200 feet with this hike, so you might want to bring a light jacket if it’s not too warm outside.
Indian Creek and Toms Branch Falls—1.6 miles round-trip
This easy hike is less than two miles round-trip and takes you to two beautiful waterfalls in the Deep Creek area of the park. Bicycles are also permitted on this section of the Deep Creek Trail, but pets are not allowed. The trailhead begins once you get past the campground at the end of Deep Creek Road.
Grotto Falls—3 miles round-trip
According to the National Park Service, this hike is moderate in difficulty because portions of the trail are rocky. However, the hike is not long, and it’s generally an easy hike even for beginners. The hike follows the Trillium Gap Trail as it meanders through old-growth forests and takes you behind a 25-foot waterfall for a one-of-a-kind experience! Be sure to bring your camera and wear your hiking boots for this one.
Laurel Falls—2.6 miles round-trip
This trail is also considered moderate in difficulty because sections can be rough and uneven—even slippery if the weather has been less than ideal. Overall, though, this hike is easily navigable because the path is paved and it is less than three miles round-trip. And the end result is worth it! This hike takes you to the 80-foot-high Laurel Falls—a stunning sight that gets even better if you make the trip in May when the mountain laurel surrounding the falls is in bloom.
Porters Creek Trail—4 miles round-trip
This easy trail is one of several wildflower walks recommended by the National Park Service in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll get to see everything from bloodroot to violets to white trilliums on this nature trail. You’ll also get to see a cascading stream, a lush old-growth forest, and several centuries-old establishments of the early settlers in the area. The trail begins out of Greenbrier just east of Gatlinburg.
There’s so much you can do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park besides hiking, too, to keep your body active and to enjoy the great outdoors. Horseback riding, swimming, bicycling, and fishing are just a few of the activities the park has for you to enjoy. Be sure to plan your visit to the park the next time you visit the Smokies!