The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is quite a treasure to behold. This more than 800-square-mile area is a haven for wildlife of all shapes and sizes – from the powerful black bears to shy salamanders. Here you can find mountaintop vistas, rushing streams, cascading waterfalls, and remnants of ancient homesteads. The most visited national park in the United States, this mountainous escape is only minutes away from your peaceful cabin rental in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers more than 800 miles of hiking trails; some are mild and great for children while others are extreme and ideal for the adventure seeking. When you venture on a hike in the mountains of Gatlinburg, you can spend anywhere from an hour to several days hiking and seeing the sights – there are routes for every skill and adventure level!
While vacationing in your Gatlinburg, Tennessee, cabin rental, you can choose to spend your time how you wish – shopping, visiting attractions, or day hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are dozens of trails that are great for day hikes, featuring views that will take your breath away. Even if you don’t have any previous experience hiking, these four day hikes are suitable for most skill levels and are some of the best in the area!
Brushy Mountain Trail
Accessible from the Trillium Gap Trailhead, this day hike takes you through scenes and views of all types. Nearly seven miles in length, this trail is one of the longer day hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the trail is well traveled and worn, while others are more rocky and strenuous – make sure you bring along plenty of water and plan to rest at the top of this hike!
In the spring, you can glimpse some of the area’s unique wildflowers, such as violets and trillium. A little more than one mile in to your hike you will pass Grotto Falls, a tumbling waterfall that is one of the most visited in the area. As you make your way onward, you will pass a variety of plants – rhododendron, blackberry and huckleberry bushes, and more. At the top, you will be able to see a beautiful stretch of the Great Smoky Mountains, including Mount LeConte and Chapman.
Shorter in length and a little less strenuous than the first hike, Bullhead Trail is six miles roundtrip and gains an elevation of about 550 feet. Accessible via Traffic Light #8, this trail features plenty of parking, views of the mountains, and intriguing landscapes. In fact, the trail received its name from the exposed bald that resembles a bull’s head from a distance!
Rocky mountain faces and two small caves are just a couple of the features you will pass on your way up the trail. You can enjoy views of surrounding mountains as you make your way to the top, including impressive Balsam Point. End your hike when you reach the unique rock cairn – stacked stones that you can climb atop to enjoy an even better view of the mountains.
Huskey Gap Trail
This moderate trail is suitable for all levels of hikers, only a little over four miles roundtrip. Ideal for wildflower viewing in the spring months, this trail can be kind of crowded, given its close distance to the downtown area. Located off Newfound Gap Road, this trail is a great place to spend an afternoon.
As you hike along the trail, background noise will fade. You can catch peeks of an old stone fence, homesteads, and beautiful flora. Tulip trees are prevalent, as are a variety of wildflowers, from dwarf iris and wild ginger to yellow mandarin and a variety of violets. You can extend your hike up the Sugarland Mountain Trail or Little River Trail, giving you a variety of options if you choose to continue!
Baskins Creek Falls
This trail is a gentle and relaxed hike, accessible for all levels of adventurers. About three miles in length, the destination of this hike is a beautiful 40-foot waterfall! Cascading down two tiers of mountains, this spot is great for photographers, both professional and amateur, and even is ideal for a nice picnic lunch.
Crossing footbridges and creeks, if you embark on your hike after a long rain, the trail may be a little treacherous. In the winter you can enjoy peeks of the town of Gatlinburg or the towering mountainsides that are nearby. Some steep descents make for more work on your way back, but we promise that the sounds and sights of the waterfall will reward you for your efforts.