Day Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Click here for Easy Summer Hikes!

There are many different trails to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous. Whether you’re looking for a quiet forest walk and wildflowers or a hike by the river to an amazing waterfall, there is a hike for everyone! Here are a list of the hikes you can complete in a day.

  1. Alum Cave- Features views and interesting geological features. 4.4 miles roundtrip and moderate in difficulty
  2. Charlie’s Bunion- 8.0 miles roundtrip
  3. Spruce-Fir Trail- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, 0.4 miles roundtrip
  4. Laurel Falls- Located in Elkmont, 2.3 miles roundtrip and features a historical waterfall and stream
  5. Little Brier Gap- Located in Elkmont, features the Walker Sisters Place and is 2.3 miles roundtrip
  6. Grotto Falls- Located in Gatlinburg/ Mt. Leconte, features waterfalls and is 2.6 miles roundtrip
  7. Schoolhouse Gap- Located in Cades Cove/ Townsend, features a quiet forest hike and wildflowers and is 3.8 miles roundtrip
  8. Baskins Creek Falls- Located in Gatlinburg, features waterfalls and is 3.0 miles roundtrip
  9. Andrews Bald- Located in Newfound Gap/ Clingmans Dome, features panoramic views and is 3.5 miles roundtrip
  10. Porter’s Creek Trail- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, streams, flowers and an old growth forest, 4.0 miles roundtrip
  11. Abrams Falls- Located in the Cades Cove area, features waterfalls and is 5.0 miles roundtrip
  12. Little River Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features streams and seasonal wildflowers, 4.9 miles roundtrip
  13. Meigs Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, quiet forest hike, 4.6 miles roundtrip
  14. Hen Wallow Falls- Located in the Greenbrier area, features waterfalls, 4.4 miles roundtrip
  15. Huskey Gap (Newfound Gap Rd)- Located in Gatlinburg, features a quiet forest walk and is 4.2 miles roundtrip
  16. Chimney Tops- Located in Gatlinburg, features panoramic mountain views and is 4.0 miles roundtrip
  17. Cucumber Gap Loop- Located in Elkmont, features streams and seasonal wildflowers. 5.6 miles roundtrip
  18. Grapeyard Ridge Trail- Located in Greenbrier, features a historical Injun Creek steam engine wreck and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  19. Deep Creek Headwaters- Located in Newfound Gap, features a stream and is 5.8 miles roundtrip
  20. West Prong Trail- Located in the Cades Cove area, features a stream and quiet forest walk, 5.4 miles roundtrip
  21. Curry Mountain Trail- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.4 miles roundtrip
  22. Sugarland Mountain Trail (lower)- Located in the Elkmont area, features a quiet forest hike and is 6.0 miles roundtrip
  23. The Jump Off- Located in Newfound Gap, features panoramic mountain view and is 6.5 miles roundtrip
  24. Bullhead Trail- Located in Gatlinburg, features views and interesting geological features, 5.9 miles roundtrip
  25. Sugarland Mountain Trail (upper)- Located in Newfound Gap, features views and solitude, 7.0 miles roundtrip

It is important to always hike prepared. Here is a complied list of things to bring with you on each day hike in the Smokies during the Summer months.

  • Backpack, daypack or fanny packhike gear
  • Rain/Wind shield
  • Supportive Footwear
  • Extra socks
  • Extra clothing
  • Gloves
  • Water: full canteens, water bottles or hydration pack
  • Extra food: high energy snacks
  • Map and/or guidebook
  • Compass
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Watch
  • First Aid kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun protection
  • Toilet paper (in a plastic bag)
  • Money/ ID

Suggested/ Optional Gear:

  • Hiking Pole
  • Bandana
  • Notebook with pencil
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Cell phone
  • Napkins
  • Zip seal plastic bagsAbrams Falls Trail

Include in basic first-aid kit:

  • Roll bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Ace bandages
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Sterile compresses
  • Adhesive tape
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Miscellaneous band aids
  • Twine
  • Tweezers
  • Safety Pins
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Latex gloves
  • Tissues
  • Plastic bags
  • Small mirror
  • Antibacterial soap/wipes
  • Eye drops
  • Burn Ointment
  • Sunburn lotion
  • Disinfectant cream
  • Decongestant and Antihistamine tabletshiking-first-aid-kit
  • Anti-acids
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Aspirin/ Ibuprofen
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Poison ivy cream/ cleansers
  • Bee sting kit
  • Snake bite kit
  • Heat/cold packs
  • Personal information/ contact person
  • First-aid manual

Safety tips:

Never hike alone, give a family member or friend your hiking itinerary and estimated time of return, always stay on the designated trail, don’t hike too quickly pace yourself, start early, check the weather forecast before heading out, know where to get emergency medical care, watch for signs of heat exhaustion, don’t pack too heavily, never approach wild animals, and remember to always have fun!!


Waterfalls in the Smokies


Few experiences in nature are more rewarding than taking a beautiful hike knowing there is a majestic waterfall waiting for you at the end. Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young at the time when the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock erosion happens slowly while upstream erosion occurs more quickly. As the water increases its velocity at the edge of the waterfall, it picks up material from the riverbed. The erosion capacity is increased when whirlpools created in the turbulence as well as sand and stones carried by the water stream. These whirlpools cause the waterfall the carve deeper into the into the bed and to recede upstream. Many times over a period of time, the waterfall will recede back to form a canyon or gorge downstream as it recedes upstream and will carve deeper into the ridge above it. The rate of retreat for a waterfall can be as high as one and a half meters per year.

waterfall diagram

Waterfalls normally form in a rocky area due to erosion. There is usually a deep area just below waterfalls because of the kinetic energy hitting the bottom. Often, the rock stratum just below the more resistant shelf will be of a softer type, meaning that undercutting due to splashback will occur here to form a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter under and behind the waterfall. Eventually, the outcropping, more resistant cap rock will collapse under pressure to add blocks of rock to the base of the waterfall. These blocks of rock are then broken down into smaller boulders by attrition as they collide with each other, and they also erode the base of the waterfall by abrasion, creating a deep plunge pool or gorge.

There are many waterfalls that are just a short hike away here in the Smokies, these include:

  • Laurel Falls- This 80 foot high waterfall is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the smokies. Located just a few minutes from downtown Gatlinburg, this trail is paved making it stroller, wheelchair and walker accessible.
  • Grotto Falls- Easily walk behind this 25 foot high waterfall just minutes from Gatlinburg off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This trail is 3 miles round trip and should take around 2-3 hours to complete.


    Grotto Falls


Laurel Falls

  • Abrams Falls- This 5 mile roundtrip hike along Abrams Creek is moderate, but worth it. The large amount of water creates a very deep pool, but swimming is not allowed because of the dangerous currents. This hike is in Cades Cove.


    Abrams Falls

Ramsey Cascades- At 100 feet, this is the highest waterfall in the park. The water collects in a small pool where salamanders can be found. This is a strenuous 8 mile trip  will take 5 to 7 hours to complete, but the reward at the end is worth it. To get there drive 5.9 miles from Gatlinburg on 321, then turn right at Greenbrier, at mile 3.2 turn left at the sign for Ramsey Cascades onto the bridge that crosses the Middle Prong and drive 1.5 miles to the parking area.

  • Hen Wallow Falls- At the bottom of the 90 foot high waterfalls you can often find salamanders. During a very cold winter, the falls often freeze to form a beautiful ice formation. At 4.4 miles roundtrip, this hike is moderate in difficulty. Access this hike at the Gabes Mountain Trailhead at the Cosby Picnic area.


    Hen-Wallow Falls

  • Mingo Falls- Just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can hike this moderate set of wooden stairs .4 of a mile to this waterfall. The access trail is at the Pigeon Creek Trailhead. From the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, drive south toward  Cherokee on US 441 and take the second bridge to the left and drive 4.5 miles to Mingo Falls Campground where the trail begins.


    Mingo Falls

  • Rainbow Falls- A rainbow is visible on a sunny day when the mist creates a canvas. This 80 foot high waterfalls creates an impressive ice formation in the winter .This hike is 5.4 miles roundtrip and moderate in difficulty. The access trail is at the Rainbow Falls trailhead in the Roaring Fork area. From the Gatlinburg parkway, turn at traffic light #8 and follow the Historic Nature Trail into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue past Noah “Bud” Ogle cabin to the Rainbow Falls parking area.


    Rainbow Falls

Waterfalls in the Smokies you can drive to:

  • Meigs Falls- The pull off for this waterfall is along Little River Road 13 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This waterfall can be easily missed while driving so be sure to watch carefully for it!
  • Place of 1,000 drips- From the parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow the Historic Nature trail in the park. Take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail and continue to stop #15 at the falls.

These waterfalls are breathtaking, but make sure to hike prepared with plenty of water, snacks and hiking essentials in case of emergencies.

Spring Break In The Smokies

Click Here to Subscribe by Email!This year at Spring Break, don’t follow the crowd to the beach, follow the fun to the Smokies!

Go Swimming in the SmokiesGo Swimming

At Spring Break in the Smokies, the outdoor pools usually aren’t opened yet, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on swimming!
Indoor Swimming Pools– There are two indoor swimming pools in the area that can accommodate you for just a couple dollars per person. The indoor swimming pool at the Gatlinburg Community Center is open every day, even in winter and spring. Check their website for hours of operation and prices. The Pigeon Forge Community Center also offers an indoor swimming pool. Hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Friday- 8:00am – 8:00pm; Tuesday, Thursday- 6:30am – 8:00pm; Saturday- 10:00am – 5:30pm; Sunday- 1:00pm – 5:30pm. The Day fee for non-residents in $6.59 and includes access to the entire community center, including basketball courts, racquet ball, bowling, and more. Call 865-429-7373 for more information.
Indoor Water Park– There is an indoor water park as well, with a little bit of extra watery fun! The Wild Bear Falls Water Park in Gatlinburg “is the ultimate indoor/outdoor water park experience. Not only is there 60,000 sq ft. of watery fun for kids and adults, the water park also features an entry-level pool for toddlers. For those that are in need of a break from the water or want to recharge, there is a snack bar, gift shop and an arcade on the mezzanine level. High above the fun, the mezzanine also permits you to take in the action below or keep an eye on your family.”

Visit a Theme Park

Dollywood opens on March 23 this year, with endless opportunities for family fun! On hot days, water rides are available. Roller coasters and rides provide plenty of thrills, including the still new Barnstormer and Wild Eagle Rides. The Festival of Nations is hosting the Cirque Shanghai. Shopping, shows, food, and dozens of children’s activities round out the experience. ERA In The Smokies can help you with discounted 2-day passes if you stay in one of their cabins or chalets!

Enjoy the Spring Weather and Wildlife

Hiking To Chimney TopsPerfect Hiking Weather
Thousands of people flock from far and wide to enjoy all the amazing hiking trails of the Great Smoky Mountains. While a novice might expect summer to be the best time for hiking, anyone who has been hiking in summer knows that spring and autumn are the best seasons for hiking by far. In summer it can get quite warm, and when one is hiking, this increases the body heat as well, and can work up quite a sweat! In the spring, the beautiful color of new leaves fills the Smokies, the birds and animals are flitting about, the wildflowers are coming out in profusion, and the temperature is perfect. On a perfect spring day, it may seem just a bit warm down in the town of Gatlinburg, but as you climb in elevation in the Park to get to the trails, the temperature will drop a bit. When you get out of your car to begin the hike, you will probably feel a bit chilly. Just put on a light jacket, and start hiking! Within about ten minutes, you will likely be getting pretty warm again. Just remove your jacket, tie it around your waist, and continue on your hike! See some more hiking tips.
Waterfall Season
In spring, the frequent rainfall and melting snow contribute to gorgeous, roaring waterfalls! If you are one of those people for whom waterfalls hold a mesmerizing attraction, the Smokies is the place for you! From small cataracts cascading along the side of the road, to huge falls of 50 ft or more, the Smokies are riddled with waterfalls. Meigs Falls and Place of a Thousand Drips are accessible by car-ride, and tons of others are available by hikes, long or short!
There are wildflowers for every season, but none holds such a profusion of color and scent as spring-time! If you visit us during the last weekend in April, you can take advantage of the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage to assist in your discovery of our spring wildflowers! “The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage is an annual five-day event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park consisting of a variety of wildflower, fauna, and natural history walks, motorcades, photographic tours, art classes, and indoor seminars. Most programs are outdoors in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while indoor offerings are held in various venues throughout Gatlinburg, TN.”

Have a Boardwalk Experience

Both in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the main strips play host to such a variety of attractions, a walk down either could keep you entertained for days! The term boardwalk brings up images of shopping, eateries, ice cream, fudge, mini-golf, go-karts, shows, and more! Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer all this and more.

See a Show

There are so many show here in the Smokies, you could never see them all! Some of our favorites fall loosely into three categories, although most shows contain all three elements in some degree!
Sweet Fanny Adams
“On your next visit to the Great Smoky Mountains, head for Pat & Don MacPherson’s Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, Gatlinburg´s ONLY Musical Comedy Entertainment Attraction and the OLDEST Purveyor of Professional, Live-On-Stage, Original Musical Comedies, outrageous humor and hilarious fun in the Smokies.”
Comedy BarnThe Comedy Barn
“The Comedy Barn® Theater, located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee , is the award winning family comedy variety show in the Smoky Mountains. Our show features magicians, fire-eaters, jugglers, ventriloquists, clean family comedians, live country and gospel music as well as fun barn yard animals.”
Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud
“Howdy! Welcome to the Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge. You are just in time for the big ole barn dance tonight and boy, is it gonna be a wild one. Seems somehow someone invited BOTH the Hatfields AND the McCoys to the party! Everyone knows just how well those two families mix so you might be able to guess just how busy our newly elected sheriff is gonna fair in the next few hours.”
Dixie Stampede
“Searching for family fun and adventure during your vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee? Join Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN for a family feast and fantastic show fun for all ages. Filled with friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, phenomenal musical productions plus a mouth-watering four-course feast complete with a delicious dessert!”
Lumberjack Feud
“Pigeon Forge has a new attraction, and it’s not your ordinary dinner show. With competing ESPN Lumberjack Athletes, you won’t want to miss the “Rowdiest Good Time Dinner Show in the Smokies!”
Smoky Mountain Opry
“The Smoky Mountain Opry is the area’s largest musical variety show featuring music from Big Band Swing through today’s country.  See the most talented cast of singers, dancers, comedians, and musicians the Smokies has to offer! Marvel at our special effects, laser lights, pyro, giant video screens, dazzling costumes, and high flying musicians!”
Smith Family Dinner Theater
“Since 2004, the theater, located at 2330 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has been treating visitors to a stage show heavily steeped in Southern music and culture. For two hours each performance, the Smiths charm their audiences with their unique brand of music and comedy in an intimate, familial style.”
Country Tonite
“Looking for true Pigeon Forge entertainment? Look no further as we are celebrating our 16th Spectacular season in Pigeon Forge, Country Tonite launches a BRAND NEW PIGEON FORGE SHOW – which means new production numbers, new choreography, new lighting effects, new side-splitting comedy, and new costumes.  Country Tonite’s 2013 season promises to surpass all expectations as they combine your favorite country classics with hot new country hits and hilarious country comedy in this fast paced show.”

Hollywood Wax MuseumSneak In Some Educational Fun
Hollywood Wax Museum
“Come Play with the Stars! The all-new Hollywood Wax Museum is part of the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center entertainment attraction at 106 Showplace Boulevard in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. If you’re waxing for fun in the Smoky Mountains, get into the action with your favorite stars at the largest Hollywood Wax Museum in the United States. From Michael Caine to Michael Jackson and Lucille Ball to Lucy Lui, you’ll find classic and current stars ready and waiting to take pictures with you. In addition to posing with the stars, you’ll learn about their pets, pet peeves, accomplishments, charity work and more. The two-story Pigeon Forge Hollywood Wax Museum also includes themed tributes to film genres including western, action, romance, sci fi, comedy, and horror. The Wax Museum near Dollywood in Pigeon Forge brings you into the world of celebrities like never before.”
Titanic Museum Attraction
“Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge is a half-scale, permanent, three-deck reproduction. The museum houses 20 galleries to display hundreds of authentic, priceless Titanic artifacts that were either carried from the ship and into lifeboats by passengers and crew or were found afloat soon after the sinking and quickly salvaged by rescue boats.”
“WonderWorks Pigeon Forge began as a Top Secret research laboratory on a remote island in the Bermuda Triangle. As legend has it, the world’s greatest scientists – led by Professor Wonder – were given the task of creating a man-made tornado and harnessing the POWER of it. During this experiment, something went awry and the power of the tornado was unleashed throughout the laboratory. This created a swirling vortex that was strong enough to rip the laboratory from its foundation. It was carried thousands of miles away and landed upside-down on the top of a theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Remarkably, all of the experiments remained intact and functional.”

Enjoy the View
This area is famous for it’s gorgeous mountain views. There are multiple ways to enjoy the view, including just driving down the road!
National Park Scenic Overlooks
Take a drive through the National Park and you will find several pull-offs at various scenic overlooks. Take a few minutes at each one to take in the view and take a view pictures.
Get up High, Stay Close to Town!
Take the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway and enjoy the view all the way up to the top of Ski Mountain. The view from the parking lot at the top is phenomenal in its own right! Ride the Gatlinburg Sky Lift to a height of 1,800 ft on Crockett Mountain and fin another spectacular view. Ride up 407 feet in a glass elevator to the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle, which affords a 360 degree view of the surrounding city and mountains!
Take a Hike, Take a Picnic
An especially great way to enjoy the view is to be a part of it! Hike up to the top of one the peaks in the National Park and gaze out at the beauty surrounding you. You’ll be hungry by the time you get up there, so be sure to pack a small lunch to enjoy when you arrive! Our favorite spots for a mountaintop picnic are the top of the Chimney Tops Trail and Charlies Bunion Trail.
Check out the view from the hot tub at Southern Comfort!Rent a Cabin With a View
The best way to enjoy the view is from the deck of your very own Smoky Mtn Cabin! Sit out with your favorite drink and your favorite person and relax. Or jump into the hot tub and feast your eyes from there. Just imagine, getting up each morning to the spectacular vista of the Great Smoky Mountains, taking your lunch out on the deck, reading a book in a rocking chair in the fresh air, soaking in the hot tub while listening to the crickets and all with those beautiful mountains right in front of you! Sigh…. heaven! The folks at ERA In The Smokies can help you find just such a cabin to make your Spring Break the best one ever!

I Hiked Abrams Falls! – and saw some bears!

As mentioned in our last post, I intended to hike the Abrams Falls Trail, so on my next free day, that is exactly what I did! I even saw bears, deer, lizards, and more! For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures from the day!

Waterfalls of the Smokies- Abrams Falls

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesWe know how you all love waterfalls! They absolutely mesmerize me, so believe me, I share that love! I have made it my goal to visit all the waterfalls in the Smokies and enjoy the inspirational atmosphere (and take tons of pictures). Abrams Falls is the first one on my wish list. It is only a 5 mile trail, round trip, and considered to be of moderate difficulty.

This Photo came from an aritcle on SouthernHiker.comFinding the Trailhead
From Gatlinburg, take 441 into the Park, go just past the Sugarlands Visitors Center and follow the signs to the right onto Little River Road and toward Cades Cove. Follow Little River Road through a couple of turns for about 19 miles to a left onto Laurel Creek Road. Follow Laurel Creek Rd for about 7.6 miles until it takes you straight onto Cades Cove Loop Rd. This is a one-way loop. Continue 4.9 miles on Loop Rd to the turn off onto the gravel road that ends at the trail head about 0.5 mile later. During the summer and the month of October, Cades Cove is so popular that it is usually one big traffic jam! So if you come during these times, plan to arrive at the trailhead as close to sunrise as possible to avoid the traffic, and be prepared to see several other people on the trail, no matter when you come!

This picture came from an article on TravelPod.comThe Hike
The Abrams Falls Trail is a 5 mile round trip trail that follows Abrams Creek most of the way and crosses back and forth over it a couple of times. Some websites recommend this as a great trail for beginners and families. Based on several reviews I’ve read, I would caution that some families with small children may find the trail challenging, though not impossible, but totally worth it. You do climb about 1800 ft at one point, but the falls are actually about 2-300 ft lower in elevation than the trailhead. After the falls, you can continue another 1.7 miles to the end of the Abrams Falls Trail, where it intersects with the Hatcher Mountain, Hannah Mountain, and Little Bottoms trails.

This photo came from an article on WeeWillyStine.netThe Falls
Abrams Creek and Falls are named for a Cherokee Chief named Abram (which, according to some sources was short for Abraham), whose village was once located several miles down stream, on land that is now under Lake Chilhowee. Abrams Creek is a smaller creek at its upper portion, but is fed by 18 small streams, which drain into it shortly before the falls. The creek then diverts suddenly into a narrow chute that sends all those waters rushing over the falls. The falls, though not the tallest, at only 20 ft, are awe-inspiring as they pour over into the 100 ft pool at the bottom. The pool is popular for swimming and wading, but we urge you to be extremely cautious and especially watchful over your children. The rocks are slippery, and people have died at this pool. Even adults should always have another adult right by their side. Don’t try to climb the rocks on the side of the falls, and don’t try crossing the creek at places that have strong and/or deep currents. 

This photo came from an article at LocalHikes.comTips For Your Enjoyment!

  1. Again, arrive as early in the morning as possible to avoid traffic and crowds.
  2. Be prepared to spend at least 3 hours on the trail.
  3. Dress for wading and/or swimming.
  4. Wear shoes with good support and solid soles as the ground is rocky in some places.
  5. Bring a fanny pack or small backpack with plenty of water and snacks, as well as a light rain coat or poncho just in case.
  6. Take your camera, and take lots of pictures. Take some just of nature, but take plenty with yourself and your friends and/or family. You’ll thank me for it!
  7. Don’t be in a hurry. The waterfall at the end isn’t the only thing worth seeing. Enjoy the creek along the way. Stop to examine trees, flowers, wildlife. Look for bear tracks. Enjoy the journey and take your time. You’ll have a better experience overall, and the trail won’t seem difficult if you’re taking your time.

Although they look crystal clear, clean, and beautiful, do not drink water straight from the creeks in the Smokies, without boiling it first, as it does contain bacteria that are hazardous to your health.

ERA In The Smokies Realty and RentalsThis blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

GATLINBURG: Beat the Heat

Subscribe to A Day In The SmokiesSo many summer vacation destinations involve suffering through abnormally hot days and long exposure to the sun. While this may be attractive to some, there is a way to enjoy warm summer weather without getting fried! Come to Gatlinburg for your summer vacation and beat the heat, instead of letting it beat you!

Find the Cooler Air
The lush beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains offers innumerable ways to enjoy summer in the great outdoor at slightly cooler temperatures. The higher elevations of the mountain destination and the ample shade provided by the forest make for many pleasant, cooler, summer memories!

Easy Summer Hikes1. Take a hike!
Summer hikers are often drawn to water and the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Above 5000 feet, the summer temperatures are often 10 to 15 degrees cooler than in the lowlands. There are hikes for everyone. From peaceful walkways to challenging mountain trails, each hike offers many chances to enjoy nature, with beautiful plant life, chances to see our profusion of animal life, as well as waterfalls and creeks galore! And don’t forget the gorgeous mountain views! Some of our related posts you might like to check out:
Easy Summer Hikes
Waterfall Walks and Hikes
Wildflowers by Foot or Car

Have a Picnic!2. Have a picnic
Summer in Gatlinburg and the Smokies is a mild, beautiful season of warmth and green; and as temperatures rise, I find myself searching for ways to spend more time outdoors (preferably in the shade). What better way to enjoy the spring and summer season than a picnic? Whether homemade or store-bought, picnics offer time with the whole family or maybe just a relaxing romantic day at the Park. Check out our related post The Art of the Picnic.

Zipline Fever!3. Enjoy a zipline canopy tour
Just imagine… gliding through the shady emerald tree tops, the cool wind brushing across your face, and of course, luscious, verdant views all around! Ziplining has become quite a big deal around here. There are places, right off the main Parkway, where you can enjoy easy access, and still experience the thrill off the wind whipping across your face. If you want to enjoy ziplining in the lush green forest canopy, there are places that offer this as well! Check out our related posts:
Zipline Fever
Smoky Mountain Adventurous Vacations

Get Wet
Sometimes its better to just get wet! You don’t have to go to the beach to do that. If you’re ok with missing out on saltwater up your nose and seaweed in your bathing suit (and the occasional jellyfish sting), make your way to the Smokies!

Waterfalls1. Mountain creeks and waterfalls
Mountain creeks and waterfalls have always captivated me. I’d say by the number of views we get on our waterfalls posts, many of you are quite smitten too! There’s just something magical about those glistening waters pouring themselves endlessly and unreservedly over beautiful rock formations. The sight and sound of them inspire peace and calm and inner quiet that most of us are missing in our fast-paced culture. You can wade in the creeks, find swimming holes in which to take a dip, or simply lay down on a large rock in the middle of the creek and enjoy the peaceful roar of the water and the cooling mist surrounding you! Check out our related post Waterfall Season.

Let's go Swimming!2. Swimming pools
No matter where you stay, there are always great choices for swimming! Even if your lodging doesn’t provide a swimming pool, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville each have community swimming pools that you can enjoy for just a couple bucks! The great majority of the lodging around here does come with access to a pool, however! ERA In the Smokies offers several cabins with swimming pool access. See our related post Let’s Get Wet!

Splash Country!3. Splash Country
And of course there’s Splash Country! Every time a scorcher of a day hits, my first thought is: “Splash Country!” They offer enough water attractions to keep you busy all summer. Besides a huge wave pool and my husband’s all time favorite- the lazy river, Splash Country boasts more than 23 water slides and thrill rides! See our related post Let’s Get Wet!

Have Fun Inside
I am in love with the great outdoors, but I have to admit, sometimes in the summer it’s nice to duck into an air-conditioned building! The Smokies area is just as much fun inside as it is outside!

Shopping!1. Shopping
Whether you need retail therapy, you actually have a need for a certain item, or you just want to enjoy window shopping in the air conditioned store, the Smokies has plenty of shopping venues to keep you busy! Gatlinburg is packed with quaint shops of all shapes and sizes, and let’s not forget the outlet malls of Pigeon Forge! It’s more than enough to keep any shopaholic happy for days! See our related posts:
Shopping- Fall and All Year Round
Sales Tax Holiday

See a Show!2. Shows
One of the favorite activities here year-round is the show or dinner show! There are tons to choose from, and it makes for a perfect evening, whether you’re here in the dead of winter or the balmy summer months! See our related post for some of our favorites: Dinner and a Show!

Black Bear Holler has lots of fun games!3. Rent a Cabin
The perfect way to enjoy the cool indoors on a hot summer day is in the comfort of your own cabin or chalet! Enjoy all the comforts of home while leaving behind the stresses and adding a few luxuries! Have a soak in the indoor whirlpool tub. Prepare a simple dinner at the cabin for a relaxing evening and quality family time. Sit in the shade of a covered porch, enjoying the rocking chairs and great mountain views or peaceful, shady wooded views. Rent a cabin or chalet with a gameroom, like Black Bear Holler, for hours of entertainment in the cool indoors!

ERA In The SmokiesThis blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.

GATLINBURG: Waterfall Season

Subscribe to this Blog via Email!

Plan your Smoky Mountain Vacation!The Great Smoky Mountains abound with the two ingredients essential for waterfalls—ample rainfall and an elevation gradient. During wet years, peaks like Mt. Le Conte and Clingmans Dome receive over eight feet of rain. This abundant rainfall trickles and rushes down the mountain sides, from high elevation to low, sometimes dropping more than a mile in elevation from the high peaks to the foothills at the park’s boundary.

Every year over 200,000 visitors hike well-worn trails to view Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, Rainbow, and other popular waterfalls in the park. Large waterfalls attract the crowds, but smaller cascades and falls can be found on nearly every river and stream in the park. Here are some of our favorites:

See Waterfalls in Gatlinburg!1. Laurel Falls. The trail is 2.6 miles round trip and considered moderate in difficulty. The trail is paved and is suitable for strollers. Laurel Falls is one of the most popular destinations in the park and parking at the trailhead is limited. The area is especially busy on weekends year-round and on weekdays during summer. Laurel Branch and the 80-foot high Laurel Falls are named for mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub which blooms along the trail and near the falls in May. To find the trailhead from Sugarlands Visitor Center, turn toward Cades Cove on Little River Road and drive 3.5 miles to the trailhead where there are parking areas on both sides of the road.

Find a Deal on a Gatlinburg Cabin!2. Mouse Creek Falls. The 4-mile round trip hike to the waterfall is considered moderate in difficulty. Big Creek Trail follows an old railroad grade used to haul lumber out of the mountains during the logging boom at the start of the 20th century. At 1.4 miles the trail passes Midnight Hole, a deep, picturesque pool below a 6′ falls. At 2.1 miles a short side trail on the left leads to a bench where hikers can rest and view Mouse Creek Falls which is on the far side of Big Creek. The falls are 45’ in height. To find the trailhead, exit I-40 at Waterville Road (#451). Turn left after crossing the Pigeon River and proceed 2.3 miles to an intersection. Continue straight, past the ranger station, to a large parking area at road’s end.

Spend your entire vacation in the National Park!3. Hen Wallow Falls. A 4.5 mile round trip hike. Take the Gabes Mountain Trail which begins from the parking area at the entrance to Cosby Campground. The trip to Hen Wallow Falls is a pleasant walk through hemlock and rhododendron forest. A signed side trail leads to the base of the falls by way of steep switchbacks. Hen Wallow Creek, only two feet wide at the top of the falls, fans out to 20 feet at the base. The waterfall is 90 feet high. The hike to the falls is 4.4 miles round trip and considered moderate in difficulty. Hikers continuing on the Gabes Mountain Trail beyond the falls can enjoy an impressive old-growth forest.

The Smokies are a great place for Family Reunions!4. Indian Creek Falls. An easy 1.6 mile round trip hike will allow you to enjoy two beautiful waterfalls in the Deep Creek area. Walk Deep Creek Trail 0.7 mile to the junction with Indian Creek Trail. On your way you can view elegant Tom Branch Falls located on the far side of Deep Creek. Turn right at the junction with Indian Creek Trail and proceed approximately 200′ to Indian Creek Falls. The falls are 25 feet in height. To find the trailhead, follow the signs through downtown Bryson City, NC to Deep Creek Campground. Continue past the campground to the trailhead at the end of Deep Creek Road.

Many sites are a short day trip from Gatlinburg!5. Juney Whank Falls. The trail to the waterfall is 0.8 miles round trip and is considered moderate in difficulty. Juney Whank Falls is divided into an upper and lower section. Both can be viewed from the footbridge which crosses Juney Whank Branch at the falls. Together they drop 90 feet from top to bottom. To find the trailhead, follow the signs through downtown Bryson City, NC to Deep Creek Campground. Continue past the campground to the trailhead at the end of Deep Creek Road. Backtrack on foot 0.1 mile along the road to the trail.

We love the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!6. Rainbow Falls. The 5.4 mile round trip hike is considered moderate in difficulty. The Rainbow Falls Trail continues for approximately 4 miles beyond the falls to the summit of Mt. Le Conte. A rainbow produced by mist from this 80-foot high waterfall is visible on sunny afternoons. During extended winter cold spells, an impressive ice formation builds around the falls. Between trail head and falls, Rainbow Falls Trail gains about 1,500′ in elevation. From the parkway in Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue past the Noah “Bud” Ogle homesite to the clearly signed Rainbow Falls parking area.

There is always something to do in the Smokies!7. Ramsey Cascades. The trail to the waterfall gains over 2,000′ in elevation over its 4 mile course and the 8-mile roundtrip hike is considered strenuous in difficulty. It follows rushing rivers and streams for much of its length. The last 2 miles pass through old-growth cove hardwood forest with large tuliptrees, basswoods, silverbells, and yellow birches. Do not attempt to climb to the top of the falls. Several people have been killed trying to do so. Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park and one of Live on Vacation...Move to the Smokies!the most spectacular. Water drops 100 feet over rock outcroppings and collects in a small pool where numerous well-camouflaged salamanders can be found. To find the trailhead, drive six miles east of Gatlinburg on Highway 321 and turn at the Greenbrier entrance to the park. Follow the signs 4.7 miles to the trailhead.

Please note that several fatalities and numerous injuries have resulted from people climbing on rocks near waterfalls.

These rocks are very slippery due to algae and mist. Do not attempt to climb to the tops of waterfalls. Closely supervise children at all times near water and waterfalls.

Rent a cabin on the water!
Don’t forget to make the most of your Smoky Mountain Vacation by renting a Gatlinburg Cabin! We even have cabins on the water!

Is there a topic you would like to see covered at A Day In The Smokies? Email us!

1-800-309-0277This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.