Smoky Mountains National Park Best Hikes: Top 4 Things to See

Smoky Mountains National Park Best Hikes: Top 4 Things to See

When it comes to hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, the experience is much more than a casual stroll through the woods. No, here is where you and your family or group will discover an abundance of new and exciting sights and adventures that you never knew existed before. How do you narrow down these experiences to find out just what you can expect to find when you spend the day exploring the Smoky Mountains National Park best hikes? The answer is easy. All you have to do is read through our favorite hiking discoveries below! 1. Scenic Views It almost goes without saying, but it is hard to talk about all the amazing things you see when experiencing the Smoky Mountains National Park best hikes without mentioned the scenic views these trails offer. Whether you are on top of a mountain or relaxing in a bald, we can guarantee that you will not be disappointed in the natural beauty found along these trails. Our favorite hiking trails that feature scenic views include: Andrews Bald: A pretty easy 1.7 mile hike, Andrews Bald starts at the Clingmans Dome parking lot. The trail itself is very steep with a total gain in elevation at 900 feet. However, your hard work will pay off when you reach the end of the trail and get to experience the acres upon acres of grassy meadows and spectacular views found at the bald. We recommend you bring a blanket because this is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. The Jump-Off: The Jump-Off refers to the 1,000-foot cliff that the trail runs along. This hiking...
The Only Great Smoky Mountain National Park Map and Guide You Need for Your Vacation

The Only Great Smoky Mountain National Park Map and Guide You Need for Your Vacation

As the most visited national park in the country, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is filled with all sorts of amazing things to see and do. While it is massive – 816 mi² to be exact – we want you to be excited about your adventure into the national park! That’s why we’ve put together the one and only Smoky Mountain National Park map and guide you’ll need for your visit. Print this handy guide or bookmark it on your phone, so you have it any time you visit the Smoky Mountains. You’ll have your map in-hand and adventure in your spirit, so you’ll be ready to go! It’ll take a few trips to see everything we’ve included here, so you better get started soon! Visitor Centers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sugarlands Visitor Center Named for the abundance of sugar maple trees found when settlers arrived to the area in the early 19th century, Sugarlands Visitor Center is the best place to start your exploration of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Visitor Center offers special programs including ranger-led activities, a free 20-minute film about the park, natural history exhibits and a store. Located 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441, Sugarlands Visitor Center is open every day except for Christmas. Their hours are as follows: [table id=6 /] Once you’re touring the Cades Cove Loop Road, you’ll quickly realize one of the most popular stops the Cades Cove Visitor Center. You can purchase maps, books and postcards about Cades Cove and the national park as a whole. You can also find cornmeal and...
Shuckstack Tower

Shuckstack Tower

The historic fire towers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were once used to gain a bird’s eye view of the mountains in order to spot forest fires. Though many of the towers were removed as more modern methods for fire detection were developed, Shuckstack and three other towers remain. These out of the way destinations are well worth the extra effort, and the vistas they provide are by far better than any view available from any roadside overlook. Trail Details Length 6.8 miles roundtrip Difficulty Medium to Strenuous Highlights Excellent views of Fontana Lake and the Smokies Caution Steep terrain can be slick in snow or rain, or on fallen leaves Note Best hiked on a clear day to enjoy the view. Directions Shuckstack is on the North Carolina side of the Park. From Bryson, take NC 28 to Fontana Dam. Start your hike from the north side of the dam. Trail Description Located on Twentymile ridge, the Shuckstack fire tower is just a tenth of a mile from the Appalachian Trail and a mere 3.4 miles from the road. The quickest and easiest way to access the tower is to begin on the north side of Fontana Dam, which is on the North Carolina side of the Park. Please note that the dam is under renovation at this time, and vehicles are prohibited from crossing the dam. Foot traffic across the dam is allowed, however. The section of road you have to walk to reach the trailhead is nice and level, but it will add a little over a mile to the roundtrip distance of the...
Boogerman Trail Loop

Boogerman Trail Loop

The Boogerman Trail Hike, first and foremost, takes you away from the traffic and population of the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It takes a bit of trouble to get to Cataloochee (see the directions below), but I’ll bet my last dollar you’ll enjoy the Cataloochee area—and you’ll be back. Summary A moderately challenging 7.4 mile (round-trip) hike that takes you by some old growth forest, picturesque streams and falls, and the remains of early settler’s homesites. Plan on roughly three hours, depending on your pace and whether you have children along. The departure point is in the Cataloochee section (the North Carolina side), which is a little more difficult to get to, but well worth the effort. Elevation You will climb to approximately 800 feet to an altitude of 3,600 feet. Point of departure After following the directions from I-40, NC 276, and Cove Creek Road, navigate your way to the Caldwell Fork Trail (follow the signs). Boogerman Trail Loop The Boogerman Trail is named for Robert “Boogerman” Palmer, whose homesite you’ll pass as you complete this moderately challenging 7-mile loop trail, which can take between 2 and 3 hours to complete. You will gain nearly 850 feet on your way to 3,600 feet at the trail’s highest point. The trail is well maintained and this hike offers up views of some of the largest trees in the area, old homesites (including Palmer’s) and mountain streams. This area was spared from the logging operations which dominated much of the Smokies area before the land was purchased for the Park. After following the directions from...
Mount LeConte Lodge

Mount LeConte Lodge

For viewing spectacular Smoky Mountain sunrises and sunsets, there is no better place than Mt. LeConte. Countless visitors have joined together to view the sunrise from Myrtle Point on the eastern side, and hurried to see the sun set over Clingmans Dome from Clifftops on the western side. The idea for a lodge on top of Mt. LeConte to accommodate visitors dates back to 1925 when Paul Adams established a permanent camp for the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association, an organization formed to seek national park status for the Great Smokies. Many prominent visitors spent the night at the early tent camp as guests of the Association in order to win their support for a park in the Southern Appalachians. Where else could you provide a better grandstand view of the Smokies than the summit of Mt. LeConte? Today, LeConte Lodge is the highest inn providing lodging for visitors at the mountaintop. Although LeConte is the third highest mountain in the Park at 6,595 feet, it is actually the “tallest” mountain in the Eastern United States, rising over a vertical mile from Gatlinburg. Rustic accommodations include the lodge, a dining hall and a cluster of small cabins equipped with double-bunk beds. Breakfast is served at the dining hall at 8 a.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. A pack of llamas bring food, bed linens and other supplies to and from the LeConte Lodge three times per week. Llamas are used because they don’t damage the trails as much as the horses. Cabins at the LeConte Lodge can accommodate an average of 45 guests per night. The LeConte Lodge is so...
Top 5 Smoky Mountains National Park Backpacking Trails

Top 5 Smoky Mountains National Park Backpacking Trails

Backpacking is a unique hiking experience you can have in the Smoky Mountains National Park. Not only does this outdoor adventure introduce you to a whole new side of the national park, it also encourages you to push beyond your current boundaries and comfort levels. To get started on your next outdoor journey, read below to discover our favorite Smoky Mountains National Park backpacking trails! 1. Mount LeConte (12.6 miles) Mount LeConte is one of the most popular Smoky Mountains National Park backpacking trails. It is also one of the most scenic. Along this hike, you will experience many obstacles and challenges that make this hike worthwhile. From the rocky terrain to steep ridgetop turns, this almost 13-mile hike is perfect for any adventure seeker. Trust us when we say that the hike is well worth it when you reach the summit! One of the fun and unique features found at the top of Mount LeConte is that there is a mini hotel of sorts, as well as a place where you can pick up a picnic-style lunch to celebrate your accomplishment. Before you head back down the mountain, don’t forget to check out the llamas that transport goods to and from the base of this hiking trail. Reservations are required to stay at the Mount LeConte Lodge. 2. Spence Field Loop (12.5 miles) The Spence Field Loop is perfect for backpack hikers looking to enjoy a full day of exploring the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains National Park. At just over 12 miles, you can easily hike this trail in a long one-day trek, or you can stretch...