Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 800 miles of trails and more than 500,000 acres of land. We've put together the details you'll need to know for a day of Smoky Mountain hiking.

Tips For Smoky Mountain hiking

The hiker should be prepared for a wide range of temperatures and conditions. The temperature on some hikes can be 10 degrees cooler than the lower elevations. It always gets colder as your hike toward higher elevations, so dress in layers!

Be sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes. Of course, we recommend hiking boots, but tennis shoes will be fine if you're only hiking for a day or two. Boots come in handy when you're hiking rough trails or spending more time hiking.

Remember to stay on the trail. Although it may appear fun to venture off the trail, you don't want to leave the designated hiking path.

With a little care and planning, Smoky Mountain hiking can be much more rewarding and exciting.

Backcountry Camping Permits

The backcountry use permit isBackcountry Camping Permits free but is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. The back-country permit system is designed to protect both the Park's natural environment and the quality of your experience. The National Park Service has the responsibility to protect the Park for you and future visitors.

How To get Your Backcountry Permit

You may self-register for a permit at any ranger station by following posted instructions, but your itinerary may require access to a public pay telephone, as explained below.

Some sites are rationed because of heavy use. To familiarize yourself with rationed and non-rationed sites, contact the Backcountry Office at (423) 436-1231 for a Smoky Mountains Trail Map. It includes a chart which indicates rationed sites. You must telephone the Backcountry Reservation Office to obtain permission for the use of rationed sites. Failure to do so invalidates your permit and puts you in violation of regulations.

If your itinerary includes at least one rationed site, we encourage you to make advance reservations up to a month ahead of the trip’s start. Have your trip planned before your call and indicate exactly which site you intend to occupy for each night of your trip. If no rationed sites are involved, you may obtain your permit via self-registration upon your arrival in the park.