The weather is starting to warm up and the flowers are starting to bloom which means that spring is just around the corner!
You don’t have to venture far into the park to enjoy a hike. If you’re a beginner hiker looking for a leisurely walk in the park we’ve discovered plenty of trails to choose from. All of which are located near and around the entrance of both the National Park and visitors center. These trails are perfect for families who just want to get outside, have a picnic and relax with mother nature. Here are a few of our favorite hiking trails:
The Gatlinburg Trail is one of a few where visitors can walk dogs and bicycle. Otherwise pets and bikes are prohibited on all other park trails. The trail travels 1.9 miles one-way from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of the city of Gatlinburg, TN. It’s a relatively flat trail that runs through the forest along side of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The trail offers beautiful views of the creek and old foundations and chimneys where several old homesteads once stood. The trail-head is located right at the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Sugarlands Valley Trail
What’s great about this trail is that it’s paved and leveled which means that it’s wheelchair and stroller accessible. It’s a half mile loop that’s almost never crowded because most people don’t know about it! Along the trail are benches and old stone chimneys from past homesteads. It’s a very relaxing spot to just sit and listen to the sounds of the creek rolling over the rocks, the bird chirping and wind whistling through the trees.
Although this isn’t one of the most popular falls in the Smokies, it’s still a fun little hike for those who just want to get outside. You can access the trail to the falls from both the visitors center or from park headquarters. The trail head at the visitors center starts out paved and eventually turns into gravel. It’s a short 3/4 mile round trip suitable for families with small children. If you’re not really up for the hike but still want to see the falls, park behind park headquarters, cross the bridge and from there it’s an even shorter .1 mile walk to the falls.
Fighting Creek Self-guided Nature Trail
This self-guided nature trail is located right behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The trail is relatively flat and leads you around a short loop with views of the wooded forests. At the far end of the trail is a restored cabin (John Owenby Cabin) that offers a view of the past history of the area. Along the trail are also little signs that provides information about certain trees and native vegetation within the Smokies. Kids and naturalists alike will enjoy spending their day learning about the park and appreciating the beauty that makes this place so special.
You don’t have to be a master hiker to accomplish these trails. They are perfect for all ages and skill level so next time you’re in Gatlinburg ask us about these trails and get out and experience them!