Top 10 Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails Ranked from Easy to Expert

smoky mountain trail

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an extensive network of hiking trails for every level of hiker. With its stunning scenery and breathtaking views the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hiker’s paradise. Here’s a ranked list of the top 10 hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains, arranged from easy to expert.

Easy Hiking Trails:

1. Grotto Falls Hiking Trail:

Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation gain: 260 feet
A short and scenic walk leads to Grotto Falls, a beautiful cascade that cascades over a rocky overhang. The trail is mostly paved, making it accessible for all abilities.

2. Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail:

Length: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
The trail to Rainbow Falls is a bit longer but offers stunning views of the waterfall from multiple angles. The falls are accessible with a short hike to the viewing platform.

Moderate Hiking Trails:

3. Andrews Bald Hiking Trail:

Length: 3 miles
Elevation gain: 720 feet
On the upper slopes of Clingmans Dome, this trail traverses lush meadows and offers breathtaking panoramic views. It’s known for its abundant wildflowers and wildlife sightings.

4. Charlies Bunion Hiking Trail:

Length: 4.1 miles
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
A well-maintained trail with gradual elevation, Charlies Bunion Trail leads to a rocky prominence offering expansive views of the Smoky Mountains and the distant peaks of Kentucky and North Carolina.

5. Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles
Elevation gain: 660 feet
This short and paved trail leads to the observation tower atop Clingman Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. The tower offers 360-degree views on a clear day.

6. Laurel Falls Hiking Trail:

Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation gain: 800 feet
Another picturesque trail, Laurel Falls Trail, features a gradual incline to a scenic waterfall. The cascades are massive and surrounded by lush vegetation.

7. Spence Field Overlook Trail:

Length: 4.5 miles
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
This moderately challenging trail leads to Spence Field Overlook, offering stunning views of Cades Cove. It’s a popular destination for sunset viewing.

Challenging Expert-Level Hiking Trails:

8. Mt. LeConte Via Rainbow Falls Trail:

Length: 10.4 miles (round-trip)
Elevation gain: 3,400 feet
The longest trail on this list, the Mt. LeConte Trail via Rainbow Falls, requires a full day for a summit attempt. It features multiple elevation gains and offers opportunities for backcountry camping.

9. Mt. LeConte Via Alum Cave Trail:

Length: 11.2 miles (round-trip)
Elevation gain: 4,950 feet
The classic and most popular route to Mt. LeConte, this trail features multiple waterfalls, a steep climb to the summit, and the opportunity for an overnight stay at LeConte Lodge.

10 Trillium Gap Hiking Trail:

Length: 4.6 miles (one-way)
Elevation gain: 3,100 feet
This section of the Appalachian Trail offers challenging elevation gains and leads to views from the Appalachian Trail. It requires a shuttle or a through-hike to return.