Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains offers 150 officially recognized hiking trails that range from easy enough for the family to intense hikes for professional mountain climbers. The trails available are found in many different regions and offer unique features depending on the trails that you choose to explore. Checking the features of each trail, including how difficult the trail is and whether the trail is accessible during the season you will be visiting.
To begin planning your trip you should first decide which trail to visit. Among the most popular is Grotto Falls in Gatlinburg. Grotto Falls is a trail that allows you to walk underneath a waterfall, explore forests with tress that are are hundreds of years old, and see the beautiful flora and fauna of the area in a stunning display when you visit in late spring.
If you are looking for a challenge, the Chimney Tops trail is an option that is thrilling for experienced climbers. The trail is about two miles long and becomes very challenging during the last half of the hike. There are also many intermediate trails that allow couples and groups to flex their climbing and hiking muscles without being quite as intimidating. With everything from waterfalls to bears to spring bouquets of wildflowers, the Smoky Mountains offer a trail that will fit your interests and skill levels.
Planning Your Trip
Before choosing a trail, you will want to make sure the trail is open to the public. Some areas may be closed during inclement weather because of flooding or other natural events that change the landscape. During the months of June through November, the trails are maintained. From December until May, you may find that there are changes in trails that are unexpected, so be prepared by choosing an alternate hike in the area and bringing along extra supplies for delays. Extra food, flashlights, blankets and batteries can be very useful when hiking any trail in the off season.
After choosing the trail that you want to hike, remember to get your permits and make reservations if you will be staying on the trail overnight. There are cabins and rustic campsites on most trails. After making reservations, you are ready to explore the Smoky Mountains.