More than 850 miles of hiking trails traverse the Great Smoky Mountains. They range from easy to difficult and provide half hour walks to week-long backpacking trips. The Appalachian Trail runs for 70 miles along the Park's top ridge. Pets are not allowed on any trails except for the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Backcountry camping requires a permit.
Guided Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains 2013
The Friends of the Smokies offers guided Classic Hikes of the Smokies on the third Tuesday of every month. To help support the Smokies Trails Forever program, a donation of $10 for members and $35 for non-members is requested. Non-members receive a complimentary membership to Friends of the Smokies. Members who bring a friend hike for free.
March 19: Deep Creek Circular
- 9 miles, 1,600 ft ascent
- Honoring support for Parks as Classrooms
- Trails – Deep Creek and Indian Creek
April 16: Hyatt Ridge Discovery
- 9.6 miles, 2,000 ft.
- Honoring support for Discover Life in America
- Trails – Hyatt Ridge and Beech Gap
May 21: Big Creek Scenic Hike
- 10.1 miles, 1,000 ft ascent
- Honoring support for bear management
- Trails – Big Creek
June 18 and 19: Fontana Lake Experience
- * Save the date for this overnight 2 day experience!
- Honoring support for the Ridge Runner program
- Trails – Hazel Creek, Lakeshore, and A.T.
July 16: Newfound Gap-Kephart Prong Excursion
- 7.4 miles, 800 ft ascent, Shuttle hike
- Honoring support for wildlife conservation
- Trails – AT, Sweat Heifer, and Kephart Prong
August 20: Mt. Sterling Vistas
- 5.4 miles, 2,000 ft. ascent
- Honoring support for air quality
- Trails – Mt Sterling
September 17: TBA with Guest Guide
October 15: Bradley-Chasteen Creekside Hike
- 7 miles, 1,200 ft. ascent
- Honoring support for water quality
- Trails – Bradley Creek and Chasteen Creek
November 19: Who was the Boogerman?
- 7.5 miles, 1,150 ft. ascent
- Honoring support for hemlock conservation
- Trails – Caldwell Fork and Boogerman
How to Book a Guided Hike?
Meeting locations specified upon registration. Hikers should come prepared with food, water and appropriate hiking gear for the all day excursion. A donation of $35 to go to the Friends' Smokies Trails Forever program is requested, and includes a complimentary membership to Friends of the Smokies. A donation of $10 is requested from current Friends of the Smokies members. Members who bring a friend hike for free. To register for any of the hikes, contact Friends of the Smokies at 828-452-0720. For more information, including a complete list of the North Carolina Classic Hikes series, visit www.friendsofthesmokies.org.
Safety is important to consider when exploring the backcountry. Here are a few basics to help you get started:
1. Let someone know your route and return time.
2. Always hike with another person.
3. Carry a current park trail map.
4. Carry 2 small flashlights or headlamps.
5. Take adequate water - minimum 2 quarts per person per day.
6. All water taken from the backcountry should be treated.
7. Wear shoes or boots that provide good ankle support.
8. Carry a small first aid kit.
9. Check the current weather forecast and be prepared for quickly changing conditions.
With so many options, the Smokies offer a tremendous number of hiking opportunities. Stop at Oconaluftee Visitor Center on US 441 at the Cherokee entrance to get trail maps and the latest condition of trails. Mentioned below are a few of the most popular destinations:
Deep Creek: A 5-mile loop trail takes you to three waterfalls. See our Deep Creek Waterfalls Guide.
Mt. Cammerer: 5.9 mile hike from Big Creek to a rocky summit topped with a fire tower with fabulous views. See our Mt. Cammerer Guide.
Mt. Sterling: Atop Mt. Sterling (5,842 ft elevation) is the historic, 60 ft. steel fire lookout tower, the highest elevation of any fire tower remaining in the eastern USA. The 2.7-mile hike from Sterling Gap near Cataloochee Valley. See our Mt. Sterling Guide.
Clingmans Dome: Take a short climb on a paved 1/2-mile paved trail to the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains. See our Clingmans Dome Guide.
Chimney Tops: Chimney Tops is one of the most popular and rewarding hikes in the Smokies. It has an elevation of 4,800 feet and is one of the park's most recognizable geological structures since it's a rare rock summit. A two mile climb takes you to the rocking pinnacle with 360-degree views. See our Chimney Tops Guide
Andrews Bald: A 1.8-mile moderate hike from Clingmans Dome takes you to this bald with great views of the Smokies. See our Andrews Bald Guide.
Alum Cave Trail to Mt. LeConte: A 4.6-mile roundtrip hike includes Arch Rock, a natural arch, Inspiration Point, and the Alum Cave Bluff. Or extend the hike to 10 miles roundtrip hike and continue to Mt. LeConte, and its beautiful viewpoints. See our Alum Cave Trail & Mt. LeConte Guide.
Appalachian Trail: The famous Appalachian Trail extends 69 miles through the park. The easiest place to access it is at Newfound Gap. You can hike 8 miles roundtrip north to rocky crags along the state line ridge at Charlies Bunion.
Boogerman Loop: This 7.4 mile moderate loop begins at Cataloochee and goes through an old growth forest. Park at Cataloochee campground and walk up the road a short distance to Caldwell Fork Trail. Follow Caldwell Fork about a mile to Boogerman Trail. Follow Boogerman about 4 miles until it intersects with Caldwell Fork. Turn right and return to Cataloochee (2.7 miles).
Grotto Falls & Rainbow Falls: Both trails begin on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. (See Auto Tours)
Laurel Falls: This 2.6 mile roundtrip, easy paved trail begins on US 441, 4 miles past the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg and goes to a 75-foot waterfall.
Cades Cove: Popular hikes here include Rich Mountain Loop (8 miles) and Abrams Falls (5 mile roundtrip). See Cades Cove for more.
Download a PDF Map of Great Smoky Mountains Hiking Trails
Pets are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, parking areas, and along roads, but must be kept on a leash at all times. The leash must not exceed 6 feet in length. Pets are only allowed on two short walking paths--the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Pets are not allowed on any other park trails. Pets should not be left unattended in vehicles or RVs.
Bicycles can travel on most roads within the park. However, due to steep terrain, narrow road surfaces, and heavy automobile traffic, many park roads are not well suited for safe and enjoyable bicycle riding.
Cades Cove Loop Road is an exception. The 11-mile one way road, is a popular bicycling area. It provides bicyclists with excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and touring 19th century homesites. During summer and fall, bicycles may be rented at the Cades Cove store (located near Cades Cove Campground). For information call (865) 448-9034. Beginning the second week in May, the loop road is closed to motor vehicle traffic Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 a.m. to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove. This closure continues through the second-to-last Saturday in September.
Safety is always a major concern where cars and bicycles must share the road. We strongly recommend that all riders wear helmets, use rear view mirrors, and ride properly fitted and well-maintained bicycles. Please obey all traffic regulations.
There are no mountain biking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Gatlinburg Trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail, and the lower Deep Creek Trail are the only park trails on which bicycles are allowed. Bicycles are prohibited on all other park trails.
Mountain biking trails are open on national forest and recreation lands outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For information on mountain biking in these areas, please contact the following offices:
Chattahoochee National Forest (770) 297-3000
Cherokee National Forest (423) 476-9700
Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area (423) 286-7275
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,115 miles of streams within its boundaries, and protects one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. The park offers a wide variety of angling experiences from remote, headwater trout streams to large, coolwater smallmouth bass streams. Most streams remain at or near their carrying capacity of fish and offer a great opportunity to catch these species throughout the year.
Fishing is permitted year-round in the park, from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset. The park allows fishing in most streams. Certain posted streams are closed to fishing, to protect threatened fishes. Detailed information, including a complete list of regulations and a map of fishable park waters, is available at any visitor center or ranger station.
You must possess a valid fishing license or permit from either Tennessee or North Carolina. Either state license is valid throughout the park and no trout stamp is required. Fishing licenses and permits are not available in the park, but may be purchased in nearby towns. Special permits are required for fishing in Gatlinburg and Cherokee.
See the birding checklist for the Great Smoky Mountains.
See our Horseback Riding & Trails Guide