For vacationing families, the city of Gatlinburg, which sits at the northern entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, is a paradise of fun and exciting activities. From music and comedy shows, unique shops and restaurants, and theme parks, to a miniature golf course on a steep mountain side, there's plenty to do for everyone. Sitting adjacent to Gatlinburg, is over half a million acres of wildlife and breathtaking scenery. With more than 800 miles of marked trails, much of The Great Smoky Mountains' beauty can be observed by hiking the park on foot. Of the more than 70 trails in the park, the 14 trails listed below are just minutes by car from the Gatlinburg park entrance and Gatlinburg Town Square by Exploria Resorts. Most trails have parking at the trailhead. They are ranked from easiest to most difficult based on a scale established by the National Park Service. Ogle Place Trail Difficulty: easy Roundtrip length: 0.8 miles The highlight of this short trail is the Ogle cabin, which was built by Bud Ogle, a descendant of the first family to settle the area. The cabin was part of a 400-acre farm and was built in the early 1880s. At about a third of a mile into the hike, you'll see a tub mill, which was used to grind corn into meal. It was powered by the current from LeConte Creek. Grotto Falls Trail Difficulty: easy Roundtrip length: 2.6 miles This trail wanders through scenic, old-growth forest, meandering through large eastern hemlocks as it leads to Grotto Falls. This waterfall gives hikers a shady and cool retreat during the summer, and is an ideal habitat for salamanders. Be careful with your footing because the area around the falls is always wet and slick. That said, it's considered one of the best waterfall hikes in the park. Gatlinburg Trail Difficulty: easy Roundtrip length: 3.9 miles Only a half mile from the edge of Gatlinburg, this trail begins with a wide footpath following the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Much of the trail offers easy access to the river's edge, allowing hikers to splash their toes in the water. A distinctive feature along this trail is an area that holds the ruins of an old homestead, including a chimney and several other rock structures. Baskins Creek Trail Difficulty: easy Roundtrip length: 3.0 miles Offering a hiking experience that is a little more challenging, this trail rewards hikers with a view of Baskin's Creek Falls. This two-tiered waterfall is 40 feet tall and is one of the more spectacular experiences in the park. This is also a great trail to hike if you want to bring a picnic lunch and find a place to relax. Remember, though, to pack up any trash and bring it out with you. Chimney Tops Trail Difficulty: moderate Roundtrip length: 3.3 miles Historically, this has always been one of the most popular hiking routes in the park, offering spectacular long-distance views of nearby mountain peaks, as well as colorful blooming wildflowers, such as rhododendron and mountain laurel, especially in the spring and early summer. At one point, the trail gains over 700 feet in elevation over two-thirds of a mile. So, while it is classified as moderate due to its short trek, parts of it are fairly strenuous. Alum Cave Trail Difficulty: moderate Roundtrip length: 4.4 miles At the start, this trail takes hikers over a gentle grade up to Arch Rock, then begins to ascend toward Alum Cave as the Anakeesta Ridge is on full display to the left. From here, there is a great view of a rock formation known as the Eye of the Needle, a hole in the rock near the top of Little Duck Hawk Ridge. Continuing on, Alum Cave eventually comes into view. This geological feature is not really a cave but rather a concave bluff about 80 feet high and 500 feet long. In the summer, water constantly drips from the ledges above, and in the winter, spectacular icicles form. Huskey Gap Trail Difficulty: moderate Roundtrip length: 4.2 miles This trail was named after Sam Huskey, who owned a homestead in the area around the turn of the 20th century. From the trailhead, the route climbs gently and, after just a few minutes, the sound of traffic on the road fades away. This is a spectacular hike for people who want to see a variety of wildflowers, including crested dwarf iris, silver bell, wild geranium, common blue violet, may apple, and wild ginger. Rainbow Falls Trail Difficulty: moderate Roundtrip length: 5.4 miles For the first two-thirds of a mile along this trail, hikers pass through a large boulder field. From there, the trail includes two footbridges, the last of which leads to Rainbow Falls. This waterfall gets its name from the ever-present rainbow that occurs when the sun hits the mist. At 80 feet tall, this is the highest single-drop waterfall in all of the Smoky Mountains. Take caution, though, because the rocks around the falls are always wet and slippery. Bullhead Trail Difficulty: moderate Roundtrip length: 5.9 miles After a fairly easy start, this trail starts to ascend rapidly after about a mile as it climbs a formation known as “The Bullhead,” a bald extending off Balsam Point covered in heath. From a distance, this feature was thought to resemble the head of a bull, hence its name. Over the next mile or so, several rocky cliff faces come into view, followed by two small caves formed by overhanging slabs of rock. Eventually, hikers arrive at “The Pulpit,” a large rock cairn on the side of the road that marks the end of the trail. Brushy Mountain Trail Difficulty: strenuous Roundtrip length: 6.8 miles While the first part of the trail leading to Grotto Falls is a wide, gentle path, the Brushy Mountain Trail is classified as “strenuous” due to the distance and an 1,800-foot gain in elevation to the highest point. About a quarter mile past the falls, the first glimpses of Brushy Mountain can be seen through the trees to the east. And at its summit, the mountain offers spectacular panoramas of the entire eastern flank of the Great Smoky Mountains. Mt. LeConte Trail (via Alum Cave Trail) Difficulty: strenuous Roundtrip length: 11.0 miles This trail can be treacherous and demanding as it gains over 2,700 feet in elevation along its 5.5-mile path. Additionally, there is a two-mile stretch where hikers have to traverse several narrow rock ledges, many with cable handrails installed. When it's warm, these ledges are manageable for hikers who aren't afraid of heights. In the winter, ice and snow can make it a dangerous trek, so the handrails are essential. At more than 6,500 feet, Mt. LaConte is the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. Mt. LeConte Trail (via Trillium Gap Trailhead) Difficulty: strenuous Roundtrip length: 13.9 miles This trail to the summit can be challenging because of the distance traveled and an elevation gain of more than 3,300 feet. At about three miles, the path leads to Trillium Gap and a junction with the Brushy Mountain Trail before continuing on to LaConte Lodge. Occasionally, hikers will come across a pack train of llamas, which delivers supplies to the lodge three times a week. This historic lodge can accommodate up to 50 overnight guests near the top of the mountain and is open from March through November, but it's often booked a year or more in advance. Mt. LeConte Trail (via Rainbow Falls Trail) Difficulty: strenuous Roundtrip length: 13.8 miles Reaching Mt. LaConte along the Rainbow Falls Trail is considered strenuous mainly due to the distance covered. During the summer, this trail has less exposure to the sun so it might be a little cooler as you ascend to the summit. If you want to make it a loop hike, you can take the Rainbow Falls Trail to the top and return via the Bullhead Trail. This trail gains approximately 4,000 feet in elevation. Mt. LeConte Trail (via Bullhead Trail) Difficulty: strenuous Roundtrip length: 14.4 miles This hike has been ranked as the most strenuous, and is the second longest, in the entire Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It gains approximately 4,000 feet in elevation as it leads to the summit of Mt. LaConte, and offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. Explore accommodations at our Gatlinburg Town Square Resort & book your trip to The Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee Beach!