4 Easy Hiking Trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for Beginners
Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be a thrilling experience for anyone. For those who want to hike while in the area but have little experience, some of the park’s most beautiful trails are low elevation and short to allow for anyone to enjoy and explore.
Metcalf Bottoms Trail
This level trail is only 0.7 miles by itself, but can be made longer by continuing from Metcalf Bottoms to Little Brier Gap Trail. Just minutes into the walk, trail hikers will see a small log school house. Anyone can explore inside, where the school still has original elements, including desks.
- Trail Access: Park at the Wear Gap Road parking area near Little Greenbrier Road. At the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, cross the bridge to begin the hike.
- Distance: 0.7 mile
Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is a 0.5 mile loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just behind one of the most popular visitor centers in the area. This is a handicap and stroller accessible trail, so anyone can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Before taking a stroll on the trail, hikers can watch a short film about the park and view natural history exhibits. The Sugarlands Visitor Center also conducts ranger led programs seasonally, so visitors can check the center for times and dates.
- Trail Access: Two miles south of Gatlinburg, the trail begins at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
- Distance: 0.5 mile loop
Only 1.7 miles total, trail’s maximum elevation is 900 feet. Though the Andrews Bald trail includes rocks and small boulders, there are several acres of grassy meadows at the top, where trails in the Smokies get the “Bald” name. These meadows are wide open, giving hikers plenty of space to picnic or lay down a blanket and relax.
- Trail Access: From the Clingmans Dome parking area, hikers can look for access to the trail near the informational bulletin board.
- Distance: 1.7 miles
Porters Creek Trail
Hikers who want history and beauty in an easy hike will love the Porters Creek Trail. Totaling at 4.0 miles, this trail is one of the best places to see wildflowers in spring. Nearly a mile into the hike sits remnants of a farmstead, including cabins and barns that are still standing. Further in is Fern Branch Falls, a nearly 40 foot waterfall.
- Trail Access: Located in the Greenbrier area, follow highway 321 six miles east of Gatlinburg. Three miles into a gravel road, you’ll find the trail’s parking lot.
- Distance: 4.0 miles
To learn more about all of the hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, click here to visit the National Park Service’s website.
What are your favorite beginner hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Tell us in the comments below!