[ Outdoor Adventures ]

The Best Fall Hikes in the Smoky Mountains

Autumn is one of the most scenic times of year to hike in the Smoky Mountains.  The bright colors of fall are painted across mountains and valleys, creating a setting that beckons one to explore.  With over 500,000 acres comprising the Great Smoky Mountains National Park choosing where to hike and sight see can be a bit overwhelming.  Use this helpful list of the best fall hikes in the Smoky Mountains to get a head start on your journey.

Fall hikes in the smoky mountains

Best Smoky Mountain Hikes to See Fall Foliage

Albright Grove Loop Trail
Trail Location – Cosby
Distance – 7 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Strenuous

An excellent example of a hardwood forest, Albright Grove is one of the most diverse forests in America. Hiking here during the fall offers a rich blend of different colors and foliage. Plus, come of the oldest and tallest trees in the Smokies are found along the way.

Alum Cave Flickr CC hikes in the smoky mountains
Alum Cave Trail: Flickr/Daveynin

Alum Cave Trail
Trail Location – Gatlinburg
Distance – 5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderately Strenuous

Hikes in the Smoky Mountains don’t get much better than Alum Cave Trail. With an elevation of almost 5,000 feet, Alum Cave Trail offers outstanding views of the Smoky Mountains. Sweeping views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge to the west and Myrtle Point to the Northeast give hikers quite the reward.

1280px-Leaf-Colors-at-Newfound-Gap-NPS1 RSZ hikes in the smoky mountains
View from the Appalchian Trail

Appalachian Trail
Trail Location – Clingmans Dome or Newfound Gap Road
Distance – Varies
Difficulty – Moderate

I recommend hiking the 7.5 mile section of the Appalachian Trail located from Clingman’s Dome to Newfound Gap.  Canvassed with color, the peaks and valleys you pass through are a true highlight this time of year.

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Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a favorite route for fall color

Baskins Creek Falls
Trail Location – Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Distance – 3 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Easy

Hike to Baskins Creek Falls to enjoy a canopy of fall foliage complemented by a two-tiered, 40 foot waterfall.

639px-Littleriver Wiki hikes in the smoky mountains
The Little River Trail follows the river of the same name: By Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons

Little River Trail
Trail location – Elkmont
Distance – 4.9 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderate

History and outdoor beauty combine at the Little River Trail. The entire length of the trail hugs a river of the same name, with a slow elevation gain making it an easy climb.

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Mount Sterling, looking south from the Mount Cammerer lookout: By Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons

Mt. Cammerer
Trail Location – Cosby
Distance – 12 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Strenuous

If you’re up for a challenge the 12 mile roundtrip hike to the summit of Mt. Cammerer is a fantastic fall hike. The summit offers exceptional views of peaks and valleys; Some say they’re the best in the National Park.

Mountain ridges glow with autumn color, Great Smoky Mountains National Park hikes in the smoky mountains
Mountain ridges glow with autumn color, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mt. LeConte
Trail Location – Newfound Gap Road
Distance – 11 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Strenuous

Mt. LeConte rises 6,593 feet, making it the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains. The reward at the top are endless views. In addition, the hike can be combined with Alum Cave so you get two experiences in one.

Fall 001 Pixabay RSZ
A walk through the woods doesn’t get prettier than this!

Old Settlers Trail
Trail Location – Greenbrier
Distance – 17 miles one way
Difficulty – Moderate

Old homesteads and a diverse collection of flora and fauna make the Old Settlers Trail a unique fall hike.

Porters Creek Trail Facebook hikes in the smoky mountains
An old homestead on Porters Creek Trail: Robyn Barbee Malone/Facebook

Porters Creek Trail
Trail Location – Greenbrier
Distance – 4 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderate

A variety of scenery, including historic sites, waterfalls and a meandering stream, create an easy yet rewarding Smoky Mountain hike.

Smokies
Even driving to the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains is beautiful

Sugarland Mountain Trail
Trail Location – Clingmans Dome Road
Distance – 7 miles roundtrip
Difficulty – Moderate

The Sugarland Mountain Trail follows the ridge between Clingmans Dome and Little River Road. Peaceful and pristine, the forest here features a wonderful walk through the bright leaves of fall.

Get outside this autumn and see the splendor of Mother Nature.  The entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just minutes away from Pigeon Forge, so you can easily access the best fall hikes in the Smoky Mountains.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Pigeon Forge to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.
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