4 Family Friendly Nature Trails in the Smoky Mountains

March 14, 2022

There are plenty of ways to experience the nature of the Smoky Mountains, including exploring over 850 miles of hiking trails. If you want to go hiking with your family for the first time, you’ll want to try a nature trail! Here are 4 family friendly nature trails in the Smoky Mountains you’ll have to hike:

1. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

Although it is only half of a mile long, Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is accessible and great for all ages. A cool discovery to make on this hike? The old chimneys and stone walls from the Sugarlands settlement! A fun fact about the settlement is that it was actually there before the national park was founded. Finally, one of the best features of taking this trail is listening to the relaxing sounds of the Little Pigeon River nearby!

2. Elkmont Nature Trail

troll bridge in elkmont off little river trailYou’ll find the Elkmont Nature Trail in the Elkmont part of the Smoky Mountains. It is only a 0.8-mile trek, but you’ll want to keep your eye out for daffodils, laurel, and other wildflowers along the way. It also makes for an educational hike. Markers can be found along the trail telling about the history of the area around the trail. Have a little more time on your hands? You might want to see if you can find one of the Smokies’ hidden gems — the troll bridge!

3. Cosby Nature Trail

If you have little ones or want a quieter hike, try the Cosby Nature Trail. You can find the trailhead at the Cosby Campground, and it is open year-round! One of the easiest family friendly nature trails in the Smoky Mountains is a little over a mile long roundtrip. Try out the Gabes Mountain Trailhead when you are here as well. If you really love the scenery in the mountains, you’ll enjoy seeing the wildflowers and streams throughout your hike. 

4. Cades Cove Nature Trail

Cades CoveThinking of visiting Cades Cove? Check out the Cades Cove Nature Trail! This trail can be found 7 miles into Cades Cove Loop Road. As you travel along the 2-mile trail, you’ll get views of the Smokies, open meadows, and creeks. The best times for hiking this trail are in spring and fall. You’ll find beautiful spring wildflowers and vibrant fall foliage at those times. You’ll even get to see a few animals along the way, including black bears!

Bonus: Motor Nature Trails

There are also some motor nature trails you can drive if your family is not quite ready for a hike. You can take a drive along Cades Cove Loop Road, which is an 11-mile loop. You can stop and visit the Cades Cove Visitor Center and see historical buildings, like the Cades Cove churches. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail spans around 5.5 miles. You can find the trailheads for Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls along this trail. It also offers views of the Smoky Mountains and the Place of a Thousand Drips, a waterfall that you can see from the road! Finally, you can drive through the Greenbrier area, which is well-known for its gorgeous wildflowers.

Now that you know about some kid friendly nature trails in the Smoky Mountains, you can start planning your next Smoky Mountain visit! Looking for trails that are great for children? Check out one of these kid friendly hikes!