4 Best Hikes in the Smoky Mountains for History Lovers

August 01, 2021

Do you love going to museums and memorials to learn about history? Not only is the Smoky Mountains full of fantastic history museums, there are also many different hikes you can take that teach all about the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Why not mix your love of history and the beauty of the mountains to have an unforgettable adventure? Here are 4 of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains for history lovers:

1. Old Settlers Trail

As one of the most educational hikes in the Smokies, Old Settlers Trail is full of famous landmarks. Along the way, you will see numerous historic mementos, including an old cemetery and original mountain homesites. In order to access this trail, begin from the Greenbrier picnic area in the national park. Overall, the hike is 16.2 miles so be sure to start early in the morning to give yourself time to stop and enjoy both the amazing scenery and history checkpoints. While this hike is on the longer side, there are not many steep hills along the trail. The combination of the history and amazing views makes Old Settlers Trail a must see!

2. Hike to Little Greenbrier School

Little Greenbrier SchoolThe hike to Little Greenbrier School is also filled with some amazing history, but is much more manageable at 1.5 miles. The short length and smooth terrain makes this one of the more family friendly hikes in the Smoky Mountains. The schoolhouse was built in 1882 and was used as both a school and a church until 1936. The most amazing thing about the structure is the foundation. The whole building is resting on a stone foundation and has pure oak shingles. When you go inside the school, you are met with antique wooden desks and a traditional blackboard. Because of the rustic foundation and history, Little Greenbrier School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

3. Jake Creeks Trail

As one of the easier historic hikes in the Smoky Mountains, Jake Creeks Trail is only 2 miles roundtrip. Despite the length, you will still see some astonishing sights. At the beginning of the hike, you will encounter old cottages and remains of ancient homesteads. The main prize of this trail is seeing the Avent Cabin. Built in 1845, the cabin has a rich history behind it. After being sold to Frank Avent in 1918, he and his wife used it as an art studio until 1940. When you visit today, you will see some handmade bed frames, a stone fireplace, and a kitchen that has an iron cooking stove. Jakes Creek trail is a great hike for the entire family to enjoy a great day together while also learning about a big part of Smoky Mountain history.

4. Rich Mountain Loop Trail

John Oliver cabinIf you want to mix history and amazing views into one hike, Rich Mountain Loop is the best option. Although the hike is 8.3 miles long, you will be treated to both historic structures and a magnificent waterfall. When you begin, the first thing you will come to is the John Oliver Cabin. The original owners, John and Lucretia Oliver, were the first permanent white settlers in Cades Cove back in the 1820s. Not only will you see the amazing cabin, visitors have also been fortunate enough to see plenty of deer traveling along the Rich Mountain Trail.

Now that you know about some of the best hikes in the Smoky Mountains for history lovers, be sure to check out some hiking maps to plan your next adventure!