Top 5 Hikes For Viewing Smoky Mountain Fall Colors

August 18, 2023

The changing leaves bring a unique experience to hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plus, it’s not quite as hot, so you can enjoy your time in the mountains even more! Take a look at these top hikes for viewing Smoky Mountain fall colors:

1. Gregory Bald

Hiking to Gregory Bald is not necessarily beginner-friendly; however, the 11-mile trek is well worth it when you come to the large bald overlooking some incredible mountain views! While it’s a popular wildflower hike in the spring and summer, Gregory Bald is just as beautiful during the fall season. You’ll begin the trail through the forest and climb over 3,000 feet to reach the grassy meadow on the mountain ridge. We recommend starting early and expect to spend most of the day on this hike. It’s a must for hiking enthusiasts, for sure!

2. Chimney Tops

bridge on the chimney tops trailA shorter hike we recommend for seeing Smoky Mountain fall colors is the Chimney Tops Trail. A few miles past the Sugarlands Visitor Center, you’ll find the trailhead on Newfound Gap Road. The hike to Chimney Tops is only 3.3 miles long, but you’ll climb over 360 steps to reach over 1,400 feet in elevation. You must experience for yourself the breathtaking views of Mount Leconte from this observation point!

3. Mt. Cammerer

The view from the Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower is show-stopping during the autumn months! The most popular route takes you on the Low Gap Trail, where you’ll be able to admire the changing leaves as you ascend higher in elevation. During the last portion of the 11-mile hike, you’ll climb wooden steps built in the early 1990s by the Civilian Conservation Corps! Once you’ve reached the Fire Tower, take in the 360-degree view of the Smokies, including Mount Sterling and Snowbird Mountain.

4. Meigs Creek Trail

the sinks in the smoky mountains during fallA waterfall hike is always a good idea and even more beautiful with the backdrop of yellow, orange, and red leaves! The Meigs Creek Trail starts at The Sinks, a few miles from the Townsend Wye. During this hike, you’ll cross the stream several times and slowly incline on a sometimes muddy and rocky path. You’ll want to make sure you’re wearing proper footwear! Meigs Falls is not far from the trailhead, and this is also a great trail to bring your fishing gear along. What’s better than spending the day hiking and fishing in the Smokies?!

5. Rocky Top

Thunderhead Mountain, probably better known as Rocky Top, is another strenuous hike with great reward. At nearly 14 miles, the hike to Thunderhead Mountain begins in Cades Cove on the Anthony Creek Trail. You’ll walk a short section of the iconic Appalachian Trail and come to Spence Field, another great place to admire the Smoky Mountain fall colors, before arriving at one of the Thunderhead Mountain’s peaks called Rocky Top. From there, you’ll be able to see Fontana Lake and Townsend on clearer days!

Now you know a few top hikes for viewing Smoky Mountain fall colors! If you’d rather take a long drive through the mountains to experience the bright autumn foliage, check out these less crowded scenic drives in the Smokies