A Guide to Hiking in the Smoky Mountains Throughout the Year

March 28, 2022

Hiking is one of the most common things you can do in the Smoky Mountains. If you’re interested in taking a hike in the Smokies, you’ll be happy to know that you can go hiking year round! Here’s what you can expect when you go hiking in the Smoky Mountains throughout the year: 

Hiking in the Summer

Summertime is a great season to go hiking during a visit to the Smokies. You’ll have opportunities to enjoy a trek in warm weather or among lush plants. Love seeing water features? There are plenty of trails that can take you near rushing rivers, streams, and waterfalls! You should also be prepared to experience crowded hiking trails. Many visitors come to the Smoky Mountains during summer, which is considered to be one of two peak seasons. Still, don’t let that keep you from taking one of these summer hikes!

Hiking in the Fall

Fall TreesAnother time to take a Smoky Mountain hike is during fall. You can see tons of wildlife as they prepare for the winter and hike in cooler temperatures. However, the biggest reason to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains during fall is fall foliage! This is also a great time to take family photos so you have memories of such a beautiful hiking trip. No matter which trail you choose, you’ll be able to catch gorgeous views of red, orange, and yellow leaves all across the Smokies. Want to go hiking when fall foliage is at its peak? Check out this guide to visiting the Smoky Mountains during fall! 

Hiking in the Winter

If you’ve never gone on a winter hike, you’re missing out! Despite the cold temperatures, winter is a wonderful time to explore Smoky Mountain hiking trails. Just as they do during fall, Smokies provide amazing scenery for winter particularly after a decent snow. Some of the best winter hiking trails lead to Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, and Andrews Bald – all great places to take in great views. Because the wintry weather can affect how you’re able to get around in the Smokies, make sure you are aware of any trail or road closures before you plan your adventure.

Hiking in the Spring

wildflowers on porters creekThe weather for a spring hike in the Smokies might be somewhat unpredictable, ranging from sunny to rainy to snowy. Still, spring is the best time to go hiking if you want to see newly-bloomed wildflowers but especially if you love animals. In fact, if you choose to go on a spring hike, you might see black bear cubs or white-tailed fawns in Cades Cove or elk calves in Cataloochee Valley! Some great hikes you might want to check out are Oconaluftee River Trail, Kephart Prong Trail, Porters Creek Trail, or Rich Mountain Loop.

More about Smoky Mountain Hikes

If you want to go hiking any time of the year in the Smokies, there are a few other things to consider. You’ll want to have maps of the trails you want to explore as well as travel and safety plans. This should especially be the case if you are going to hike by yourself. Also, make sure that you’re dressed appropriately and comfortably for the season of your planned hike. You’ll want to carry items like food and water to keep you energized, even if you’re taking on a short trail. Finally, if you are going to see Smoky Mountain scenery, bring along a pair of binoculars or a camera to help you take in the views!

Now that you know more about hiking in the Smoky Mountains during all seasons of the year, you can be ready to take on your next hiking trail. Looking for somewhere to start when getting ready for your next hike? Check out one of these visitor centers!