5 Short Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains to Try
Say you’ve come to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge on vacation and want to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You may have plans that evening for dinner or a show or maybe even to drive on to somewhere else. However, if you are going to be such a short drive from the national park you might as well explore it! We’ve put together a list of short hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains that are great for spending a little time in nature and not getting too tired.
1. Toms Branch Falls
Toms Branch Falls is located in the Cherokee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Traveling to Cherokee is a great day trip idea and offers some beautiful views along the way! Toms Branch is accessed via the Deep Creek Trail. The trail starts off as a wide path, making it easy to navigate. After traveling only three tenths of a mile you will reach Toms Branch Falls. The falls are 80 feet tall! There are several benches near the falls for visitors to sit on and admire the water.
2. Spruce-Fir Trail
From the Sugarlands Visitor Center drive 13.2 miles to Newfound Gap Road and then to Clingmans Dome Road. From there drive 2.7 miles to the parking area for Spruce-Fir Nature Trail. A small sign on the right side of the road will say “nature trail” this is your trailhead. The Spruce-Fir Trail is not an “official” trail on park maps. This trail is virtually flat and is only 0.35 miles long. As the name implies the trail goes through an old growth of spruce-fir forest. It’s a very quiet and peaceful trail. Depending on the time of year hikers may find a wide variety of flowers here and even blackberries!
3. Juney Whank Falls
Got a little more time while you are in Cherokee? Via the Deep Creek Trail hikers can also visit Juney Whank Falls. This waterfall is located only a quarter-of-a-mile from the parking lot! While this is a short hike, there is a steep incline to be aware of on this hike. The trail leads to a footbridge, and from the footbridge hikers get the best up-close view of Juney Whank Falls. The falls are 80 feet tall!
4. Baskins Creek Trail
The Baskins Creek Trail is located along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a very quick drive up the Historic Nature Trail Road from traffic #8 in Gatlinburg. There’s a lot to see along this short trail, which makes it one of the best short hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains! It is 3 miles round trip, and has just a few steep inclines. During the hike, hikers will get to see some great views of the mountains, and can even visit the Baskins Cemetery. The big thing to see on this trail is the Baskins Creek Waterfall. The waterfall is 40 feet tall and two-tiered. Once you reach the falls this a great place to sit back, relax, and enjoy a snack.
5. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is an incredibly popular hike in the national park. It’s not only a short hike, but it’s also easy to navigate. The roundtrip length is 2.6 miles, and the pathway is paved! It’s one of very few trails in the park that is paved. Laurel Falls is a picture-perfect 80 foot tall, two-tiered waterfall. Hikers will get to cross a footbridge directly over the waterfall to the opposite side. This is the perfect location to get some pictures!
Whether you just don’t have the time to spend all day in the woods, just want a little time in nature, or are new at hiking these short hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains are perfect to try! If you have more time to spend in the national park then check out the 8 best hikes to go on in the Smoky Mountains for even more fun!