4 Fun Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails Near the Sugarlands Visitor Center

April 11, 2022

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is the perfect place to start your exploration of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! You’ll not only find helpful park rangers, a fantastic bookstore and extensive natural history exhibits, but also several trails that depart nearby for your hiking adventures! Here are 4 fun Smoky Mountain hiking trails near the Sugarlands Visitor Center:

1. Fighting Creek Nature Trail

The Fighting Creek Nature Trail is conveniently located right behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center so you can get your legs moving right away! This self guided nature trail takes you around a short loop and offers wonderful views of the wooded forests that are famous in the Smokies! You’ll also be following along Fighting Creek, an important tributary of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River, for much of the hike. In addition to the beautiful scenery, this trail features the historical John Ownby cabin that has been restored by the National Park Service. The modest cabin dates back to 1860 and you can even walk around inside to admire the craftsmanship!

2. Cataract Falls Trail

Cataract falls in Smoky MountainsAnother one of the fun Smoky Mountain hiking trails near the Sugarlands Visitor Center is Cataract Falls Trail, which actually splits off from the Fighting Creek Nature Trail after just a few hundred feet. This short trail leads to Cataract Falls, a scenic 40 foot tall waterfall that consists of two low flow streams! The hike is quite easy, making it suitable for almost everyone, including families with young children. While walking along the Cataract Falls Trail, you’ll pass tree identification markers that highlight the various types of trees in the area and discover a uniquely shaped sycamore tree!

3. Old Sugarlands Trail

The Old Sugarlands Trail is a 7.5 mile round trip trail that follows an abandoned mountain road, so it’s a wide trail with plenty of elbow room! The trail is moderately challenging and gains about 1,256 feet in elevation on the way out, with most of the return hike being downhill. It starts up the valley of Little Pigeon River and eventually reaches the remains of an old camp where some abandoned structures can still be found. Once you reach this area, be sure to take the side trail that branches off to the right to see one of the cemeteries of the historic Sugarlands community!

4. Gatlinburg Trail

Gatlinburg Trail The Gatlinburg Trail leads straight from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the outskirts of downtown Gatlinburg, making it one of the most popular hikes in the Smokies! This relatively flat trail is 1.9 miles in each direction and is one of just two trails in the park where visitors can ride a bike or walk their dog! The scenic hike runs through the forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and crosses the river at one point by way of a pedestrian footbridge. In addition to all of the stunning natural scenery, keep your eye out for the foundations and chimneys of several old homesites that are visible along the trail!

Now that you know about some of the Smoky Mountain hiking trails near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, you’re almost ready for an action packed day in the Smokies! You’ll also want to know how to prepare for your adventures on the trails, so be sure to check out our top 10 things to bring on a hike in the Smoky Mountains!