With over 850 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains, there is something for every skill level! The Smokies are rich in history and offer some of the most beautiful views for miles around. You’ll have plenty of easy trails to choose from that are sure to keep the younger ones intrigued. To help you decide where to go first, here are 5 Smoky Mountain hikes that are great for kids.
1. Porters Creek
Porters Creek is a 4-mile trip if you go to the falls and back, and is great for older kids who love to explore. It is also one of many Smoky Mountain hikes that you can enjoy year-round. About a half-mile in, you’ll find a series of rock walls and building foundations from an old settlement. When you reach the 1-mile mark, there will be a short trail branching off the main path that will lead you to a historic farm site. Your kids will get a chance to see John Messer’s cantilevered barn, and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin, which is just past it. From here, you can either choose to turn back or continue on for another mile to the waterfall!
2. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is one of the most-visited places in the national park and is beautiful in any season. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 2.6 miles, and it takes about 2 hours to hike there and back. This is one of the Smoky Mountain hikes in the national park that is paved. However, wheelchairs and strollers are not recommended because the pavement is rough and uneven in certain spots.
3. The Gatlinburg Trail
The Gatlinburg Trail travels 1.9 miles one-way to the outskirts of Gatlinburg from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. It is relatively flat, making it a popular choice among joggers, walkers, and bicyclists. It is one of many Smoky Mountain hikes that offers beautiful wooded views. You will also be traveling alongside the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. You can even cross the river at one point on the pedestrian footbridge.
4. Kephart Prong
The Kephart Prong is just under 4 miles long and ideal for kids that are elementary age and up. Your kids can learn about some Smoky Mountain history as you discover remnants of the logging era and the Civilian Conservation Corps camp that was located here many years ago. Around 0.7 miles, you may spot evidence of the fish hatchery that was built in 1936. You might also spot some native wildlife, like the salamanders that can sometimes be found along the stream.
5. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is a 0.5-mile loop that’s considered easy in difficulty. Along the way, you and your kids can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding forest and the river. It’s great for a number of outdoor activities like birding, trail running, and walking. This trail is even partially paved, making it wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Now you know where to find the best Smoky Mountain hikes for kids, it’s time to start planning your trip! Make your Smoky Mountain vacation truly memorable and stay at one of our campsites. We look forward to seeing you at Pigeon River Campground!