There’s definitely a reason why the Smoky Mountains is one of the most visited areas in the U.S. We’re lucky enough to enjoy the stunning scenery every day. So, to help you experience the area for yourself, we’ve created a guide to some of the best hiking trails in the area. There’s no better way to experience the natural scenery than by standing right in the center of the mountains yourself.
The Best Hiking Trails in Cades Cove
1. Abrams Falls
Make the most of your visit by visiting Abrams Falls. The 5.2-mile trail is on Cades Cove Loop Road right after the creek. Here, you can expect to walk through forests of pine oak trees, hemlocks, and rhododendrons before arriving at the 20-foot waterfall, named for Cherokee Chief, Abram. The trail may be a bit of a challenge though. It takes 3-4 hours to complete so definitely come prepared with good hiking shoes and some snacks to keep your stamina up.
2. Rich Mountain Loop
For more advanced hikers, you can tackle the 8.5-mile hike at the entrance of Cades Cove Loop Road. You’ll walk by the historic John Oliver cabin from the 1820s, pass the stunning 25-foot Crooked Arm Falls, and will climb up Cerulean Knob for a view from the highest point on Rich Mountain. You’ll feel amazing once you make your way to the top and can see the view and the remains of the old Rich Mountain Fire Tower.
3. Spence Field
Start at Anthony Creek Trail and continue on to the 10.3-mile Spence Field trail. Here, you’ll walk along grassy meadows until reaching a breathtaking view of the North Carolina side of the Smokies. If you still have energy after reaching the top, you can even continue along the Appalachian Trail to reach Rocky Top for a view from the highest point on Thunderhead Mountain.
4. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is one of the more popular hikes in the area and it’s just 2.6 miles round-trip. Here, you can spend 2 hours enjoying the scenery before arriving at the 80-foot tall waterfall. You’ll also get a wonderful view of the mountain laurels throughout the trail.
5. Gregory Bald
For a clear view of Cades Cove, Fontana Lake, Thunderhead Mountain, and Clingmans Dome, you have to try the 8.8-mile Gregory Bald trail. Enjoy budding azaleas in the summer or go in the Fall to see some beautiful autumn leaves. Just head 3.3 miles from Parson’s Branch Road to find the trailhead.
6. Lynn Camp Prong Cascades
This trail follows an old logging railroad so it will be easy for even first-time hikers to tackle. After 0.4 miles, you’ll see the largest of the cascades. Keep going to see the water rush over the smaller Cades Coves waterfalls on the trails. The trail is a total of 1.6 miles round-trip and will just take one hour to complete.