Popular Trails in the Smoky Mountains

Trails Forever is an annual campaign, put on by the non-profit organization Friends of the Smokies, aimed at reconstructing and rehabilitating impacted trails in the Smoky Mountains. Now a $5 million endowment, Trails Forever funds the rehabilitation of  numerous trails. Because of this campaign, Friends of the Smokies has made it possible to hike all the popular trails that have been around for decades, allowing different generations to experience the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. On that note, here are some popular trails in the Smoky Mountains that I have personally hiked:

Rainbow Falls


Distance: 5.4 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Rainbow Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. The best time to make the trek to the falls is after long periods of rain. However, be cautious of the rocks near the waterfall because they are quite slippery from the mist and algae.

Andrews Bald


Kevin and Sam enjoying the breath-taking view of Andrews Bald.


Distance: 3.5 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Easy

Andrews Bald is marked as the highest bald in the Smoky Mountains. It’s a relatively shorter hike with spectacular panoramic views overlooking Fontana Lake and the southern Smokies. Andrews Bald is an easy hike for all friends and family members.

Chimney Tops


My brothers and our friends reaching the top of Chimney Tops.


Distance: 3.8 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Strenuous


Chimney Tops definitely isn’t the easiest hike, yet it’s one of the most rewarding hikes. I took my brothers and our 2 friends on this trail for their first ever hiking experience, and for a majority of the way up there was a lot of complaining. However, once we reached the top, they were all amazed at the view and were glad they stuck it out.

Alum Cave Trail


Clay and Hamilton relaxing inside Alum Cave.


Distance: 4.4 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Easy-moderate

I hiked this trail a few years ago in the middle of March. This was perfecting timing because the temperature was warm enough for shorts and a light jacket, yet the snow hadn’t entirely melted. This was only a problem once we reached Alum Cave because icicles were melting and falling from the edge of the cave. Fortunately there weren’t any injuries, but Alum cave is a must hike.

Abrams Falls


People enjoying Abrams Falls.


Distance: 5.2 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Moderate


Although somewhat lengthy, the hike itself to Abrams Falls is rather easy. In my opinion, the trail itself is one of the most scenic trails in all of the Smokies. I would even say that the trail is just as stunning as the waterfall. Even though Abrams Falls is only 20 feet in height, the large volume of water rushing over the cliff makes up for it.



Other popular trails in the Great Smoky Mountains that I look forward to do in the near future include Porters Creek Trail, Charlies Bunion, Rocky Top/Thunderhead, and Spruce Flat Falls.



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