The Smoky Mountains are home to some of the most amazing hikes in the entire United States. With so many different trails, it can definitely be hard to choose the best ones. Taking kids hiking adds additional worries and concerns that can make the decision even more agonizing. This list of the 15 best Smoky Mountain trails ranges in difficulty from easy to moderate, while still including the scenic beauty adventurous adults crave. These hiking trails are perfect for a day of family-friendly fun!
Of course, each family has its own unique needs. You know your family best, and are ultimately responsible for discerning the safety and appropriateness these hikes. Please read our full disclaimer here.
Easy Smoky Mountain Hikes
Round Trip Length: 2.65 miles
This is a short and easy hike, although there is a bit of a drop off in some spots. The trail runs along a peaceful stream and leads to the historic Walker Sisters’ Place. This primitive homestead is where the Walker Sisters continued to live after refusing to sell their land to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are picnic areas at nearby Greenbrier.
Round Trip Length: .9 miles
This trail is completely paved and with only a moderate incline. Also, there are no steep drop offs on either side of the trail. The coolest part is that it leads to a man-made tower that offers stunning 360° views. On one side you can see the expansive Smoky Mountains, while the sweeping Tennessee Valley is on the other. Please do watch your children very closely while on top of the tower. The fall would be deadly. This trail is located along the scenic Foothills Parkway, which offers stunning mountain views and plenty of pull-offs for photographs. It is important to note that there are no amenities on this trail nor on the parkway.
Round Trip Length: 3.8 miles
This kid-friendly trail is great for viewing wildflowers in both spring and summer. The path is very wide and follows a small stream. There is a designated parking lot for this trail. If you are not in a parking lot, you are in the wrong place. We found this out the hard way!
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Round Trip Length: .5 miles
This is by far the easiest of all the trails and the best for taking very young kids hiking, where they can actually walk. Our toddler walked the entire way. The trail is paved and is 100%, without question, stroller and handicap accessible. This hike is also located near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, which offers educational indoor entertainment options, a gift shop, and restrooms. Despite the short length of the trail, it is very scenic. It runs along a small peaceful steam and it completely wooded the entire way.
Moderately Difficult Smoky Mountain Trails
Round trip length: 3.5 miles
Follow this family-friendly hiking trail to a large clearing called Andrews Bald. This location offers spectacular mountain views year round and is a popular photography spot. This is also an especially excellent hike for viewing wildflowers in late spring and early summer. The trail is accessible from the Clingman’s Dome parking lot, which has restrooms, a picnic areas and a small gift shop.
Round Trip Length: .5 miles
This summit trail leads you to a tower atop the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. The tower offers spectacular 360 degree mountain views and wonderful photography opportunities. Although the trail is paved, it is extremely steep. Personally I am adamant that this trail, despite being paved, is NOT stroller accessible and the park service agrees.
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Round Trip Length: .7 miles
This is a looped hiking trail, which means there is no need for backtracking. This short and sweet hike provides excellent views of wildflowers in March and April and is a great spot for kids’ hiking.
Round Trip Length: 1.25 miles
This family-friendly trail runs along a creek and is noted for bear activity. So, be sure to bring your bear spray. At times, there is a moderate incline along the trail with a steep drop off to one side. There is also a fun historical cabin located on the trail, which makes a great opportunity for family photos. From this trail, you can continue on to Cataract Falls.
Round Trip Length: 4 miles
This trail is one of the few in the national park that allows dogs. Of course, furry friends must be kept on leash. This trail runs along the little pigeon river and is relatively level, although not paved. There are also some historical sites along the trail. The trail is close to the Sugarlands Visitor Center which offers educational indoor entertainment, a gift shop, and restrooms.
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Round Trip Length: 2.6 miles
Although mostly uphill, the incline of this easy kid-friendly hiking trail is gradual and manageable. This a great spot to look for the famed red-cheeked salamander, which is native to the Smokies. One of the best features of this trail is, once you reach the waterfall, you can actually walk behind it. We did and it was a blast! This unique feature makes this one of the most popular Smoky Mountain trails in the entire park.
Round Trip Length: 4.2 miles
This trail follows a picturesque stream and features historical landmarks including the remnants of an old barracks, a old log cabin, and the remnants of an old fish hatchery.
Round Trip Length: 2.3 miles
This is another one of the paved hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains that is NOT stroller accessible. The trail leads to the most popular waterfall in the park, standing at 80 ft. tall. Due to the popularity of this trail, it tends to be very busy, but there is plenty of parking available along the road. Once you reach the waterfall, there are small natural pools for wading, which makes this a great choice for taking kids hiking. Aren’t most of them part fish after all?
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Round Trip Length: 4.9 miles
This trail is wide and spacious and follows the path of the Little River. It’s an excellent spot for wildflower viewing in March and April. There are historic landmarks along this trail, and picnic areas are located at nearby Elkmont.
Round Trip Length: 4 miles
Follow the creek as you enjoy spectacular views of the forest. In March and April, the first 1.5 miles of this hike offer stunning views of wildflowers. There are also a few historical buildings located along trail. Picnic areas are available at nearby Greenbrier.
Round trip Length: 5.4 miles
This pleasant and beautiful nature trail boasts an impress 80 ft. waterfall. The falls get their name from the radiant canvas of colors they cast on the surrounding rocks. Of course this make it another one of the most popular Smoky Mountain Trails. Although the incline of the trail can be strenuous, my family had a great time. Of course, we really enjoyed the grand finale. I will caution you not to climb the rocks at the foot of waterfall. There are signs advising against it, because the rocks do get very slippery. I have seen kids fall and get hurt, but of course the decision is ultimately up to you.
Happy hiking in the Smoky Mountains, y’all!