While creating my list of the Top 10 Hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I realized that many of the trails that made the list were fairly long day hikes, which obviously won't appeal to everyone. So I decided to start from scratch and build a new list, based on the best of the easier hikes in the Smokies. Hopefully you'll find this helpful as a starting point in trying to decide where to hike during your visit.

Number One: Andrews Bald 

Only a 1.7 mile hike to see magnificent views? Sounds like a breeze. Well, not so fast - this is still a fairly rugged hike! But don’t let this deter you. Thanks to several acres of open grassy meadow, commonly referred to as balds in the Appalachians, spectacular views of the southern Smokies await you at the end of this hike. Andrews Bald is the perfect place to unfold a blanket, relax, and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Number Two: Abrams Falls 

Although Abrams Falls is only 20 feet high, the large volume of water rushing over the sandstone cliff more than makes up for its lack of height. In fact, Abrams Falls is the most voluminous waterfall in the park, easily making this the most scenic waterfall in the Smokies. As a result, the moderate 5.2-mile roundtrip hike to the waterfall is one of the more popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Number Three: Porters Creek 

The Porters Creek Trail just about has it all. You'll stroll along a beautiful cascading stream through a lush old-growth forest, while walking past many remnants of the early settlers in this area before reaching a little known waterfall. If you hike this trail during the spring you'll have the additional benefit of witnessing spectacular displays of wildflowers. The forest floor is usually carpeted with bloodroot, hepaticas, violets, trillium, fringed phacelia, rue anemone and many other wildflowers during the early spring. Roughly 1 mile from the trailhead is a short side trail that leads to the John Messer farm site, which includes a cantilevered barn built around 1875. There's also a cabin that was built by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club in the mid-1930s. At roughly 2 miles, Fern Branch Falls slides and tumbles nearly 50 feet down the ridge just off the side of the trail.

Number Four: Big Creek / Mouse Creek Falls 

This is a great hike for novice hikers as this trail is relatively smooth, and is a gradual climb of only 605 feet over the course of the two miles to the 45-foot Mouse Creek Falls. The Big Creek Trail follows an old railroad grade, built by the Crestmont logging company in the early 1900's to haul lumber out of the mountains during the logging boom. The trail was improved by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s when it was converted for hiking use.

Number Five: Laurel Falls

The paved path to Laurel Falls is a favorite hike among many park visitors. A fairly easy hike, close proximity to Gatlinburg, and a picturesque 80-foot waterfall, all combine to make this an extremely popular destination within the Great Smoky Mountains.

Number Six: Grotto Falls 

Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that a person can actually walk behind. The 25-foot high waterfall offers a cool, shady, and moist retreat for summer hikers. This same environment also provides ideal habitat for salamanders as well.

Number Seven: Little River Trail 

The Little River is a beautiful cascading stream with large boulders and several small waterfalls. The Little River Trail parallels the stream as it gently climbs along an old gravel railroad bed. Between mid-March and April this trail is an excellent choice for hikers wishing to see wildflowers.

Number Eight: Walker Sisters Place

The Little Brier Gap Trail is located in the heart of an old mountain community known as Little Greenbrier. The community achieved national fame when five spinster sisters continued to live here decades after the park was established. The Walker Sisters refused to sell their 123-acre farm to the national park, and were able to maintain their traditional mountain life into the 1960s.

Number Nine: Baskins Creek Falls 

Relative to their popularity, this 40-foot, two-tiered waterfall just might be the most underrated falls in the Great Smoky Mountains. It's also a great place to kick back and enjoy a picnic.

Number Ten: Indian Creek Falls 

Hikers will reach Indian Creek Falls via the Deep Creek Trail, which was one of the first trails constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s. In addition to visiting the 45-foot waterfall, hikers will also pass by the 80-foot Toms Branch Falls along the way. This is another great hike for early spring wildflowers.

Honorable Mentions: 

  1. Spruce Flats Falls,

  2. Chasteen Creek Cascade

If you're seeking trails that venture deeper into the backcountry of the park, check out our list of the Top 10 Hikes in the Smokies. You can also visit our list of the Best Waterfall Hikes in the Smokies.

While planning your visit, be sure to visit our accommodations page for a variety of lodging options in the Great Smoky Mountains area.