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Best Smoky Mountains Hikes For Kids

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is absolutely FREE to enter making it one of the best US National Parks for a family vacation. Since hiking is a great way to get the kids excited about the outdoors, we put together this guide with our pick for the best Smoky Mountains Hikes for Kids.

From easy trails with breathtaking views to exciting nature discoveries along the way, these hikes are perfect for igniting a love for the great outdoors in young adventurers.

Best Smoky Mountain Hikes for Kids
Best Smoky Mountain Hikes for Kids

In this guide to Smoky Mountains hikes for kids we share some of the best hikes in Gatlinburg for kids. These short hikes in the Smoky Mountains offer a big reward for a small effort and are perfect for the kids.

Where To Stay In Gatlinburg, TN?

Embark on a new adventure in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of the Smoky Mountains with a stay at Bear’s Wilderness Lodge, exclusively offered by GSM Family Vacations.

Nestled amidst the serene wilderness, this charming cabin offers a refreshing escape from the ordinary, inviting you to discover the true essence of mountain living.

Best Hikes In Gatlinburg For Kids

There are more than 800 miles of hiking trails in Gatlinburg, including over 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

As you can imagine, the variety of hiking trails and skill level is tremendous. The good news is that there are plenty of easy hikes in Gatlinburg for families with kids of all ages.

Laurel Falls

Laurel Falls Trail is a VERY POPULAR kid-friendly hike in Gatlinburg accessed near the Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Black Bears are active in this area, so prepare accordingly.

  • Parking: Located on both sides of the road at the Trailhead
  • Features: 80 foot cascading Laurel Falls at the end of trail
  • Skill Level: EASY
  • Elevation Gain: ~300 feet
  • Length: 2.6 miles out and back
  • Time to Hike: About 2 hours
  • Stroller Friendly? YES( but it does have points that are narrow and bumpy)
Best Smoky Mountain Hikes for Kids
Best Smoky Mountain Hikes for Kids

Gatlinburg Trail

Easy kid-friendly, bike-friendly, and pet-friendly trail leading from downtown Gatlinburg to the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

If you or the kids are too tired to walk back, you can catch the Gatlinburg Trolley at the Visitor’s Center. The trail does run along the road partially, so noise can be an issue.

  • Parking: Trail access begins at Traffic light 10 in town or the Sugarlands Visitor Center
  • Features: Runs along the Little Pigeon River
  • Skill Level: EASY
  • Elevation Gain:164 feet
  • Length: 2.8 miles out and back (1.4 miles to Sugarlands Visitor Center)
  • Time to Hike: 2 hours if hiking out and back
  • Stroller Friendly? YES
  • Dog allowed? Yes, on a leash (ONLY PET FRIENDLY TRAIL IN THE PARK)

Little Brier Gap Trail to Walker Sisters Home

Easy hike accessed from the Little Greenbrier School parking from April-November.

The Little Greenbrier Road closes in the winter so you must hike to the road after either parking on Wear Gap Road or in Metcalf Bottoms. This adds an additional 1/2 to 3/4 mile respectively.

  • Parking: At Little Greenbier School
  • Features: Walker Sisters Home/Historic
  • Skill Level: MODERATE/EASY (Mostly level, but some roots on parts of the trail)
  • Elevation Gain: 285 feet
  • Length: 2.6 miles out and back
  • Time to Hike: 2 hours if hiking out and back
  • Stroller Friendly? NO

Tremont on Middle Prong Trail

This is my favorite trail to hike with kids in the Smoky Mountains. The entire trail from Gatlinburg to Townsend is over 8 miles, but I recommend enjoying the trial for 1 to 2 miles from the Gatlinburg side.

There are three cascading waterfalls, plenty of climbing features for older kids, and the trail is level the entire way. You can read more about our experience on this trail in the Seasonal Guide to Hiking in the Smokies

  • Parking: Follow directions to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and then take another 3.1 miles past the institute to the parking for the Middle Prong Trailhead
  • Features: 3 cascading waterfalls/historic
  • Skill Level: EASY
  • Elevation Gain: 285 feet
  • Length: 8.3 miles (we only walked in about 2/3 mile in to reach all three waterfalls)
  • Time to Hike: 1-2 hours if hiking out and back
  • Stroller Friendly? Yes (Hard packed dirt road)
Our Pick
CamelBak Mini M.U.L.E. Kids Hydration Backpack for Hiking- 50oz

Picture this: your kiddos skipping along the trails, fueled by the excitement of adventure and hydrated like champions. With the Mini M.U.L.E., they can sip on the go without missing a beat!

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04/09/2024 02:53 pm GMT

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower Trail

This short hike in the Smoky Mountains is perhaps the most well known and popular trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Clingmans Dome Observations Tower Trail is a steeply inclined paved short trail that leads to the top of Clingmans Dome.

Fun fact: Clingmans “Dome” is actually the name of the top of the mountain NOT the observation tower itself.

  • Parking: The trail is located about 40 minutes south Gatlinburg on the Bryson City, NC side of the park. Take Hwy 441 to the parking area located at the bottom of the trailhead.
  • Features: 6,643 foot mountaintop that lies within both Tennessee and North Carolina 
  • Skill Level: Moderate/Easy- Steep incline but short and not too technical
  • Elevation Gain: 457 feet
  • Length: 0.8 miles
  • Time to Hike: 1 hour
  • Stroller Friendly? NO (I would recommend carrying infants/toddlers)

These are just a few of the easy hikes in the Smoky Mountains for kids, but as you can see, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to take a family hiking vacation.

Our Pick
Merrell Trail Chaser Hiking Sneaker Big Kid

With the same durability and reliability as the adult version, but with kid-friendly straps instead of laces, these sneakers are ready to withstand whatever your little hikers throws at them.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/09/2024 03:08 pm GMT

Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary

I understand how difficult it can be to plan a trip, especially if it’s your first time going. That’s why I created this 7-day itinerary for the Smoky Mountains. It outlines all of the best places to go in the area and comes with insider tips that will save you a lot of stress–trust me, they saved me when I was planning my own trip!

  • Our 7-day itinerary takes you to the best places in the Smoky Mountains.
  • You’ll get to see all the best sights and attractions with driving directions
  • The itinerary is designed to show you the most scenic routes.
  • Packing Checklist for every season.
  • You’ll have everything you need to make the most of your trip.
  • Insider Tips!

Here’s a quick overview of our Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary.

  • Day 1: Cades Cove Loop
  • Day 2: Rich Mountain Road
  • Day 3: Cataloochee Valley
  • Day 4: Newfound Gap Road
  • Day 5: Roaring Fork Motor Trail
  • Day 6: Little River Road
  • Day6: Foothills Parkway


Related Smoky Mountain Resources

More Related Resources

If you want to explore more of the Smokies then you need our guide to Planning A Trip To Smoky Mountains.

Keep the kids entertained and engaged as they discover the wonders of the Smoky Mountains. This National Park scavenger hunt printable will do the trick!

Don’t Miss Our Smoky Mountains Web Stories

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