Best Smoky Mountains Hikes For Kids

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is absolutely FREE to enter making it one of the best US National Parks for a family vacation. The national park alone offers a week’s worth of hiking for families, and that doesn’t include all the additional fun things to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

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.

hiking with kids in the smoky mountains

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)

YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: A Homeschooler’s Guide To Things To Do In The Smoky Mountains

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 trial in the Smoky Mountains Things To Do In All Seasons Guide.

  • 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)

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.

Additional Smoky Mountains Resources

RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING

3 thoughts on “Best Smoky Mountains Hikes For Kids”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

42 Shares
Share3
Tweet
Pin39
Share