grotto falls smoky mountains
September 14, 2021

If you’re visiting the gateway to the Smoky Mountains, you probably want to spend some time in the national park! Since you’re already in Gatlinburg, why not check out some of the beautiful hiking trails in the area? There are quite a few trails to choose from, and most of them are great for beginners! Here are 5 of the best places to hike in Gatlinburg for beginners:

1. Cataract Falls Trail

cataract falls

A great hiking trail for beginners is Cataract Falls Trail. If you’re new to hiking, this is a great trail to start with since it is relatively flat, the trail is easy to follow, and it’s only 1.1 miles long! Although this path isn’t paved, you will be able to easily hike it since there aren’t many rocks or roots. You’ll pass by creeks, interesting trees and rocks, and wildflowers in the spring and summer. At the end of the trail, you’ll get to see Cataract Falls!

2. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail

For people who have never been hiking before, you want to start out on an easy trail that doesn’t have much elevation gain but still gives you an idea of what hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is like. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is one of the best places to hike in Gatlinburg for beginners! This trailhead is right outside of the Sugarlands Visitor Center, and it is one of the trails that is paved, making it accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. This is perfect for people who are just starting to hike, small children, or older adults.

3. Gatlinburg Trail

gatlinburg trail bridge

One of the best places to hike in Gatlinburg is the Gatlinburg Trail. Located right outside downtown, this trail is considered easy with a roundtrip length of 3.8 miles. Most of the trail is flat, but you’ll be able to enjoy wildflowers, rivers, and old homestead sites along the hike. Plus, this is the only trail in the national park that is dog friendly!

4. Grotto Falls Trail

Another trail near Gatlinburg beginners enjoy hiking is Grotto Falls Trail. The trail is considered moderate and is 3 miles roundtrip. You’ll hike up a rocky trail next to a creek for most of the way until you come to Grotto Falls. This waterfall is the only one in the national park you can walk behind. If you hike this trail during the week early in the morning, you might just spot the llamas taking supplies up to Mount LeConte!

5. Rainbow Falls Trail

rainbow falls hike in Gatlinburg

While Rainbow Falls Trail is considered moderate, many beginners who have hiked some before enjoy this trail. You’ll make your way up the mountain and through dense forest before coming up on the 80-foot-tall, single-drop waterfall! Rainbow Falls gets its name from the rainbow effect you can see in the water from the light in the afternoon.

Now you know about the best places to hike in Gatlinburg for beginners! While you know you want to spend time in the national park, you may be wondering what else you should do when you stay with us! Look through our Freedom Fun Pass to discover which attractions you’ll receive free tickets to when you book one of our cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains!