We love when families visit the Smoky Mountains to make lasting memories together. When you are planning on going hiking in Gatlinburg with kids, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. This article features 3 trails that are perfect if you’re hiking in Gatlinburg with kids, and a few safety tips for your adventure into the mountains.
1.. Cades Cove Loop Road
The Cades Cove Loop Road is a great place to spend the day with family, especially if you have kids with you. For little kids, it’s an easy, paved area to walk around and there’s plenty of things to look at, including historical cabins, wildlife and more. Cades Cove is also a great place for kids because it has lots of open field space to run around and play outside.
For teenagers, Cades Cove is the perfect place to learn about the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All of the cabins, churches and mills have a story to tell, and teens and adults both enjoy learning about the area and the pioneers of the area that once lived there.
For a little extra information, stop by the Cades Cove Visitor Center and pick up a small booklet (for only $1) that gives visitors a tour of the area. This is an easy way for you to learn a little bit more while truly experiencing Cades Cove.
Learn more about the Cades Cove area in ‘Local Favorite Destination: Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains‘
When you’re hiking in Gatlinburg with kids, you want to make sure to choose hikes that are easy for the children, so you don’t have to carry them along the way. The Gatlinburg Trail is a short hike right outside Sugarlands Visitor Center. The trail is easy to walk, and is great for kids because there’s no difficult terrain to cross and there’s enough space to walk comfortably together.
This is the only pet friendly hiking trail on the Gatlinburg, TN side of the Smoky Mountains, too. This trail is popular for joggers, so make sure to take your family on the trail when it’s a little less crowded during the day.
Information about the Gatlinburg Trail from the National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/gatlinburg-trail.htm
3. Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls is another popular trail for hiking in Gatlinburg with kids. The first mile to the falls is what many families tend to hike. Keep in mind that this trail is extremely popular and can be very crowded in the peak months of the national park seasson. If you have very small children, this may not be the hike for you, but if your kids can walk comfortably on their own at a slight uphill grade, this paved trail will be perfect.
You will most likely see people on the trail, but if you don’t you’ll definitely see people at the waterfall. Remember to talk to your kids about the danger of consuming the water in the national park. The water, especially at the waterfall, is just as dangerous as the water at the streams in the park. There’s lots of bacteria in this water, so it’s safest to enjoy the waterfall from a distance.
More information about Laurel Falls from the National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/laurel-falls.htm
Remember water and snacks. While it’s important for all ages, it’s especially important when you have kids with you. You don’t want to end up on the trail with a hungry child and you want to make sure the snacks you take will give them energy to keep moving.
Make sure each child is wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. It’s helpful to pack extra clothes with you in a backpack, and even keep an extra outfit in the car–just in case. If you hike to Laurel Falls, the kids may run through the water, and they won’t want to be uncomfortable on the ride back to your cabin.
Make hiking fun! Some kids may not like the idea of wandering through the national park for the day, so make it fun. Stop by a visitor center to learn a little bit before you head onto the trail. Put together a small scavenger hunt of things to look for while you’re hiking. There’s many things you can do to make hiking fun and less stressful for you and the kids!
We can’t wait to help you plan your vacation to go hiking in Gatlinburg! Look at these 4 Amazing Gatlinburg Cabins Near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and give us a call to start planning your stay right away.