The Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect place for anyone who is traveling with a family. Just because you have small kids doesn’t mean you can’t go hiking! We’ve put together 4 great family hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, perfect for families with kids and teens of all ages.
(Related Information: Tips for a Successful First Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains)
The Gatlinburg Trail
Definitely known as one of the easiest trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Gatlinburg trail is great for seeing the mountains and learning a little bit of history. If you have a pet, this is one of only 2 pet-friendly hiking trails in the national park, so make sure to leash up your four-legged friend and go for a walk.
The trail is a wide, flat walk, making it a perfect family hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. The trail wraps around to Sugarlands Visitor Center, and is only 4 miles roundtrip. The hike is considered very easy.
If you’re planning a vacation with your pet, take a look at Stony Brook Lodging’s pet friendly cabins in Gatlinburg. They’re great for anyone who wants to spend time with their pet and explore the hiking trails.
One of the most popular waterfall hikes in the Smoky Mountains for families, Cataract Falls is great for kids of all ages. This is especially popular for families with kids who are too small to take large steps or walk steep trails.
The walk is very short, mainly flat, and can be found right behind Sugarlands Visitor Center. You can start out on the Fighting Creek Self-Guiding Nature trail and then the trail will lead you to Cataract Falls. There is a short tunnel to pass under, but the cascade isn’t far from there. Your kids will stand in amazement at the 40-foot cascading waterfall.
Another popular waterfall hike in the Smoky Mountains is Laurel Falls. This is the only paved trail in the national park, so it’s easy for families to hike with strollers or small children who can’t take big steps on rocky trails. The trail is fairly steep, so be prepared to carry very small children for a big of the trail if you don’t have a stroller with you.
This trail is one of the self-guiding nature trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so make sure to stop by a visitor center to pick up a brochure with all of the information about the trail. With the brochure, you will be able to spot areas that you may not have noticed otherwise. It’s a great way to teach kids about the national park while everyone gets a little exercise! Plus, everyone loves seeing the 85-foot high waterfall at the end of the trail.
The trailhead is about 4 miles from Sugarlands Visitor Center down Little River Road. The parking lot may fill quickly in the summer months, so we recommend planning to get out on the trail as early as possible.
For more information about Laurel Falls, follow this link: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/laurel-falls.htm
Clingmans Dome is probably the most difficult of our favorite family hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s only about one mile round-trip, but it’s a pretty steep climb to the observation area.
Clingmans Dome sits at 6,643 feet in elevation, so the half mile to the observation area can be quite a hike for small children. If you can get your kids to the observation area, you will fall in love with the stunning, panoramic view of the Smokies. Don’t forget your camera on this hike!
For more information about Clingmans Dome, check this out: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Clingmans Dome
Things to Remember to Pack for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains
- Remember to pack more than enough water! Better to have too much than not enough! The streams and waterfalls are not sanitary places to drink water, so make sure to keep your kids from drinking any of the water found along the trail.
- Since you’re hiking with kids and teens, pack snacks! After a couple of miles of walking, they’ll be hungry and ready to stop for a snack. It’s best to pack protein bars and energy-filled snacks like fruits that won’t spoil in a backpack.
- It’s always a great idea to pack a first aid kit with things like band-aids and baby wipes. When kids wander the trails, they may fall and scrape their knee or get dirt on their faces. With a first aid kid, you’re prepared for every situation, even though these trails won’t take you far from a visitor center or populated area.
Are you ready to start planning a trip to the Smokies? Take a look at all of Stony Brook Cabin Rentals’ Gatlinburg cabins. These cabins are only a few short minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so you won’t be far from your cabin after a long day of hiking with your family.
Go ahead and give us a call at (800) 633-5652 to speak with our vacation rental experts. They will be happy to help you choose the perfect cabin for your group, and will also help you get the best deal on your stay. We hope to see you soon!