Hiking the Gatlinburg Trail
There are several hiking trails around Gatlinburg, especially within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the most popular day hikes in the area is the Gatlinburg Trail. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains when you hike the Gatlinburg Trail.
About the Gatlinburg Trail
Beginning at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, the Gatlinburg Trail is a 3.8-mile roundtrip hike that ends at River Road. The Gatlinburg Trail is known as a “point-to-point trail,” meaning you can begin your hike at either end of the trail. The terrain along the trail is relatively flat, allowing for an easy hike.
Views along the Gatlinburg Trail
The trail boasts whimsical views of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. You’ll pass through dense hardwood forests and rhododendron thickets. Cross a charming wooden footbridge to go over the river, or stop and take a photo to remember your hike. Along the trail you’ll also be able to spot foundations and chimneys from old homesites.
Just a bit off the trail is Cataract Falls, one of the Smokies’ best kept secrets. The falls features some low-flowing streams. After a period of rain, you can even catch a waterfall cascading between the rocks.
Once you reach the end of the trail, at River Road in Gatlinburg, you’ll can take in the pristine, natural environment from the wooden benches before you head back.
Gatlinburg Trail Use
The Gatlinburg Trail is not just for hikers. Bikes and pets are welcome on the trail as well. The Gatlinburg Trail is one of only two trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to allow both pets and bikes. Take your dog for a scenic walk, or fly through the forest on your mountain bike.
Sugarlands Visitor Center
Before or after you hike the Gatlinburg Trail, be sure to check out the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The visitor center features exhibits, special programs, the Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore and shop, and vending machines.
Exhibits include extensive natural history displays and a free showing of a 20-minute film about the park.
More Information about the Gatlinburg Trail
The best way to access the trail is by starting at the Sugarlands Visitors Center, located on the outskirts of downtown Gatlinburg, within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Gatlinburg Trail Hiking Tips
- Restrooms are only available at the Sugarlands Visitor Center
- Remember that this is a shared-use trail, so be aware of both bikers and hikers.
- If you don’t want to hike the full 3.8 miles, have a ride waiting for you at one end of the trail.
Here’s a look at what you can expect to see along the Gatlinburg Trail