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The Smokies

The Trails

With more than 900 miles of hiking trails, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is truly a hikers paradise. Here, the venerable Appalachian Trail bisects the park along the North Carolina, Tennessee border. For more than 70 miles it follows the crest of the Smokies. A  "Thru-hike" of the A.T. may be the best hike to get a good  "feel" for the park. Aside from the "A.T.", there is a seemingly endless variety of hikes sure to please even the more seasoned hiker. 


Possibly the greatest feature of this steep, unique mountain range is the enormous variety of plant and animal life. At more than 550,00 acres, nowhere on earth has a better preserved example of deciduous (leafy) tree forests. The most recent inventory shows that the park has 125 species of trees, 200 species of birds, 60 species of mammals and a grand total of 1500 species of flowering plants. 


There are five different representations of forests. At 4500  to 6,643 feet you will find Spruce-Fir Forests, similar to forests found in southern Canada. At these elevations, 85 inches of annual rainfall is common. At 4500 feet and above, you may find a Northern Hardwood Forest, similar to the forests of New England. On sheltered slopes and coves (valleys) up to 4500 feet,  you can find a Cove Hardwood Forest. Majestic Hemlock Forests can be found along streams and exposed, dry ridges. Pine Oak Forests, most common in the lower elevations of the Southeast, remind you that you are still in the South. 125,000 acres, or 25%, of the park are cataloged as Old Growth Forests. One of the more notable characteristics of these ancient forests, aside from the presence of huge trees, is the open "airy" feel of these stands. The trails that feature these primeval forests are: the Maddron Bald Trail (Albright Grove), Ramsay Cascades Trail, Baxter Creek Trail, Laurel Falls Trail, Gregory Ridge Trail and the Fork Ridge Trail.


Each area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park has been assigned a name by the park service. Nearly all of the hikes in the park begin in one of these areas. Some have campgrounds and other facilities and some just have a ranger station. Before you head to the Smokies be sure to check out the backcountry camping link. You can't camp just anywhere in this nearly pristine park. There are lots of rules and regulations that are in place to preserve the natural beauty here. By following these reasonable regulations you will insure that this beauty will be preserved for future generations.

Camping and Permit Information

Great Smoky Photo Gallery

Take a photo tour of the Smokies. These fantastic photos will give you an excellent overview of what the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park has to offer.


The Boogerman Trail  

There are few day hikes in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park that are also loop hikes. Not only is the Boogerman Trail a loop, it epitomizes the essence of the Smokies.

Mt Cammerer   

A steep hike to the greatest views in the northern edge of the park. The fire-tower at the summit is a unique example of Civilian Conservation Corp ingenuity. Enjoy these wonderful views from the inside of this stone and wood structure.


This secluded valley is one of the more remote areas in the Smokies. This, the greatest feature of Cataloochee has remained unchanged since the 1800's. Old growth timber, crystal clear creeks, wildlife and settler's homes are some of the other great features of this beautiful valley.

Ramsay Cascades

The hike to Ramsay Cascades is one of the best waterfall hikes in the Smokies. The trail climbs past old growth forest to the highest waterfall in the park that is accessible by a trail. 

Mt. LeConte

If you have one day to do one hike in the Smokies, this is it ! Geology, views, history and a mountaintop Hikers resort are the features of this hike. Spectacular views make this an all-time favorite. (Day Hike or Overnighter)

Mt. Sterling

A 2 night loop that takes in some of the best views in the park. Hike through three different ecosystems as you change elevation. Lots of bear and wild hog in a remote section of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (1or 2 night Hike)

Andrews Bald

This short hike to some great views can be made by hikers of all ability levels. The trail begins at the highest point in the park and leads to one of the two maintained balds in the Smokies.

Charles Bunion

One of the greatest ridge-walks in the east. This 5 mile hike takes you to a rock formation that is unlike any other. See the back bone of the smokies on this view filled hike.


Big Creek

A classic Smokies creek hike. The trail follows Big Creek for 5 miles, taking you past some great waterfalls and swimming holes. A good hike if you like crystal clear, cool rushing waters.


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