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Laurel falls with snow around it

Top 5 Trails for Winter Hiking in the Smoky Mountains


If you’re planning on visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this winter, you need to check out a few hikes that offer great views and seasonal perks! The Smokies offer beautiful hikes all year round, but there are a few that are great to visit during the snowy times of the winter. Here are the top 5 trails for winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Laurel Falls

During the winter months, Smoky Mountain waterfalls turn into frozen masterpieces that you have to see! Laurel Falls is a great place to hike during the winter because it is one of the only paved trails in the Smokies! Only a 2.3-mile round trip, this trail is great for all ages and skill levels and features beautiful ice formations during the chillier months. This is one of the most popular trails in the national park!

2. Alum Cave

bridge along Alum Cave Trail with snowThe Alum Cave Trail is a bit of a longer trek, coming in at 10-miles round trip. You can even access Mount LeConte via Alum Trail if you feel like going further. If you’re hiking Alum Cave in the winter you’ll get to see various snowy mountain overlooks, as well as spend some time exploring the geologic formations like Arch Rock once you reach the Alum Cave Bluffs.

3. Porters Creek

One of the best places to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains is in the Greenbrier area! Here, you’ll find the Porters Creek Trail, which features various historical buildings and a small waterfall. This hike is considered moderately difficult, coming in at around 4-miles round trip in the lower elevations of the Smokies.

4. Abrams Falls

Abrams falls in the winterAbrams Falls is a great hike to take because it is conveniently located within Cades Cove, a must-see area of the Smoky Mountains. After you’ve driven or biked the Cades Cove loop road, take the hike to Abrams Falls and enjoy one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Smokies. While Abrams Falls isn’t close to being the largest waterfall, it is one of the most powerful, as it is the highest volume waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. This trail is only around 5.2-miles long and is at a low elevation so you don’t have to worry about ice.

5. Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower

Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower is a must-see spot in the Smoky Mountains! If you’re up for a challenge, this is the trail for you. It’s an 11.2 mile hike roundtrip, and although it can get intense at times, the view from the tower is well worth it. You can walk up the stairs to the tower for panoramic views of the Smokies. From the tower, you’ll be able to see the Pigeon River Gorge, Snowbird Mountain, Mountain Sterling, the Big Creek area and more. In the winter, you have a high chance of seeing gorgeous views of the Smokies dusted in white!

These are just some of the best trails for winter hiking in the Smoky Mountains, but there are so many that offer views of the spectacular winter scenery. Whether you’re looking for something easy or a little more challenging, you’ll have no trouble finding a trail in the park. To help you prepare for your winter hiking trip, check out these Smoky Mountain hiking tips and tricks.