6 Fall Hikes in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited park in the United States, and for good reason. Established in 1926, the park straddles the border of Tennessee and North Carolina and contains nearly 80 historic buildings, according to the National Parks website. 

If you or your family are ready to hit the trails and experience some of the best hiking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park this fall, these top trail experiences offer views, fall foliage sightseeing, and more. 

Porters Creek

The one-mile, moderate walk is a great way to introduce kids to wildlife and nature as it winds through a cove hardwood forest, and NPS says there are remnants of the locals who lived nearby before the park was established — including the first Europeans, who settled the area in the 1900s. 

Chimney Tops Trail

According to NPS, the Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular in the park. The two-mile hike gains 1,400 feet in elevation and begins by crossing a rushing stream three times before climbing the mountain.  

Rainbow Falls

Although also strenuous and rocky in sections, NPS says Rainbow Falls is a consistently popular hike, perhaps because visitors can see rosebay rhododendron, teaberry, mountain pepper-bush, and the rare pink lady's slippers.

Andrews Bald

This trail begins in the Clingmans Dome parking lot and descends in elevation. After traveling along a broad ridge, the trail swings right and begins to climb, ascending through a beautiful fall forest to Andrews Bald. 

The Appalachian Trail

About halfway through the AT in the park, hikers cross Highway 441, which offers beautiful views of autumn foliage and fall leaf color. 

Charles Bunion

With an elevation change of 1,600 feet, you can expect a strenuous workout, but the summit of Charles Bunion offers views of other mountains and valleys nearby. 

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