5 Family-Friendly Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains

You know what they say… teach them young! If you’re like us, hiking is your preferred family bonding activity. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are many trails that will excite and engage kids of all ages and activity levels.

Gatlinburg Trail

Combine a hike and an afternoon in a quaint city. The Gatlinburg Trail is a quiet, 45-minute stroll with a gentle grade that starts at Sugarlands Visitor Center and ends on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, TN. Grab brunch at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, a short 5-minute walk from the trail’s end, for some southern-style pancakes.

Strolling with a Stroller?

The first 1.2 miles to the Little Pigeon River bridge are the most stroller and wheelchair-friendly sections for those with young children or accessibility needs!

Bathroom Breaks

The nearest bathroom is located at Sugarlands Visitor Center near the trailhead.

Laurel Falls Trail

This 80-foot waterfall is a must-see in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and thankfully, it isn’t difficult to access. The trail is about 2.4 miles roundtrip and a go-to for family hikes. Be sure to arrive at the trailhead early to snag a parking spot—and avoid large crowds!

Strolling with a Stroller?

Though the Laurel Falls Trail is described as paved, it has disintegrated over the years. It would be difficult to use a stroller on this trail.

Bathroom Breaks

There are no bathrooms at the Laurel Falls Trailhead, so plan accordingly! The nearest bathroom is located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

 

Andrews Bald Trail

For our more experienced mini-adventurers, Andrews Bald is a mildly challenging, yet short trail. It covers 1.8 miles of Forney Ridge Trail with sweeping views of the Great Smoky Mountains. This mountaintop showcases “bald” conditions specific to the Appalachian region, where grasses and mountain laurel flourish rather than trees. End your trek at Clingmans Dome Observation Tower—the highest point in Tennessee!

Strolling with a Stroller?

Andrews Bald is not stroller friendly. We recommend this trail for children who have prior experience and can hike without carrier assistance.

Bathroom Breaks

The nearest bathroom is located at Clingmans Dome parking lot near the trailhead.

Deep Creek Waterfall Loop

This trail is the perfect length for tiny trekkers! Only 2.4 miles roundtrip, the Deep Creek Loop features three stunning waterfalls, including 60-foot Tom Branch Falls. Make sure you turn right onto Indian Creek Trail (about 0.8 miles in from your starting point)! This is the true start to the loop. Come prepared to get wet! There are many sections of the trail that are ideal for light puddle-jumping or wading when the water is low.

Strolling with a Stroller?

Deep Creek Waterfall loop is not stroller friendly. If your little one may need an extra push, be sure to bring a carrier backpack.

Bathroom Breaks

The nearest bathroom is located at the Deep Creek Campground near the trailhead.

 

Cades Cove Loop Road

Cades Cove is by far the most popular—and for good reason. The loop is paved and extends through a vibrant, lush valley in the western corner of the park. On Wednesdays from May to September, it is closed to vehicle traffic, offering the ideal atmosphere to experience mountain views on foot. In total the road is 10.5 miles, but it is easy to choose how much to explore. Among roaming horses, white-tailed deer, and occasional black bears, are many historical buildings, including an operational grist mill.

Strolling with a Stroller?

The first 4 miles are the most stroller and wheelchair-friendly sections for those with young children or accessibility needs!

Bathroom Breaks

Bathrooms are located at the amphitheater near the Cades Cove campground and at the Visitor Center (about halfway through the loop).

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