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smoky mountains in the fall

5 Best Autumn Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

DATE : September 16, 2021

If you’re interested in seeing some of the most beautiful fall colors in the country, you have to plan a trip to the Smokies! From mid-October to early November, you’ll be able to see the peak of bright reds, yellows and oranges paint the mountains. It’s a sight unlike any other! Here are 4 of the best Autumn hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

1. Alum Cave

alum caveWhen you hike the Alum Cave trail, you’re in for beautiful views, clear mountain streams and an old-growth hardwood forest. The cave bluffs are only 2.3 miles from the trailhead and offer great views of the valley and a nice resting stop for hikers. To get to the bluffs you’ll hike through Arch Rock and climb Peregrine Peak, where you’ll find lots of lovely wildflowers. Most hikers turn back after they reach the bluffs, but if you continue for 5 more miles you can reach Mount LeConte.

2. Gregory’s Bald

If you’re looking for a day trip to the Smokies, you should plan on hiking to Gregory’s Bald. This 11.6-mile trail is considered difficult and is recommended for more experienced hikers. If you can make it to the end, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views from the bald. You’ll also see tons of wildflowers and possibly some horses along this trail. This hike is popular among horseback riders, runners and backpackers.

3. Andrews Bald

andrws baldIf you’re looking to see fall views and find a spot for a picnic, Andrews Bald is a good option for you! This trail begins at the Clingman’s Dome parking lot and descends before leveling out on a broad ridge. This hike is only 1.8 miles and ascends for just the last bit of the trail. After your last climb, you’ll reach the grassy, open area of Andrews Bald, named after a cattle herder, Andres Thompson. At certain times of the year, you’ll be able to find blackberries and raspberries throughout the hike.

4. Mount LeConte

If you don’t take the Alum Cave trail to get to Mount LeConte, you can try the Trillium Gap trail! This trail is 12.7 to the summit and is considered difficult, so be prepared for being out for a while and plan your hike time accordingly. This hike also features a waterfall and is over 3,000 feet in elevation gain. If you hike to LeConte Lodge you can even stay overnight! Make sure to book your stay in advance. With the stunning views you’ll see at the top, it’s no wonder this is considered one of the best Autumn hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

5. Abrams Falls

abrams signIf you’d like to see a waterfall with gorgeous fall views, check out the hike to Abrams Falls! You can access this 5-mile trail within Cades Cove past stop #10 on the loop road. Considered moderate in difficulty, this trail has a bit of a tough terrain and it typically takes visitors around 3-4 hours to finish. Getting to see this picturesque waterfall surrounded by awesome fall colors is a view you don’t want to miss!

Now that you know more about the best Autumn hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can begin planning your fall vacation. Are you still looking for a place to stay near the national park? Browse the rooms at our hotel in Gatlinburg that’s just a short driving distance from the entrance of the park. We look forward to seeing you!