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5 Best Places For Fall Colors in the Smoky Mountains

DATE : August 16, 2023

 The autumn season is the perfect time to visit the Smokies due to the cooler temperatures and bright foliage! From scenic drives to hiking trails, there are nearly endless options for enjoying the great outdoors and soaking in the natural beauty of the changing leaves. Take a look at 5 of the best places to see fall colors in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Abrams Falls

abrams falls in smoky mountains national parkIf you’re looking for an autumn hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then the hike to Abrams Falls should be on your list! Located within Cades Cove, this trail is about 5 miles long and brings you to one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the Smokies. Even though Abrams Falls is only 20 feet high, the volume of water rushing down definitely makes up for the lacking height. During fall, when it’s surrounded by the colorful red, orange, and yellow leaves, this waterfall is even more spectacular!

2. The Gatlinburg Trail

Did you know you can access a hiking trail from downtown Gatlinburg? That’s right– and it’s an accessible trail for all ages to take in the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains! The Gatlinburg Trail is less than 2 miles long, with a trailhead along River Road that takes you along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and ends at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. A bonus– this is one of the only dog-friendly trails in the national park, so it’s a great option for the whole family to enjoy! This easy, relatively flat trail is peaceful and beautiful year-round, but we think it’s especially worth checking out during the autumn months.

gatlinburg scenic overlook during fall3. Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook

A sunrise or sunset is beautiful anywhere you go in the Smokies, but experiencing one at the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook takes the incredible view to a whole new level! This overlook is located on the Gatlinburg Bypass road and is a popular spot for taking photos. You can see the entirety of downtown Gatlinburg surrounded by the mountains and their colorful fall foliage. 

4. Clingmans Dome

There’s no better place to admire the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains than at Clingmans Dome, the tallest point in the park! After a steep walk up the paved trail, you’ll reach the observation tower, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains 6,643 feet in the air! On a clear day, you may be able to see as far as 100 miles! Clingmans Dome is also an access point to several hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail and the Forney Ridge Trail that leads to Andrews Bald, another beautiful place for seeing fall foliage. 

5. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

cabin along the roaring fork motor nature trailOne of the most popular Smoky Mountain scenic drives is the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail– and for good reason! It’s about 6 miles of paved road winding through the mountains with views of streams, waterfalls, wildlife, and of course, lots of trees. There are also several access points to hiking trails and old cabins, so you can easily spend an hour or two enjoying nature. 

Now that you know where to go for the best displays of fall foliage, learn more about the best time to see fall colors in the Smoky Mountains. Our hotel in Gatlinburg is just minutes from all of the incredible sights, attractions, and restaurants the area has to offer. We hope to welcome you to the Smokies very soon!