Menu Close
laurel falls in the winter covered in snow

Top 5 Winter Hiking Trails in the Smoky Mountains

DATE : November 21, 2022

Are you planning on visiting the Great Smoky Mountains this winter? While it does get cold, this time of year is absolutely breathtaking in the national park. If you want to possibly see frozen waterfalls, snowy views, and just enjoy the trek through the woods, you’ll want to plan some winter hikes! Here are the top 5 winter hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Abrams Falls Trail

abrams fallsAn incredible place to visit in the winter is Cades Cove. If you happen to be in town when it snows, you’ll really get to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. Even if it hasn’t snowed, the area is still incredible to see! About halfway through the Cades Cove Loop, you’ll find the trailhead for Abrams Falls. This is a 5 mile round trip hike that follows along Abrams Creek until it brings you to the 25-foot waterfall. Although it is one of the smaller waterfalls when it comes to height, the amount of water that rushes over the rocks is pretty impressive! On your way to the falls, you’ll get to enjoy old forest views, and then when you head back, you can finish driving the Loop!

2. Laurel Falls Trail

Waterfalls are always popular destinations, especially in winter! If it’s cold enough, some or all of the waterfall will freeze, creating a picturesque sight. A fantastic trail that has a waterfall you should try in the winter is Laurel Falls. This trail is considered easy at 2.3 miles round trip and because the path is paved to the top. Enjoy mountain views, interesting foliage, and possibly small wildlife spotting as you climb to the top. Once you’re at the end, you’ll see the 80-foot-tall waterfall come into view!

3. Alum Cave Trail

arch rock on alum cave trail in the smoky mountains

One of the most popular winter hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains is Alum Cave Trail. This hike is also 5 miles round trip, and it’s considered moderate. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll see beautiful wooded views, and then you’ll come up on some amazing geological formations. There aren’t many trails where you get to be this close to these unique natural features, which is part of what makes this trail so popular! Water typically trickles down the rocks, so when it’s cold, they turn into icicles, making the rocks even more beautiful. Plus, once you get to the bluffs, you’ll get to see some incredible views too!

4. Metcalf Bottoms Trail

Another winter hiking trail in the Smoky Mountains you will enjoy is Metcalf Bottoms Trail. This hike follows along the Little Pigeon River and takes you through the mountain forest. You’ll come across historic buildings, including the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse. If you continue past the schoolhouse, you’ll also come up on the Walker Sisters’ place. This trail is considered easy and is 1.5 miles round trip.

5. Porters Creek Trail

Fern Branch FallsPorters Creek Trail is an easy trail with a length of 4 miles round trip. It’s known for a beautiful walk through the woods, as well as historic buildings. Some of the notable places you’ll be able to explore include the Elbert Centrell farmstead, the Owenby cemetery, and John Messer’s farm site. You’ll also walk alongside the creek, and near the end of the trail, you’ll get to see Fern Branch Falls!

These are just some of the winter hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains you’ll want to try! We know you’ll have a blast exploring the national park on your next trip, but have you reserved lodging yet? Look through our Gatlinburg hotel rooms, and book one for your vacation now!