While you can enjoy hiking all year long in the Smokies, the spring months are one of the best times to experience the trails within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You will not only find long days of sunshine and comfortable hiking weather but blooming wildflowers, stunning waterfalls, and many other natural wonders! The toughest decision is deciding where to hike, but we can help! Check out these top 3 places to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains this spring:
1. Ramsey Cascades Trail
The Ramsey Cascades Trail not only leads to the tallest cascades in the Smokies but is one of the best opportunities for wildflower viewing in the spring! The trailhead is in the Greenbrier section of the national park, which is 6 miles east of Gatlinburg and is generally less crowded than other areas of the park. The trail is considered strenuous and follows rushing rivers and streams for much of its length. From the trailhead, the Ramsey Cascade Trail stretches 4 miles to the cascades where you will find water dropping 100 feet over rock outcroppings before collecting into a small pool. As a safety precaution, don’t attempt to climb to the top of the falls because it is extremely dangerous.
2. Gregory Ridge Trail
While the Gregory Ridge Trail is considered one of the more challenging places to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains, it is well worth the effort! The trail is located near the Cades Cove area of the national park and offers an 11.6 mile round trip hike complete with beautiful wildflowers. While hiking along the Gregory Ridge Trail, you will enjoy the fabulous views of the flame azaleas that reach their peak late in the spring season. Once you reach the top of Gregory Bald, you will be rewarded with the sights of Cades Cove, Rich Mountain, Nantahala National Forest, and the Yellow Creek Mountains.
3. Rich Mountain Loop
While the Cades Cove area of the park is spectacular in the spring, it is also very popular and can be quite busy! If you want to explore Cades Cove without the crowds, take a hike along the Rich Mountain Loop. This trail is 8.3 miles round trip and reaches a maximum elevation of 3,691 feet, making it the perfect spot to soak in the views of Cades Cove. The trail begins at the beginning of the Loop Road before reaching the John Oliver Cabin, then climbs toward the crest of Rich Mountain and continues to Crooked Arm Ridge Trail. While hiking along this trail, there is a good chance you will spot some deer and you might even come across a black bear!
Now since you know where to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains this spring, you are ready for an exciting outdoor adventure! If you want to experience even more of the great outdoors this spring, take advantage of one of our spring trips on the Pigeon River! We hope to see you this spring at SMO Rafting!