Sometimes a full day on the trail is too much for yourself or for younger or older friends and family. There are days when you’d like to pursue several activities and perhaps a shorter hike would fit best in your schedule. We’ve compiled a list of some of the more fun and interesting short hikes in the area. Some are perfect for strollers and some might be more suited to hiking boots. All of these Gatlinburg short hikes should offer up an enjoyable way to spend a part of a summer day.
Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
This flat and paved trail is one of the favorite hiking spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At only .5 miles in length, it offers a fun way to enjoy the outdoors without overdoing it. This short trail would make a great quick hike on a warm day if you want to get outside for a fast trip in the park.
Visitors who want to bring children in a stroller or those who wish to traverse a trail that is wheelchair friendly often choose this easy trail.
People who like to hike a short trail with nearby rest facilities will like that this trail is adjacent to the Sugarlands Visitors Center. While this trail is fun and convenient it still offers chances to see wildlife (many hikers have seen deer here) and an opportunity to view the nearby streams.
Cove Hardwood Nature Trail
Located within 15 minutes from town and about 4.5 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center at the Chimneys Picnic Area, you’ll find this picturesque .75 mile trail. This trail is known for being a preferred spot for wildflower viewing in the spring. The forests on this trail offer visitors a view of some grand old-growth trees. People who have hiked this trail have rated it as one of the very best trails in the area because it provides hikers with an inspiring walk through a virgin forest view of the Smokies.
This trail takes around an hour to walk, and you’ll start in the second-growth forest making your way to the old-growth section. You’ll cross a few springs and see many types of wildflowers. The area is sheltered and offers just the right environment for a diverse range of flora. The Sugarlands Visitor Center can provide information on the early settlers and former homesteads in this area.
Want to bring your dog along on a short hike? This trail is one of the few trails in the area that allows you to take your leashed dog with you. It follows the river and begins at the Sugarlands Visitors Center. You will see some historical sites such as a cemetery and settlers’ homesteads on this walk. Enjoy the densely wooded surroundings as you take this 1.9-mile hike. This is an easy, paved trail that is flat most of the way.
This trail is one of only 4 paved trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the hike is fun, the real reward is the sight of the beautiful 80-foot high waterfall. In some areas, the pavement is easier to travel over, and in others, it can be a bit uneven and rough. This trail might be a little too difficult for strollers and wheelchairs. Pets and bicycles are prohibited. The total hike is 2.6 miles to and from the falls. The hike is not very difficult and most hikers can finish it in under two hours. Visitors have reported that this trail is good for kids 6 and up.
Note: Early morning is the best time of day to go to Laurel Falls as it can get a bit crowded later in the day. It’s important to keep watch for bears. Don’t litter or leave food around where it can tempt bears. Children should be supervised at all times. Some parents say that child carriers may be the best way to transport smaller kids versus using a stroller.
Cosby Nature Trail
Only a mile in length, this trail features footbridges and picturesque streams. It’s an easy hike as it is mostly level. You can access this trail from Highway 321 in Gatlinburg from traffic light #3. Drive to the Cosby entrance of the park, and you will see signs for the trail.
Metcalf Bottoms Trail
Enjoy a pretty easy walk on this 2.2-mile trail. It offers a gravel surface and you can see the old-time Little Greenbrier School. Start at the picnic area and proceed through to the Little Greenbrier School. Kids and adults alike enjoy seeing the school, which was built in 1882 and still has the original children’s desks inside. Also on this trail is the Walking Sisters Cabin and springhouse.