The last views of fall and the promise of a winter wonderland beckon to travelers – Gatlinburg is calling! The years fly by like the swimming leaves that eddy and whirl as they are swept from the trees. Our eyes look on with near disbelief across the misty mountains; is it really nearly time for winter? We must explore the heights, the lowlands, the streams and trees and homesteads and everywhere that has been transformed by the touch of winter's advance.
Where can we find the very best late fall scenes in Gatlinburg? Everyone has a favorite spot, but we'll share a few of ours and hope you get here soon to enjoy them for yourself:
Waterfalls & Trails:
Trekking to the waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a lot of fun this time of year. Here are two popular walks and waterfalls you and your family will love. Smaller kids may have an easier time with the Grotto Falls trail.
Rainbow Falls: This 80' falls is one of the most popular in the area. On a sunny day the rainbow effect at the falls makes the 5.4 miles roundtrip hike totally worth it. Hiking in you will ascend to 1500 feet to reach the falls. While many people like to take their pets with them when they vacation in Gatlinburg, the trail to Rainbow Falls is closed to pets. Biking is not allowed on the trail, and people should pay attention to their footwear; open toed shoes aren't recommended. Sturdy hiking boots allow for the best footing on the trail.
Hikers can continue to the summit of Mt. LeConte which is several miles beyond the falls. It’s a pretty rocky hike. Some visitors have reported they benefited from bringing a walking stick along with them. A wonderful hike in offers views of old growth forests.
Grotto Falls: This is an easier walk. Watch for wildlife; you might see some birds and chipmunks along the way. The walk is about 3 miles roundtrip and ascends up to 450 feet. Some people like to go early so it isn’t too crowded.
Watch for slippery rocks around the falls, be careful of the footing around this or any waterfall. It's best to view waterfalls from a short distance for safety's sake, and to get the best photo opportunities. Watch kids and keep an eye out for black bears! Go early as this is a really popular trail.
Looking for another fun hiking experience? Hike Chimney Tops in the park. Visitors of every age have tried this hike. The trail just received a major facelift and it's only around two miles to the top. The last mile is a definite challenge, but those who are fit and a bit fearless get the reward of awesome panoramic views at the top. The trail ascends 1400 feet to the summit. The trail can get muddy and as we said, the last mile might be a bit challenging for some people, but wearing proper hiking boots, monitoring the weather and dressing in layers should prepare you for the experience.
If you are looking for a memorable hiking experience and a place where you can get some of the best photos to remember your trip by, Chimney Tops is, well, the tops!
Dogs are welcome on this trail. Some hikers start early so they can enjoy a quieter experience, as the crowds pick up around 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. The trail is open year round. Some hikers have enjoyed it just after a snowfall.