Whether your kids are young and need an easier trail, or older children wanting adventure, every family can find the right trail.
LAUREL FALLS TRAIL
This popular trail leads you to 80-foot-high Laurel Falls, a beautiful reward for the 2.4-mile round trip. The trail is paved, with a gradual incline to get young legs working but not worn out. Tell the kids to stay alert—they might spot bears here. Tip: This is a popular trail, so get there early.
More of a stroll than a hike, the riverside Gatlinburg Trail lets kids walk or ride bikes. This trail connects the National Park Service’s Sugarlands Visitor Center to downtown Gatlinburg, with spots along the way to get close to the water. The level pavement is great for strollers. The trail is 3.8 miles, round trip.
CATARACT FALLS TRAIL
Cataract Falls Trail starts in Sugarlands Visitor Center’s parking lot, so you can escape heat or rain with a stop at the center’s exhibits (plus: restrooms!). On the three-quarter-mile round trip, kids will cross Fighting Creek on bridges. Most strollers can navigate this gravel trail.
METCALF BOTTOMS TRAIL
At just 1.5 miles round trip, the trail features rustic, split-log bridges and passes remnants of long-gone settlements. Visit the 1882 Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse and the Walker Sisters cabin. A small cemetery is a reminder of when the school doubled as a church. Metcalf Bottoms Trail isn’t recommended for strollers.
LITTLE BRIER GAP TRAIL
You can reach this trail by driving to its trailhead or–if you’re already on Metcalf Bottoms Trail and the kids are still energetic–picking up this trail just above the schoolhouse.
At 2.6 miles round trip, Little Brier Gap Trail boasts spring wildflowers and the occasional bear sighting, but the highlight is the Walker homestead. Five self-sufficient sisters lived on this isolated farm for decades as the national park formed around them. Kids can explore the cabin, springhouse, and corn crib and imagine a life of growing and making everything they need.
Elkmont Campground one of the most scenic spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The area has historic structures. It’s the perfect way to explore this logging camp and resort community.
Little River Trail
Highlights: Historic Structures, Wild Flowers, River Views
The 5 mile Little River Trail is an easy hike that climbs steadily into the mountains. It follows an old logging road, so the hiking is not too difficult and the grade is gentle.
The trail allows you to explore Millionaires Row, a collection of old homes that were once part of The Appalachian Club, a wealthy resort community that predated the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
After the park was established in 1934, many of the residents of these homes were allowed to stay with a lifetime lease. However, many of these structures are now in disrepair and slated for demolition. However, the park service has plans to preserve some of the homes.
This trail follows along a scenic stretch of the Little River. Several places are perfect for a swim. River otters were reintroduced to the Little River in the 1990s. You may see one.
At 2.2 miles, you’ll see the 20 foot Huskey Branch Falls.
The turn-around point is the Cucumber Gap Trail Junction at 2.5 miles in.
The entire Little River Trail is 6.1 miles long and leads to backcountry campsite #30. You can connect to Huskey Gap Trail, Goshen Prong, or Rough Creek Trail, but these trails are mostly used by fisherman and backcountry campers. These hikes are not enjoyed as much.
Jakes Creek Trail to the Avent Cabin
Most historic buildings in Elkmont are located close to the campground, but the Avent Cabin is located not to much further in the mountains. The round trip distance is 2.4 miles.
The hike begins on Jakes Creek Trail near the Society Hill area of Elkmont’s old resort community, where you will find more large, old homes in Elkmont.
After. 0.3 miles, is the junction with Cucumber Gap Trail and at 0.4 mile junction is Meigs Creek Trail, but continue along Jakes Creek trail. At 1.2 miles, is an unmarked trail on the right side of the hike. This trail crosses a small log bridge to Avent Cabin.
Avent Cabin dates from the 1850s. It is the 2nd oldest cabin in Elkmont. The original residents were the Owenby’s. They sold the cabin to Frank Avent. While the Avent’s owned the cabin, Mayna Treanor Avent, an artist, used it as a studio in the summer to paint watercolors of the Smoky Mountains in the 1930s and 1940s.
A nice way to sample some of the best hikes in Elkmont is to take the Cucumber Gap Trail Loop. It is 5.6 miles round trip and offers historic buildings, wild flowers and river views.
This loop trail combines the Little River Trail, Cucumber Gap Trail, and Jakes Creek Trail to make a nice loop.
Highlights are Millionaires Row, Huskey Branch Falls, and Society Hill. The Cucumber Branch section is peaceful and a good place to see wildflowers in the spring.
Hike the Little River Trail for 2.5 miles and take a right onto the Cucumber Gap Trail. Hike another 2.3 miles until Cucumber Cap makes a junction with Jakes Creek Trail. Take a right onto Jakes Creek for the remaining 0.3 miles back to Elkmont Campground.
This moderately difficult hike is an excellent way to spend your day and it’s perfect for exploring most of the Elkmont area. For a slightly longer hike, you can tack on a short trip to see the Avent cabin ask well.
HOUSE OF FAIRIES
To get to the trailhead, you can park at Ogle Place Parking area to start at one side of the trail or at Mynatt Park on the other side of the trail just before the entrance to Cherokee Orchard Road. From there, you’ll have to walk up the road to get to the trailhead. There is a small pull off area at the trailhead but parking at these areas would probably be easier.
Twin Creeks Trail is an out-and-back trail with a roundtrip length of 4.5 miles. You’ll walk along the creek and see many buildings from the Voorheis Estate. You can walk inside and see what living in log cabins was like. You’ll also find the Natural Resources Center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the trail. There’s also the Voorheis Estate house you can see. On one part of the creek, you can even see the water mill Voorheis built on LeConte Creek. Many people also see wildlife along the trail, including snakes and black bears. Just be careful if you do see any wild animals while hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains.
As you’re walking along the trail and you pass the Resource Center, you’ll see a small path jutting off from Twin Creeks Trail. Follow this trail to get the Fairy House. Once you get to the House of the Fairies, you’ll see an arch wall with a simple open door, with stairs leading to the top. You can go inside the springhouse. The exterior and interior are completely constructed of stone. The stone is covered in moss, which is probably why it was named the House of the Fairies.
The Riverwalk Greenway
WEBSITE: CLICK ON BOLD GREEN PRINT
Riverwalk Greenway is a paved trail in Pigeon Forge. The trail starts at Patriot Park, goes to The Island and further. There are benches, bathrooms and water fountains along the trail. Walkers, runners, baby strollers, bikes, and pets on a leash use this trail. It is open 24 hours and lit at night.
The 4-mile Greenway follows West Prong of Little Pigeon River. After a while you will walk along the riverbank, with geese and herons for company. The trail meanders around attractions on Parkway and Teaster Lane without road crossings. You will pass through The Island, go under Parkway, then the Community Canter and end at the old City Park.
Starting either at the Community Center or at Patriot Park, you could park for free and take the Riverwalk Greenway its whole length. It will take about one and a half hours.
The Riverwalk Greenway connects with the path around Patriot Park, and the hub for the Trolley system. In this area, you can export the Old Mill historic district and shops. Parking here is free and plentiful.
To go north, go to Butler Street. When you get to Ashley Avenue, follow the trail as it loops around and down to the river. This is the best part.
Cross under Jake Thomas Boulevard. You’re now at the LeConte Center.
Go behind the convention center to The Island.
The Island bridges will take you across the river and will go under E. Wears Valley Road and the Parkway. Next is the Community Center and the old City Park.
It’s only four miles between Patriot Park and the Community Center.
When the kids call it a day after hiking, go back to one of the My Bearfoot Cabins for the next part of an exciting day.
Pat and Don Kirchhoefer, owners