The Quiet Walkways of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are short and relatively easy trails that lead directly from the road into areas of nature. Some are easy for the non-hiker.
Each trail is unique and are located throughout the park. The Quiet Walkways are a way to see the natural beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
You don’t need a backpack or hiking boots, appropriate footwear is a good suggestion.
The trails are marked with sign marked “Quiet Walkway”. Sometimes they’re easy to miss, so keep your eyes watchful. Usually there’s a small parking area big enough for one or two cars.
Most Quiet Walkways are approximately 1/4-mile to 1/2 mile in length, and are designed to be easy enough for anyone who can walk on a trail. Consider taking a drive that includes a Quiet Walkway.
Here are some Quiet Walkways to get you started, but there are several more worth exploring.
Quiet Walkways between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Cades Cove
Most of the walkways in this region are located off of Little River Road or Laurel Creek Road, although there are a couple of others in various spots.
Hickory Flats Quiet Walkway
The area between the Sugarlands Visitor Center and Cades Cove is where several walkways can be found. As you drive west from Sugarlands on Fighting Creek Gap Road, the second walkway is Hickory Flats Quiet Walkway. Hickory Flats Branch is one of the main routes for water to run off Cove Mountain. It also crosses Whistlepig Branch. The trail is listed as being 0.3 miles one-way in length over non-strenuous terrain.
Laurel Branch Quiet Walkway
Afterwards, if you drive a little further west, you come to Laurel Falls Quiet Walkway. This 0.3-mile loop will allow you to see Laurel Falls area without hiking the more strenuous and time-consuming Laurel Falls Trail.
Quiet Walkways off U.S. Highway 441
This highway cuts through the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can find four quiet walkways on the Tennessee between Sugarlands Visitor Center and Newfound Gap. An additional five are accessible between Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the way to Cherokee, NC.
Balsam Point Quiet Walkway
One walkway is the Balsam Point Quiet Walkway, which is north of Chimney Tops overlook. This path provides close views of Steep Branch creek and the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. It is approximately a 0.3-mile loop, and features a clearing with a log bench where you can relax and enjoy the scenery.
Thunderhead Prong Quiet Walkway
This walkway is located in the Tremont area, and it provides some beautiful river scenery. The walkway is 1.4 miles each way (2.8 mi. round trip), but it is suitable for all skill levels. It’s a longer trail, but offers an example of the flora of the national park’s backcountry without having to travel there. Find the trail by going past the Institute on Tremont Road, up the 3-mile gravel road known as Upper Tremont Road, parking at the Middle Prong Trail trailhead. The trail splits to open on the right to the Thunderhead Prong Quiet Walkway.
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