smokies in snow

Best Winter Hikes in the Smoky Mountains

Wintertime hiking in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be challenging, but with the proper clothing and gear, winter hikes can reward you with lots of unique sites that you won’t see at other times of the year. From frozen water falls to snow dusted mountains, the Smokies are beautiful in the winter months. With snow on the ground you can find animal tracks much easier and with the leaves off of the trees you have a better chance at spotting the wildlife in the park. Here are 5 of the best winter hikes in the Smoky Mountains order of easiest to extreme:

1. Porter’s Creek Trail

Porter’s Creek Trail in The Greenbrier section of the park follows an old logging road past Fern Branch Falls to an old home site and hikers club cabin. This Trail is very easy and great for a family with children. Check out the beautiful frozen wall of ice where the falls normally stand in the warmer months. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world!

2. Abram’s Falls

cades cove winterAbram’s Falls in Cades Cove is a moderate 5 mile round trip. This trail is mostly level and good for the whole family. The waterfall is beautiful and if the weather his cold enough then there could be some great ice formations around the falls and the giant pool of water below.

3. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls off of the Cherokee Motor Nature Trail. This hike to the falls and back is around 5.5 miles round trip. This is a moderate to strenuous hike that is beautiful year round. Make sure you’ve packed proper footwear, not only to keep your feet warm but also since the winter increases the challenge of these hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

4. Ramsey Cascades

Ramsey Cascades in The Greenbrier section is an 8 mile round trip strenuous hike when the weather is warm and dry. In the winter, if there is cold weather this hike becomes extreme and should only be attempted by seasoned hikers with all winter gear including crampons.

5. Alum Cave Bluffs

leconte winterAlum’s Cave Bluffs to Mt. LeConte is only for the most experienced and prepared adventure. It is definitely worth the climb to the top of Mt. LeConte. This is a 10 mile round trip hike that takes you over 6,000 ft above sea level and into what can seem like a winter wonderland. If you opt to go for this hike make sure to have an experienced partner and all your winter gear. Don’t forget your crampons for this trail either.

All of these trails can become icy and/or snow covered in the winter months. Even if you plan on one of the hikes in the Smoky Mountains that is rated easy be prepared for the worst weather and conditions. Read up on more area information and begin planning your winter vacation today!