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  • United States
  • Tennessee
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

    Summary Established in 1934, Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border of both Tennessee and North Carolina. The Great Smoky Mountains are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. With stunning views of mountain ridgelines, waterfalls, and wildlife, there's a reason why this is annually one of the top visited national parks. The park spans 522,427 acres spread almost evenly across the two states. There are 10 campgrounds containing approximately 1,000 campsites, plus an additional 100 backcountry campsites. The park also contains 850 miles of trails. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 1 of 423 national parks in the US and 1 of 12 in Tennessee. Key Details When to go: Peak seasons run from mid-June through mid-August. Expect the park to be more crowded during this time of year. If you plan to visit in the winter, note that some roads and campgrounds may close due to heavy snowfall. The Fall is a beautiful time to visit as the leaves begin to change colors. Permits that you might need Check out the special use permits and free backcountry permits here: https://www.nps.gov/cuva/planyourvisit/permitsandreservations.htm. But, entry to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free! Top adventures to check out: Ramsey Cascades (tallest waterfall in the park), Chimney Tops, Clingmans Dome Camping Cades Cove Campground - Popular campground surrounded by brilliant wildflowers, wildlife, and historic structures Cosby Campground - Features many shaded and secluded sites, great fishing opportunities Elkmont Campground - Largest campground in the park, ideal for group camping trips LeConte Lodge - Highest lodge in the Eastern United States, accessible only by hiking, cabin with bunk bed arrangement Key Contact Information Recorded information: (865) 436-1200 Road Updates: (865) 436-1200 Pet Info Pets must be kept on a leash at all times and are only permitted on the Gatlinburg and Oconaluftee River Trails. There are certain designated campgrounds and picnic areas that do allow pets, but make sure you check before making plans.

    Top Spots in and near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    • Canton, North Carolina

      Graveyard Fields-Black Balsam Knob Circuit

      4.4
      9.83 mi / 1522 ft gain
      When the weather is in your favor, these treeless mountain tops will have your jaw on the floor with layers upon layers of Blue Ridge Mountains. This hike can be done in one day, but with panoramic views at multiple points, you'll want to take your time along this link of trails. This ~10-mile l...
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    • Canton, North Carolina

      Explore Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields

      4.3
      Graveyard Fields got it's name years ago from wind-thrown tree trunks that gave the appearance of a graveyard, until 1925 when an intense fire swept through the area, destroying the stumps. The forest has been recovering ever since.The parking area for Graveyard Fields is located at milepost 418....
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    • Canton, North Carolina

      Shining Rock via Shining Creek Trail

      4.3
      8.69 mi / 2569 ft gain
      There are several ways to access the Shining Rock Wilderness Area, but go for the main trail head off of Hwy 276. The trail is split by the Pigeon River, providing a seemingly infinite combinations of trails and routes, keeping in mind that this area intersects often with the well known Art Lobe ...
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    • Canton, North Carolina

      Hike Big East Fork Shining Rock Loop

      4.0
      14 mi
      We began this trip by camping overnight in Graveyard Fields. Those camp sites are .5 miles from the car, so we kept our food there over night. Bear activity has increased, so it's strongly advised to bring a bear canister and be wise about food storage. We woke up early the next morning made bre...
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    • Balsam Grove, North Carolina

      Hike to Courthouse Falls

      4.7
      0.07 mi / 40 ft gain
      First off, I want to say although the road is gravel it is accessible for 2WD cars you do not need a 4WD car to access this hike. The trail begins just over the bridge that crosses Panther Branch Creek. Just over the bridge there is a pullout where you can park that should fit at least 3 cars. Th...
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    • Highlands, North Carolina

      Hike the Whiteside Mountain Loop

      5.0
      2 mi / 595 ft gain
      Whiteside Mountain is simply breathtaking, there is no way around it.  Views of the mountain from the South expose its sheer granite face, which runs almost its entire length East-to-West.  However, the views of the mountain are just the beginning, as this hike climbs to higher heights than just ...
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    • Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

      Hike to Schoolhouse Falls and Little Green

      5.0
      3 mi
      Trail signs in Panthertown Valley are limited. Be sure to bring a map! Starting at the Cold Mountain parking lot, hike to Schoolhouse Falls. This is a nice waterfall with a pool at the bottom. In the summer, you are bound to run into other fellow hikers here.  From Schoolhouse Falls, you have the...
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    • Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

      Hike to Warden, Jawbone, and Riding Ford Falls

      4.5 mi
      Warden, Jawbone, and Riding Ford Falls are three waterfalls located along the headwaters of the Tuckasegee River in Panthertown Valley. Not far from the Cold Mountain trailhead, these falls are quite popular in the summer. On a weekend, you will often find people playing in the pools below the fa...
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    • Cashiers, North Carolina

      Hike to Chimney Top

      3.3
      1.7 mi / 1000 ft gain
      Upon entering High Hampton Inn, follow the entrance road past the registration building, cart shed and parking lot. Take a right down a gravel road that follows alongside Hampton Lake. This gravel road continues for half a mile, even winding through part of the golf course and crossing over the c...
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    • 138 Silver Mine Road, North Carolina

      Hike the Lovers Leap Loop Trail

      5.0
      1.8 mi / 472 ft gain
      Lovers Leap Loop trail is a 1.8 mile loop in Hot Springs, NC. The address of the trailhead is 138 Silver Mine Rd, Hot Springs, NC 28743. Once you arrive at the parking lot, you will see a trail leading up into the mountain with a post next to it. This is where you want to begin. It is part of the...
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    • Canton, North Carolina

      Skinny Dip Falls

      4.8
      1.03 mi / 148 ft gain
      Park at the Looking Glass Rock Overlook. After enjoying the view of Looking Glass Rock, gear up and head to the right side of the parking area (right side if your back is to the overlook). On the opposite side of the road you'll see a mile marker and a little trail to the left of the marker. Foll...
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    • Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

      Hike to Raven Rock Falls

      0.5 mi
      If you want to see a great waterfall without hiking all day, this is the perfect trail for you.  Getting there - The trailhead is about 2 miles from the intersection of Cold Mountain and Panther Ridge Road (exact coordinates: 35.1594, -82.9801). There is a small grassy pull out where you can park...
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    • Highlands, North Carolina

      Explore Cashiers Sliding Rock

      0.2 mi / 70 ft gain
      This waterfall is located just outside of Cashiers, NC. The trailhead to the waterfall is right off of the road and has a good amount of parking. The trial itself is very nice and has new steps at the beginning of the trail. The trail is very wide and is mostly flat the entire way there. Once you...
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    • Canton, North Carolina

      Climb Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower

      4.5
      1.5 mi
      This is an extremely easy trail with a minimal incline. The tower, built in 1941, standing 70 feet above the summit, can be nerve wracking, even for those who aren't scared of heights.  However, most feel it's worth the view. Expect to see fellow hikers. On pretty days there can be a few people w...
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    • Brevard, North Carolina

      Hike the Toxaway River Trail

      5.0
      1.25 mi
      This easy 1.25 mile hike is located within the Lake Toxaway community. The trail itself follows a small creek as it winds through the valley. Be warned - there are numerous stream crossings. Most of the crossings are fairly easy at normal water levels, but can be difficult if the water is high. S...
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    • Tellico Plains, Tennessee

      Exploring Bald River Falls

      4.8
      If you're looking to check out a secnic waterfall in East Tennessee, Bald River Falls is sure to be on your list. At 90 feet, you can't miss this roaring beauty during any season. Also, Tellico Plains is an awesome mountain town in itself; check it out before or after your hike.To get to Bald Riv...
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