6 Winter Hikes to Take for the Best Views in the Smoky Mountains
The winter is a beautiful time to explore all the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer! From gorgeous views to frozen waterfalls and snow-covered peaks, you can’t beat the views during this season. If you’re planning on spending some time hiking in the park, we have a few suggestions! Here are 6 winter hikes to take for the best views in the Smoky Mountains:
1. Rainbow Falls
In the peak winter months, temperatures can be well below freezing, causing some of the Smokies most popular waterfalls to begin to freeze. The Rainbow Falls Trail becomes a winter wonderland during this time, with occasional snow and a sparkling icy waterfall at the end! This trail is popular all year round and is well worth the hike in the chilly temperatures. You’ll be able to reach the falls in 2.8 miles, but if you decide to keep going, you can reach Mount Leconte via the Rainbow Falls and Bullhead trails!
2. Andrews Bald
If you’re looking for the best views in the Smoky Mountains, you need to hike up to Andrews Bald. Take in the snow-covered mountain peaks once you reach the grassy bald at the end of the trail. Andrews Bald is just under 2 miles, but if you continue on the trail for another 3.8, you’ll end up on the Springhouse Branch Trail. Make sure to stop and appreciate the views for a while!
3. Alum Cave
The Alum Cave Trail is another hike that is popular all year long, but is especially beautiful when it’s covered in snow! Throughout this trail, you’ll be able to see stunning icicle formations that create an awesome winter sight! Make sure to snag a few pictures and use it for next year’s Christmas card! Smoky Mountain wildlife is also commonly seen on this trail, even in the winter! Alum Cave is considered more difficult than some hikes, so come prepared if you plan to hike in the winter.
4. Porters Creek
If you’re bringing the family with you to the Smokies, the Porters Creek Trail is an easy and fun hike that everyone can enjoy! This hike is around 4 miles and takes you along Fern Branch Falls and some of the park’s lowest terrain. Due to its location, you can always count on this hike being open, even when higher elevations are closed due to ice.
5. Laurel Falls
If you’re looking to avoid crowds on the popular Laurel Fall Trail, winter is the time to do it! This 4 mile, paved trail is considered relatively easy but can sometimes be slippery in icy conditions. If the temperatures are low enough, Laurel Falls turns into a gorgeous ice formation that sparkles in the sun. While these falls are lovely all year, they are one of the best views in the Smoky Mountains during the winter!
6. Charles Bunion
Placed along the Appalachian Trail, Charles Bunion is a breathtaking stone outcrop that gives you unparalleled views of the Smokies! The trail to Charles Bunion is about 4 miles long and can be challenging in certain sections, so come prepared and wear proper hiking gear. You’ll feel like you’ve reached the top of the world when you reach the summit of this hike!
Now that you know a few of the top trails to see the best views in the Smoky Mountains, you can begin planning your next hike. Looking for something a little different? Check out all the other things to do in the Smoky Mountain and Pigeon Forge area during winter and begin making your itinerary for your next getaway!