Every year, nearly 45 million Americans hit the trails and head out to hike through the mountains.
One of the most popular areas for people to hike is the Great Smoky Mountains, which are along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Are you getting ready to hike through these mountains? Do you want to make sure you stay safe and have a great experience?
If so, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for your ultimate guide to hiking in the Smokies.
There are lots of great hikes for people of all skill levels in the Great Smoky Mountains. The following are some of the most popular hikes you may want to consider.
Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion
This hike is part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s an eight-mile round-trip hike that offers some stunning views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail gives you a taste of the Appalachian Trail without being too intimidating.
The hike to Clingman’s Dome, which is the highest point in the park, is one of the most popular Great Smoky Mountain hikes. If you don’t mind a crowded trail, this hike will present you with awesome views and a great story to tell your friends back home.
Mount Cammerer is one of the park’s most popular hikes. When you reach the top, you can check out the lookout tower for even more impressive views. The tower also provides you with a place to rest up and recover before you head back down the trail.
Cades Cove Loop
Cades Cove Loop is an 11-mile loop that’s perfect for hiking, biking, or running. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife while on this hike, and you’ll also get to take in some impressive historic building sites.
The Ramsey Cascades hike is an eight-mile hike that will take you to the park’s tallest waterfall. To get to the waterfall, you also have to make your way through the park’s largest old-growth forest.
What to Pack
If you want to have a fun and successful hiking trip, you need to make sure you’re properly packed. Here are some must-have items to bring with you:
- Lightweight snacks (jerky, nuts, dried fruit, etc.)
- A flashlight
- A first aid kit
- A whistle (in case you get lost or separated from your group)
- A rain jacket or poncho
- Extra socks
You’ll also want to have a backpack to carry all your belongings and keep your hands free.
When packing, keep the length of your hike in mind. for example, you might not need to worry too much about snacks if you’re heading out on a very short hike. If you’re planning an 11-mile journey, though, you’ll want plenty of food and water to carry you through.
What to Wear
Make sure you have the proper clothing for your Smoky Mountain hike, too. Listed below are some essential clothing items you’ll want to have on hand before you head out:
- Hiking boots
- Lightweight layers (T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, etc.)
If you’re going to hike in the fall or winter, layers are especially important. It’s common to start the hike feeling cold, but your body temperature will increase as you continue your climb. If you wear layers, you can take something off when it gets hot and put it back on when things cool down at higher elevations.
When hiking in the spring or summer, you can usually get away with just a light T-shirt and a jacket. It’s best to wear pants year-round, though, to protect your legs from scratches and insect bites.
Braving the Trail
At this point, you probably want to find out more about what you can do to stay safe and have a good time while you’re on the trail. Keep these additional tips in mind to get the most out of your hike and return on time:
Visit at the Right Time
If possible, plan your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains when the weather is best suited for hiking.
Most people visit the park in the summer or early fall. The summer is the most popular season because of the great weather, but hiking in the fall will give you a chance to see some incredible foliage.
Bring a Friend
This tip is especially relevant if you’re a new hiker. It’s best to avoid hiking alone to reduce your risk of getting lost or injured. Bring a friend or family member or see if you can join another hiking group.
Check the Weather
Don’t forget to check the weather before you head out on your hike. Nobody wants to get caught in a rain or thunderstorm while they’re out in the mountains.
Make sure the forecast is clear, and consider the temperature so you can dress appropriately. Remember that the temperature can drop quickly at night in the mountains, so plan ahead.
It’s best to start your hike early in the day to ensure you have plenty of sunlight. This is especially true if you’re heading out on a long hike or if you’re hiking in the fall when the days are shorter.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Remember, hiking should be exciting and relaxing.
Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey. Don’t worry about trying to be the first one to finish the trail.
Time to Go Hiking in the Smokies!
Now that you know more about what it’s like and how to prepare, are you ready to go hiking in the Smokies?
If you keep this information in mind, you’ll have no trouble planning a great hike and will have a fun and memorable time.
Do you want to learn more about hiking? Do you need advice on how to prepare for your next big hike?
Check out some of the hiking-related articles on our blog today for more tips and important information.