Tennessee is a diverse state that boasts some of the best hiking trails in the United States thanks to its stunning mountain ranges and the famed Cumberland Plateau. We’ve scoured the state to find 12 of the best hiking trails in Tennessee that are perfect for exploring, whether you’re looking for scenic overlooks or a shot of some of the prettiest waterfalls in the state. As you get ready to plan your adventures for the year, make sure to check out the list below!
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Honey Creek Loop - Rugby
You'll find Honey Creek Loop Trail in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, and the 4.2-mile loop trail is a difficult trek through the wilderness. It is best used from March to November, and it's one of the best-rated trails in the state for its clear hiking trail and featured waterfall.
2. Cucumber Gap and Little River Loop Trail - Gatlinburg
At a little over 5 miles, this Gatlinburg, Tennessee hiking trail is of moderate difficulty and operates as a loop trail. You'll gain 790-feet of elevation, and you may even run into a few folks using the trail for horseback riding! Make sure you wear the right footwear though, folks. There are streams and creeks along the way.
3. Porters Creek Trail - Gatlinburg
You'll find Porters Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the 7-mile trail is rated as moderate and features a gorgeous waterfall along its out-and-back trail. Keep in mind that the 1,512-foot elevation gain makes it a difficult climb, but one that's worth the effort.
4. Glen Falls Trail - Lookout Mountain
Glen Falls Trail only gains a healthy 554-feet in elevation, and the out-and-back trail is perfect for the whole family. It is accessible throughout the year and is dog-friendly, as long as they're on a leash! At 2.3 miles even the tiniest hiking buddy should be able to make the trek.
5. Cades Cove Loop Road - Townsend
Cades Cove is one of the most famous natural landmarks in Tennessee, and the 10.5-mile loop trail that runs around its perimeter is both beautiful and available to be used throughout the year. You'll enjoy lush valley views during the warmer seasons and stunning, snowy shots when winter comes around.
6. Stone Door Trail - Beersheba Springs
If you're looking for a shorter trail with incredible views we would highly recommend Stone Door Trail in Beersheba Springs. It's less than 2 miles and only features a 170-foot elevation gain, making it one of the most kid-friendly hikes on our list. It's great for nature trips and easy walks, and you can access the South Cumberland State Park hike all year long.
7. Benton Falls Trail - Reliance
You'll find Benton Falls Trail in the Cherokee National Forest, and a solid 291-foot elevation gain makes it a great trail for both hiking and mountain biking. It's only 3 miles in its entirety, and the out-and-back trail boasts a lush forest, wildflowers during the springtime, and even a waterfall!
8. Window Cliffs - Silver Point
You can enjoy a 5-mile trek through the wilderness along the moderately rated Window Cliffs Trail in Window Cliffs State Natural Area. You'll wander through a beautiful stretch of forest with views of a waterfall, river, and even curious wildlife. Keep in mind, though - dogs are not welcome on this hike. It is strictly for humans only and is accessible throughout the year.
9. Snoopers Rock Trail - Chattanooga
Snoopers Rock Trail is located in Prentice Cooper State Forest and the moderate trail is best used from the months of March to October. At almost 6 miles total, the 1,168-foot elevation gain provides just enough challenge to make the trek an adventure, and the trail is normally utilized for nature trips, hiking, and bird watching.
10. Ramsey Cascades Trail - Gatlinburg
Ramsey Cascades Trail may be one of the most difficult hikes on our list. The 8-mile out-and-back trail gains over 2,000-feet in elevation and is all uphill. We're not kidding. The gradual climb becomes very steep the last mile as you approach the cascades, and differs greatly from the first mile and a half that takes you down an abandoned logging route.
11. Spruce Flats Falls Trail - Townsend
A moderate trail in difficulty and known for its waterfall, Spruce Flats Falls Trail can be hiked all throughout the year. Though it's short you'll have to keep an eye out for the steep, rocky sections that require climbing. Make sure you wear the right footwear, folks!
12. Laurel Falls Trail - Gatlinburg
Looking for an easy trail? Laurel Falls Trail is your answer! Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the 2.4-mile trail is great for folks of all skill levels. It remains one of the most popular hikes in the park, and you'll find folks hiking, walking, and enjoying nature trips along the way.
Which trails will you be frequenting this year? Did your favorite make the list? Make sure you leave any tips and tricks you have for Tennessee hikers in the comments!