A vacation in Gatlinburg Tennessee would not be complete without a walk in the woods. There are over 150 different trails located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, some of which are within the city of Gatlinburg. Peaceful and pleasant strolls through the rich foliage with dappled sunlight filtering through the trees offer visitors of all ages a relaxing and delightful sense of well-being. Ramble along paved trails, or hike up the mountainside; there are trails that can accommodate strollers and pets and some hiking paths lead to spectacular views. The Sugarlands Visitor Center has numerous maps and friendly rangers that can assist you in your choice of walk, as well as souvenirs to purchase.
One of the easiest to access, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, provides a few such Gatlinburg attractions. An inexpensive trail guide booklet is available at the entrance to point out interesting landmarks along the way. As you drive along this one-way road beside the mountain stream, a hardwood forest and the sound of rushing water surround you. Many original homestead structures have been preserved for visiting. You may park and explore these areas as well as walk along the paths to the stream. Discover salamanders and many water bugs and beautiful mountain laurels during your walk in the woods. Please remember to leave it as you found it so that these wonderful attractions can be enjoyed for years to come. At the end of the trail there is a “wet weather” waterfall called The Place of a Thousand Drips, a splendid way to complete the drive.
You can also take a walk in the woods to Grotto Falls. This is a moderately difficult walk, meaning it is an unpaved dirt trail. Drive the nature trail to the Trillium Gap Trailhead at stop #5 to access this 2.6-mile round trip trail. This can be strenuous, so be sure to wear appropriate clothing and footwear. This Gatlinburg attraction actually winds through an old growth hemlock forest; it is very cool and moist, perfect for summer walks. Rainbow Falls Trail is another hike that can be accessed from the same driving trail. It has a parking area for those who wish to climb the 1500′ incline from the trailhead to the falls.
As in any walk in the woods in Gatlinburg, prepare thoroughly to enjoy all the aspects of the truly serene nature walk. Dress appropriately, wear sturdy shoes, and if possible bring along water and high energy snacks. Wildlife is everywhere so use caution, watch where you step and be aware of your surroundings. Check with local park officials or pamphlets that explain the right behavior to use if you encounter a bear. Snakes are plentiful, but only two species are of the poisonous variety. Use a bug repellant on exposed skin to minimize bites.
There are many wonderful Gatlinburg Tennessee attractions, but a walk in the woods is a truly great way to enjoy all that nature has to offer, and the best part of all is that it’s free!
Author Mike Olsen