Parent and child hiking
October 24, 2016

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be one of life’s best and greatest adventures. With spectacular seasonal colors and a diverse wildlife population, there’s little reason to wonder why the Smoky Mountains are the most popular national park in the country. To prepare for an adventure with the entire family, we have created a quick, helpful guide to hiking with kids.

1. Bring plenty of snacks.

Hiking requires a great amount of energy and kids who are hungry are usually grumpy. To keep from becoming tired too quickly, be sure to take frequent energy and snacking stops along the way. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks and lots of water to keep everyone full and hydrated. To keep the little ones motivated, you can tell them you’ll take a snack break at the next landmark.

2. Play games.

hiking equipment

A great way to have happy hikers is to make a game out of the adventure. You could have a scavenger hunt for wildflowers or look for signs of wildlife. Another fun way to get children involved in nature is to have them find things by texture, from bumpy to smooth and everything in between.

Kids also enjoy looking at maps, so be sure to pick up a trail map and teach your kids a map skill or two along the way!

3. Take extra time.

young girl hiking in the national park

There's so much for kids to discover while hiking that it takes much longer than typical adult hiking trips. Be sure to allow for extra time so they can explore and inspect all they’d like to while on the trail.

Family Friendly Trails

To make hiking a fun adventure, families should choose trails that lead to something exciting for the kids, whether amazing views atop a meadow or a waterfall to splash in. For families with smaller children, the half mile trail leading to Cataract Falls is a short walk that winds through gorgeous views behind the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Grotto Falls is a two and a half mile trail that is located at the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. One of the best features is the waterfall just over a mile into the trail. If your family would like to venture beyond the falls, continue to two mountain tops with some of the best views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Families who want a bit more out of a hike can enjoy a five mile hike along the Porters Creek Trail. This moderately difficult trail leads through a historic farm site with standing log buildings. In the spring, hikers will catch sight of a variety of wildflowers along the way. If seeing wildflowers is more of what you and your family are into, you should look into some other wildflower hikes that are great in the spring.

Where to Stay After Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

For a comfortable place to relax and unwind after a day of family hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, choose to stay in one of our Gatlinburg cabins to experience the beauty of the mountains with amenities like hot tubs, game rooms and more.