The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States! With over 800 miles of gorgeous trails, the Smokies have a hike for visitors of every age and ability. When you’re hiking with children, you’ll want to choose a trail that is easy, short, and full of beautiful scenery. Keeping those elements in mind, Black Bear Inn & Suites has put together a guide to five of the best kid-friendly hikes in the Smoky Mountains.
1. Little Brier Gap Trail
The Little Brier Gap Trail is a 2.6-mile round-trip hike that begins in Metcalf Bottoms. This trail takes hikers through Little Greenbrier, an area which was once home to a thriving community of settlers in the 1800s. Highlights of the Little Brier Gap Trail include the Little Greenbrier School and the Walker Sisters Place. The historic schoolhouse was built by John Walker in 1882. When John Walker died, his six unmarried daughters continued to live in his log cabin, even when the Little Greenbrier area was added to the national park in 1940!
To see all of the sights in Little Greenbrier, first, take the 0.7 mile Metcalf Bottoms Trail to the Little Greenbrier School. Then, stay on the Little Brier Gap Trail for 0.6 mile, where you will cross over a footbridge. After 1.1 miles, visitors will find the 0.2-mile side trail that leads to the Walker Sisters Place.
2. Cataract Falls Trail
If you want to show your kids a waterfall without a lot of hiking, this trail is for you! Cataract Falls is a wet-weather waterfall that is most impressive to look at after it has rained. To reach Cataract Falls, head to Sugarlands Visitor Center and take the Fighting Creek Nature Trail. Along the Nature Trail, you will see a sign for the Cataract Falls Trail. The hike to the waterfall is only ¾ mile round trip, and if you want to extend your journey, you can enjoy the rest of the Fighting Creek Nature Trail.
3. Gatlinburg Trail
The Gatlinburg Trail also begins at Sugarlands Visitor Center. This 1.9-mile one-way path offers lovely views of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River and features the foundations and chimneys of several old homesteads. The Gatlinburg Trail is the only trail in the national park where you can go cycling, so consider bringing your bikes!
4. Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail
The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is another one of the best kid-friendly hikes in the Smoky Mountains. The trailhead for this 0.5-mile loop is located about a mile past Sugarlands Visitor Center. The Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail is ideal for families with very young children, since it is paved, flat, and stroller accessible. Kids will enjoy seeing the trail’s historic homesteads and a stream that flows from the Little Pigeon River.
5. Elijah Oliver Place Trail
The Elijah Oliver Place is a beautifully preserved 19th-century cabin in Cades Cove. Elijah Oliver was the son of John and Lucretia Oliver, the first Euro-Americans to settle in the valley. To visit the cabin, pull over at the parking area for the trail, which is about 4.6 miles from the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road. The hike to the Elijah Oliver Place is one-mile round trip and features a scenic stream and a barn built in the 1930s.
When you stay at Black Bear Inn & Suites, you will be near all of these awesome kid-friendly hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Our hotel is located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg, just minutes away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Guests at Black Bear Inn will enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast bar each morning, access to our enclosed heated pool, high-speed wireless internet throughout the hotel, and rooms with beautiful balconies. To start planning your next vacation, browse our selection of Gatlinburg hotel rooms!