Amateur Hiking Trails in The Great Smoky Mountains

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Post by Guests » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:09 am

Amateur Hiking Trails in The Great Smoky Mountains
By Walt Dickson

The Great Smoky Mountains get their name from the ubiquitous fog that rises over the heavily forested peaks. The Smoky Mountains are in Tennessee and North Carolina. These mountains are a backcountry paradise, with opportunities for a variety of sports and activities. Hiking is a great way of getting into the mountains to explore and watch wildlife, birds and the great mountain scenery. If you are just starting out as a hiker and consider yourself an "amateur", there are many amazing trails that help get you safely into the hills while you build your skills.

Waterfall Trails

If watching the beauty of cascading water is what you want, look no further than the Toms Branch Fall trails. This is a modestly challenging trail, gaining slightly less than 50 feet of elevation over 6/10s of a mile. The trailhead is out of Bryson City, North Carolina. From the parking lot, follow the wide trail that parallels the river, going upstream. If you see a spot you want to sit and enjoy, take a load off on one of the many park service provided benches along the trail. The trail is an "out and back", meaning you retrace your steps once you get to the end of the line.

Another great waterfall trail for amateur hikers in the Smoky Mountains is the Indian Creek Falls. This trail is slightly longer and has a bit more elevation gain, but is still a great trail for amateur hikers. Use the same trailhead as the Toms Branch Trail, but when you get to the end, follow the signs towards Indian Creek. Total distance roundtrip is just under two miles, with around 200 feet of elevation gain. There are wildflowers a-plenty along this trail, with crested dwarf iris, beard tongue, cinquefoil, Jack-in-the-pulpit and wild geranium being among them.

High Country

If you want to get up to some of the peaks of the Smoky Mountains, yet still hike on moderate terrain, head to the Chimney Peaks Trail. This trail is four miles long, and has an elevation gain of 1350 feet, so there are some steep sections, but the trail is well maintained and you can take as many rests as needed. Get to the trailhead from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, as the trailhead is 6 miles south, via the road from the SVC.

This is among the more popular of trails along the Newfound Gap Road. Because of the two mile out, two mile in, it is easy and quick to get up to the high country and enjoy views of the Smoky Mountains. Wildflowers, forests and lakes are seen as you meander up and through the trail. Bring extra water and food, and expect the hike to take between three to five hours for amateur hikers. The Cherokee call this area "Duniskwalgunyi", which translates to "forked antler", a reference to the shape of the valleys and views of the peaks.

The Andrews Bald trail is found along the Newfound Gap Road and is another that gets you up and into the high country of the Smoky Mountains. Pick up the trailhead at the Clingmans Dome Road and head out onto the 3.5 mile trail. Gain 900 feet of elevation as you wind through the dense coniferous forests, lakes and peaks. Once at the top of the trail, enjoy views of the Smoky High Country. The trail is an out and back, taking approximately five to seven hours. Be sure to bring extra food and water, and a good camera as the photo opportunities are outstanding.

There are many more trails suitable for beginner and amateur hikers in the Smoky Mountains. Once you get a few under your belt, head out for slightly longer or more difficult trails and grow those backcountry skills in the heart of The Great Smoky Mountains.

With over 850 miles of trails to hike, there's no doubt the Smokies offer a tremendous amount of hiking opportunities. Sevierville Tennessee hotels offer a variety of outdoor activities too such as jogging, horseback riding or even fishing out of the Little Pigeon River. Knowing what Smoky Mountain lodging is all about are the hotels in Sevierville.

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