sunrise over Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Top 5 Hiking Trails in the Great Smoky Mountains for Seniors

laurel falls in the smoky mountains
December 11, 2019

Bringing your parents or grandparents to the Smokies? You’ll want to be able to get out in the national park and explore, but there are so many hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains to choose from! We’ve put together a list of the best trails for seniors to go on that aren’t too difficult but still have plenty of the park to see! Here are the top 5 hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains for seniors:

1. Cataract Falls

Cataract Falls in the Smokies

With a roundtrip of 1.1 miles, Cataract Falls is the perfect nature walk for seniors! The path is clearly laid out with wooden beams lining the trail. You’ll walk beside a creek, see old forest growth, and much more. Cataract Falls trail is used for bird watching, so you also might see all kinds of wildlife along the trail. You’ll finally come across the waterfall, which is 25 feet tall. The falls are very impressive after it rains. You all will have a great time on this hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains!

2. Elkmont Nature Trail

Another great nature trail is Elkmont Nature Trail. The path is 0.8 of a mile long, but even though it’s short, it’s full of beautiful sights! In the spring, you’ll find all kinds of wildflowers along the path. This nature trail is a loop, so you won’t have to turn around. There are a couple of foot bridges you can walk across. You’ll enjoy seeing all the native plants and creeks along the Elkmont Nature Trail.

3. Gatlinburg Trail

gatlinburg trail in the smoky mountains

A longer trail that is right outside of Gatlinburg is the Gatlinburg Trail. This out-and-back trail is 3.8 miles roundtrip and is one of the only hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains that allows dogs. You might spot quite a few pets along your hike! You’ll enjoy walking across the bridge over the Little Pigeon River and seeing the water flow over the rocks. There’s also old home sites farther along the trail that are neat to see.

4. Laurel Falls

A popular hike that is fairly easy is Laurel Falls. The hike is 2.6 miles and is an out and back trail. The elevation gain is 396, so it is fairly harder than the other hiking trails on this list, but it’s definitely worth it. In the spring, you’ll see beautiful mountain laurel along the path, along with mountain views between the trees. Once you reach the top, you’ll see Laurel Falls, which stands at 80 feet tall. There’s an upper tier and a lower tier, and you can walk across a footbridge to get great pictures of the falls.

5. Spruce Flats Falls

spruce flats falls in the smoky mountains

Spruce Flats Falls is a little more of a moderate hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains too. This out and back trail is 1.8 miles roundtrip. You’ll make your way along creeks and across foot bridges. Once you reach the falls, you’ll see four tiers of water rushing over the rocks. The waterfall is 30 feet tall. It’s actually not on the official park map, but it’s fairly easy to get to!

Seniors will have a blast on any of these hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. If you want to know about other fun things to do in Gatlinburg, check out these local attractions!