Smoky Mountain Trails for Families

May 18th, 2010, 06:09 AM
  #1  
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Smoky Mountain Trails for Families

We're heading back to the Smoky Mountains in a couple of weeks and are specifically looking for trails we can hike as a family. Our kids are 4 and 8, and are used to doing some hiking. I found a helpful trail website in another post, but need suggestions of trails that are good for kids. We're looking for trails that are: closer to the Gatlinburg area, don't have dangerous drops, have some interesting feature the kids would like (waterfall, creek, cool plants), in the one mile range (we usually do a couple of 1/3-1/2 mile trails, which keep their interest better), but we could do up to two miles, we usually do easy to moderate trails in our state parks, but not sure how that measures up to trails in GSMNP.

Thanks for any suggestions you can give, or if there is a website that lists kid-friendly trails, that would be great, too!
Katharine22 is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 12:17 PM
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Laurel falls trail

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisi...ntry%20Map.pdf

It is longer than you want (3.1 mi.)but it is paved and ends at a pretty spectacular waterfall. Close to Sugarlands visitor center. Stop there and talk to the ranger about trails, they can tell you everything you need to know.
gmoney is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 01:44 PM
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I was going to suggest Laurel Falls as well. The only one of your criteria it doesn't fit is the length, but if your kids can handle it I think it's otherwise a great family hike.
jent103 is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 02:21 PM
  #4  
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Great. Thanks! I have a brochure on the Laurel Falls trail, but it didn't give the distance, and mentions "long and steep" "sheer drops", so I hadn't looked too closely at this one.

We could also do something more rugged, if it's short.

Great advice to talk to the ranger, as well. We'll plan to do that. Thanks!
Katharine22 is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 02:39 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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Hmm. Maybe there are some drops that I don't remember, but our church youth group used to go on them when I was in middle school (and I was not at all a hiker back then), so it couldn't have been anything too crazy. It's one of the tamer, more popular hikes in the park, and as gmoney says, it's paved.
jent103 is offline  
May 19th, 2010, 04:37 AM
  #6  
 
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My daughter was about 5 or 6 at the time we did it and she did not have any problems at all (she slept very well that night though). There are benches along the way to stop and rest as well. Just be sure to bring lots of water and snacks. Enjoy the smokies, we love it. If you are interested in a great picnic site check out the chimney tops picnic area, there is a spectacular river with picnic tables. There is also a short trail there that is fairly easy and only about a half mile or so.
gmoney is offline  
May 24th, 2010, 06:33 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2010
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Laurel is great for kids (or anyone) to be their first trail in the park. Another good trail is Grotto Falls. It was my son's first trail last year when he was 5 and he did great. The waterfall that you can walk behind was the ultimate for him. He's still talking about it a year later.

I'll second the suggestion of the Chimney tops trailhead - the trail itself is listed as moderate to strenuous and about 3 miles long I think. I've never hiked to the top but we always hang out there where the trail crosses the river - AWESOME huge rocks and the water is amazing there.
candlefool is offline  
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