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Hiking the Smokies From Basic to Challenging

Newfound Gap in Smoky Mountains

Hiking in the Smokies gives you the chance to explore nature and enjoy the beauty of the mountains. Here are some tips on hiking trails, from basic to the more challenging, as suggested by avid hiker and Tennessee native Amanda McGrawes:

+ Andrews Bald

This hike starts at the Clingmans Dome parking lot, a 1.8-mile trek away from the beautiful Andrews Bald. The trail it is recommended for families with young children looking for a beginner hike. Keep in mind that although the trail is short with only mild elevation, you’ll still need to be prepared. Like any other trail in the Smokies, expect rocks and boulders along the way.

+ The Jump-Off

This trail starts at the Newfound Gap parking lot. It’s only 2.7 miles to Boulevard Trail — a junction just before the Jump-Off, according to RootsRated — but you’ll find it to be fairly engaging. Roughly 1,300 feet of elevation sit between the beginning and the end, so be prepared for an uphill thrill. After your climb, you’ll end up at the Jump-Off, the top of the trail where you can enjoy a view of both the central and eastern Smokies.

Learn more about hiking in Tennessee.

+ Charles Bunion

This is another moderate trail, but it’s a step up from the Jump-Off. Starting from the same Newfound Gap parking lot, you’ll be hiking four miles along the Appalachian Trail to reach the spot known as Charles Bunion. The trail starts with a long, steep climb, but don’t be discouraged — it leads right into a long stretch of path that hugs a relaxing ridge. While walking around it, you’ll enjoy spectacular views from both sides of the trail. When you finally arrive at Charles Bunion, notice the rock outcropping, which produces a great view of the Tennessee side of the mountains.

+ Gregory Bald

This last trail is one of the most difficult, but well worth the effort. Our sources recommend going for it after you’ve tried some of the easier hikes and are looking for a challenge. You’ll start at Cades Cove and trek 5.6 miles to reach the Gregory Bald summit. The National Park Service says the best time to hike this trail starts in June. The spot is surrounded by breathtaking azaleas and views of Cades Cove and the eastern part of the Smokies.

Planning Your Hike

Now that you have an idea of the trails available, what are you waiting for? No matter which you choose, hiking in the Smokies offers an adventure for everyone.

Most outdoor activities have some level of risk, and you may need to consult an expert before engaging in the activity. Always check the current weather conditions before embarking on any outdoor activity.

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