3 of the Best Fall Hikes in the Smoky Mountains
Fall is just around the corner and the Smoky Mountains will be exploding with color and beauty soon! Below are 3 of the best hikes for the season to help get you started on planning your fall trip to Gatlinburg this year.
Albright Grove Loop
Albright Grove Loop is one of the top fall hikes in the Smoky Mountains due to its abundant old growth trees and history. The area was once farmed by Marshall Justus and other former park residents. In the mid-1930’s, it was also home to a Civilian Conservation Corps Crew. Just over half a mile into the hike, the trail passes by the Willis Baxter cabin that was built in 1889. If you look closely as you hike along the trail during late summer and autumn, you may even spot patches of Indian pipe, one of the Smokies most unique wildflowers. As you make your way around the loop you’ll find Eastern hemlocks, Tuliptrees, Fraser magnolias, and maple trees towering above you. If you time your hike and trip right, the canopy will be an explosion of fall color. The Albright Grove Loop is one that you’ll certainly want to add to your bucket list this autumn!
The Chimney Tops hike is one of the most popular hikes in the park, but it’s easy to see why. The natural beauty found along the way is some of the best that you’ll find in the area and the workmanship of the trail crew is impressive to say the least. As you make your way up the 658 steps that lead to the top, you’ll find yourself under a stunning canopy of Eastern hemlocks, Fraser magnolias, Tuliptrees and more. After climbing close to 2 miles to the top you’ll find that payoff of the beautiful view was worth the effort. It’s important to note that the very top of the trail is closed to hikers. However, the new viewing platform is the perfect spot for a picture op! Tip: The trailhead is located along Newfound Gap Road and you’ll want to arrive early to secure parking. You may also want to consider your plan for leaving and back into your spot to help with a smooth exit.
If you’ve been to the Smoky Mountains before then there is a good chance that you have already been to Laurel Falls. The waterfall is by far one of the most visited features in the park due to the length of the trail, the trailhead’s easily accessible location and the fact that the trail is paved to the waterfall. If you’re not up for an intense climb or putting numerous miles in under the old growth trees, then at least check out Laurel Falls. You’ll still be treated to the beauty of fall in the Smokies and the experience can easily spark a desire to see more of the park by exploring the hiking trails. Hiking beyond the waterfall will add more beauty to your adventure and some time beneath old growth trees. Due to the popularity of Laurel Falls it is best to try and arrive as early as possible or take an evening walk up after the crowd has thinned out.
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