5 Kid-Friendly Trails in the Smoky Mountains for Your Next Hike
The Appy Lodge was created with the desire pay respect to everyone that worked to make the Appalachian Trail a reality as well as those that have walked the foot path for the people over the years. While we do have a great love for the past, we also have an unwavering love for the future. We have witnessed first hand the blessings that come with a deep connection to the mountains and the great outdoors. Blessings that then turn into the blessed working to care for and protect our mountains. That is why we hope that during your stay with us you will not only enjoy your visit, but you will also be inspired to explore the mountains that we call home. More importantly, we hope that you will take the children in your life along with you. Because the mountains that they fall in love with today will be the mountains that they protect tomorrow. Mountains that will, in turn, bless their lives for a lifetime. To help get you started we have put together 5 kid-friendly trails in the Smoky Mountains for your next hike.
Little River Trail
The Little River Trail is located in the Historic Elkmont district of the park. The area was once a vacation resort for the elite from surrounding cities. The remnants of summers of the past still remain, as well as some structures. The trail consists of a smooth and steady incline, follows the river and is mostly wide and open. The hike is perfect for families and offers multiple spots to rest or explore. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildflowers. salamanders, otters as well as other types of flora and fauna.
Middle Prong Trail
Located in the Tremont section of the Smokies, the Middle Prong Trail is very similar to the Little River Trail. The area is packed with history, cascades, waterfalls, and beauty. The hike up Middle Prong is also a steady incline along a wide trail for the majority of the hike. Take a 4-mile round trip hike to the 100-year-old Cadillac that sits off a side trail at mile 2. Once to the Cadillac, continue 2 more miles up the trail to a side trail that will take you to Indian Flats Falls or wrap up the day and return to the parking area. Regardless of how far you decide to explore, it will certainly be a day filled with memories that will last far after you have returned home from the Smokies.
Porters Creek Trail
Porters Creek Trail in Greenbrier is a wonderful place for families to explore year-round, however, the 40 types of wildflowers in the spring attracts hikers from all around. As you work your way up the trail, it’s hard to imagine that at one point the Greenbrier area of the park was once a busy community. There was once a two-story hotel school with 225 students, grist mills, shops, churches and more. If you look closely you’ll find pieces of the past to explore. At mile 1, you’ll find a path that will take you to a former farm site and the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin that was built in the 1930s. You can retrace your steps and continue further up the trail to Fern Branch Falls or even campsite 31 at mile 4, or return to the parking area. Please note that at the 1.6-mile mark you will come to a wooden footbridge that may not be suitable for very young children.
Accessible from downtown Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Trail is just under 4 miles round trip. This hike is wonderful for those wanting to stay near downtown and for hikers new to the park or with younger children. You’ll have opportunities for exploring the stream, checking out remnants of an old homestead and taking a family picture in front of Cataract Falls. This is also the only trail on this side of the park where dogs and bicycles are permitted.
Cove Hardwood Nature Trail
If you’re planning on taking the family to the higher elevations of the park, take time to explore the Cove Hardwood Nature Trail. The trail is located in the Chimneys picnic area and although it’s less than a mile for the full loop, it’s a great place to take children on a hike. During the spring months, it’s a honey hole for beautiful spring wildflowers. A bonus to this hike is the picnic area. Before leaving Gatlinburg, pack a picnic and enjoy your lunch at one of the most iconic picnic spots in the Smokies.
Five trails are just a small portion of the hikes that can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During your stay with us, stop in at the Sugarlands Visitors Center and pick up a park map as well as a family hikes log book. Log your first hike and you’ll be ready the next one before you’re back to your room at The Appy!
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