3 of the Best Spring Hikes in the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States, covering 520,000 acres and making up one of the most phenomenal outdoor playgrounds in our country. It’s a park that is filled with history, wildlife, wildflowers, waterfalls, rivers, breathtaking views, and absolute magic. It’s an area so vast that everyone can find something that they love and one of the best times to explore the park is in the spring. As the mountains come back to life and the spring greens fill in the forest canopy, the Smokies puts on one of it’s best shows of the year. At The Appy Lodge, one of our missions is to encourage our guests to go outside and play as well as fall in love with the great outdoors! Below, you will find 5 incredible hikes to take this year in the Smokies!
Millions travel through the Smokies every year, but only a sliver of those guests truly experience the magic of the mountains and moments unlike any that can be found at an overlook, roadside, or even on a short trail. The LeConte Lodge is located on Mount LeConte, the third-highest peak in the park. The lodge can only be accessed by the following trails: Alum Cave Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail,Trillium Gap Trail, Bullhead Trail and Porter’s Creek and Brush Mountain Trails to Trillium Gap. You can day hike to the LeConte Lodge year round.
When staying with us at The Appy, you’ll be just a short distance from most of the access trails to Mount LeConte. The mileage and difficulty for each hike is unique for each trail, just like the beauty that you’ll find along the way. When hiking to the LeConte Lodge, always be sure to check the weather forecast for LeConte, be prepared for a day in the mountains and take some cash with you for cookies, hot chocolate and the souvenirs that you’ll find at the top!
At The Appy Lodge, we’re a little bias when it comes to hikes along the AT. The Appalachian Trail is 2,190 miles long, stretching from Maine to Georgia, making it one of the longest hiking-only trails in the world. Every year, thousands chase their dreams of thru-hiking the AT, stopping by Charlie’s Bunion to soak up the view on the way. On this hike to Charlie’s Bunion, you will begin at Newfound Gap on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line. At the beginning of the trail is a marker indicating just 1,940 miles to Maine. Stay on the AT for the entire duration of the hike. The first 2 miles or so of the trail is a steady climb. Each step deeper into the forest brings more solitude. Find wildflowers in the warmer months and incredible views during all seasons. Just past the Ice Water Springs shelter is a natural spring in the middle of the trail. The water does need to be treated, but it is an ice-cold treat on a summer day. Be sure to pack your filter! At mile 4, you’ll find a marked spur trail to your left. This is the doorway to the infamous Charlie’s Bunion, a spot with breathtaking views that is named after Charlie Conner. One day many years ago Charlie and Horace Kephart sat in the same spot. The bunion on Charlie’s foot resembled the rock, and Kephart vowed to have the government name it Charlie’s Bunion. The area that you’ll be standing on isn’t the original bunion from that day, but you won’t care once you’re looking out at one of the most stunning views in the park!
Little River Trail
The Little River Trail is located in the Historic Elkmont district of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over the years, Elkmont has been everything from a pioneer Appalachian community to a logging community. The area was also once a vacation resort for the elite from surrounding cities. Known for such spots as the Wonderland Hotel, Millionaire’s Row, Daisy Town and Society Hill. In the heart of this historical place you’ll find the Little River Trail, a trail that is perfect for families, beginner hikers, anglers or anyone else looking to explore a tranquil river inside the park. Along the trail you’ll find large boulders and numerous wildflowers. One of the most popular areas of the trail is the Huskey Branch Cascades. Harbor mosses and ferns line the path, salamanders hangout along the wet areas, and you may even get a glimpse of larger wildlife such as bears and otters. Visit in June to experience the world-famous synchronized fireflies of Elkmont. Little River and Elkmont are filled with reasons to explore. Take a longer hike up the trail to find an old car, signs of the former Little River Lumber Company, and even a couple of the best backcountry campsites in the park. Once you’ve finished up with your day and are close to returning to the parking area, see if you can spot the beautiful stone bridge just off the beaten path. The bridge is known to the locals as the Troll Bridge, and it is the perfect spot to stop for a photograph before heading home.
This is just a sample of the numerous hikes that you’ll find throughout the Smokies, many of which are on the Gatlinburg and Tennessee side of the park. The best way to start off a day of exploring in the national park is to begin with a great night of rest and a healthy breakfast. At our hotel, we provide guests with both and many more amenities! Take a minute to experience a virtual tour of our guests rooms and book your stay with us!
We hope to see you soon!